Saudi Arabia: Interview with Romance Novelist, Kat Canfield

It is a pleasure for American Bedu to interview one of the followers of the American Bedu blog.  With this interview, readers learn more about Kat Canfield and why she has an interest in Saudi Arabia!

kat canfield


Firstly Kat, thank you, for the opportunity to interview you and share about yourself and your background with readers.

I am honored to have you interview me.

Let’s start with some details about you!  Where are you originally from?  Where do you live now?  How long have you been following the American Bedu blog?

I grew up in Ohio, in Amish country. I moved to Florida after we had a blizzard and the temperature on the thermometer was -32 degrees F! For me, even hurricanes were better than that and I lived through several of them.

I lived in Florida for 25 years before moving to Tennessee with my husband.

I found American Bedu while researching for my book. It has been helpful to learn and understand a very different culture.

Please share your background with readers.  How did you end up in law enforcement as your first career?  At what age or what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a police officer?

Law Enforcement found me I think. I had many people who thought I would be good in that field and encouraged me from high school on but I didn’t listen. I worked in Agriculture in Ohio and several businesses when I moved to Fl. Nothing fulfilled me or was I good at. Finally, I decided to prove everyone wrong that I didn’t have what it takes to be a police officer. Well, I proved to myself I really was!! I was thirty one years old and could beat the barely twenties in physical activities, the shooting range, martial arts, etc. I gained respect from my instructors when I could ‘fall down and give me 100’ (yes, pushups, the full military ones). Sorry, I have to brag on that, as several of the male instructors did not think women should be involved in police work, as it took a man. One of those instructors took me aside just before graduation and told me I had changed his mind about women in police work. It was then I realized I could be a role model for other women which is another reason I want to tell your readers about it. I think the American Bedu Blog helps empower the women in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world who are oppressed. I am all for helping women find their value in the world.

I must also relate this as it has to do with empowering women. I was married briefly in Ohio. I was a battered wife. I got the courage to leave in a time when it was socially unacceptable to do so. Thank God, the laws have change greatly in this area. As a police officer I could help abused women and children get help.

What were some of your most memorable moments when you were on the force?

I have so many memorable moments!! First I must say, read the book as several of them are in there, just the names, and some circumstances are changed to protect identities.

But my most favorite moment is this. I worked as a mounted police officer for eight of my years in police work. Horses are still my first love. One day I was working in the park when a woman and child approached me. The woman asked if her little boy, about seven, could pet the horse. This was a normal thing that happened in the course of the day. The boy was petting the horse and talking to it. I was trying to understand what he was saying to the horse so I asked his mother what he was saying. She was crying! Now I was worried. I asked her what was wrong. She told me her son was autistic and had never spoke a word to anyone before that moment. Now I was crying. The horse had opened up a door for that child. The police horse did that in a lot of instances and is a tool more police departments should utilize.

Did you ever encounter any Saudis while you were an active law enforcement officer?  If so, please share as you are able.

I met many people from everywhere when I lived in Florida. I met Arabs from everywhere in the Middle East. I found them pleasurable and respectful. I probably met more Pakistanis than Saudi. Because all that I knew where very nice people I found it hard to believe so many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. I did not want to believe it. We have to remember that a few bad apples does not mean the whole bunch is bad.

You are also a multi-faceted individual.  At what age did you begin to have an interest in writing?

I started writing when I was a child. In high school and college I wrote for the school newspapers and was editor my senior year. I wrote feature articles for the local newspaper and authored many short stories. I just never thought it was that good so didn’t pursue it. However, as a police officer, I had to write, lots and lots or reports. Some of those were short but on more difficult cases they were very long and detailed. I think I improved my skills by writing all those reports! Plus, it gave me experience that found its way into my novels.

What gave you the idea to write a novel about Saudi Arabia?

Well, if you believe in the Ginn or spirits of the desert, it could be said one of them spoke to me. I tried several ideas but this one just felt right so I went with it.

