Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland, but her family moved to Sierra Leone when she was six months old. Her father, Mohamed Forna, was a physician who became involved in politics. He was imprisoned between 1970 and 1973 and declared an Amnesty Prisoner of Conscience. In 1975, when Aminatta was 11, he was hanged for treason. She later wrote a memoir about her childhood and the conspiracy around her father called [The Devil that Danced on the Water]. She was educated in London and Berkeley, worked for the BBC as a reporter and documentary maker, and published her first book in 2003. She is now a professor and writer.