authors, books, interviews, nonfiction

In the Words of An Author: An Interview With Atif A K, PhD

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Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

Well I started my fascination of reading with Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming but with the passage I also recognized my fancy for non-fiction so I would say if you keep aside the marketing/strategy/branding on the more personal side I like Eckhart Tolle. He is definitely not only an author but his works amplified because of his books. I also like Dr. Daniel Amen whose works with brain rewiring has really mesmerized me. Of course, Shakespeare is always there to provide a framework to anyones comprehension. I also like the Lebanese great Khalil Jibran and his works Broken Wings and Madman very inspiring. There is also a Pakistani writer Ashfaq Ahmed- whose philosophical works transcend universalism into humanism.

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

My inspiration to writing particularly screen-writing because thats where I write most of my characters- is totally driven from the unusual faces that I see. They all tell me a story and their mental ambience. The environments from where they are hailing. I understand these faces make my task easier to dramatize both as a writer and director. So before I even met them when I use them on screen- I have a fatal portrait in my head with a reference point of someone that I saw in the train or at the bank or merely hanging at my favorite bar or local cinema. The inspire me to tell their metaphysical tales that they never told me.  

For instance, I saw a homeless guy who could have been a body double of Gregory Pack- I saw him talking to himself, he was probably unwell. But that drove me to write the street actor character on my short film Do You Know Me? where his acting rehearsal/monologue was considered talking-to-himself by many strangers around.

I find talking to ones self extremely romantic and I have used it in my upcoming film The Disowned where Kay Gamaldi (the female lead/central character) talks to herself about her affair and where she stands in the relationship. I may say that all these characters are my favorite and are inter-related to my innate fair of never talking to myself. They are linked with my inner obscurities and social phobias. In terms of writing technique in The Disowned our male protagonist (Gil Gilead) is also antagonist and it will lot of fun unleashing and cheating the audience with his character and histrionic role.  A small glimpse into it can be seen here.

https://youtu.be/4DX4xp-AM0E

Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

I like to write scenes in which there are less dialogues and more non-verbal communication. The actors use their expressions, emotions and body language to communicate the sub-text of what’s being seen. It’s like a person who can’t hear or understands the language- even who cannot read closed captions would still understand where the scene is going.

Fortunately, we are writing in an age where new media and mainstream is too much reliant on independent artists- who take liberty to approaching subject matter from brand new angles. The other versions- so to say. Just last night I saw Shape of Water and I was fascinated how in a fantasy world Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor have tricked the audience while developing a plot by building it up. Fine lining the outcasts of the previous eras while legitimizing the beauty and beast concept in a distorted, spectacular and unusual way. Sort of breaking a taboo but at the same time leaving an untouched impression of a story strangely told by unusual characters.

So these kind of scenarios may be hard to depict by the book but surely leave a stellar impression and are easier to write- if you are immune to writing things from the unprecedented angles.

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Clarity of thought is the most prized possession for any writer. The ability to think through the storm and to be able to come out survivor is so much gratifying at least for me being a writer. If I write good couple of pages every morning as I wake up- 50% of task has been achieved for me for the rest of the day. Writing is cathartic, it is therapeutic- and like Ozzy Osborne once said- he would actually pay his audience if he had to, just to let him perform. So thats the most rewarding part- I would write for free. It is sort of confessional, and letting it off your chest or sharing the fire in your belly. After that there is calm, like after a tempest. But thats not easy being able to find that poise in the way you compose your writing. Apart from commercial writing, self-indulgent writing needs lot of discourse, contemplation and self conflicts. Yes, all the questions have to be answered before they are put on paper- and sometimes, these answers dont come easy. And sometimes they take lot of time. Its like a secret watch-tower in the writers head that leads the sail in the dark. This phenomenon is much more gratifying than any other feeling. When the sail reaches the shore. And of course, financial and other accolades follow the suit. Because this is a diamond that the writer brings from a distant mine that no body knows as it exists in the clumsy minds.   

