Q1. Numan, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us about your humble beginnings as an emerging writer.
I appreciate the opportunity. I was always a storyteller at heart. I would often spend long hours with my friends, coming up with elaborate scenarios including our favorite characters. After a while, I started coming up with my own characters and stories. Most children daydream but when you are fated to become a writer, you start living in those dreams.
I didn’t start properly writing till last year, when stuck in quarantine (and having already read half the books I owned at the time) a dear friend of mine invited me to join her blog and write short stories. Once the ink had dried on the first story, I knew this was my calling in life.
Q2. I noticed on Saba T. Siddiqui’s blog MicroTales that your stories featured vocabulary which was among the best I’ve encountered from a person whose first language isn’t English. How have you achieved such a high level of quality in regards to your creative writing?
For as long as I can remember, the driving force behind my actions has been curiosity. I always wanted to understand how the world works and why people behave the way that they do. Growing up in Saudi Arabia during the 90’s, I didn’t have many opportunities to indulge that craving for knowledge. Our school had a tiny library with a sleepy teacher who could care less about the condition of the books or the students. Despite that, I was intimate with every inch of that cramped room.
Whenever I came across any piece of new information, I would absorb it like a sponge. This habit inculcated a love of learning that I cherish to this day. My dearest avenues of exploration are Philosophy, Psychology and History. In order to understand the ideas presented there, you need to have a deep appreciation of complex language.
Q3. If there was a year where no new movies were being released, which of your top 10 favorite movies (in ascending order) would you repeatedly watch during that time?
I don’t consider myself a cinephile so I think 10 is a lot but I’ll try none-the-less:
- Blade Runner (Director’s Cut)
- Love Actually
- Scent of a Woman
- The Lion King (The original animated one)
- Aladdin (Also the original)
- Treasure Planet
- A Silent Voice
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire
- Sleuth (The 1971 version)
Q4. Which writers have influenced your storytelling the most?
I think it would be unfair to lay the blame for my writing at a single person’s feet. As creators, we absorb inspiration from all over and we sometimes aren’t even aware of what is influencing our work and how. I feel myself more captivated imaginatively by movies and anime than other writers because I don’t want to ape somebody else’s style, which in my humble opinion usually ends up as a wasted effort. Usually when I’m writing, despite my best efforts, a bit of whoever I am reading at the time creeps into my own work. But if we’re talking about writer whom I admire for their unique ideas and powerful voice then those, in no particular order are:
- Iain M. Banks
- N.K. Jemisin
- Mario Vargas Llosa
- Roberto Bolaño
- Octavia Butler
Q5. Any advice for aspiring authors?
I still consider myself an aspiring author so my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. First I would like to begin with what I think is the duty of a writer; they’re the chroniclers of the human condition. There have been untold generations before us, and many more yet to come, the only way we can communicate with them, is to leave them accounts of what we were, how we lived and loved. How we died and suffered. In order to do that, a writer must submerge themselves in the haze of human consciousness.
What I’ve never seen mentioned whenever new creatives are addressed is the idea that inspiration shouldn’t only come from the medium where you intend to produce your own work. We should seek that everyday and in all forms. I encourage other writers to look at art, listen to experimental music, watch art-house films, go to YouTube and binge watch amateur theater. Don’t be afraid of your own curiosity, let your brain wander, as much as it needs to.
Q6. What are your hobbies besides reading and writing?
Apart from reading, I enjoy cooking for my friends. I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to the culinary arts but I’m hoping to get there soon enough. I also am an avid gamer, but I limit myself to single-player and story-driven experiences. Apart from that, I’m a big fan of the outdoors, hiking, camping, taking day trips to the countryside.
Q7. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
Right now, I am working on my debut novel. It is inspired from a short-story I wrote on MicroTales called Child of Heaven. The idea burrowed itself in my brain and I could not shake it off, so I decided to flesh it out and see where it goes. The basic premise of the book is a post-apocalyptic civilization where humanity has been brought back from the brink of extinction, but this time we are not alone in the universe, the Gods of our myths have come alive. I will be exploring themes of religion, existentialism, fear, love and destiny. Secondly, I’m working on a modern-day Romance-Thriller (Working Title: The Blue Dark).