We had a little chat with the talented writer from Pakistan Marium Zara. Marium is a female poet and the author of her upcoming book named “Project Illuminae“. We asked her some questions about how this project came about and advice for beginner writers.
You can pre-order her book by clicking here and also check out her Instagram.
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Interview With Marium Zara
I think the name of your new book is very interesting. But for our readers can you describe how you came up with the name “Project Illuminae”?
Project Illuminae came into existence two years ago. The name of the book came together while I was having a conversation with a friend. Our main discussion was regarding the major theme of the book and what message I wanted to convey through my poetry.
Poetry, for me, has always been therapeutic and a way to express my thoughts and emotions. So, the process of poetry writing has been like a project since I have a tendency to look at everything in compartmentalization. I also see my growth as a “project”. Hence, what led to the name of the book.
Why did you choose to divide the book into 3 Chapters? Can you please tell what each chapter represents in the book?
At the beginning, the book had two chapters that highlighted the downfall and the rise of a person. However, while on the journey of self-realization and learning more about emotions and their impact on life, I realised nothing comes into existence in voidness. No growth is abrupt, no hope comes sudden. There is always a shadow, a palimpsest of the past lurking in the present. So, to reach the stage of hope, one needs to first realise that there’s a world beyond darkness. That’s what these chapters do.
The first chapter talks about the eerie darkness and utter helplessness one can experience. While the second chapter connects it and makes the readers see there’s darkness, but you can control it, it doesn’t have the dominating power that we think it has. Lastly, the last chapter focuses on hope, the twilight moment, where there’s a connection between night and day. The last chapter connects the darkness and the light and shows even how darkness can be submissive to light.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
Most of my poetry has been for therapeutic purposes and solemnly for emotional gratification. The process of collecting and creating a poetry book came far later than the actual writing process. The surprising thing that I learnt while writing the book was how emotionally liberating it is to let one’s words free and especially be read by others. Its gratifying to release one’s words into the world but more liberating when those words are understood and give someone comfort.
Many young authors have difficulty publishing their work, so can you briefly explain how you got your book to be published? And how difficult was that process.
Being fairly honest, the process of publishing was not as strenuous as I thought it would be. Especially for self publishing. My process of publishing may be similar to many young authors. I sent my manuscript to various publishing houses and waited to hear back from them. I also had offers from two publishing houses. I chose Auraq Publication because they provided self publication with easy access. For people like me, who want to control everything when it comes to decision-making, self publishing is the best course of action. The process of publication can only be harder if you are not willing to put yourself out there and face criticism.
Your favorite writers/poets?
I have a lot of favorite poets. However, the most favorites would be Erin Hanson, R. H Sin, Lang Leav, Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost. I love their poetic style and the way they create these beautiful realms that the reader can dwell into and find some comfort. Majority of my poetic style has been influenced by Erin Hanson’s rhyming and Emily Dickinson and her poetic diction.
Your favorite books?
I have a lot of favorite books. I don’t discriminate when it comes to fiction and literature. Anyone who can write is an artist in my perspective and they should get the recognition they deserve. Most of my favorites are by Indie writers. However, when it comes to Young Adult novels, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is one of my favorite, not only because its major themes are highly significant, but because the book feels like I am having a one-on-one conversation with the protagonist because the novel is a epistolary novel.
When did you find out you can write?
I don’t believe there is a specific or certain moment when you realize that you can write. For me, writing has always been a therapeutic process and a way of expressing my thoughts and emotions that cumulate inside me. I started writing when I was in the Seventh grade in a small notebook that I used to carry in my bag every day to school.
What was the first thing that you ever wrote?
The first thing I wrote when it comes to poetry was a four lines poem. I still remember me and my family were driving back home and I was gazing out the car window when I suddenly felt like I wanted to write something, anything. And viola! I wrote a very short poem and showed it to my sister. That was the day I began writing poetry.
Do you remember the first book you ever read?
Yes! I still remember reading the children’s version of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. The story fascinated me so much I would read it every time we would have a library period at school till I finished the book. I believe it took me half an year to finish the book but it was worth it.
Any advice for young authors who have just started writing?
The only advice I can give is to not be too hard on yourself. Don’t be your enemy. Writers and any creative individuals can be very critical of their own work. Creators rarely see any good quality in their work, they always require some emblem of assurance from others that yes, their work is good. So, all I can say is to not compare yourself with others. Everyone has different hurdles they must face in order to succeed. Don’t consider your works and craft to be anything but unique and less than others’ and slowly and gradually the world will see it that way too.