It’s the second Saturday of 2019, which means New Year’s resolutions are still going strong and it’s time to enjoy another Inkitt Icons Interview! This week, we spoke to Yumna_Mahmood about the rewards and challenges of writing in her second language, and delved into her mysterious character creations. Her current novels include the exciting thriller Amber Who? and the compelling romance A Little Too Dark.
Hi Yumna, thanks for joining us. To kick us off, we’d love to know whether you’re a night owl or an early bird when you write?
I am more like a flapping pigeon! I stay up till late at night and think about potential ideas for my books, and then later the next day I write them down.
Well, as a ‘flapping pigeon’, what is your ideal writing location? Do you fly to a library or land in a coffee shop somewhere?
I always prefer to write in a comfy quiet environment. I really can’t zero in on my writing if someone is trying to talk to me.
That’s understandable! When writing, do you like to let the words flow or do you prefer to plan beforehand?
When I first started to write, I preferred to go with the flow. I used to update chapters on my phone. But my plots were weak, I would never proofread any of the chapters, and don’t even get me started on my English! Let’s just say it was bad – very bad. I used to write just for fun. I honestly never thought that so many people would actually like my writing. Now, I invest more time and research into a story before I write it.
It must be really rewarding to track your organisational progress. What problems do you face when writing your books and how do you overcome them?
The most basic problem I face now and then is the language issue. My native language is not English, so I feel like I am unable to write a book in a refined way. I believe that I have a limited vocabulary and that often causes writer’s block. But I also know that I have improved a lot since the first time I started writing. I am still working on my English grammar and vocabulary, and trying to become a better writer. Let’s just say my addiction to Netflix and my reading habit helped a lot!
Wow, that’s so impressive! Writing such engaging novels in a second language is an incredible achievement. You should be very proud. Do you prefer creating heroes or villains?
As much as I love the heroic characters in my books, I really do enjoy writing about villains more. I like the idea of creating a person that my readers would love to hate. I usually don’t expose the flaws of a certain person at the beginning of the book – I like to give my readers some space to figure out who the evil character could be. I love the idea of my readers investing themselves in my story in order to figure out who the villain is. I enjoy keeping them on edge while reading, and that often happens when you don’t expose the villain from the beginning.
That’s an original theory; toying with a reader’s expectations and using deceptive prose to mirror deceptive characters is a fascinating activity. Speaking of which, what is more important to you, characterisation or plot?
You need suitable and stable characterisation to support your plot, and a weighty plot to support your characters. But if I had to choose one, I would go for a well-established plot. A reader can easily build a character to go with a plot in their head, but if the plot is weak, then they are more likely to lose interest in the book.
That’s an interesting perspective in favour of plot. Indeed, leaving some of the imaginative work up to the reader is essential to engaging writing. Are you able to describe Inkitt in 3 words?
Recreational, captivating and directive.
Great! And to finish off, are there any genres that you would like to try out in future?
Definitely mystery and thriller. All I have been writing are romantic or general fictions, but recently I have been into the idea of trying to write something more suspenseful. I have started this book on Inkitt called, Amber Who? It is my first ever mystery and thriller. I hope it comes out well. I would also love to try fantasy one day.
It sounds like you’ve got a lot to look forward to! Thank you for chatting to us, we wish you a happy and creative 2019.