Name/Alias : Amna, but since I have discovered my geek powers, I now go by GEEKTASTIC.
Blog: Amna Writes
Tumblr: I’ve started this project, where I search for my writing inspiration through photography. I want to post a picture every day, and see by next year if I have once and for all defeated writer’s block. http://geeksrus.tumblr.com/
Summary of current work in progress:
MAX! The Not So Great
Sixteen-year-old Maximilian spends his life trying to live up to the greatness of his name. In an attempt to search for greatness, Max signs himself up for the American international exchange. He knows little of greatness, but one thing’s clear: he isn’t going to find it in Great Britain. However, his exchange partner Asif is more alienated in the land of dreams than he is. The only thing Max learns in San Diego is to close his eyes and hold his breath when his head is dunked into the toilet. Max soon realises that in Hoover High school, the sole path to greatness is pulling off the prank of the year.
Max and Asif have a plan. Steal their class wish box— containing everybody’s inner desires—publish the bully’s wishes for all to see and gain the schools admiration. It seems simple enough, until Max’s conscience starts to bug him. Max decides that a great thing would be to turn the wishes into reality.
Yes-girl needs to say no, twinkle toe jock wants to reveal his true identity and the caveman twins want to be able to graduate. But when Max and Asif’s wishes clash. Max has to decide what a great man would choose. His or his best friend’s happiness.
Can you share a few excerpts from MAX! The Not So Great?
“The silence was full of words unsaid. Heavy, it dripped from the air. Thick liquid, shoving itself down our throat. Forcing us to swallow the truth.”
“The sky was defeated, it sagged. Black and blue. Raining on Asif. It’s shocking, how long one takes to build up a dream and how quick it was for another to destroy it.”
“I jumped into bed and waited for sleep to come. To wrap me in her arms so we can drift of together. The sweetness of the night filled my taste buds, and the taste of hope was addicting. Pure—without artificial coloring or flavoring—hope.Choco: Beautiful!
Hope that I will find greatness tomorrow.
Hope that it will find me.
Hope that Asif will stop snoring.”
If someone was writing a biography about the life of Amna the Amazing, what would they have scribbled down so far?
Amna the amazing—has a nice ring to it! These last seventeen years have been full of highs and lows. Have been full of moments I laughed so hard I snorted milk from my nose. There have been moments I cried myself to sleep. There are moments I was so embarrassed that I wanted to the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Then there are those moments you have butterflies in my stomach when I’m about to put myself out there: personal wise and professionally. I’ve lived in six different countries and I absolutely love traveling. I love meeting different people, learning about different cultures and ways of life. So in these seventeen years I’ve experienced hardships, triumphs, and made decisions that define who I am.
Unlike Max, I’m not searching for greatness because I realized that greatness is all around us!
These are some of the ‘great’ moments of my life:
1. First time I swam: When I was eight, I was pretty convinced that I would NEVER be able to swim. I was convinced it was IMPOSSIBLE. Then my dad helped me out, and slowly I started splattering around in the water. Then the armbands came off. Then I was doing full breast and backstrokes. THEN, I won my school’s swimming meet. I realized then that nothing is impossible.
2. Junior prom: It was that whole ‘Cinderella’ moment for me. By then, I definitely came into my own. I was comfortable in my own skin. And, I think it’s important that every girl/boy has there ‘Cinderella’ moment. It’s important everyone is comfortable in his or her own skin.
3. My short story in IMAGINE LITERARY MAGAZINE: I have no idea how to explain this one, but just seeing your work in print. In an actual literary magazine. It’s pretty damn awesome.
4. Rejections: being rejected by someone, and getting your work rejected by someone is all really hard to swallow. But it’s important to know that rejections are apart of life and this industry. You really need to suck it up, and hold your head up high. The only person that bring you down is you. And the only way to lose the ‘race’ is by taking yourself out of it.
5. Completing my first novel: There is just this warm feeling at the pit of your stomach, that rises and swarms your whole body. Again, pretty damn awesome. And yes, I did coo at my manuscript and call it my little baby. I’m a proud mama.
So, you live in the place of my dreams: England. What’s it like being in near proximity to moldering castles and grandiose museums, the Thames, and the layers of history thick around you? Do you drink tea a lot, what’s your favorite British turn of expression, and WHERE IS HOGWARTS?!
