“Write the stories of your heart, not the stories
you think the market will accept”
says K.M. Weiland in this exclusive interview to MOI WRITES
1. Tell us about yourself and the books you have published so far?
I am a very stereotypical writer chick, hibernating in my make-believe worlds, most of which are either historical or fantasy. I have published 4 novels “A Man Called Outlaw” (Western), “Behold the Dawn” (Medieval), “Dreamlander” (Fantasy) and Storming” (Diesel punk). I have also written the writing how-to books “Outlining Your Novel”, “Structuring Your Novel”, and “Creating Character Arcs”, among others.
2. Who has been the biggest influence on your journey in becoming an author?
I am infatuated with Patrick O’Brian. His Aubrey/Maturin series contains some of the most brilliant writing I have ever experienced. It is flawless—and that is a word I pass around about as often as Ebenezer Scrooge sends his mom Mother’s Day cards. I do not know that O’Brian has necessarily influenced my style or genre choice anymore than the other authors I have read. Everything you read influences you in some way, and your resulting style is just cumulative effect of a lifetime of growth.
3. What are the key factors that make a good writer become great?
There is definitely an “it” factor that top-level writers possess. In some ways, it is unquantifiable. However, I think it comes down to two things. One is a vibrant authorial voice that is interesting, entertaining, and enjoyable. The other is a fundamental understanding of life. The best writers are those who see things beyond what everyone else’s perception and then use story as the lens through which to share those glimpses with the world.
4. How important is reading in developing writing skills?
Vital. I love reading authors who are masters of characterization, adept with subtext, and players with their prose. Authors who can put all the puzzle pieces of a story together seamlessly always have something to teach me.
5. What message will you give to aspiring authors?
Write for the love of it; first and foremost. As Anne Lamott says, “Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.” Write the stories of your heart, not the stories you think the market will accept.
PROFILE OF K.M WEILAND K.M Weiland is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of the acclaimed writing guides. When she is not making things up, she is busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska. View more of her profile and her books atAmazon.
A doctor by profession and an author by passion, Dr. Samiha Zubair, author of Reneging Quiescence talks to MOIWrites in this interview
1. Briefly, tell us about yourself? Still in buoyancy of contemplating my actions of measured precursor so they will lead to fruitful results.
2. You are a doctor and you are a writer, how do you create this work-life balance?
Yes, it is so. I am a doctor and writing is my second love, though it does not make it less important. It is not so difficult as of course, I have to give priority to my profession and cater to the needs of my patients. I try myself to manage both aspects of my life. I try my best.
3. Tell us about “Reneging Quiescence”?
It is a book about the refusal to be silenced for wrong things. That has become a norm in our society.
4. Which poet inspires you the most?
From the age of nine, I loved reading children books, comics and then began reading classics. However, William Wordsworth is a poet who inspires me much.
5. Who is your favorite writer/novelist?
Paulo Coelho tops the list, but I have also read Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer, he really makes you one with his character. Also, I was inspired by God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy so did Bapsi Sidhwa.
6. How long did it take you to complete writing Reneging Quiescence? What was the inspiration behind it?
I worked on this book from the end of 2013 till 2015.
7. What are your plans?
Let’s wait and see!
8. How important do you think is reading for aspiring writers?
It is food for your thoughts, a digestive enzyme that helps us to nibble it into the desired product. Still, it is unique in how we mix, cook and serve.
9. Your message for aspiring writers of Pakistan?
Lost in swirl of Inspiration
Inspiration became me
Where am I?
It says it all and more.
For writers, please do not lose yourself. You are unique and if still not recognized, maybe still need to be discovered, maybe you just need a little pruning.
Do not become someone else, stay “you” for if you change we will lose someone forever. By the way, this is a quote I am planning to include in my second book.
“Literature will make us Immortal. As long as there is one person out in the world who reads your work, that is reason enough for you to write!”
