1.       I have been on a journey of discovery - learning about the lives of women.  Specifically women who lived in challenging times and pursued their dreams, despite being hindered along the way. My last 3 books tell stories about about women who have tirelessly fought for their beliefs. It‘s so inspiring to research how these admirable women managed to be mothers and wives as well as being entirely committed to their work. My mission is to shed light on some of the relatively unknown women characters, that have played such an important role in history. Their courage and dedication to a just society has inspired me to bring them to life on the page. 

Maryam Diener

Maryam Diener

2.       I have a curious mind and am, therefore, an avid reader.  This curiosity has led me to find myself in different universes. Reading is like a window for my mind. Each time the window opens, it gives me a different view. I keep my reading diverse, and do not limit myself to a certain style/genre and am interested in books  that open my eyes to different cultures and existences. I recently discovered a fabulous Moroccan writer who delves into the core of the gender issue, and am always searching for new voices, from across the globe. I always dreamed of working in a bookshop. Ursula Kuczynski and Edith Tudor-Hart (the protagonists of my book Parallel Lives) both worked in a bookshop. However, I have to admit that on entering a bookshop, I can feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books and how much more there is to read!

3.       Being married to an architect has shaped my eyes and the way I look at buildings. I now see far more than I saw before. Every building has a story and specifications depending on when it was a built. Through the life of Edith Tudor-Hart I came to discover the Isokon building. This was a key moment for my book - it suddenly all came together. The building had a life of its own. Since it’s opening in 1934, it was was home to many progressive and talented individuals. I could’ve written books on the building itself and its rich and extraordinary history. 4.       Since I was a child, I’ve been passionate about learning languages. It has always been my way of connecting to a new world via words and sounds. I can feel a place without going there. Each language brings a world with it and I love diving deep into that world and its sounds, even if I don’t achieve fluency. Both Edith Tudor-Hart and and Ursula Kuczynski spoke 7 languages. I am now learning my 8th language, before starting a new book.   

5.       I love looking back at the journeys of each book. With Parallel Lives, I was researching women pioneer photographers of the 19th and 20th century. In doing so, I read about a young Bauhaus Viennese photographer whose work has been posthumously exhibited at the Tate and the National Portraits gallery in Scotland. I immediately ordered the catalogue from the Scottish gallery and discovered what Edith’s eyes saw. She had a Roleiflex which she held at the height of her hip. She took pictures whilst having a close encounter with her subjects. She would look at them and they could look at her, rather than the camera.  There was a direct communication wave that passed between them.

6.       A key moment in the writing of this book was discovering the link between the modernist movement in architecture and the anti-fascist courage of the intellectuals. Through new modernist buildings with light, they were battling the darkness of fascism. As always, the buildings reflect the consciousness of the time. I admire the courage of the architects for moving away from tradition and creating a new dimension for the 20th century.

7.       I love artefacts and nature equally. When something has been made by hand it reveals the beauty of the knowledge and creativity behind it.  I am equally moved by nature and what is manmade. Gardens, landscapes, buildings all speak to me. They all have their own story. Over time, I have learned to listen carefully, so I can hear what their story is…

Author Bio

Maryam Diener was born in Iran and attended the Sorbonne in Paris before receiving her Masters from Columbia University. She is the author of The Moon (1998), Sans te dire adieu (2007) and Beyond Black There is No Colour: The Story of Forough Farrokhzad (Quartet Books, 2020) and Exquisite Corpse (2021). In 2012 she co-founded Éditions Moon Rainbow, a publishing company specialising in limited-edition books on poetry and the visual arts including There Must Be Someone to Rewrite Love, which features contributions from Bei Dao and Francesco Clemente.

Maryams Latest book is out now:

The Book

Two women, twin destinies, a single cause.

Edith Tudor-Hart was a Bauhaus-trained photographer, and Ursula Kuczynski a writer and polyglot. Both were immigrant dissidents fighting fascism throughout the turbulent 30s and40s. They never met, and yet communist agents, radical activists and devoted mothers both, their lives regularly crossed on the leafy streets of Hampstead and in the sophisticatedly bohemian world of the Isokon building – a haven for free-thinking émigrés and modernist marvel that promised a new way of living.

Together but apart, they changed history – one helping form the famous Cambridge Five spy ring, the other handler of the nuclear scientist Klaus Fuchs. They were denied thechance to share the dangers they faced, but the secret nature of their work tied them by invisible threads.

Maryam Diener is masterful at the blending of fact and fiction. In Parallel Lives she traces the haunting secrets, traumas and victories that bound these remarkable women. The publication coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Isokon building, and is an informative and powerful summer read from an established author.

PARALLEL LIVES BY MARYAM DIENER, clothbound Historical Fiction is out now ISBN: 978-1-7384598-4-1

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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