The Afghan interpreters in Afghanistan
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I was so much fond of reading, but eventually I lost the habit to many years of war in our country, I never had the pleasure of reading the way I did before. I used to read poetry from Hafiz, Sadi, Bidel, and other Afghan poets. I read everything that I came across. I begun to write when I lived in England. It was about my own dramatic life.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I read all genres, but war, horror and thriller would attract me more, and still maybe because of how I have lived my life -- all in war. Here you can read a little about my book.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I think I write quite differently to anyone else out there, maybe it is because of how I have lived my life. It is my way of life that feeds me to write, not reading or anything else. I have had a very difficult and traumatic life. My first book started when my friends encouraged me to write about my life story, which I called it 'Running from Life', in the end. My second book, 'The Interpreter', is also the outcome of my experience from my work with NATO.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Mostly my own way of life has inspired me to write, I have not had such an opportunity to experience the fact of being inspired by other people's books, I have not read many books. I have not had the possibility. I could not afford to buy books and read them. I am still not recovering from what I had gone through in Afghanistan. I lived all years of my life in war.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
What you have experienced in your life.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I have written my books in first person. But I don't think I would mind any voice.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I started reading Khaled Hussseini's 'The kite Runner', but I could not finish it, it didn't grip me that much. I am looking forward to find my favourite ones, once I get the chance to read a lot of books, from many other outstanding authors that are out there.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Ah, you need to read 'The Interpreter' to get that answer well. I think I can answer this question very well, but I advise you to read the first chapter of my book here.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I hate stories. I write about adventures. That is why I never sit down and write. I write when I walk in a forest, in the dark. I think stories are good for children, adults look for adventures, and I am not writing for children.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Ah, I am a lover, I have always been. Even when there were bullets flying everywhere in Kabul, I sat in our basement and played music. I never forgot about singing those love poems written by these Afghan poets. I am a lover. I have always been. And I will be.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
No, I write to earn my living. For personal therapy I would rather hang around with family and friends. I can do that with friends, but not with my family. They are all in Afghanistan, and I miss them every day of my life. That is why I am always alone. I write because I can't do anything else in my life. I need to earn some money to eat, and have a place to take my day and night, something I did not have for years.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Definitely, I enjoy what others say about my book - that much that I enjoy reading my own book. Please anyone reading my book tell me what you think, I appreciate that. Even from what you read from the first chapter here, you can leave a review on Amazon.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
No, I hate competitions and awards.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Definitely, I have done that with both my books, The interpreter and Running from life. I love to consult my book with as many people as possible, before it goes into publication. But, I don't mind who that person is. I trust any kind of opinion from anyone.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
As a new writer you would struggle, but so far I am happy with what I have. No, I don't know it completely. I will see what will come next and how I will handle it. It was easier for me to write my both books in the first person, though.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I sleep when I want, and I get up whenever I want. Yes, the only thing that I think is very necessary is doing sports during the day, and listening to music when I write.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Yeah, listening to music is a must for me. I go to you tube and find a playlist of the Bollywood songs, and I write along. Of course, I use a table which is small and wooden, I can't write on any other kind of table or those big ones. I sit next to the window. I enjoy writing during the night, but I do write during the day as well.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
As you might know English is not my first language, I need a lot of corrections, grammatically. My first draft of 'the interpreter' was all a mess. It took me months and months to correct the grammar and spelling, etc, so I used all kind of techniques. I printed, I corrected on the laptop, I gave the printed copies to my English friends, I had a real hard time. I never thought I would be a published author, but when I read my adventures over and over, it was different, I knew I would be published.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I am active on the above sites.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I was welcome with my ideas, but not with my English. Until I got published I did not have even a sixty percent polished manuscript, I could not do it. I could not afford to hire editors was one thing, trusting them with my writing was another. I had so much attention from the publishers and agents. I had a few publishers who were keen to publish my book regardless of my English problems, but I didn't want them. I had one agency interested, but I did not like them altering my work, so I cancelled the contract with them, and I signed a contract with the Night publishers. Now I am happy that my book is published the way I wanted it.
What are you working on now?
After The Interpreter, I want to work on Running from Life a little and get it published. Then, I intend to write the sequel of The Interpreter - The Interpreter II.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
This is a difficult question. I think if you merge your old writings with something new, then you are more confident, and at the same time you have two or three more works instead of one. I think it is difficult to go round something that has not been looked at for years. I suggest that you support your old idea with something new, and then send them both to publishers.
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