Hi there everyone!
Today I am talking to the writer Yasir Sulaiman on writing and reading.
I began writing at the age of eight when I wrote my first poem for my mother on her birthday. I was inspired by my father who used to write poems in his teenage years. In addition, I grew up in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates when the country was just evolving. In contrast to the present, there was nothing there at that time. We lived in a small flat along with other co-inhabitants (who had no children). The internet was not popular and we had no cable television. This was 1992. My only solace? Or release from the world at that time? I created an imaginary world filled with poems, short stories and amateur drawings. I used to sketch cartoons, too. I was, and still am, a very bad artist but the strength of imagination in my work always impressed everyone.
The birth of the author that I am today began when I was in high school. I had my first crush and wrote a small novelette filled with poetry for the girl of my dreams. It was amateur and inspired by several Indian movies. But it worked! She was mine! :-)
I became instantly popular in school and this continued till college. But perhaps the stars didn’t like my rise in popularity. I had a serious accident when I was in college in India which scarred my brain for life. I was in a coma for 3 months and when I regained consciousness, I had completely lost my memory. Everything! I couldn’t remember my friends, and didn’t even know the alphabet! I’ll fast-forward through the next few months. By now, my family was in debt and my parents were jobless so I had to make a living. I relearned English and began to write. At first, I did odd jobs of content writing and in 2005 self-published my first book. Amazon Kindle was either not available or not popular in India at that time, hence I self-printed my own book and went door-to-door selling it!
In the early days, I begged many people for support, but most of them turned their faces away. Luckily, a few encouraged me and kept me going. When I look back on my earlier writing, I can see that my writing has changed over the years. It has become more professional, more detailed and more connected with reality as I have become more mature.
What keeps me writing? The words of the then Editor-in-Chief of a leading newspaper in India and now the chairman of a publication house. He laughed at me when I begged him to publish my book. He said my work was worthless and he wouldn’t invest his own money in it. Those words still ring in my ears. I hope he reads this interview!
Now I write a variety of fictional novels, short stories, poetry, blogs, printed and website articles, amongst other things.
The ideas for my novels come to me through songs in Indian films. I write a few words based on a song that has made an impact on me and the idea just develops from there.
I am the main character in all my novels. In fact, every character has something of me or someone I know in real life. Many of the events in my books say something about me and my life and opinions.
The settings are a mixture of places I have actually visited and places I create in my imagination. But they are mostly from my imagination.
All my novels have hidden messages. I want to tell people something. I don’t feel I can be too open as some readers may recognise themselves or me in my books, so I try to get my message across subtly without causing offence. Not everyone will understand the real message.
I write only at night-time when everyone else has gone to sleep. My mind works only when there is no sound and the atmosphere is cool. Once I have these conditions, I can write anywhere. All I need is a pen and a book or my laptop. It can be hard but once I set my mind to do something, I do it.
I used to read a lot in my teenage years but stopped for a few years due to lack of time and other issues. But even when I wasn’t actually reading, I felt I was always reading people – studying them carefully. There are so many stories to be told across the world. If you look around and talk to people you will find that everyone has a story to tell. I try to engage with reality in my books.
I just enjoy reading, not only novels or books. I read everything on the internet, I read the newspapers and have recently commenced reading e-books. I’m so glad to rediscover the joys of reading.
I read about one book a week. I like to read something that I think will make an impact on me and I like it to be based on reality. But I do read a wide variety - Romance and some Erotica, Action, some Sci Fi and some Horror. I don’t choose Comedy; I prefer to watch Comedy. The things that put me off a book are unnecessary sex or violence and stereotyping of people.
I find new books to read everywhere – friends recommend ones they think I will enjoy; I see something interesting on the internet or television: I look around bookshops and the libraries.
When I choose a book, I look at the cover and the title first of all. If it’s a printed book, I will select a longer novel, but if it is on a screen, I tend to pick a shorter one as I find reading on a screen is not so relaxing. Some of the books I read are stand alone and some are in a series. I enjoy books that are based on reality. My favourite books seem to change all the time but The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is definitely one of them.
Thank you, Yasir, for telling us about your life and sharing your thoughts and ideas on writing and reading.
Thank you, Trish, I have so much more to share! You’ll have to read my books to find out.
Here’s the book Yasir recommends:
And some of his own books:
You can get in touch with Yasir Sulaiman at:
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/authoryasirsulaiman/
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/ImeandYasir
LinkedIn profile: https://in.linkedin.com/in/yasir-sulaiman