When did you start to have an interest in Saudi Arabia and why?

The book, Arabian Nights. I love that book. I also love Arabian horses, I have owned and ridden them. And then there is Lawrence of Arabia. The country just has a natural romance to it. Every book I have ever read that had something about Saudi Arabia in it is fascinating. If you want to write a romance novel, why not have a character that is from Arabia?

Have you ever traveled to Saudi Arabia and/or personally know some Saudis?  How did you obtain your material about Saudi Arabia for your book?

I have traveled there only in pictures and via the internet. I want to go there very much. I did a lot of research on the country and customs through the internet. I found yours and other blogs about the country that gave me ideas. You actually helped me find books about Saudis that I read like Princess, A True Story of Life Behind the Veil, by Jean Sasson and Ted Dekkers book, Blink of an Eye.

only love twice bookcover

Can you give American Bedu’s a brief synopsis about your first novel, ‘Only Love Twice?’

It is my fantasy. A story of fifty plus year olds. It is Cinderella and her Prince Charming. In this one Prince Charming is a Saudi and Cinderella is American. And if that isn’t enough to keep them apart, he is Muslim and she is a Messianic Jew. I like to use a line from Michael Crichton’s book Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way” to describe it. In this story, Love finds a way.

Did you find it easy or difficult to write a romance novel featuring an American and a Saudi?

I wrote from the heart. (That Ginn again) The man is Saudi but raised in the western world so is not as ‘Muslim’ as the Muslims would like. I took what I learned about Saudi culture to compare the two cultures. I wanted more than just a romance, I wanted to show everyone that two cultures could learn to get along together despite the differences and even learn to love.

What has been the reaction of Saudi’s to your book, ‘Only Love Twice,’ which features a romance between an American Jewish woman and a Saudi man?

I really would like feedback from Saudi readers about the book. I have not to date had any reviews from them. My friends and family that have read it really liked it and asked how I got the idea and how I got the knowledge of the different culture.

How can American Bedu readers obtain their own copy of ‘Only Love Twice?’

The book is available at, and my website,

American Bedu has had the honor of reading ‘Only Love Twice’ and was captivated.  However, I must ask you, is it simply a coincidence that the featured female character resembles you?  After all, she is also a retired police officer and fond of horses.

Great question! It is my fantasy after all. But really, I just found it easier to use some of my experiences to give Madison a personality. Also, many of my friends have asked me to write about my experiences as a police officer. So this was a way to include those stories and weave them as threads in the story. And who is the personality of Saleem? He is the best of every man I know.

Do you have another book in the works about Saudi Arabia?  If so, what can you share?

I am writing a sequel. In it they travel to England and Saudi Arabia. In it there will be more of the differences of cultures and discussions about child brides, arranged marriages, and letting Saudi women drive. I borrowed the visual of one of Susie’s abayas, (Blue Abaya Blog) the one with the hand painted peacock feather on it for several scenes where Madison wears an abaya. (I hope that was ok, Susie?)

I have another completely different characters book working but have not decided if the male character will be Muslim or from a Muslim country. For some reason I find them easier to write about (Must be that Ginn again).

When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I spent two months this winter in Florida training with my instructor and my horse in the pursuit of better dressage; what I called Dressage Boot Camp. I also walk every day, I am up to 6 miles a day which I can do in an hour and 20 minutes, so I move out. If I am not walking or riding I am on the computer reading or writing.

What personal message would you like to convey to the thousands of followers who read American Bedu daily?

Keep an open mind. Listen to the views of others, express your views in a respectful way. I have found other views to be insightful and actually changed my opinion on some things.

Kat, thank you again for the interview.  I wish you all the success with ‘Only Love Twice’ and all future books.

Thank you, Carol, and wish you well and pray for you every day. You are an inspiration!

Saudi Arabia: Who is Hamzah Jamjoom?

You may not immediately recognize the name of this young Saudi but most will have heard of the 3D film Imax Arabia.  Hamzah is a Saudi film maker and actually ended up as the star in his own film.

