Thursday, October 1, 2009

Today's Featured Author is Aasiyah Qamar

Hello everyone. Please allow me to say thanks for featuring my interview here today. It’s a great honor and a wonderful pleasure for me to be here.

1. First, could you start by telling us about your current release?

Of course! My novel Light My World will be released tomorrow October 2 as a debut release of Eirelander Publishing (I’m a ball of nerves and terribly excited!). The story is a contemporary multicultural romance that takes place on the island of Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean, and features cultural aspects of Anglo-Indian and Indo-Mauritian origin. Let me give you the blurb then I’ll tell you more about the characters and the story.

Light My World

Life's good until it throws you the one curve you never wanted or expected

When vivacious Diya chose life in the fast track, giving in to her mother's antiquated morals was never a choice. Hearth, home and children weren't a part of her plan for the short-term, even if she’d love to find her Mr. Right.

Widower Trent Garrison has already been there and done that, and has no plan to go down that road again. He has to ride the straight and steady for the sake of his sons, and nothing will divert him.

Neither can afford a U-turn. But they can't dodge it either.

Diya is of Indo-Mauritian origin, a third generation Indian when you consider how Indians came to the island under British rule between 1838 and the late 1880s to work in cane fields as indentured labor after the abolition of slavery. To this day, the Indian descendants keep their traditions and ties to their roots alive, all while their identity has evolved to include the Mauritian identity too. Yet, in this era of the 21st century, identity often means something else for the youth – it means being part of the globalised culture where roots and tradition are shackles of the past. But for this same youth, how can you shed this identity that’s been your kind’s for more than a century, and become part of something that is only now in its hatching stage?
This is the dilemma Diya faces, and the story treats this in light of a universal ‘problem’ and issue for young women of today – finding love and Mr. Right.
This Mr. Right, Trent, when Diya meets him, is Mr. Absolutely Wrong, and for Trent too, Diya not at all Miss. Perfect – she is more like Miss. Pain-in-the-neck.
On this backdrop of the perception of the ‘perfect someone’ for each one of us, Light My World takes the reader on the chaotic ups and downs of the lives of this unlikely pair.

2. Could you please tell us a little about yourself?

Sure! I’m married and a stay-at-home mom, with an absolutely angelic little devil, and I’m stepmom to an older little devil too! Like my heroine Diya, I too am of Indian descent, born and raised on this little tropical island that looks like a slice of paradise on earth with its beautiful beaches and sea and rich cultural diversity. Still, cultural diversity means a hotbed of social rules and a huge melting pot of different ways of life, and amidst this chaos, it is difficult to find your own footing and your unique identity when one side of you looks back towards the ways of the past – epitomized by tradition, customs and at times archaic beliefs – and that of the future, where no barriers exist to prevent you from reaching your ultimate fulfillment in a world of technology and globalised culture.
Other than that, after a stint in the corporate world – that totally put me off this back-stabbing and biatchy universe – I started to pursue further studies in communications science and am still battling with those degree programs to this day (soon to come to fruition though, as graduation is just round the bend!). I started writing a few years ago and Light My World is my second release, after my first novel The Other Side was published by a local publisher on my island.

3. Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or just start writing?

I am a compulsive plotter, so I usually have a full, detailed outline before I start to write. I found that this works for me because then it allows me to sit down and write whenever I can a free block of time and just get the words and story progression on paper. I’ve also got an overactive mind (that can be a bit tricky, like you start thinking and imagining storylines when, say, driving!) and I’m more of a visual writer, in the sense that I ‘see’ flashes of scenes inside my head and these are detailed and completely filled in, even sometimes to the point of hearing the dialogue from the very mouths of the characters. I know, that sounds totally insane (and no wonder maybe, because I hear the line ‘Mom, you’re nuts’ just about every other day!). I work a lot with visual cues though – specific portrait pictures of what I think the characters look like, specific location and interior design of the setting, even specific dialogue lines and expressions for every character. I’m big on backstory too, the character is most often someone I know as well as I know myself, so all this preparation work allows me to just ‘switch’ to writing mode and I place all those elements in the script of the plot, and watch them unfold while I write.
As much as I’d love time to let the muse come and grace me with her presence, I can hardly wait for her since I usually have a limited chunk of time to dedicate to writing between house and study duties (usually in the few hours my son is at school), so I need all the prep work to allow me to place myself in the relevant frame/world of the story to write it and still stick to my deadlines.

