Interview with the author of The Pacifist, Mehreen Ahmed (part 2)

         Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

MA. Natural beauty gives me the thrill. Nature, more so than human society, inspires my stories. If there is anything I’m madly in love with, it is nature. My first stories were purely descriptive pieces, written during a thunderstorm or sitting in a garden.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MA. Situations. Because, it is the situation that shapes personality. A character without situation is like a flat stick doll on a piece of paper. They don’t move, breath or talk. It is the situation that makes them choose and bring them to life.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MA. All the time, which is problematic. I feel like I should always have a godlike grip over the writing process but I find myself slip away, getting caught up in one element of the story or another. It is always a challenge, which I have to contend with, every time I sit down to write.

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

MA. Nature is the source of my inspiration and my muse. I get inspired by rain storms, or the rustle of the dry leaves. I get a thrill from walking on the beach on windy days. These are emotions recollected in tranquility, as Wordsworth said. I feel nature is the anchor for all my artistic inspirations.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

MA. Yes, I do. The Pacifist. It is a romantic novel based in the gold rush period in Australia. It is one of the most romantic times in Australian history, in my view. The book is about an orphaned child with great expectations. He doesn’t want to remain in poverty anymore, so he strives to change his situation. With some very interesting consequences.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MA. In 1986, while I was in Canada and had seen snow for the first time. I was so thrilled to see the first flakes of snow that I sat down and wrote my first introspective piece, A Winter’s Tale. It was published in the Sheaf, the campus newspaper of the University of Saskatchewan.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MA. After that I published at least four journalistic write-ups for the Sheaf. Then I moved towards writing nonfiction academic articles and academic book reviews, which were published in peer review journals. In 2011, I went back to writing fiction. Since then I have been writing and publishing regularly.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MA. I think it’s the passionate exploration of the human condition. The better one does it, the more successful one is. Without passion and without its proper execution, a writer cannot be great in my measure. My son had asked me a question once pertinent to this issue. He asked ‘how well do you think you represent the human condition? Do you do this better than Shakespeare?’ It gave me something to think about.

Q. and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MA. An accomplishment and a great sense of relief. Every time a book is done, I feel that I have reached another milestone. Parts of the processes itself are nerve-wracking. Working with an editor is sometimes difficult, being asked to change pieces of my cherished work. I understand the necessity but sometimes it’s frustrating. Also, I’m very anxious during the first couple weeks after my work is released. You just never know how it’s going to go.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MA. I’m deeply touched by the misfortune of the most vulnerable in our society. I think this takes precedence over anything else in all of my books. I have known many refugees, and orphans. I feel their pain. I know their plight. I express their sorrows through my writing.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MA. I like writing literary fiction. I don’t think I want to move to any other genre. Not anytime soon, anyway.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

I love my characters as my own. They are my flesh. They are my blood. They are my other world.

Did you miss Part I of this fascinating Interview? Click here


MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
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