Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have three nationalities, Australian, Swiss and Pakistani. I have found this gives me a unique perspective on life. I love writing but also enjoy playing the guitar, driving, travelling and spending time with my family.
I have written over five books but The Blasphemy Law is the first book I have published. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. Back then I used to almost eat books. My parents could never afford to keep up with my insatiable appetite. As a consequence, I began writing myself. What I discovered was a world where once I begin writing my story takes on a life of its own. It draws me in and begins to almost write itself.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Blasphemy Law was inspired by the terrible laws that exist in many Muslim countries. In the worst, people are routinely sentenced to death for things as simple as uttering a word that disagrees with someone’s view on religion. A young 17-year-old Christian student is on death row in Pakistan because he hit LIKE on a Facebook post about the Prophet Muhammad.
I was at a party and we were engaged in a discussion about how terrible blasphemy laws are. Two men, tried to attack me. Thankfully, a few of my friends restrained them before things could go out of hand.
That made me determined to do something about it. I put pen to paper and 11 months later I published the book.
I have struggled against religious extremism all my life. One of my characters was inspired by Hafiz Saeed, a known terrorist presently under house arrest in Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed was my university professor. He hated me with a passion for speaking out against religious intolerance and extremism
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t know what writing habits are considered unusual. Does going to sleep at 3 a.m. count?
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Robert Ludlum, Tolkien, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Enid Blyton, Paula Hawkins
What are you working on now?
The sequel to the Blasphemy Law, The Watchlist. I also have the outline of the third in the series. I have a completed children’s book that I am looking to illustrate before it can be published.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am still learning. I have just published my book so its early days.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write only if you love writing and if communicating through the written word comes naturally. Do not write if you want to make money from it. Making money from writing is not hard but making decent money that you can live off is. That, however, is not the reason why you should not focus on money. Unless you are driven by love and passion your book will not read well.
The vast majority of writers, both Indie and traditionally published write in a style that is forced. It thus loses its entertainment value and becomes a chore to read. I wish I could read more books. I cannot because very few books make me want to go to chapter 2.
The second advice is know your grammar and have a reasonable vocabulary. These can be learnt, even as you are writing.
Ensure the people in your life support your passion.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
1. Start a book by creating an impossible scenario. Then solve it.
2. Whenever you get stuck in a chapter, use dialogue. It helps create interest and also allows prevents writer’s block. Writing dialogue forces one to think from the perspective of the character.
The first bit of advice was from ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. It’s the best book he has ever written,
What are you reading now?
Dan Brown’s Inferno, to see what all the fuss is about.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Ultimately I want to write a book that would make Tolkien proud. I believe a great Fantasy is the hardest book to write.
The world has seen only a few great Fantasy writers, the rest are copycats. I will only approach a Fantasy novel once I have a plot and a world that is truly original.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Lord of the Rings, so I can read it again. The next book by Joe Abercrombie, The next George R. R. Martin.
Author Websites and Profiles
Salman Shami Amazon Profile