Author Bio: Shah Wali Fazli was born in Kabul, and studied medicine at the University of Kabul. He left there after the Taliban took over the city. In the year 2000 he came to England, where he studied English and computer technology. His first book was called ‘Running from Life’, published in the Dari language. It’s also available in English.
When NATO went to Afghanistan, Shah’s first job in England was with the British army, advising them on the Afghanistan issues. He was also instrumental in helping them with cultural training. It was through this he got the idea of writing ‘The Interpreter’.
Shah worked for years for the British army before moving to Germany, where he started working with the American army, doing the same job. He still works with them today and loves the job.
Shah, your job sounds really exciting, like a heady cocktail mixed with danger and thrill in equal measure. Interestingly, I also work as an interpreter, although my duties are usually limited to court hearings, prison visits, police cells and occasional raids to brothels and dope houses in the UK
Now, please tell us something unique about yourself, so we get to know you better
Thanks for interviewing me on your blog, it’s greatly appreciated. When someone asks me this question, I panic what to say, honestly. I am a normal human being with the same abilities that others can have and with the same disabilities that others can have. But I must admit that I have been blessed with a perfect brain, I love to make things easy for me, and for others, if they allow me to. I am very good at living a very simple and quiet life. I do sports, I have written two books, and I also write poems. When I gather with friends, I play my Asian musical instruments, such as Tablas, and sing.
Wow, you are very talented and certainly someone I’d like to hang out in real life
Who, living or dead, do you most admire?
There was a time that I read a lot of poems that was written by the Farsi language poets. I read Hafiz, Rumi, Sadi, and others. At one point I was introduced to another poet who had lived in India but he wrote poems in Farsi, whose name was Bidel. I totally fell in love with his poems, and I always felt that thrill in my heart from reading his poems. For me it was like watching a thriller film on TV.
Fascinating! What inspired you to write your latest book?
My job. I actually worked for NATO as an advisor on the Afghanistan issues. I met so many soldiers from around the world, and I gathered so much information about the realities of this war in Afghanistan that I could not escape from putting them somewhere, and that turned out to be my first book in the English language.
I can relate to that, as my interpreting job has given me unlimited inspirations and writing materials that would last me a lifetime
What is your favourite book/author and if they influence your writing, and how?
To be honest with you I don’t know such a person, I am afraid. I think the reason why is that I didn’t read so much; and again the reason for that is that I could not afford buying books, and I really didn’t like reading in a library, for some reason. Sometimes, I went to Borders and read books about Afghanistan; it was when I had started to write my own book, and I needed to know how other writers wrote their books. The job I did for years wouldn’t allow me to afford buying books and reading them.
What a shame! Do you have a routine for writing? How long does it take you to complete your current book?
The current book took me longer than I had expected it would take, because it was edited many, many times, over and over. When you are writing your first book in a different language than yours, then that is a big challenge, and it requires a lot of time. It took me many years to finish the book, and the main reason was not the story itself, but the lack of experience and the amount of time I had to spend on editing it.
Ah, again, I can relate to that, writing in another language and spending years writing it. It’s the same with my first book, The Same Moon
What do you do when you’re not writing? What’s your favourite pastime?
Sometimes, I am away from home for months, wandering in the forests of Hohenfels, training with the soldiers, but when I am at home, I try hard to promote my book through the social media. I have another book, Running from Life, which is complete, it only needs editing. I don’t programme my writing, I do it when I feel like it, and I leave it when I don’t feel like it. I have never planned my writing; I do it when I feel it is a good time to write.
Do you use Social Media for promoting your work and communicating with other writers? What’s your take on it?
I think, in certain ways, Social Media can be a waste of time, if we don’t know what to do with them. You know you can get busy full time promoting your book, if you don’t know where to start, and how to do it. On the other hand, there is no other and better way than the social media, because it can be done from home, you don’t have to travel anywhere, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. There is no way for us to sell our books without the help of the social media, but we need to know how to use them. Yes, I do communicate with my other fellow authors through the social media. I have a literary group where many authors from around the world gather together to promote their books and also communicate: Facebook.
Do your characters talk to you? Have you ever used people you know as a character?
No. I write quite differently. I have never experienced such a thing, I am afraid. I don’t know how I managed to write about my characters, when they didn’t talk to me, maybe, it’s because I am very good at typewriting on my laptop, my fingers and the buttons on my laptop talk to each other and they create the characters, and I like it like that. It’s much easier than to imagining your characters and talking to them in your head. I rarely use my head in talking to my characters.
I guess all writers approach writing differently and whatever methods appeal and work for them.
If you could go anywhere in the world to write your book. where would it be?
Although I would love to see the whole world, who wouldn’t, but I am very happy to be next to my laptop in my own home and write. I have a wooden table, and I sit next to the window, like most authors, which is overlooking a beautiful park, and these little farm cottages, and write or promote my book.
Sounds a perfect location for me! Now here is a final challenge: describe your latest novel within 140 characters, as in a tweet.
The story of the vendetta between the Taliban commander, Mullah Aslam, and Shabir Khan, the interpreter working for NATO, one day they will meet face to face and then one or both of them must die.
This is from my publisher, Tim, that I love and I use it a lot.