An Interview with Author Mehreen Ahmed #WritingCommunity #WriterLift #barrioblues
MEHREEN, I KNOW YOU LIVE IN AUSTRALIA. TELL MY READERS ABOUT YOURSELF.
I have been living in Australia for about thirty long years. I completed studies in applied linguistics at the University of Queensland, and published a few academic papers in peer reviewed journals such as Cambridge University Press, Routledge, callej.org, ISTE, and more. At this stage, there were no plans to write anything even remotely fiction, because, I was way too occupied with academic stuff. The inspiration for creative fiction and nonfiction came much later. One day, I thought to myself that I also have an MA degree in English Literature, maybe I should think about something along those lines, since I had been a voracious reader of literature, both in English as well as my native, Bengali. Hence, I started thinking of writing a novella, and a few months on, I sat down to pen my debut, Jacaranda Blues.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST STORY ABOUT?
I had known for sometime that people would read what I write. Because my publications began to appear in journals and magazines and my works cited. The more I published, the more supported I felt, and the more inspired I became.
I RECENTLY READ AND REVIEWED THE PACIFIST AN AMAZING BOOK FULL OF GORGEOUS DETAIL. YOU HAVE SEVERAL INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED NOVELS. CAN YOU OFFER A GLIMPSE OF HOW YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORKS?
I mainly write in stream of consciousness. I like this style, because I feel that a writer is at her best in this mode. Her thoughts are raw, and there is a sincerity about this raw kind of storytelling, which I find closes the gap between reality, and make belief. Fiction by definition is “unreal”. However, we collect our raw material from life, and polish it to make it readable and more acceptable. But a lot also gets lost in that process. Stream-of-consciousness style, closes that gap.
OFTEN, YOUR USE OF STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS GETS HIGHLIGHTED BY REVIEWER. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WRITING TECHNIQUE OR TECHNIQUES YOU IMPLEMENT?
Yes, Stream-of-consciousness style of writing, which I have elaborated above.
WHAT TECHNIQUES WOULD YOU LIKE TO IMPROVE UPON?
Stream-of-consciousness definitely, but also improve on prosody, diction, and overall structure.
IN THE PACIFIST, YOU HAD A WONDERFUL BALANCE OF CRITIQUE OF THE RULING CLASS AND TOUCHED ON ISSUES OF CHILD ABUSE, MISOGYNY, AND RACISM. I THOUGHT THEY WERE BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED AND THAT YOU WERE NOT PROSTELYTIZING. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THESE POTENTIALLY CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECTS WITHOUT BEING OVERLY POLITICAL?
I touched upon them in great sadness. I find it terrifying sometimes, when I think of the world we raise our children in. I also feel that safety is not guaranteed, neither is this our right. It is accidental. I am not a politician, I am a mother, and I have viewed a lot of these issues from a mother’s point of view, from the point of view of helpless people who neither have power, nor money to change their situations.
WHAT THREE KERNELS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER? A SEASONED WRITER?
The three main issues, I would narrow down, are sincerity, knowledge about what you are about to write, and good control over language.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED TO WRITE?
Social issues, world views, human condition are some of the factors that help me to continue to write.
I KNOW FROM EXCHANGES ON FACEBOOK THAT YOU HAVE A FAMILY, TWO DAUGHTERS, I BELIEVE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR FAMILY AND WORK AND WRITING LIFE?
I have an adult son, and an adult daughter. My family is very supportive, not demanding in anyway, so I’ll always have enough time on my hands to think about writing. I usually find the time, when I feel pressured to write. However, I don’t write all the time, but only when I feel like it.
AS YOU KNOW, A NUMBER OF YOUR FANS WORSHIP THE GROUND YOU WALK ON, SUCH AS THE AUTHOR STEVE CARR. ARE THERE WRITERS YOU HOLD IN THE SAME REGARD? IF SO WHICH?
Steve Carr is a prolific writer himself. You too are fantastic, and profound. I’ve countless number of writers from ICWG (Inner Circle Writers Group), who I hold in great regard.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS.
I am writing a book set in my country of birth, Bangladesh. This book is about a fallen aristocratic family. The narration involves many social and political issues of the time. I am still writing it, so I can’t describe it all. But once the book is finished, I’ll know more about what it is about.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
Yes, I believe so, more than politicians. At the end of the day, it is the politicians, who have and will destroy the world, with wars, plunders, escalated human crises, and what have we? I consider myself lucky to have lived in relative safety. Wholesome art unites people, makes people forget their differences, and gives living a new meaning.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR SOCIAL MEDIA?
Yes, they can follow me on Twitter: Ahmed2Mehreen, LinkedIn and Facebook.
MEHREEN, IT HAS BEEN A REAL HONOR. I LOOK FORWARD TO READING MORE OF YOU WORK! I HOPE WE DO THIS AGAIN SOON.
Thank you for your time and effort. Many thanks, indeed and best of luck.
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