Ashley (Hint) Lanina is an American illustrator and writer of children's books. Born and raised in a small town in the western part of the United States of America, she came to Kazakhstan at the age of 20 and lived in the Atyrau region for about six years.
Her new environment fueled her creativity and inspired her to write her first book, “On a Train in Kazakhstan”. Even after moving back to America with her two daughters, the author says the experience had motivated her to continue writing fiction for children. El.kz interviewed Ashley to find out more about the book and the author herself.
How did you get the idea to write a book about Kazakhstan?
"Shortly after I got married in 2011, I decided to move to Kazakhstan. I married a Russian guy who was born and raised in Atyrau. Since his work was there, I lived in Atyrau. Kazakhstan had become my second home, even though I missed my family in New York," said Hint.
She became closely acquainted with Kazakh culture when she wrote her first story.
I could talk about Kazakhstan from morning till night, but my family wouldn't understand me. As a result, I decided to illustrate the Kazakh national costumes, the steppe, animals, yurts, and other things in my book.
In one of your posts, you mentioned that 'Kazakh people treated you well'. In general, what is your impression of Kazakhstan?
"My local Kazakh friends always invited me to traditional family gatherings and holidays. I don't remember the exact number of weddings I attended. People were curious about my work and would politely correct some of the cultural depictions of my character, Gulmira. My friends and acquaintances helped me whenever I was stuck or had a hard time. All I can say is that I am very grateful for them."
Recently, Ashley had an author meet and greet event in a local American school. In her Facebook post she wrote:
We had fun talking about writing, illustrating and LOTS of book questions. So [grateful] I had some Kazakhstan treasures there to keep their eyes busy. Everyone loved the Kazakhstan designs that inspired my first book.