4. What genre is your favorite to write? Read?

In writing, I love to write contemporary with a comedy flair, like it’s not really comedy or comic or funny per se, but it’s got a light and fresh appeal that flows through the story. I find I ‘click’ better with this kind of writing, maybe because it is light and ‘happy’ in a way, that it takes you through with a certain spring in the heart and mind. Coming up with more intense, dramatized and ‘tortured’ lines is more of a labor for me, that I like, mind you, but the comedy aspect is something I enjoy in life itself (big big fan of romantic comedies) so I tend to write what I love too and I think (and hope! Lol) that this is obvious in my words.
As for reading, anything with a good plot and/or solid characterization features on my list. I particularly enjoy the works of Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes for funny works that take my mind off whatever may be happening in my life right then. I’m also into edgier stuff though, works of the likes of Martina Cole, who writes about the London and East End hard and realistic life and crime underworld. Philippa Gregory has reinforced my love of historicals, along with Barbara Erskine who often mixes elements of paranormal and an ‘unusual’ time period (she covered Iron Age England, circa 40-60 AD, in one of her books). Then there are the authors who sweep me into a book every time, like Sidney Sheldon and Judith McNaught. Most of the time, I’ll look for a romance plot or thread in a story, I read Harlequin and Avon (wonderful comfort food for the ragged mind) and chick-lit too is a way of breaking away from everyday life. Generally I’m looking for escape in a story, so if it gives me that and a strong romance between an unforgettable couple, I’m in happy land!

5. Is there a genre you haven't written, but would love to tackle in the future?

I would love to try my hand at YA in the future. I’m kind of on the fence with this one – it’s a dream, because it’s totally different than writing for adults. Teenagers and young people have their own ‘world’ and jargon and issues and I want to do that justice. I can recall my own teenage time, but I wonder if the youth of today face the same problems and issues I did. That’s one world that changes in the blink of an eye and it’s easy for an adult to feel some sort of generation gap with young adults and many a times, this can hamper the YA writing process, because you’re no longer able to empathize and ‘click’ with those youths and relay their plight and dynamic world and psyche with the real depth and respect that they deserve. Their universe is in constant evolution and you as a writer need to be able to feel this erratic pulse and keep it beating throughout a story that will appeal to a totally different kind of audience.

6. Do you work well with deadlines? Or do they stall your writing process?

As much as I hate to admit it, I actually thrive on the unhealthy adrenaline rush of completing a project just on a hair breadth of the deadline. As such, yes, I love deadlines and need them too. Not for this unhealthy rush, no, lol, but because deadlines allow me to plan my work and give me a framework in which I can focus my energy and drive, like I break the work into chunks and spread those chunks on a timeline and strive to meet the periodic goals set on this same timeline. I will usually assign myself a deadline on every project, and issue myself a challenge to finish it before that date. It helps to channel me, because if I didn’t have this ‘doom’ feeling of ‘deadline at such and such date’, I’d sure be one big procrastinator who’d end up getting nothing done. There have been times though when deadlines have been a pain and totally played me into a basket of nerves, and yes, I’ve missed some too, though thank goodness they were self-imposed ones. You also gotta realize that life happens too and that nothing, and no date, is generally set in stone. If it is (like exam dates!), you work with a big prep time to be able to meet said deadline.

