Hello dear readers, we hope this entry finds you well. Congratulations on making it through another January! This week we have our introductory interview questions with Nazira. We take a deep dive into her creative brain by snooping on her bookshelf and she spoils us with not one, but two seven word stories! Enjoy!
Transcript (although the video does have more detailed answers):
1. Pitch yourself as a writer in seven words.
I’m professional, warm, witty, and (quietly) powerful.
2. What personal creative project are you working on at the moment?
Erm… I am giving lots of magical thinking time to my novel When You’re Smiling. I finished writing it last year and did a round of submissions to agents, and based on some feedback and reflection I want to do a little bit of rearranging and whittling down before continuing with the querying process.
There are loads of other projects on the to-do list as well but they must wait until I finish with this one.
3. Name seven books that are a permanent fixture on your shelf.
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: the writing seed was planted for me thirty years ago when I read this book in my GCSE English class. This copy is a gift from my dear friend Barira who was there when the dream began and is cheering me on now as I work on making it come true.
- Cyrano de Bergerac by Rostand Edmund: plays aren’t usually my thing but I fell in love with the film adaptation in the mid-1990s so I bought the book and loved it just as much. I’m looking forward to the new film version coming out soon.
- Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: this one’s been with me since university and it is on this list because its day-in-the-life framework inspired the approach to my novel When You’re Smiling.
- Bilal by H.A.L. Craig: the story of the Prophet Muhammed told from the perspective of his close companion Bilal – peace be upon them both. A lovely and sensitively rendered example of creative religious storytelling, and a delightful serendipitous charity-shop find.
- Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Anthology 2018 from Dahlia Publishing: this book contains my shortlisted story Numbers which was my first competition submission after completing the Becoming a Writer course with the brilliant Farhana Shaikh.
- Pao by Kerry Young: Kerry was my mentor on the Middle Way Mentoring Programme and taught me lots of valuable lessons about good writing. Pao is one of three interconnected novels, and as well as being a great read it is a brilliant example of all those lessons in practice.
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: a twelve-week step-by-step process to realising and releasing your creativity. I can’t imagine there are many writers that don’t have this as a permanent fixture on their bookshelves.
4. What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I am reading, and thoroughly enjoying, the draft manuscript of my fellow Koyal Sidra Ansari’s novel. It is always an honour to be allowed to read another writer’s work in progress because opening up to feedback is such a vulnerable act, and it has been wonderful reading this.
5. Borrowing from Hemingway’s concept, but with our thematic twist, tell us a seven-word story.
Heart re-broken, she married pen and paper.
She wrote, and lived, ‘happily ever after’.
(I couldn’t choose between them so you get both!)
6. This group is named after a bird. If you could spread your wings, take flight, and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I would fly to Guadeloupe where they film the somewhat silly but still very watchable programme Death in Paradise. Thankfully the high murder rate is fictional but even if it were real, I would risk it to be lounging on the sun-drenched beach. I desperately need to be somewhere like that right now.
7. Using seven words only, share a golden nugget of writing advice.
Perfection is the goal, not the start.
High expectations of yourself are fine but they can get in the way of creativity so it is best to leave perfection aside when beginning any piece of work. You can polish up your work until it gleams later on in the process, you can learn a lot from the wrong turns you take along the way, and no one needs to see any of your less-than-perfect efforts unless you want them to (which isn’t a bad idea, because feedback is really valuable too).
Ooh thank you Nazira. And she didn’t mention her obsession with Leicester City Football Club once!
Until next week, dear readers!