Irum Zahra, Founder and CEO, Beyond Sanity Publishing
talks to MOIWrites in this exclusive interview
1. Briefly tell us about your life and education?
My life and education truly began when I started going to ICG, F-6/2 in Islamabad. The teachers there taught me how to love books, the libraries made me read and indulge myself in stories I had never imagined existed, and my family, my sister and my mother taught me how to be strong. I come from a broken family, my mother raised me and my sister as a single parent and we learnt how to survive in this world without a brother or a father figure. I managed to complete my bachelors and masters privately because I had already started multiple jobs while I was studying. I did not let that hinder my capabilities, I studied online, I attended seminars and trainings, and I got diplomas, all to allow me to see where I lacked as a private student. By the time I started my Masters in Mass Communication, I realized that I already had the knowledge the university was imparting.
2. What is the story behind Beyond Sanity Publishing?
It is a small story really, but the effort that I put into it has taken so many twists and turns that I myself have lost count of them. I wanted to get my own book published and after I compiled my first poetry book, Psychaotic, I started looking for publishers who would invest in me, help me understand how publishing works, how I can edit, format, market and distribute the book, but I was turned away. I was told that if no one knows my name, they will not publish my work, they said, ‘We don’t spend time and money on someone young and new’. And I was heartbroken. I started Beyond Sanity Publishing so no one tells other writers like me that they are worth nothing. I wanted to stand by the writers, the poets, and the artists and tell them that they are worth it. If we will not help our writers, who will?
3. What challenges did you face when establishing Beyond Sanity Publishing?
Well, a lot. First off, no one was taking me seriously. A 24-year-old girl talking about publishing? It sounded ridiculous to people. Gradually, when I started speaking on public platforms, I started visiting universities like Bahria, FAST, IQRA, IST, etc. and when I started delivering guest speaker sessions I convinced people that a woman can stand and speak about work and is capable of doing more. I could not find anyone to finance my initiative, I started alone and all I had were friends. They became my helping hands in bringing Beyond Sanity Publishing up. People still crack jokes about me being a publicist, but I take it as a challenge and every day, I wake up and I tell myself that I have to become someone. And I’m on the right track.
4. Which titles/authors has Beyond Sanity Publishing published so far?
Beyond Sanity Publishing has published works of over 300 writers across the globe on its website, but in Paperback, we have following titles in store:
The Youth of Pakistan by Hafiza Noor-ul-Ain, Pychaotic by Irum Zahra, Tales of Crucified Blunt by Areesh Fatmee, Eliminating Riba by Summan Waseem, Five wishes and the prophecy of the Prince by Faran Kiani, Reneging Quiescence by Dr. Samiha Zubair
Little Buddy by Sarmad Ishtiaq and In the Mirror by Sarah Samin
We have 3 more titles coming, including my own collection of poetry, Invictus.
5. At what age did you realize you could become a writer?
I was in 6th grade. I was good at making stories in English class and I was able to better connect with the poetry in our books. I used to go to the library a lot, like, a lot. My library card was filled, because I used to borrow books all the time. That really helped me finding my inner writer.
6. What was your debut book and what achievements did it earn?
My debut book was a collection of poetry, called Psychaotic. It was a word play of two words, Psycho and Chaotic. I managed to delve into my own self and see how society, life and everything else around shapes you into the human you are. It had over a hundred poems and it sold over 2,000 copies worldwide including paperback and e-book formats. It was nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards and my book managed to become the only Pakistani book to get into the semi-finals of Best Poetry Book category. I was really proud of these achievements. I still am. That book made me who I am today, it changed my life.
Because of Psychaotic, I was invited to many poetry related events as a guest, I was a judge at many universities and I was allowed to speak on public platforms which in turn connected me to so many friends I didn’t know I have. Psychaotic was appreciated in many countries including the US, UK, India, Algeria, Malaysia and I even got an appreciation note from Russia. It was used in two university case studies in the US as well.
What else, oh yes. One of the poems was turned into a song by a recent Battle of the Bands’ top 8 band, Roots. I think there is more that happened to the book, I just cannot recall at the moment.
7. What are your favorite books by Pakistani authors?
Pakistani author- Hmmmmm. ‘Asrar-e-Khudi’ by Dr. Allama M. Iqbal. Flawless book I must say, it is absolutely indulging and every time I read it, I feel like I am reading it for the first time. I am a fan of classics. I can read Manto anytime, I love reading Poetry by Faraz, Faiz and in new writers, and I enjoyed reading Beyond Desire by Asghar Abbas, I loved In the Mirror by Sarah, I published it because I personally liked it.
