by Mehreen Ahmed
When I started writing The Pacifist, I didn’t realize that it would end up being a historical fiction. I just wanted to write a convincing story about these characters that appear in the book. And I wanted to set it by the ocean. Living in Australia for nearly two decades, one of the natural wonders that has attracted me over the years was the sea. It was not just the beauty of the sea, but I was also quite literally drawn by its rich maritime history that Australia is endowed with. As the book progressed, I felt that I was beginning to exploit this unknowingly. Then the remarkable realization struck that unless I wrote about its history, I would not be doing proper justice either to the characters or to the plot. Therefore, as the story evolved on its course as fiction, the history behind it also began to emerge spontaneously, until one could undeniably call it historical fiction.
It is sometimes hard to determine exactly what inspired this book. There is always more than one reason; my profound love for the ocean is definitely the core. But among many other things, my visit to Byron Bay played a determining part as well. I had seen an unforgettable lighthouse there, on the edge of the ocean. Throughout the book, the vivid memory of the lighthouse kept firing my imagination in a really big way. But then there was also the intricate cultural fabric of this sea-faring nation, for sure. This magnetic new culture fascinated me. And all of these enmeshed and acted as the final trigger.
In my rendition of this nation, an objective and complex view has been upheld. This complexity is almost always in line with any nation trying to develop alongside the first peoples of the land.