Finally, we are here in conversation with none other than Faiz Yusuf – the amazing writer behind the stellar debut novel Supernova. Without much ado, over to him:
1. First of all, congratulations on your debut novel ‘Supernova’. Can you please tell us something about the book and how did it come into being? What was the inspiration behind this story?
Thank you so much, it really means a ton. This book came into being out of a sudden realization that if you want to give storytelling a form, it has to be an intricately-bounded novel and storytelling was something I was trying to focus on from a long time straying from poetry which I think I already tried my hands with. The inspiration behind the story would primarily be the perspective from which I tried to look at the world. There’s so much uncertainty in this world that you could take all right steps yet you can end up in a wrong destination, and really this twisted, peculiar way of how sometimes life could work gave me an angle that I thought was worth being written about.
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2. One thing you would like a reader to take back from your books.
I tried to really write something that was pedagogic in nature and that’s why I really hope that all those who happen to read the book, especially the young adults, may find life lessons embedded in every quarter of the book. I hope this not only stands as a collection of suck-it-up-because-this-is-life lessons but also give people a different perspective to view things around them or that happen to them.
3. Supernova has an extremely unique style of narrating a seemingly ordinary tale of having loved and lost in life woven around the theme of adulting and existential crisis. Was it a conscious effort to talk about the finer nuances of life rather than talk about the larger picture?
I am so honored that you noticed it. And the answer would completely be- yes, there was a very deliberate effort to tread into finer details and events. When you’re not restricted by the number of words you can write, you tend to go deeper than just rowing on the surface. I wanted to tell people how this and that incident felt, but I also wanted to convey why this emotion was felt, what was its effect on the character and what was the consequence of it. I felt that these small events could line up into a long chain that could do much more than just draping the book with a simple, wide blanket of the themes talked in it.
4. Your writing is extremely poignant and sensitive, especially while writing about the dark and difficult phases of life. How much of it arises from your own experiences and observations?
I believe most of these come out of my own one-to-one encounters with life. My writings have always been extremely autobiographic, and even with this book, whether it were the themes of lost love or mental health, it came from a very personal space. I am very much inclined to talking about what hurts because when you do, it has, at least for me, brought a lot of comfort and completely new perspectives to the given matters.
5. What does writing mean to you? Is it something you always wanted to do as a child?
Interestingly, no. I was always bent towards economics, humanities and the social sciences. I think writing was- in every way- inherent because I did not work towards it until very recently. I never cared enough to read a lot of newspapers to enrich my language and honestly, most of the bends in my poetry from a young age were influenced by the music I listened to.
6. As a writer, what according to you is the biggest challenge for every writer today?
To write something different, or that it appeals to people in a manner nothing before has. It’s a constant need for every form of art to not fall into a cliche or not be something that has already been done before and I think this really stands as a challenge to all creators- to not only create something new, but make sure it’s never been done before because that’s mostly the way you gain credibility with your work.
7. If there was one writing tip you could share with aspiring writers, what would it be?
It would really be that write something that comes from a very personal space. It is not easy to do it but when it is raw, there’s an exceedingly high chance to it that it is going to be impactful to not only you but also to the ones who read it. Writing from your observations and your lessons make your writing unique because your personal observations and lessons are themselves unique.
8. For a debutant who has some experience about the workings of a publishing industry as well,what do you think about the challenges a writer faces, especially when it comes to marketing their own book. How difficult is it to stay true to your art and not give in to the commercial demands this profession entails?
Having worked for Penguin Random House and Harper Collins, I have realized that writing a book is a very integral part of the publication process but that is not where the pen stops. People won’t read what you have written until and unless you go out into the world and tell people why you should read it. I think there’s a very difficult task for all aspiring artists to make sure they write something that means to them, while it also resonates with the people, because at the end of the day, you publish a book for others to read it. There’s no one panacea to it or else I would have used it for myself as well but marketing is essential and making sure what we invest in as well as use the right medium to promote it is all the more important.
9. Do we see you experimenting with genres? If yes, which genre would you like to write in?
I would love to. As I said, you always want to do something very different every time and juggling with different genres is something that allows us to make an attempt toward that. That being said, it’s not very fluid switching between the genres because you are used to a certain type of writing style but I don’t think I’ll ever want to limit myself in terms of topics or genres.
10. Any words for your readers.
If you have read Supernova, I would love to know your thoughts on it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking out the time and effort to read it. And even if you haven’t, I would still be really excited to talk to you about random stuff. Please feel free to hit me up at email@example.com and I would love to have a nice conversation.