Local couple’s debut novel explores love across a cultural divide

The book jacket for Take Me Back to Cairo. Submitted image.

Local couple Pamela Paterson and Tarek Hussein have combined their skills and life experience to create a fun and heartwarming debut novel.

Take Me Back to Cairo takes the reader on quite a journey – literally from Canada to Cairo and back again. Based in Kingston and Toronto, with a short stint in Cairo, the novel explores the relationship between a Canadian immigrant and a “local” girl.

A chance meeting in downtown Kingston is just the beginning for this odd couple. Yousef is still acclimatizing to Canada and its weather and is heading to a local bakery when a motorcyclist in a pink helmet nearly hits him. When he is seated for his breakfast it turns out that same motorcyclist is at a nearby table.

The pair hit it off, though Janelle lives in Toronto, and a full roller-coaster of emotional ups and downs follows these two throughout their budding relationship.

From Egyptian culture and family expectations to past relationships and the difficulties of family dynamics, the book carries the reader through periods of excitement and nearly-broken hearts.

While this book is a debut for the pair writing together, Paterson has written several books, including two international best sellers. This is her first novel, and also a first for Hussein, who is a local pharmacist, just as Yousef is in the book.

For Paterson and Hussein, this book has been a labour of love, and took them eight years to complete.

“Since we both have busy professional lives, and Tarek owns Weller Pharmacy, it was really only a project we could do on weekends and holidays,” Paterson explained in an interview with Kingstonist.

When asked how writing a book together was, Hussien laughed.

“It’s kind of like putting up wallpaper. You get through it, and are thankful that you’re still married,” he said.

“We are joking, of course. But it’s important that each person has their specific role. For example, I provided the story and Egyptian culture information while Pam was the single voice of the pen.”

The pair shared that the book is loosely based on their own relationship, including that they really did meet at Pan Chancho by chance when Pam was on a motorcycle trip around New York State.

When asked why the pair decided to collaborate on a novel, Paterson cited the old adage “write what you know.”

“We had a unique story of an Egyptian immigrant coming to a small city like Kingston, and by chance, meeting his future bride, a motorcycle-riding Canadian, at a bakery at 7 a.m. in the morning. We had done research about similar books on the market and couldn’t find any, and thought it would be a light, heartwarming, and funny story to write,” she shared.

Anyone who enjoys reading about culture shock or multicultural relationships will like this novel, and the tidbits of Kingston will resonate with local readers, too!

Paterson founded a micro press to provide herself with some literary freedom, and founded Writer Types Inc., also based in Kingston. According to Paterson, she created it to “leapfrog over the slow big house publishing process” and have more literary freedom over the types of projects she could be engaged in.

The pair are already working on a second novel, which they say is “completely different” from this one. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait eight years to see it!

More information on Take Me Back to Cairo can be found on the book’s official website, which also has a button that allows website users to find local, independent bookstores where the book can be purchased — including Kingston’s own Novel Idea.

Jessica Foley is the Assistant Editor and Lead Content Writer at Kingstonist, as well as a freelance content writer, and is a passionate reader. When time allows, Jessica reads books written by local authors and offers Kingstonist readers her own take on a book review, with an overview of the storyline, some insights from the local authors, and her thoughts on what she’s just read. To submit ideas on local books/authors for Jessica to consider, email her at [email protected].

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