This month, we’re trying something new and meaningful for all up-and-coming authors: we interviewed an aspiring author who launched his title debut and didn’t quit his day job as an accountant. Surprise, he did it the smart way! It is our hope that through this interview Saim Cheeda not only expands his readership, but that bookworms out there have another amazing author to add to their bookshelves.
This interview was a blast. Saim is a pleasure to work with and an amazing writer. It goes to show what career building as an author is really like, and the challenges faced along the way. If that’s not relatable, we don’t know what is.
The Author Part
1) How long have you been writing, and how long have you wanted to be a writer?
I dabbled with writing in 2009. Initially it was more of a hobby that I shared with my sister and it sort of fizzled out for a couple of years as I started college. I really got serious about it in 2013 when some personal struggles influenced me to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I found it very helpful to share what I felt with the world, and with that I realized that’s what all writers do, really. I’d say I’ve always wanted to be a writer but didn’t appreciate it till a few years ago. Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by libraries – I prefer to call them my sanctuaries – and enjoy losing myself inside the wonderful worlds crafted by writers. I’m an avid video gamer and my first article writing began with offering video game reviews on the website N4G, and I continue to write those. I was also a finalist for a writing competition called Penned Thoughts. All these experiences have strengthened my passion for writing.
2) Your book “Here & After,” sounds intriguing. We read a little of it, and loved it. Could you tell us a little about how you got the idea for the plot?
It was a time when everyone around me seemed to be falling in love. My friends would share their feelings about someone they liked, others would be getting engaged or even married, and each person had a different outlook over it. This fascinated me immensely, and I’ve always been a very analytical person so I thought I’d delve deeper into it. From films to books to real life experiences, every viewpoint had something unique to offer. But what I really took from it all is that people don’t fall in love with someone based on what the look like, it’s how they make them feel. Also, there were many cases where relationships didn’t work out because of where people were in their lives, I observed that it had a big impact on what might have been happy relationships but circumstances proved to be too much of a challenge to overcome. I wanted to get an insight on the human condition, and love is one of the most powerful emotions that can be explored.
So, I formulated an idea over what my ideal love story would be, and hence, Here & After came into fruition.
3) Why love across thirteen years?
I firmly believe that as we mature so do our relationships. Love at first sight is dubious for me. But I do agree there might be a spark or a connection with a particular person that, if explored, can lead to something remarkable. These characters have their separate backgrounds and with their personalities it just wasn’t possible for them to fall for each other when they initially met. Life changes as the years go by and with each new challenge a person matures and deals with it their own way, this causes them to think differently than they would have in the past, this is how Nick and Emily behave as well. And there really is a right time and place for it.
You have to be emotionally ready to embrace the other in your life, for Nick and Emily this is the true challenge. The most unique aspect of Here & After is that you will only find these two characters, and all they do is lose themselves in conversation. It’s about going deeper in those words and also appreciating the struggles the other is going through. So, for all this to make sense these characters needed time to understand and get their lives on track with help from one another and realize there might be more to their friendship. The way they think, speak and interact greatly changes in the thirteen years that the book covers and it really does feel like a journey they embark upon and where they finally end up.
4) The characters are opposites, and both very interesting. Would you say there’s a little of you in Nick, or Emily?
Very much so. Nick is the part of me that people are accustomed to and perceive me as such, and I would agree with them. Emily represents the side of me that has been guarded, and few can claim to know about. Having them interact is, in some ways, having both sides of me meeting each other. I also believe that every person is deeply layered, you can’t term or judge a person to having a certain personality, there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye. Here & After was a way for me to explore how I would react in certain circumstances.
But it would be incorrect if I claim they’re both wholly based on me. I’d say Emily is an amalgamation of the type of person I am deep inside along with the kind of woman I would like to be with eventually, to formulate that kind of person I read several novels to get an idea for her, using the values that I thought would be best fit for her character to go along with Nick. They also represent pessimism and optimism, I hope people can relate to them on a personal level as there are many characteristics in both of them that should seem familiar. This is also why I left their appearances vague as that is not important, it’s how they are as people which is essential.
5) You’re actually an accountant. Do you enjoy the job, or would you ideally want to transition into a solid career as an author?
