If you haven’t heard of our new project, the On Fire anthology, this interview series will showcase our authors and their writing lives beyond their ignited tales. In Ali Abbas‘s “Désolé Habibti,” a young woman must face the deadly consequences that comes with making a wish.
What is the first book or story that made you cry?
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. No spoilers if you haven’t read it, but for those who have – THAT scene with the kids, and the spelling mistake in the note – gets me every time.
What are your hobbies?
I’m an enthusiastic photographer, and an ambitious carpenter. I suspect my innate talent may not quite match my enthusiasm or ambition. You can check out some of my better pictures on my 500px site.
How many stories have you written?
About thirty. There are seven in my self-published collection, and five more have found homes with publishers or journals.
How long does it usually take you to write a story?
The first draft (or first eight to ten thousand words of a longer piece) usually comes out in a splurge of words on the page. That could be two or three days of almost continuous writing. I’ll do what I can to tidy it before sharing with my alpha reader. I get unadulterated honesty from that quarter. Once I’ve made any amendments from the alpha read, it goes to my beta reading group.
A short piece may get half a dozen reviewers, the longer ones get fewer. It is an enormously valuable process. They nit pick and poke and question with a combination of professionalism and affection. If we’re all writing for a competition, the whole thing could be over in a weekend. If it is a novella length piece or longer, it could take months.
Which of your characters was the hardest to write about and why?
Ariana Grayhart in Like Clockwork. Without giving too much away, she is an incredibly complex person, delicate, beautiful, determined, fragile, strong, and a genius with a moral code all her own. Getting all of those elements in place was tough, and I found myself scared of her.
What are you doing to market yourself?
Not enough. I find the marketing part of being an author really awkward. I have an author page, a facebook page, a blog, and a twitter account, and every publishing event goes out across all of them, but that only goes so far. Having Transmundane Press’s energy behind this has been a real eye opener for me. There are worlds of book promotion, giveaways, cover reveals and so on that I was oblivious to until they published Like Clockwork.
What advice do you have for beginning authors?
There is a market for your words somewhere. Roll with the rejections and keep submitting.
Ali Abbas is a writer, carpenter and photographer born and bred in London. He is the author of Like Clockwork, a steampunk mystery published by Transmundane Press; Image and Other Stories, a collection of seven short stories that examine themes of love, loss and the haunting nature of bad decisions; and Hajj – My Pilgrimage, a light-hearted and secular look at the pilgrimage to Mecca that is at the heart of the Islamic faith.
His short story / love letter to London, “An Absolute Amount of Sadness,” was published by Mad Scientist Journal in their Fitting In anthology, and his ghost story “The Girl Who Gives Me Sunsets” will be published in their forthcoming Utter Fabrication anthology.
P.S. Check out an excerpt from “Désolé Habibti” as read by Ali Abbas!