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A piece in Hot Press magazine by Anne Sexton, with photo by Paula Nolan and review by Olaf Tyaransen. Below see an extract from the interview – the rest in Hot Press magazine, available in all Irish newsagents right now!

LIFE DURING WARTIME – INTERVIEW BY ANNE SEXTON 

An arts journalist and performer, Helena Mulkerns lived and worked in Paris and New York before joining the UN as a press officer. 

It was her ten years with UN peacekeeping missions that inspired her collection, Ferenji and other stories. Ferenji means ‘foreigner’ in old Arabic and Persian.  As the name suggests, Mulkerns’ stories centre on the lives of foreign aid workers in various conflict and post-conflict zones.

“The stories are based on my experiences, but they are all invented,” she explains.  “There isn’t a character that I have delivered that is as the person was.  People can get very upset with you if you do that!”

Despite her background as a journalist, she resisted the idea of writing a memoir.  “As a journalist you are very aware of fact and of reporting things factually,” she notes.  “Again, working in an organisation like the UN you’d be extremely aware of fact.  That’s why I was never interested in doing a memoir.  With fiction you are not restricted, and I much prefer the nuance of fiction.”

To read more of this article, check out your local news agent for current issues of Hot Press.

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