7. What do you think makes a good story?

A strong, not hare-brained plot that has a start, middle, end with some solid conflicts thrown in; good, powerful characterization that give you ‘real’, ‘live’ people that jump off the page and leave an indelible mark onto your mind while making you feel you are in their shoes, in their minds, in their very heart when you’re reading about their life story; good voice that immerses you not just into the story but into this totally fictional world that somehow seems as real as the world outside your door when you’re reading about it; and the writer’s love of writing and love for the story that is there on every page of the book, in every word of the story. A good story to me is a fully- realized craft, a labor of love on behalf of the writer that she/he presents to the reader.

8. Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. What started as a dream and what was initiated by a love of words and a hobby of creating stories has become much more – it is now a part of me and I cannot conceive of my life without it. I also mentioned I had no plans to go back to the corporate world, so while writing is my occupation, I don’t see myself doing anything else so yes, I am pursuing it as a career. I am investing all of myself that I can invest into it, hoping it’ll bring me returns in the future. While I would definitely love for said returns to be financial in nature, that’s not my main aspiration – my biggest return on this investment I call writing would be the satisfaction of my readers and if I managed to place myself into their heart and minds as one of the authors they think of immediately when they think ‘good story’. I also don’t ever want any reader to think I am taking her/him for granted, and that’s one of my goals too. I will view the fulfillment of my career the day I have a solid, strong, and faithful readership behind me.

9. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I need to know every possible detail on every story I write. The world should have no secrets for me; I should be able to place in every dust mote when I visualize the scene. I also need to know the story inside out, every incident, every happening. And the characters too have to be people I know deep down inside, from their most insignificant, fluffy thought to their deepest, most tortuous secret.
In this way, writing is a challenge. Every story prods me in different ways, because every story is different, and in the same light, every character is different, his/her own person, full of complexity and depth.
I know this is terribly obsessive of me, and sometimes I hate it that I need to be so thorough. But at the same time, this same obsession allows me for a broader scope and a bigger depth in every story, in every psyche, that I attempt to create.
I can talk for ages about every story I write, about every character I pen. But there’s just this much I can place in a book without it sounding like overload and overkill, and seeking out what is relevant or not and how to work it in is another part of the whole building process.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Yes. That writers love, and in fact need, to hear from you. We write stories to satisfy a desire in our heart and also because writing and stories flow into our blood, but a big part of why we write is for your pleasure, for your enjoyment.
So whenever you read a story, please take a minute to let the writer know what you thought of the book. If it made a chord resonate inside you, tell the writer. If something intrigued you, ask about it. If you disliked something, tell us that as well. Give us as much of your feedback as possible, because we writers are often ‘lonely’ creatures who sit alone and write, hoping to please a reader’s mind, and believe me, when we find out we did please you or bring you satisfaction, it makes our day. It reinforces our strength and allows us to plod through, because someone somewhere liked what we wrote, so now we know we should try to make that person happy again, through another, better story.
Writers exist for and because of readers, so please do drop us a line whenever you read our work. Your feedback is much valued and sought after.

Finally, I wanted to say thanks to all the lovely people at Mistress Bella’s Interviews. It was delightful experience being here today and I hope to get to come back in the future.


  1. Hi, Z. Congratulations and loads of Good Luck on your release day! I already have a copy in my hot little hands and can hardly wait to dig in. Diya and Trent are going to be fun to read about.

    Wonderful interview, ladies.

  2. Excellent interview, Z.

    Congrats on the release. I wish you much success with Light My World!

    Again congrats on a great interview and your book release.


  3. Hi J

    Lol, yeah, I can tell ya nothing's stable and quiet when Diya is thrown into the mix. Poor Trent will find that out!

    Can't wait to hear what you think! Do chime in and let us know!


  4. Thanks Liena, glad you could drop by!

    Many hugs!!

  5. Congrats Z. Great interview and your to-be-released book.

  6. Thanks Bella! So glad to see you here!


  7. Great interview, Z. I just bought my copy of Light My World tonight.

    Great success to you.

  8. Hi Sandy

    Whoo-hoo! Thanks bunches girl!! May your words stick! Glad you stopped by, better late than never ;)