Hamzah got the idea of creating Imax Arabia after the negative impressions of Saudi Arabia following 9/11.  He wanted to show that all Saudis were NOT terrorists and that Saudi Arabia is a land of beauty and peace.

I had the pleasure of viewing Imax Arabia in 3D and enjoyed the film immensely.  It takes one through the different provinces of Saudi Arabia, its history and last but not least, its people.  Hamzah even brings the audience in to his own family home in Jeddah.

Imax Arabia is now more easily available for folks to view as it has been released on Netflix streaming so it can be watched at any time.

It is an American Bedu recommended film.

Saudi Arabia/London: Saudi’s Female Olympians?

As one follows media reports on whether Saudi Arabia will send women to the 2012 Summer Games in London, the reports are starting to look more encouraging.  To begin with, female sports commentator and amateur soccer coach, Reema Abdullah, will be one of the 8000 individuals who will carry the Olympic torch.  That’s a start but the world is looking for female athletes who will represent Saudi Arabia in competition for the gold, bronze and silver medals.

Dalma Rushdi Malhas (Hisham) may make history if she is selected to represent Saudi Arabia in the 2012 London Olympics.  She first came to light in the Olympic spotlight when she rode at the inaugural Youth Olympic games in 2010.   At that time she was 18 years old and had won a bronze medal while competing in Singapore.

Malhas credits her mother as her inspirational figure in her sporting career.  Malhas is not your typical Saudi woman.  She grew up in Italy and now lives most of the time in France.

Saudi Arabia qualified an equestrian jumping team for the 2012 games.  The Kingdom has the opportunity to send four riders as part of the team.  Will Malhas be among the four?

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants to see more than just “one token woman” representing Saudi Arabia.  Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an IOC official said that Saudi Arabia presented a list of four female candidates for consideration.  Because the women may not meet the international qualifying standards, the IOC may grant them Olympic entry based on “special circumstances.”

Having Saudi women participating in the Olympics is groundbreaking on a number of fronts.  Presently, the majority of Saudi schools do not have physical education programs for female students.  However, in order to become a future Olympian a Saudi woman must be physically fit.  The sooner she starts fitness programs the better chances she will have to become a Saudi Olympian in addition to incorporating a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Opening up the Olympics to female Saudi athletes also opens up greater recognition to the Saudi woman.  She will be seen as an independent and strong woman.

There will certainly be continued resistance among Saudi’s conservatives and traditionalists of having women compete in the Olympics.  However, Crown Prince Nayef and others in the highest levels of the Royal family have spoken in favor of the women competing.  Therefore, any protests will likely be nipped in the bud and instead a new era of opportunities is opening for the Saudi woman.

Saudi Arabia: NOT The Way to Mount a Horse!

Anybody who has ridden a horse will realize that it does take a certain art and finesse to mount.  I don’t think I’d recommend trying to mount while wearing a long thobe either!


Saudi Arabia: Bad Girls


An American Bedu reader shared this music video with me which features Saudis and Saudi drifting.  What do you think?

Saudi Arabia: Tabletop Pictorial Books

I’m a big fan of table top picture books and especially picture books whose photos encapsulate the essence and spirit of a place.  One such example is the book “Saudi Arabia” published by Desert Publisher.   The photos in the book are magnificent and accompanied by explanations which further enhance the knowledge of the subject photo and snapshot into the customs, culture and tradition of Saudi Arabia.

Desert Publisher has a series of photographic books about Saudi Arabia but the book “Saudi Arabia” itself is my recommended starting point.  This book focuses on the entire Kingdom from history, architecture, culture, crafts, traditions, agriculture, industry and even fascinating photos of the Kingdom from satellite.  Saudi Arabia gives the reader an overall understanding of the myriad which is Saudi Arabia.

Among the outstanding photos are close up photographs of the kiswah, the hand embroidered velvet covering of the Kaaba.  The versatile book further includes appetizing photos of traditional Saudi foods along with the explanations of the food, ingredients and regions from which the dishes originate.  Examples of typical sports, traditional dances and social activities are illustrated in detailed photos.