What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Get solitary confinement in a hotel and start dreaming without being buffered by anyone or anything. Of course when you read 100 pages, you are then able to write one good page. Our brains are receptive when we have lot of reference memory and observation material around. You have to be compulsive thinker. Free-thinking has always worked for me and to be able to avoid any intellectual conflict or cognitive dissonance so to say is the way out as an artist and as an author.

Unfortunately, writing prospered when it was the only mode of entertainment. In the cross media age- writing is done for various platforms. But having said that every product and entertainment starts and ends with good writing. It cannot begin without someone sitting down and composing the ideas. So in a way the scope of writing has even widened. Although there has been tremendous development in new wave media and platforms but the enhancement is not that remarkable when it comes to writing technique. We are hooked on Stephen Kings and Rowlings along with Grishams. There is more to it- in terms of substance beyond genre. And that is the reason we see some of very predictable stories emerging to be huge like Twilight and Shades of Grey. Although it is essentially recycled material in a new setting- much like Shakespeare in a standard format. But when Romeo and Juliet or Midsummer Nights Dream or even Tempest was written there was no sign of screen and a bunch of actors will play it out on theater. In that sense such intricate content was hard to be communicated so easily. So we as writers who are just started out- must start thinking out of the box while not forgetting that we are slave to the comprehension of others so whatever we may tell should not be safe but it must fit the meter as we call it when we rhyme or create an even flow in writing.

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

No writing comes to me instead of the other way around. When I feel desperate to put it on screen or note it in my iPhone pad that’s when the magic starts churning. I have no idea what I am about to write- unless it keeps lingering in my subconscious and just flushes out at a point where I cannot hold it anymore. Like a secret hard to carry around, or like being a witness to some crime. You need to tell, you can’t keep it to yourself. Because the self-contemplation and no being able to share the burden and experience will ultimately leave you with immense guilt. Which if not told on time and in time will stick like a dirty deed in my psychology forever.

So that’s how I write. I may be doing laundry, or swimming, or practicing Yoga, listening to a song or just searching on Google where I parked my car. While I might later realize that I took Uber instead of my car on the way back home- I have a great idea with me, that prompts me to write. So before I go back to the mall and find my lost car- I need to put it in Word. That’s my ritual- I need a solid excuse to prefer it over any other task in my life. And that has kept my flame alive and made people pay me for this dedication to this art form.

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Absolutely. I wanted to be an astronaut but then I found writing, as I was stuck on an Executive Floor of Marriott for 8 months. It was like solitary confinement, I was left with nothing but weird life concepts buzzing through my day- in and out. I had this urge to reflect on things the way they are and the way they should or can be. I think solitude is the excellent time, when one can find their calling. This is the reason of all the prisons- around the world. To give people time to reflect and fix. I am sure without solitude; one cannot acquire a set of skills to offer the world. There is no contribution, if you are not by yourself. After that bout, I spent another couple of years as my creative pilgrimage in a downtown hotel. There I used to watch movies, sleep, eat and repeat. Strum guitar once in a while, work online and order food through room service. 

This kept on, until I was left with nothing else to do but write. I was also fortunate enough to be able to write couple of books as ghostwriter, to understand the challenges and review the process from inception to cover design. The research, statistics and reference studies all proved to be the honing ground for my creative maturity.

If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

William Peter Bletty writer of Exorcist as to what was going through his mind when he wrote this. This has remained to be a timeless classic and masterpiece. Ahead of time and will always be- to the point when humans can develop the technology to reach out to another dimension and communicate with dead souls. I know there was some case in Germany little similar to what was depicted in the book. But the way it was written in a passive manner was both shocking, extremely dramatic and urges you to revisit your faith or school of thought. Thats the power of writing, its like a punch on your face. His later works didnt strike the right note with the masses but thats what writing is- once the world discovers you, you are lost as a writer.   

Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?

Couple of pages from the book that are published on EZine Articles. Feel free to check them out.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Atif_A_K/2465019  

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Curious to know more? Check out these links:

http://a.co/0d8IEBM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=1IHKY0Rv01g
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