Life can be ironic but maybe there are no co-incidents:
A day after Malala Yousafzai
born in Pakistan’s Swat Valley received the Peace Nobel Prize an author born in the same place has agreed to talk to The Bee:
I am very proud to introduce you to Khalid Muhammad
author of “Agency Rules ~ Never a Quiet Day At The Office” that will give you an inside point of view of what is going on Pakistan. But I’ll let the man speak for himself:
How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
“I only need one word – driven. My childhood was filled with disappointments and hardship, it taught me one thing – never give up. I am very outgoing in my personality, always around to help others, but at the same time, I know what I want and will find a way to get there, no matter what it takes.
What made you write in the first place?
Well, I would have to take you back to 7thgrade English to explain that one. My English teacher was someone who encouraged us to express ourselves through writing. There were never any bounds placed on what we could write in our composition time. I still have some of the stuff that I wrote back in that class. It’s an angry teenager venting what he sees wrong with the world, explaining how things could be done better and looking for support and acceptance for his views. I think that is where I caught the bug.
If you are asking in terms of my current novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, the motivation was to tell the story of where Pakistan has come from and what we have been through internally to end up at the place that the media likes to highlight every evening. This was not a quick trip. The nation is not a haven for terrorists, but we do have a great deal of confusion in the narrative and no one seems to be able to tell the story right. My book is a path to learning what happened to Pakistan to make it the way it is, rather than offering a standard War on Terror symbolic novel. I wanted people to know what my Pakistan is all about – that we are a nation of good people; that we are a nation struggling to find our identity again after having it hijacked by extremists and terrorists and that we are a country that deserves to be explored because one visit to Pakistan and you’ll never believe what the media is tell you anymore.
Which Author has influenced you and why?
I would have to say that two authors greatly influenced me and my writing style. John LeCarre is one of my favorites. His ability to craft a character that is both dark and good is something that I am just honing in my own writing. Kamal Khan, my protagonist, is exactly that. He is quite dark from the perspective of the traditional playboy spy that readers are accustom to, but his intentions are always good for his nation and people.
The second author that has really influenced me is Fredrick Forsyth. Forsyth is a storyteller in the greatest form. He takes you from one location to another without skipping a beat. He will place you there and create an environment that actually makes you feel like you are really there. That is a fantastic ability to have and it’s something that I hope I will be able to achieve in my writing as time goes on.
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
I don’t know if I would call it a ritual, but I am very set in the way that I write. I am one of those that jots and scribbles throughout the day and in the evening, during the quiet of the night, I settle in with a yellow legal pad and pen to start writing. I tried to do my writing on a computer at first, but I found that I am not able to type as fast as I think so I would have to go back and re-edit rather than stay in the stream of thought as I wrote. When I switched to the pad and pen method, I found that my writing got a lot clearer and the story developed easier for me.
Once I am done writing a chapter, I punch it into my computer and then start editing out and expanding on what is already there. It’s a longer process than some have, but it gives me a better result.
Granted, none of it would work without the thundering beat of heavy metal and hard rock in my headphones. It helps me go to the world that I am creating and forget everything else around me.
Do you suffer from writers block and if, what do you do against it?
I constantly suffer from writer’s block. I think you have to when you are writing otherwise it gets old and stale. My cure for writer’s block is television and books. It helps me to refresh my mind while entertaining me at the same time.
Your advice for apprentice writers?
Don’t get caught up in what people might think of your writing. Everyone goes through an adjustment phase where they have to get their internal thoughts to link up with the written word. The problem that most aspiring writers, including myself, have is that we try to perfect the writing thinking of what the reader is going to write in a review. That’s the worst way to write.
I tell the aspiring writers that talk to me to write for themselves. Tell your story the way you want to tell it. And for God’s sake, don’t take the reviews that you get to heart. Everyone has an opinion based on what they think, have read in the past and it comes out in their reviews. Most of the people who really love your book will not write a review, they will tell other people about it and spread the word that way. Your biggest fans will never make themselves public. They will reach out in private to tell you the impact your work had on them, how much they appreciated your writing and to encourage you to write more. Those are the people that I write for and those are the people that everyone else should write for.”
Thank you Khalid for visiting “The Bee Writes…” and letting us know a little about your writing life.
You are curious and want to know more about Khalid and his book? Please read on:
Blurb for Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office
Celebrated as a ragtag force that defeated and broke the Soviet Union, no one predicted the Mujahideen would bring with them a plague that would spread like wildfire through Pakistan in the years to follow. When the battle-worn fighters returned with no enemy or war to fight, they turned their sights on the country that had been their creator and benefactor.
From the same battlegrounds that birthed the Mujahideen, a young Kamal Khan emerges as a different breed of warrior. Discarding his wealthy family comforts, Kamal becomes a precision sniper, an invincible commando and a clandestine operative bringing intimidation, dominance and death with him to the battlefield. Ending the plague is his prime directive.
Shrouded in political expediency, hampered by internal power struggles, international espionage and doublespeak that makes Washington’s spin doctors proud, Kamal’s mission is a nightmare of rampant militant fundamentalism that threatens to choke and take Pakistan hostage. For him, the fight is not just for freedom, but the survival of a nation.
By day, Khalid Muhammad is a mild-mannered business executive keeping busy running a marketing and brand management company. By night, his alter ego emerges; one that has a penchant for sadistic retribution towards those who wrong others, and that spends its time devising intricate and detailed plans for a nefarious end.
Born in Pakistan’s troubled Swat Valley, educated and raised in the United States, Khalid returned to Pakistan almost 17 years ago and fell in love with his country. His debut novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, is a journey behind the headlines about Pakistan, the world’s most dangerous place, to deliver an intense story that will challenge the reader to question everything they have been told about the country.
He began writing to let the wickedness escape, as the other option means a great deal of blood, numerous torture implements and… well, infinite ways to dump a body. It’s safer for everyone involved and less dangerous for the guilty… until he writes another book.