A photo can tell many stories about a place and Desert Publisher’s ‘Saudi Arabia’ is like a book of never-ending stories showcasing the contrasts and contradictions of what makes Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: An Introduction to Desert Publisher

It  gives American Bedu joy to share with readers that one of her favorite publishers specializing exclusively in photo books of Saudi Arabia is now online – Desert Publisher.  The books produced by Desert Publisher are exclusive photo books with illustrations featuring the Hidden Treasures and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  These books are ideal for anyone who is planning to come to the Kingdom and wants to capture the essence of the culture, traditions and customs before arrival.  The books also make the perfect gift for expatriates and Saudis alike.  Noone should be without their own edition of Desert Publisher books.

Presently one can purchase Desert Publisher books about:

  •  Janadriah – Saudis annual cultural festival which showcases the diverse crafts, art, music and traditions throughout the Kingdom.





  •  Mada’in Saleh – Mada’in Saleh is the “Little Petra” found in Saudi Arabia’s Hijaz region where the ancient Nabateans had made a home in the Kingdom.  Mada’in Saleh is known for its tombs, the origin of the Hijaz Railway and historic Al Ula.  The book is full of captivating photos and narrative to match. (available in English, Arabic, French, Dutch and Spanish)
  • Saudi Arabia:  This is an exclusive table top book filled with breathtaking photos giving one an introduction to all corners of the majestic Kingdom.  It provides contrasts between the modern cities and beudion villages, the sea and the desert, it’s cultural history and use of high technology.  This book breaks the barriers of pre-existing stereotypes propagated by media.  (Available in English, French, German, Spanish, Asian languages, Arabic and Russian)
  •  Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) – This book is one of American Bedu’s personal favorites.  The Empty Quarter is generally believed to be a lifeless stretch of desert however this book shatters those beliefs with the photos that show an Empty Quarter bursting with life and activity.  One of the most magnificent photos of a herd of Ibyx can be seen in this magnificent book.



  •  Sand Whispers – This small book is packed with special photos and accompanied by Arab proverbs and classic poetry.  (Available in English, German and French)





  •  Windows – The types of windows installed in various homes throughout the Kingdom over the years tell a history unto themselves.  This book showcases and illustrates some of the unique windows found in buildings and homes throughout the Kingdom.  (Available in English, German and French)



  •  Doors – If only a door could talk about the residents who lived in a house or visited through the doors, imagine how much more we could learn about the history of Saudi Arabia.  Doors, as the title implies, are a compilation of photos of the many different types of doors one will see on homes and buildings in the Kingdom.  Many of these doors have lasted for centuries due to the unique way they were crafted.  Illustrations accompany each photo to give the reader greater understanding for the type of door, structure and area in which it is located.  (Available in English, German and French)
  •  Visitors Guide to Maidan Saleh – This guide is a must-have for anyone planning to travel to the history area of Maidan Saleh, whether unaccompanied or with a tour group.  This guide walks a visitor step-by-step on what to see and do and bring with them on their trip.  This guide will enhance ones trip to Maidan Saleh.



  •  Facts about Swine Flu (H1N1) – Since millions of pilgrims converge from around the world each year to Makkah for the Hajj pilgrimage, this book is an extensive book about the threat and precautions of H1N1.  (Arabic only)




  •  Maid’an Saleh Post Cards – Twenty of the finest photographs from Maid’an Saleh have been incorporated into post cards making this a lovely keepsake or special card to send greetings from Saudi Arabia.



  •  Holy Mosque Post Cards – Twenty of the finest photographs taken of the Holy Mosque during the annual pilgrimage of Hajj making this collection a special keepsake.



  •  Saudi Arabia Post Cards – Twenty of the finest photographs showcasing the Hidden Treasures across the Magical Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Ideal as a special memento or to send from Saudi Arabia.

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