Author Interview: Z. N. Khan

Hey there,

I’m back! With another author interview. This time, the author I’m interviewing is… me!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My- yours- our name is Zuhaib Khan, though I aim to use Z.N.Khan as my published name. I’m 26 years old, from England. Currently I’m a student at Nottingham Trent University studying for a Masters degree in Journalism. I aim to use Z. N. Khan as my published name.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since I was in primary school where English was my favourite subject. I didn’t start considering writing as a career until I was in my late teens.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I would like to be published and for people to be able to see my work, as daunting an idea as that is. Being an author is the only career I see myself as having.

Which writers inspire you?

J.K Rowling is the writer who inspires me the most. I’ve just gotten done listening to ‘Goblet of Fire’ on audiobook and I listened to ‘Half Blood Prince’ and ‘Order of the Phoenix’ before that. Rowling is the one whose work inspired me to attempt writing a book and then later an actual novel.

What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?

Well I don’t want to give too much away but right now I’m working on a series of six fantasy novels. I’ve actually been working on the series since late 2010 so four years now. In 2014, the series matured a lot and I hope in 2015 it continues to grow. I want to wait at least until I’m graduated before I pursue publication.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

My preferred genre is fantasy and always has been, both in reading and writing. I guess what I like most, about fiction in general, is the scope of possibility. And in fantasy there’s also the sort of things you can incorporate. For example mythology, fairy tales and the like. You can put take these fantastical things and blend them into reality.

When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?

You can see some of the answer to this in the earlier posts but as for when I seriously decided I wanted to be a writer, it was probably when I had the idea for the series I’m working on right now. As for why I write, quite simply it’s because I love to write and to tell a story. It’s the only career I want to pursue and the thing is, when I’m writing, it’s like taking a break from real life and escaping into that fictional world for a bit. Just like you can do with a a good book, like with Harry Potter. Also, on a more personal note, sometimes I guess it’s about living vicariously through my characters since I’m disabled and find it harder to do some things that they can take for granted. I dunno, I’m just thankful for the ability to write and tell a story.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Right now, I write part time. I would love to be able to do this as a job and do it full time but I am currently a university student and, due to health reasons, not  always in the right head space to write.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Inspiration can come from anything and at any moment. Halloween night 2014, I was watching a movie and there was a graveyard scene and I turned round to go to the bathroom and i was just struck by a vivid idea for a character. I felt a really strong magnetic pull towards that character. It was the kind of thrill a writer feels they have a really awesome idea for a scene, plot, plot point or indeed a character.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I’m mostly a pantser so I guess I’m on the fence between the two. When I have an idea, I prefer to just get into it and start to write. That’s not to say that I don’t plot beforehand. I plot some but not everything, not most things in fact. It’s not the easiest way to do things but there’s no right way. It’s whatever works for the writer. I don’t think all pantsers don’t plot, at least a little. We just don’t plot everything. Like perhaps not all plotters follow their original plan all the way through. Sometimes things just happen organically in the story but having said that, I do plot more now than I did before. Like there are ideas for future plot points that I’m excited to get to that I’ve written down and hope I will eventually get to be able to get to. But mostly, I’m a pantser.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

I liken writing to solving a Rubik’s cube. Sometimes you have to concentrate that much more and work through the frustration to solve the cube and it’s the same with writing. Plot points, character motivations, links between plot point A and plot point F, making character more than caricatures i.e. making them as real as they can be on the page. All these things considered, well writing’s not the easiest career to have. It can be a headache and sometimes even a migraine. Writing a novel that has hundreds of pages and thousands of words, a writer is not the easiest thing to be.

Backstory. Writing a character’s history or detailing past events to add depth to that character or plot while keeping the backstory readable so that the writer feels invested and not like they are reading pages of boring text can be a challenge as I am currently discovering in the latest draft of book 2 in my fantasy series.

So yeah, writing can be hard. But so’s anything worthwhile. I’ve considered a variety of career options and throughout them, writing was pretty much always a constant in my life, in one form or another. And now that I know I want to be a publisher author, there’s no other career I want to pursue.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

For me, I’d say dialogue. And it’s also the most fun thing. Once I have a character’s personality in mind, it’s fun to think about how they would react to a situation e.g. sarcastically, seriously, grimly, jokingly, that sort of thing. I’ve had fun so far writing the dialogue between my main character and her friends in this series. And the scenes that involve my antagonist have been interesting too.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.

I don’t read as often as I used to. I’ve read some lately and also have listened to audiobooks. But the most reading I’ve done is of my own work. Reading is encouraged though, especially for a writer. And let’s face it, it’s a good past-time.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

Marketing isn’t really something I’ve done since I’m as of yet unpublished and right now it’s all about getting the story together. Having said that though, I do tweet about my writing and have blogged about it. I guess I’ll be marketing more once I’m on the road to publication.

What are your opinions on fanfiction?

I believe fanfiction can be a useful platform for a writer to practise their writing. Actual writing. Not everything else i.e. marketing and original character development and your own plot. You can take characters and a storyline that already exists and try your hand at writing a sustained, chaptered story, to see if it’s something you’d actually like to try with original material. If it is, then when you feel confident doing so, you can attempt your own novel.

What’s your views on social media for promoting your books?

I think social media works great for promotion and for exposure too of writers and their work. Social media has made it easier for writers, singers, actors etc to reach their intended audiences. I think that’s great.

Which social network works best for you?

Currently I only use Twitter to discuss my writing. And it’s worked great. I’ve met people interested in reading my work and I’ve met other writers who I’ve formed friendships with online. It’s been- and continues to be- an awesome, invaluable experience.

What do you think of “trailers” for books?

I think they, like Twitter or Facebook, can be another useful way to promote work. Thumbs up from me.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

I like the answer Sheenah Freitas gave for this question. But I cannot pretend that I haven’t- since I was a kid- thought the same as Brandon Moore and wished that I had been the one to write Harry Potter. But to do that, I would’ve wanted to do it the way J.K. Rowling did it, with the same humuor and detail and awesomeness. I believed it was meant for JK though as I believe that my series is meant for me. I can only hope that my story is half as well received as Harry Potter was.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The usual advice for sure. Read and read whenever you can, in your preferred genre and in other genres too just to see how the writing process works in its varying forms. Sci-fi is gonna be somewhat different to fantasy which’ll be different to dystopian.

Write as often as you can. Some writers say have a word count in mind and work to- and stick to– that. I’ve never done this myself.

One other thing that I’ve learnt from personal experience, the first draft does not have to be perfect. It really doesn’t. i had this thing for a long while where I had to make each paragraph as good as I could my first time writing it. Only when I went to reread those paragraphs, I’d more often that not be changing them again anyway. The first draft is about getting the story down out of your head and onto the paper . you can polish and prune it later.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

On this blog since it’s my blog and on Twitter @ThatZNKhan. Drop by and say hi!

Thanks for being on the blog Zuhaib.

Of course, I’m always here. 🙂

Well guys.

Until next time,

Zuhaib

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