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20 questions with upcoming author, Nadira

1. How do you define yourself?

Wow, hard first question! I would say I am a weird, deeply loving, but sometimes dark artist with a load of wild and important ideas.

2. If you could only read 3 books for the rest of your life, which ones would you pick?

I would choose to read three new books I haven’t read yet.

3. What inspires you to write?

I have a strong need to communicate with others, but I also struggle with social anxiety and often do not feel comfortable in most social settings. I started writing as a way to get my important thoughts out without having to rely on the repose and understanding of others. It is the best way to clear my head.

4. Do you get writer's block? How do you combat it?

I experience writer’s block the more I share my words with the public. Although the public eye does not dictate what I write, the idea of public perception can still be daunting and often makes me second guess what I’m writing until I can no longer write at all. In these moments, I try to just step away and write for myself - journaling or other stories I never intend to share - which helps me to better unlock what I mean to say from what I think I am expected to say. Eventually, this clears my writer’s block.

5. What is your favourite piece of writing?

This is so hard to choose! My grandmother, who is also a writer, gifted me with an original poem she had written for my birthday. It was beautiful, and probably the sweetest prose I had ever read.

6. If you could make up a literary genre that defines your work, what would it be called?

“Spooky Romance,” or “Body Horror.” Primarily, I focus on the horror genre because it is my favourite. Within horror, I am specifically drawn to how events can spark daring acts of love, and how they can often change our perception of our own bodies, especially when the horror is done to us physically. As a person who has experienced quite a lot of physical trauma, writing “Body Horror” became therapeutic for me.

7. What is your biggest challenge when writing?

Trusting myself to be a good writer. I read so often that it is easy to compare myself to others and second-guess my own talents as a writer.

8. What is your daily routine?

Coming out of quarantine, I had to learn how to structure my days because I am a freelance writer and don’t have a typical 9-5 schedule, so it’s very easy for me to get bored. I have recently tried to start my mornings with two hours of intentional reflection: meditation, saying my mantra and journaling. After that, I complete the list of items I have written for myself the day before, which usually includes scheduling interviews and talking to artists and writing.

9. How much does your personal life inform the stories and themes you write about?

My personal life informs my stories a lot. Although I love fiction, the people in my life and the things that I go through help me to create the basis for my stories.

10. What do you like about the horror genre?

I have a bit of a self-destructive personality, so consuming and creating horror art helps me to explore these urges without acting on them. For example, I started writing my most recent book when I was struggling with thoughts of suicide. Being able to “kill off” characters in my book and explore the outcome of those deaths helped me to figure out that I do not want to die, but more so that I am calling out for a break from exhaustion. Giving that break to my characters was therapeutic to me. I love horror because it values the extremes of love, hatred, joy and sadness.

11. Tips to someone who wants to get into writing?

If you are having trouble writing a story from start to finish, start with journaling because it will help to get your feelings and thoughts moving even if you are not sure of their direction yet. Give yourself time and space to grow, and never be afraid of editing.

12. Your go-to playlist for writing/getting motivated

I don’t have a go-to playlist, but I love listening to Future because his music gives me bizarre ideas.

13. How do you come up with a character?

I do not spend a lot of time on characterization, which feels like a weird thing for an author to say. I am more plot-heavy, and my characters simply mould themselves to fit my plot. For example, I often write characters without names or any super specific physical descriptions as I like to focus on what they are doing, more than who they are, to hopefully create a more universal-like character.

14. What is the most important thing for you when writing a story - plot? characters? setting?

Plot and ‘feel’ are most important to me. I use my writing as a way to explore what I am feeling, and I hope that readers will be able to feel what I am expressing as well. The plot is just what is most exciting for me. Especially when writing horror, I ask myself what is the craziest thing that I could write to happen next?

15. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I hope to have an impactful name for myself in the horror genre. I hope to have my first book out, my animated horror series finished, and just to have made as many strong connections as I can with other literary voices and creative spaces. My ultimate goal is to collect enough resources so that I can help other Black-femme writers get into the horror genre as well.

16. Favourite moment from your writing career so far?

My favourite moment was starting my own magazine in college. I got to meet and write about over 100 artists in just a year. I wrote all of the articles for hundreds of readers a week, which showed me that people do like my words and this gave me the confidence to share more of my fiction work as well.

17. What was the best thing about Howard?

Howard has a lot of young artists, which gave me the confidence to explore my art more freely. The best part of Howard for me was all of the connections I made and all of the cool opportunities that have stemmed from those connections. Howard is where I realized I have the power to be an influential artist as long as I continue to create what feels right to me.

18. Who are the top 5 writers you would invite over for dinner?

Toni Morrison, Tananarive Due, Tanhesi Coates, Gillian Flynn and my grandma, Rene. Toni Morrison is my favourite writer of all time, and all the other authors have influenced my love for writing throughout the years.

19. Would you ever pursue higher education again?

Yes, I would love to get my PhD in English Literature because I want to be able to teach writing at college-level one day. I, however, hate debt and am waiting until I have more disposable income before I pursue higher education ever again.

20. Finish this sentence: "Writing is..."

...the constant effort of trying to understand yourself and the space around you through deep observation and reflection.

Nadira is a recent graduate from Howard University where she received her B.A. in English with a focus on creative writing. She has been writing since she was six, and she has been published in such places as DC Comics—in which she wrote a comic about how chronic illness treatment is disproportionately lacking for Black women in the American healthcare system —Sterling Notes for her “spooky romance” poetry and short stories, on MyBlackMatters for her personal essays regarding growing up Black in predominantly white institutions, and many more.

“I Want To Love My Own Life,” will be Nadira’s first attempt at crafting a horror novel. The novel, comprising four short stories, focuses on fears surrounding physical and mental health, dysfunctional family structures and romantic relationships from the perspective of Black girl and women characters.


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