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: Perseverance Pays Off – 2013 Riyadh Book Fair




The Annual International Riyadh Book fair for 2013 is in process.  The Ministry of Culture and Information has made an effort to launch a web site specifically for and about the book fair.  Although the English version is sadly lacking in substance and information, it is a start towards progression.  However, the Arabic language version of site is much more detailed.

The show commenced on 05 March with its opening ceremony and continues through 23 April, according to the official web site.  Although according to an article in the Saudi Gazette, the book fair ends on 15 March.

Previous years one could expect the Riyadh book fair to be segregated and proliferated with the religious police.  The book fair would be surrounded by some controversy due to disagreements on some of the books presented.

However, 2013 can be seen as a year of forward progress for the book fair.  For example, this year:

  • Men and women were openly mixing in a public!  Of course not interacting, but sharing the same space.
  • At prayer time they didn’t close anything – people kept right on buying and selling while the prayers were broadcast.
  • It was very festive with the bright lights for the tv cameras and interviewing authors in the middle of the place.
  • No one yelling or trying to enforce women to cover up.  However, a female friend of mine who was present advised that 99.99% of women wore niqab, including her.  She was not comfortable being up close and personal with so many people and feeling  exposed.  She could blend in more and not have people looking at her by her decision to wear a niqab.

The 2013 Riyadh book fair will have over 250,000 paperback titles and offer more than one million e-books.  The book fair is one of the biggest cultural events in the Kingdom second perhaps to the annual Janadriyal festival.  Organizers anticipate more than two million visitors while the fair is in progress from both the Saudi and expatriate communities.

Saudi Arabia: Book Review – A Kingdom’s Future: Saudi Arabia Through the Eyes of its Twentysomethings

a kingdoms future

I have always been an admirer of Pulitzer prize winner, Caryle Murphy, and of her respective articles and books.  I have the personal pleasure of knowing Caryle when our paths initially crossed in Riyadh back in 2008.  She spent significant time between the Kingdom and the United States from 2008 to 2012 and her new book portrays the realities of the mindset of Saudi’s youth.

Caryle has recently written a new book, “A Kingdom’s Future: Saudi Arabia Through the Eyes of its Twentysomethings.”  This book is both an insightful and candid read.  Caryle, known for her direct interview and writing style has chapters in the book which address education, politics, religion as well as Women: Rights and Romance and a chapter focused on Students Abroad.  The book is composed from many interviews with Saudi’s male and female youth.

I came away from this book with a further validation that Saudi Arabia, through its youth, is in an era which will see significant change within the Kingdom.   For after all, aren’t the youth the future?

Saudi Arabia: For the People, By the People

for the people

For the People, By the People is a collection of stories from Muslim people and about human lives collected and edited by author Sabah Hadi.  In addition to this book having a wide and varied collection of stories from men and women of the Muslim faith, it also has an extensive glossary which explains the meanings of many of the Muslim or Islamic terms referred to within individual stories.

Sabah chose to undertake this collection of stories for several reasons but especially because all too often the articles which are covered by the Media pertaining to Muslims or Islams are generally of a negative context.  Her goal is to share with the world that people are basically people the world over regardless of their chosen faith.

In Sabah’s own words, “In this book you will find stories of writers who have presented us with their slices of life. Some have written of their hopes, their dreams, some lament over their conditions, some speak of a better world. You will be surprised to know that Hijabs, terror, beard and oppression are not the things that occupy the lives of Muslims across the world.

The writers come from a vast spectrum of careers. There is a professor, a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a journalist, a chaplain, a therapist, a lawyer, a mental health therapist, a charity worker, a student and they come from various parts of the world.  Each one of them has memories to share and to reflect upon.

The stories in ‘For the People, By the People’ are from Muslims from different countries. Call them mini memoirs, mini- biographies or emotional stories; they shine with the writers’ pride of belonging to their origins as well as to their chosen faith. There is a young man who wonders ‘’ How is a Muslim supposed to look like?’’. There is another who writes of her disappointments at the India she is losing everyday to intolerance and bigotry.

‘For the People, By the People’ offers touching recollections of all-American lives, of immigrant experiences, stories that invoke a sense of belonging, poignant accounts of the great big question of our lives, writings that explore the quest to be free and to hope and stories that reflect on life’s grim realities.

These are stories of ordinary people who live life like everybody else, who have observed closely the various shades of our existence and are willing to let us into their lives. You don’t need knowledge or understanding of the worlds that these writers have presented in their writings. You only need to come with a free mind, a mind that holds no prior notions, no preconceived thoughts. A clean slate. A human soul. And then the journey begins.”


Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of “For the People, By the People” may order it through

Saudi Arabia: A New Arrival at Jarir

riyadh heart of arabia

Mohsen Al-Dajani is not a stranger to American Bedu.  American Bedu had the honor to first interview Mohsen back in 2009.  Although a careerist in Saudi’s Royal Air Force with the official rank of Lieutenant Colonel, his love and passion lie in photography.

