They always say “Better late than never”, but in this case, it’s totally true! Yesterday’s “Literary Libations” did not appear in time due to my complete lack of motivation to be anything but a giant lump on my bed (I still blame the whole drug/health thing.), and the fact that sometimes even *thinking* too much tends to tire me out these days.
However, I feel so badly for not giving this author much-deserved timely attention! Lost Reunions by Shuhin Ali looks like a fascinating read, and I’ve definitely added it to my list.
So, sit back, grab a snack, and even though it’s Monday, take a few moments and get into that Sunday frame of mind.
1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?
I grew up in a small city in the north west of England. My parents are Bangladeshi so I grew up with a mixture of both British and Bengali culture, which was great. I graduated with a degree in Accounting from the University of Liverpool and later qualified as a chartered accountant. I currently spend my time living between Cheshire and London. I’m always looking to learn about different cultures and can speak English, Bengali and conversational Spanish. When I’m not writing I spend my time trying to improve my Spanish, keeping fit through running ten kilometer and half marathon races, trying to stay on my feet in Muay Thai training and watching movies, reading books and listening to music.
2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?
My latest novel,
, is a contemporary tale of friendship, self-discovery and redemption. It explores the nature of staying true to your dreams and ambitions in the midst of the pressures and temptations of modern society. It charts the story of two friends, an investment banker and a doctor, who face very different challenges in staying true to themselves and the promises they’ve made. It’s set between the UK and Bangladesh and I’ve tried to transport the reader to those settings to give it a real world feel.
I think my writing appeals to readers because I try to write in a way that gives the reader the impression that the story could actually be taking place in the world around them, I try to do this by keeping the story contemporary and the characters’ emotions real. I like to think my readers finish the story feeling like they really know the characters.
3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.
I’ve always been quite a fan of books, movies and music finding that they are great avenues for storytelling; it was this love for story telling which inspired me to begin writing. I try to take inspiration from the world around me. My book came into being through the different mix of cultures I grew up around and my desire to tell a story that shows it’s never too late to reach out for your dreams.
Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?
I decided to self-publish my novel. The same as most aspiring writers, I was sending the usual letters and three chapters of my manuscript out to agents and publishers only to receive rejection letters, and at times no reply at all. I was fully aware that the publishing houses would only publish a finite number of books and so competition was fierce for their attention, but I had faith and confidence in my writing and the novel I had written. After meeting a few authors who had self-published their novels successfully this gave me the impetus to embark on the self-publishing journey, it was either that or let my manuscript languish on my laptop forever. I am happy to say that I believe I made the right choice.
The benefits of the self-publish are that you maintain control of the publishing process and get to run with your own ideas. Additionally, you also get to keep a higher portion of the royalties from book sales. Also because you are closer to the process of inception to sale of the end product I feel it allows you engage with your readers more often as you have to be more hands on with the whole process.
The main challenge of self-publishing is going from being a writer to a project manager and learning about all the different facets of the publishing process. I gave myself a couple of months to research what a publisher does and learn about the different elements of the process as best I as I could. I worked with an editor to edit the final draft of my novel, I also worked with my cover designer to pull together a book cover that would best represent the essence of my novel. I had to establish the most efficient distribution channels and decided to go with Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace, and also used Smashwords to distribute to all of the e-readers. The hardest part for me was the time, it can be very time consuming especially as I already had a day job, much of the time I would work through to one o’clock in the morning. This went on for about a month, but it certainly felt good when I had the finished product.
5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?
This is my first publication. Writing is a hobby for me, I had an idea for a novel and within five months I’d written my first draft. After a few editions of my manuscript I thought I would take a chance and put it out in the world. Luckily readers have enjoyed my novel, so far.
6) Your book deals with some serious subjects. In addition to being a work of fiction, it serves to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by those living in cultures unfamiliar to most Americans. Have you gotten positive feedback on that front, and do you think your work helps people to get out of the mindset of concentrating on “first world problems”?
Yes. So far the feedback has been positive. Some of the issues in the novel are new to some readers and they’ve enjoyed being exposed to issues being faced in our world today, and some have been inspired to look into some issues further and have got involved with charities to combat social and economic problems faced in the developing world.
7) Are there times when you experience “writer’s block”, and what do you find is the best way to get past that?
I’ve been lucky enough not have experienced writers block. I’m quite a keen runner and find that gives me the opportunity to gather up plots and narrative in my mind, ready for when I sit down at my laptop.
8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?
My favourite author is Zadie Smith. I think her narrative is wonderful and her characters are always full of life and you very much get feeling that you could meet them out there in the world someday. Her debut novel White Teeth is one of my favourites.
The last book that really spoke to me was
by David Nicholls. The characters in the novel were so well developed that you finished the novel feeling like you had become close friends with them. I also thought the settings in the novel were great as the author used real life events throughout the novel which meant you could relate to the story and made you feel a part of it. It was one of those novels which I really didn’t want to come to an end.
9) Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?
As I have a day job, writing is something I do in my spare time. At times it can be difficult to find enough time to write meaningfully but perseverance is key. What I ultimately hope to achieve as a writer is to tell stories that readers will find engrossing and enjoyable, and to write the kind of stories I would like to read myself.
If there were one thing you’d like to improve about your life or your writing at this point in time, what would it be?
Something I’d like to improve about my writing would be to explore other mediums of writing such as screenplays. With screenplays lacking the narrative of a novel I think improving my dialogue would be my best way to successfully write a screenplay.
11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?
I enjoying watching movies and listening to music. There’s so much variety in movies and music that there’s always something to keep me interested. However I have rarely found a movie adapted from a novel that has beat the book.
12) What’s your Zodiac sign?
I’m a Pisces.
13) One of the interesting things about you is that you’re not only well-educated, but well-traveled. What is your favourite place in the world, and why? Where haven’t you visited yet that you’d love to explore?
One of my favourite places in the world is Pulau Tioman in Malaysia. They’re two islands off the east coast of Malaysia with white sand and clear water. I spent some time there whilst backpacking around Asia. It truly was a wonderful place. Somewhere I’d love to explore is Madagascar because of the unique landscape and wildlife there, I doubt there’s anywhere else like it.
Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.
is available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. The ebook is also available on iBooks and Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and most major ebook retailers.
You can also learn more about
on the Facebook page, my website and Twitter. Links below:
Thanks so much to Shuhin for being a fascinating and wonderful guest this week. I’d also like to thank Shuhin for being so patient with the delays! I was set to get this interview up last week, when health issues kept me from completing the project. Even this week, with me not being at 100%, it is a day late…but hopefully not a dollar short!
To make up for the weekend I went missing in action, we’ll have an extra “Literary Libations” this week, with another fascinating guest author on Wednesday! Get your Kindles ready.