8. Which Western author(s) tops your reading list?
Ah, Nietzsche tops my reading list. I enjoy reading Kafka, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan etc. I am a fan of Dan Brown books as well.
9. What is the purpose of your writing?
Writing is my anchor against the hurt. I have been through depression, I have been sad and broken, but every time I was feeling like the world is going down with me in it, I wrote. I wrote to fill all the hollow spaces in my soul and I wrote to recreate all the scars I had and have.
10. How would you define Irum Zahra in a sentence?
When I introduce myself, I do not tell people about me being a publicist first. I am a poet, I tell them. I am a poet and I help other poets. In my world, Poetry saves everything, in my world, Literature will make me Immortal.
11. What are your plans?
My plans, other than taking over the world? I want to become one of Pakistan’s biggest publicists. I want to represent authors, artists, musicians, performance artists etc. I want the world to know that ours is a country made of philosophers, painters, musicians, dancers, thinkers, readers and poets. My campaign Literature for Peace will bring many poets in the spotlight and I am expecting to see many new stories.
12. Your message for aspiring writers of Pakistan?
Literature will make us Immortal. As long as there is one person out in the world who reads your work, that is reason enough for you to write!
Pictures were taken from Facebook: @kinzajavedchoudhry and provided by Kinza Javed Choudhry
1. When did you first begin to write?
Reading and writing have been my favorite hobby since childhood. When I was eleven, I used to write stories and keep them in my drawer. This continued until I was fifteen. A strong desire of writing ‘something good enough to be published’ arose within. My best friend motivated me to write more. My relationship with writing began soon after passing my Matriculation (grade 10) exams.
2. Which novelists, authors, and columnists you like to read?
J.K.Rowling, Nicholas Sparks, Khaled Hosseini for English novels. Umera Ahmed and Nimra Ahmed for Urdu. I have never read columns, as a major part of my interest lies in novels particularly related to the genre of fiction and fantasy.
3. Did you ever face the writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
Yes, I faced it quite sometimes while writing my first novel. I can only write more and well when I can feel the situation or the characters that I am writing about. To overcome this situation, I would write sentences whenever they came to my mind and then compile them in a proper way later.
4. Tell us briefly about your book and from which genre it belongs to?
“The Rainbow Journey” is an English novel belonging to the genre of Realistic fiction. The basic theme revolves around Love, Lust, and Friendship. The word ‘Rainbow’ is for seven friends and seven phases of their ‘Journey’, which is life.
5. What inspires you to write?
I do not actually possess a reason to write. I write because it makes me feel good. When I cannot express my feelings to anyone, I simply write and capture them in words.
6. What was the most challenging part from the time you decided to write a book to the time you became a published author?
I had no idea how challenging writing will be to me when I first began writing. Being an Engineering student, I did not find enough time to work on my book. I used to write whenever I got time. However, I had no idea of how to get the novel published once I had completed the first draft. Perhaps the most challenging part for me was to search, find and contact publishers and publishing companies.
7. What amount of research went when writing the first draft of the book?
I needed a lot of research to go into my book since I am an Engineering student with no English/Literature background. I never took any course in English or literature. It was my vision that stood by me during this process of research, writing, editing and publishing.
8. Which authors are your favorite?
When I choose books for reading, I mostly do not look at the author’s name. So far, my favorite books include Jannat k Pattay (Nemrah Ahmed), Peer e Kamil (Umera Ahmad), Harry Potter Series (J. K Rowling), The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini), Karakarum ka Taj Mehel (Nemrah Ahmed), Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) and all books by Nicholas Sparks. The list goes on but I would definitely like to include ‘The Rainbow Journey’ in the list.
9. What key qualities transform writers into successful authors?
Hard work, Stability, Passion, and a strong will to compete and survive.
10. Your advice to aspiring novelists?
No matter how challenging writing becomes for you, keep writing. And remember, reading is essential for writing. Read, write, have faith in the Lord and be confident when pursuing your passion of writing. One day, you will become a successful author.