My older sister and I were born in Leicester, England and my family lived in Birmingham for two and a half years, where both my younger brothers were born. I was raised on British fiction, moved to Canada and am an American now. This has resulted in very confused spelling when I write, and people always correct me when I pronounce the letter ‘zed’.

Ausma Zehanat Khan

Ausma Zehanat Khan


I am an avid reader of crime fiction. I cut my teeth on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven, graduated to Ngaio Marsh (my all-time favourite) and Agatha Christie, and now I devour writers like Peter May, Louise Penny, and Kate Morton. If a crime writer works Jane Austen into their books, I am their devotee for life. (Looking at you, Stephanie Barron and Carrie Bebris). I also love newer writers like Amer Anwar, Attica Locke and Gigi Pandian. If you were to ask me who I think the master of the genre is, I would say Reginald Hill. I am still stunned by the brilliance of Dialogues of the Dead.


I have long nursed a crush on David Tennant as Doctor Who. Even more than that, I loved him and Billie Piper together as the Tenth Doctor and Rose. Why did it ever have to end?


Whenever I go home to visit my parents in Toronto, I make my mother catch up on whole seasons of my favourite British tv shows with me. So far we’ve finished: River, Last Tango in Halifax (please come back on the air!), Father Brown (I wish they’d never let Lady Felicia and Sid Carter go), Broadchurch (again, why did it have to end?), and Line of Duty, which can’t come back soon enough for me. What incredible writing.


I fast for the whole month of Ramadan. During that period I usually have to finish significant work on one of my books, and I really miss the six cups of tea I drink when I’m writing. I’m not a very resilient faster but my husband is a source of endless encouragement and pampering. I couldn’t do it without him.


I have decades of experience with public speaking and doing interviews, but I’m always a mass of nerves until I actually begin. They say people fear public speaking more than death or divorce, and I’m here to say that that’s true.


Part of my childhood was spent in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The prairie winters are so severe that my elementary school had its own skating rink, where I skated nearly every day after school. Later, I went to law school in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, and spent all my free time skating the Rideau Canal. That’s why I enjoy writing my hockey-playing detective, Rachel Getty. It’s also why the season of winter is essential to the story I tell in The Language of Secrets. I didn’t think it was fair that I should suffer alone.


I am a huge fan of the ballet. When I lived in Toronto, I used to hold a subscription to the National Ballet of Canada. I love classical ballet but am not as fond of modern dance.


I am vastly allergic to cats. But I love them even more than children, and like the Pied Piper, I can bewitch any cat within a ten foot radius.


In addition to crime fiction, I write a fantasy series called The Khorasan Archives. The first book in the series, The Bloodprint, is based on the endlessly fascinating history of the Silk Road.