Well, I’m not going to lie to you Choco- IT IS PRETTY AWESOME. Out of all the countries I’ve lived in, England is by far my favorite. And I absolutely LOVE living in London. Like you said, I love being surrounded by amazing buildings, I love that there are literally thousands of different cultures intertwining together in this very city I call home. One of my favorite thing about London is the museums! Its so rich in history, culture and I just want to live there. Yes, I drink A LOT of tea. Like, I’m kind of addicted to the stuff. Every morning, the kettle must turn on and I need to sip some good tea while reading/or watching bad reality TV. And there are so many expressions to choose from!
1. Bloody hell!
2. We’ve been rumbled (we’ve been found out)
3. It’s a bit taters in here (It’s a bit cold)
4. He’s telling porkies (he’s telling lies)
5. Feast your mincers on this! (look at this)
They all make me laugh so hard!
And, I was VERY disappointed that I didn’t receive a letter from Hogwarts on my eleventh birthday. VERY DISAPPOINTED! I’ve had to accept I’m just a boring old Muggle. But, I have a plan to infiltrate Hogwarts head quarters, but the stupid workers at the train station keep giving me weird looks when I ask where platform 9 ¾ is.
What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it when writing starts to drive you nuts?
I used to do a lot of role play games when I was a kid, and I would force my siblings and cousins to take part! I would get really creative, and I just loved making characters. That’ what really attracted me to writing—the characters. I loved reading from a very young age, and my love of reading translated into writing seamlessly. I got serious about four years ago. So as you can imagine, my first attempt at writing a book pretty much sucked because my plotting was VERY BAD. And I slowly learned that a novel is more than the characters! It’s important to also focus on plot, voice, pacing and make sure your writing is STRONG. Creating characters is still my favorite aspect in writing a novel, and its them that makes me stick to it when everything else drives me nuts.
You’re one smart girl and I’ve heard you’ve been getting acceptances from some top universities! How do you plan to explore writing while in university? What are you majoring in?
It’s the awesome geek powers that have come through for me while I applied to university. How else have I been accepted everywhere I’ve applied? So ignore what your friends/co-workers say. Being a geek is AWESOME.
I’m majoring in Human Science. I want to study the relationship between the biological and social existence of human beings, between nature and culture. This major transcends the arbitrary division between the ‘arts’ and the ‘sciences’. I’m also minoring in English literature, because I love studying great literature—It so much more helpful for my writing then an actual creative writing class. I’m preparing myself for a large workload, but I hope to squeeze in my writing. I can’t imagine a world where I can’t write.
Since writers are known to have quirks, what are some of yours?
I play scenes in my head like a film, and when a scene is upsetting, I frown or when a scene is funny, I tend to laugh. Only problem is these scenes run through my head while I’m in public, so I look like some psycho who is laughing by herself on the train or bus. And, I’m a crazy person who ‘talks to herself’ (well, according to my friends I am). They don’t understand that sometimes my character’s inner dialogue is running through my mind and I answer back to some of the things he/she thinks.
OH GOD. I am crazy.
I also love turning up the music on full volume and dancing like crazy. It pumps me up before I go to write. My brother wants to mention that I really can’t dance, and I agree.
Why YA? Do you have plans to branch out to any other genres?
Your teen years are full of first love, heart ache, angst (and mangst!), discovering ‘who you are’, dealing with ACNE (urgh), trying not to cringe when your parents give you ‘the talk’ and trying to be independent and your own person in this wacky world. With this and more, who doesn’t love YA?! I’m thinking of branching out to Literary novels, but my writing still needs to develop which will take years, but I’m willing to put the hard work in!
What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise? Personally, I just want to have a book made out of chocolate :p
OMG? YOU CAN DO THAT? YOU CAN HAVE A BOOK MADE OF CHOCOLATE! THAT. I WANT THAT!
Ahem. I also want to be published, but I don’t want to be published to make money. I want to be able to touch people, like amazing writers have touched me. I want to be able to connect with my readers. My dream is to have a reader approach me and tell me the impact my novel has had on them. I would seriously die a happy person.
What’s your writing process? Do you adhere to the outline or do you just go with the flow?
When I started out, I was AGAINST outlining. I was sure it would cripple my creativity, but as you know I pretty much suck at plot, so it’s now important for me to do a vague outline of a plot. I stick to this plot arc: the normal, the rise, the fall and the evening out. I’m still working on getting that satisfying ending that makes you go, ahhhhh. Also, I now ask myself one simple question: WHY? Why is my character doing this? why is this happening to my character? It helps so much when it comes to editing. And you really get developed characters and plot.
Besides writing, what’s your favorite hobby?
I’m loving photography right now. I love capturing beauty in all its different forms. I also absolutely love the theatre! What I enjoy the most about the theatre is its spontaneity and the opportunity to lose oneself and become a different character.
What’s the most important thing in your writing? A gripping plot? Humor? Beautiful descriptions? Great dialogue? Great voice? Awesome characters? What do you strive to perfect?
Again, I really think characters can MAKE or BREAK a novel! I absolutely love quirky, funny, insightful and angsty characters. I especially love characters that I can relate to or are my ‘friend’ by the end of the novel. And, as I’ve slowly but surely moved into the literary YA section, I really do love beautiful writing. I love words that can make me stop, and fangirl squeal all over them. And, you can make your characters and plot so much better through the words. I absolute adore humorous novel, where situations or characters make me laugh. Great dialogue is a must, especially for YA ,I strive to make my dialogue authentic and honest to teens and adults. I need to improve my setting, because most of the time I’m so engrossed by making beautiful description and gripping characters that I forget to make a vivid setting.
What’s it like being a teen who’s trying to break into an industry that isn’t exactly teen-friendly?
With an industry like this, I truly believe that age doesn’t matter. One of the things I absolutely HATE is when a teen is told they write well, for their age. I’ve learned that my age really doesn’t come into it what so ever, so I usually NEVER mention it. This is why: When someone starts writing, a newbie writer, they are going to suck. Writing is a craft that really takes a lot of effort and TIME, so really its fine to suck. Now, a lot of people hold the notion that a teen writer is always a newbie writer. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Many teen writer have been working on their craft for a very long time. I don’t mention I’m a teen writer, because I don’t want people assuming I’m new to the game. Also, my novel/writing should really speak for itself, because in the end of the day that’s what really matters. When I throw my hat into the ring and try to get published, I know I’m against adult writers who are good. I have to be that good or even better. Many say that adult writers will always be better because they have more ‘experiences’ or they’ve lived longer. I’m going to tell you that’s full of crap. Adult writers tend to be better than teen writers because they have been working on their writing craft longer. So an adult writer who has been working on their craft for 6 years is probably going to be better than a teen who has been working on their craft for 3 years. For me it’s important to write well. To write great novels. Not write well for my age, but right well in this tough industry. Because there are no young writers, or old writers. We are all just writers.
Band: THE BEATLES!
Weather: Warm sunny days, with slight wind.
Movie: (this month, because it changes monthly) WHIP IT, SAVED! And 500 Days Of Summer
What authors have influenced you the most and why?
MARKUS ZUSAK. MARKUS ZUSAK. MARKUS ZUSAK.
I absolute love his work! I love him so much I want to kidnap him and make him write me novels on demand (I joke, I don’t want to kidnap anyone). I absolutely adore THE BOOK THIEF, one of most beautifully written novel. And I love I AM THE MESSENGER. He is made of awesome and has influenced my writing so much. And who do I have to thank for showing me THE BOOK THIEF? CHOCO! ILY!
JOHN GREEN.JOHN GREEN.JOHN GREEN.
Seriously, has anyone written more awesome characters with a voice to boot? He is the god of YA for a reason. And plus, I am a nerd fighter!
Also Laurie Halse Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Walker, Arundhati Roy , and SHAKESPEARE!
And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: Quick! Friendly (and surprisingly English-literate) aliens have landed on earth, and they want books to read. What five of your favorite books would you give them to read and why?
First, I shall make the aliens dance for me!
Then I shall recommend these books. And I shall cheat by having more than five.
1. The Book Thief/ I Am The Messenger (Markus Zusak)
2. Looking For Alaska/ An Abundance Of Katherine (John Green)
3. The God Of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
4. The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
5. Wintergirls (Laurie halse Anderson)
6. Hunger Game series (Suzanne Collins) – THIS SHIZ IS SO ADDICTING!
Choco: *loves all these books*
And in conclusion:
I also dream of getting my book reviewed by Choco. And, I REALLY want a book made from chocolate.
OMG. YOU HAVE TO SEND ME A SIGNED COPY WHEN IT'S PUBLISHED! And psst. I think I can hook you up with the chocolate books, if you let me in on the Zusak novels-on-demand plan! *loves Zusak*
Thanks Amna for letting me interview you. It was a honor, you're truly Amnamazing--your writing is beautiful, your photography is awesome, your taste in books is wonderful, and I <333 you!
And readers, don't forget to check out her also amazing blog