I worked briefly as an external auditor, and coming from that experience I can say that accounting isn’t exactly a true calling for me. I come from a place where conventional jobs such as an accountant or an engineer are the norms and that is what’s expected of us to eventually pursue. I would ideally prefer to become a full time author but there are many barriers to it. Firstly, because of where I live, there’s not much capacity for it nor do people understand it much. Plus, there are family responsibilities to consider so it wouldn’t be fair to them to turn my back on them, but I fully intend to pursue my writing, even if it means dividing time between work. I truly believe I’m at my happiest when I write and I will not be letting that go. Hopefully, one day I can proudly say that I was able to break apart from the norms and establish myself as a serious author.
6) Where do you see your writing career in the next five years?
I will be done with quite a few novels by that point, and I’ve learnt that promotion and advertising is a big factor when it comes to writing. Taking that into account I will definitely be utilizing my resources to put myself on a larger scale so as to share my work with everyone. The internet is absolutely superb in reaching out to people you could probably never meet in person, and I expect it to only make it easier for me to expand my horizons. I offer insightful quotes that have proven fairly popular, a simple internet search can validate that claim. It is very humbling and motivational when I find that my quotes have proven to be moving for people, and in the next five years I see myself taking that much further.
7) What are some of your favorite ways of getting inspiration for your writing? Maybe hobbies, or going to certain places?
My inspiration stems from my emotions, and the best way I’ve found is to find it in things that are meant to inspire, such as films or novels, there’s something very beautiful of a work of fiction to illicit such a deep emotion from another person. My sister has been a great source for me, she and I are somewhat like-minded in our views of the world, and just to have an honest discussion with her leads to some true stimulation of the mind, she’s an amazing poet to boot and reading them really gets me thinking. I’ve also always claimed myself to be suffering from wanderlust, and each time I’ve travelled I’ve carried some inspiration back with me. I’d say simply taking a moment in a serene meadow to appreciate the reality that we live in is enough to inspire anyone. Motivation, for me, comes from feedback. I am very grateful to those who contact me over my work and it serves to encourage me to continue on.
8) Are you currently working on something new? When can we read it?
I’m currently working on three more novels varying in genre called When It’s Time to move On, Looking for you, and Crystal.
When It’s Time to Move On is a spiritual drama where the main character – who is terminally ill – gets another chance to visit previous important points of his life and make the most of them to help others he didn’t the first time. It touches upon the topic of regret and redemption .
Looking for you is a screwball romantic comedy where the main character finds himself in between three different women, all of whom might be the perfect fit for him. It’s a good read for those who would just like to be amused and have pick me up for their spirits.
Crystal is a coming of age comedy drama which circles around the main character who is hopelessly in love with someone while his life undergoes a deep transition, it deals with the choice between passion and responsibility.
I expect to have all three finished within the next 12 months, currently they can be found online on Wattpad and Goodreads, before I put them up for sale like Here & After.
9) What would you say to an aspiring author who isn’t published just yet, and may be afraid to?
I’d tell them there’s nothing to be scared of. Even if it doesn’t work out you can feel proud that you did put yourself out there. A part of you exists in the world that might influence even one person, and that makes all the difference. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, just motivate yourself to take the leap and you might end up very successful. If someone’s scared of criticism they could always put their writing up on websites such as Wattpad where they can receive feedback from others and make changes accordingly before perfecting it and putting it up for publishing. I would advise to keep a careful eye on the word count as it is extremely important, you might feel as if you have to trim a lot out but remember there’s only a certain amount that is acceptable if you want to be published.
10) Where can our readers follow you? Any social media accounts you’d like to share?
I’m a late comer for social media but have set up a few accounts. Feel free to contact me whenever you want, I am always willing to respond:
Saim Cheeda is fantastically relatable, isn’t he? Having to be responsible, having to stay within the norms, but wanting to break free and be an author! Inspiration personified. We have no doubt that he will succeed in his endeavor, and we are so thankful to him for reaching out to us. It was a pleasure interviewing him, and we wish him all the best along the way. If you’re interested, please follow Saim Cheeda on his social media accounts, and stay up to date on his journey!