Mohsen’s military career has allowed him to travel the Kingdom and wherever he goes, his camera is not far behind him.  Mohsen produced his first tabletop photo book in 2009 and titled, “Taif – Eden of Arabia.”

It further gives me the greatest pleasure to advise that Mohsen has also made a contribution to the American Bedu documentary with some of his photographs taken in Riyadh.

Now I am very pleased to announce that he has published yet another tabletop photo book, Riyadh, Heart of Arabia, which is available at Jarir bookstores.

American Bedu wishes Mohsen all the continued success with his photography.  His photos serve as a key bridge in uncovering the many secret treasures under the shifting sands of the Kingdom.

Anywhere but Saudi Arabia

American Bedu had the honor to read “Anywhere but Saudi Arabia” in its draft copy and was immediately caught up in the lively story and experiences of Kathy Cuddihy, who was a long time expat in Riyadh.  Now the official copy of the book will soon be released and available.  I do recommended it as one of the must-reads of life in the Kingdom from an expat’s perspective.


When Bechtel offered Sean Cuddihy a transfer to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1976, his wife Kathy agreed to go along on one condition: that it was only for two years, not a minute longer. This reluctant commitment turned into a 24-year love affair with Saudi Arabia and its people.

Kathy’s humorous anecdotes of her adventures and misadventures trace the journey of a country in transition. Never has a nation made so much progress in so short a time. As a trusted journalist and businesswoman, Kathy witnessed, recorded and participated in this spectacular development.

From palaces to prisons and mud houses to private jets, Kathy’s perspective is unique and her experiences remarkable.

Told with the wit and stylishness for which the author is well known, Anywhere But Saudi Arabia! is a treasure for all who know and love the Kingdom, and an eye-opener for those with no comprehension of what life was, and is, like for an unconventional non-Muslim woman in a conservative Muslim population.

At times hilarious, at times shocking, but always honest and entertaining, Kathy’s story is infused with deep affection for her adopted country.




Kathy Cuddihy, Canadian by birth, has lived abroad for most of her life. A penchant for foreign cultures and languages has served her well throughout her extensive travels. Her varied career has included being a jillaroo (cowgirl) in Australia, a secretary at the United Nations in Geneva, and a public relations consultant in Saudi Arabia.

This is the author’s seventh book.

Her two children and five grandchildren reside in the US. Kathy lives with her husband Sean on Bantry Bay, Ireland.




Anywhere But Saudi Arabia! Experiences of a (once) Reluctant Expat

ISBN: 978-0-9567081-3-7

Release date: 30 November 2012

Pre-orders are available now from:

[email protected]

[email protected]

or from Amazon

Kindle edition available from Amazon 30 November 2012

Paperback price:£9.95 / $14.95

Saudi Arabia: Blink


Although it is not a new book by any means, I just finished reading Ted Dekker’s, “Blink.”  Blink is a story about a renegade Princess who flees to the United States to escape a very politically arranged marriage.  Her knight in shining armor who runs to her aid is an American college student from UC, Berkley with an IQ that would put Einstein to shame.


Mariam, the Saudi princess was born the daughter of a high-ranking Shii’a sheik who, for a political alliance, was adopted into the Al-Saud family.  Set during the time King Fahd was the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Blink outlines a plot between a high-ranking Prince within the Al-Saud family and Mariam’s true father, the Shii’a sheik.  Their alliance could threaten not only the Al-Saud dynasty but the Kingdom itself.


Although Mariam is unaware of the political plot, she knows for sure she has no desire to be married off to the particular Prince.  One of her friends helps her plan her escape.  Mariam flees ultimately to Berkley where she had once attended some classes and thought a former Professor might help her.


Instead, the Professor felt she did her patriotic duty by informing the US State Department that the runaway Princess was with her.  By this time, not only did the bridegroom want his bride back but members of the Al-Saud family were becoming aware of the plans for a coup.  Several groups of Saudis are dispatched to the United States to collect Mariam and return her to the Kingdom.


Enter Seth Borders, student extraordinaire.  He not only has one of the highest IQ’s ever known but he recently discovers he has the ability to foresee futures.  This new gift allowed him to see the danger Princess Mariam is in and he becomes her protector.


Their journey of avoiding law enforcement, government officials and groups of Saudis takes them from California to Las Vegas.  In Las Vegas they believed an amicable situation had been identified which guaranteed Mariam’s safety and would not force her into a marriage she did not want.


Wrong!  Mariam finds herself back in Saudi Arabia with the bridegroom even more determined to go through the wedding and make her his wife.  Whether they married or not, a coup now looked like a certainty as well.


When Seth learns Mariam is again in danger he finds a way to get himself into Saudi Arabia undetected.


This is a compelling book which draws the reader right in from the beginning.  It has intrigue, romance, politics and faith.  ‘Blink’ is unlikely to be available in Saudi Arabia because of its controversial topics of coups and faith.  However, it makes for an interesting read as a fictional book about a love story between a Saudi Princess and a UC Berkley student.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,277 other followers

%d bloggers like this: