We’re back again with another author interview! This time, we partnered up with an award-nominated author who writes dark, twisted and action-packed works of fiction that will surely leave you hungry for more. M.G Darwish is the first of who we hope to be many more local Bahraini authors that we had the pleasure of interviewing. His books include Dragon Tooth, Fortier and more. Read on, to uncover the tips and tricks of his trade as well as his hopes for the future of his writing career!
Najla Qamber Designs: First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with us! We’re excited to get to know more about you and your books. Speaking of, could you start by telling us about your relationship with writing? Have you always been into it? How did it start with you?
M.G. Darwish: My fascination with writing started at an early age. I think I was 8 or 9 when I wrote a short story about a guy called Leo, who got sent to Mars and discovers that it is crawling with life. I told my mom, and she told a friend, and that friend asked to see it and show it to a university professor and well, that was the last I saw it.
In a sense, whenever I read books or watched movies, I found myself contemplating what would happen if X or Y happened. What if the hero wasn't in the right place at the right time? What if a vampire bites a fish? Does the fish grow fangs and then devour other fishes? Writers are always those kinds of people with endless "what if" questions that compel them to eventually give in, and write whatever dwells in their minds.
NQD: What’s your writing process like? Do you have any unique rituals/habits that put you in a writing mood?
M.G: I have a mini-writing cave in my room. It's not that fancy, but I do light a few candles, connect my laptop to a giant TV, and use a mechanical keyboard while seated on a gaming chair that connects via Bluetooth to my Spotify list. The best part is that the chair has speakers and vibrates in sync with whatever it is I'm playing (mostly anime battle soundtracks -Attack on Titan, Hero Academy...etc). But those are completely optional. It wasn't until a few years that I was able to write whenever and wherever.
NQD: I’m sure just like other word-smiths that came before you, that you’ve had your own share of Writer’s Block. What’s your approach to handling something like that?
M.G: Writer's Block is generally a curse that separates professional writers and amateurs. Nothing wrong if you're going through it, but you have to trust your process, more than you do yourself.
If you properly analyze Writer's Block, you'll come to understand that it simply doesn't exist. Persistence and perseverance are better friends than motivation and inspiration. Outline your idea, come up with a summary (even if you deviate from it later) and then dive in to write. There is so much work involved in writing that isn't writing, and it almost always starts at the drawing board. There, you tweak the events that unfold in your story and plan your twists and turns. That is where real writing takes place.
There's an old proverb that I like: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
NQD: What inspired you to publish your first book, Minds: the Secret Society?
M.G: By the time I wrote and finished Minds, I was already working on the launch of Dragon Tooth -my debut novel. So, in essence, the first work I finished was Dragon Tooth, Minds, and Jack of Scurvy Bay. But Minds was published first, followed by Dragon Tooth and then Jack of Scurvy Bay.
But the general idea was for me to actually put something out and get a feel of how everything functions.
NQD: Back then, having decided, “Okay, I’m going to publish something I wrote!” How did you know where to go to make that happen?
M.G: This part wasn't at all easy. Honestly, I was as lost as almost anybody in the beginning. I googled "how to publish a book" and it brought me to a vanity press (who still contact me to see if I have a book to publish) who immediately called me and then offered to publish the book "everywhere" for I think 1 or 2K USD. When I asked if that is the normal process, they assured me that all the "greats" have done it but deep down I felt uncomfortable at the concept of paying to be an author.
Good thing is that I come from a Startup background and one thing I learned when researching something new is to always look for the "Top 10 Mistakes Beginner Professionals Do!" which if you learn from, you already set yourself apart from the competition. And, I'll never forget that line "authors NEVER pay to get their work published. They get PAID to have their work published."
Everything started from there, I understood the traditional and the indie route (self-publish), and upon checking online I finally had enough confidence that this was the path I needed to take.
I think the decision for me came naturally. Because I have a sales and marketing background, I was determined to go the self-publishing route because I loved taking charge of all creative aspects (I knew not, of what I spoke) even when it comes to the ideation for the cover, the interior... I loved getting involved in every bit of detail in bringing Dragon Tooth to life. But then, the more an author grows, the more he tends to listen to his editors.
NQD: In your experience, what’s one misconception people have about indie authors?
M.G: That they're successful. 1.68 Million titles have been self-published on Amazon alone in 2018, anyone who thinks they can publish something and have swarms of readers and riches come to them is not only dreaming but is probably going to quit. The reason is that they're sane. If it's a decision motivated by money, they're going to be disappointed as most indie authors don't earn enough to pass the payment threshold of just $100 for years.
It's a long term plan. Indie authors treat writing like a business, and in every sense of the word, it is exactly like running a business. You have to build your author brand, build up your newsletter (an author's backbone) and constantly be improving and researching ways to extend your reach.
NQD: What would you say is your favorite part about being a self-published author of such dark and twisted stories?
M.G: I can do what I want. I honestly love the concept that no one can tell me what to do in a book (if they do, they're getting a character named after them, and decapitated or burned by fire at the earliest). There are so many rules when it comes to writing, but that (you can't tell a writer what they can and can't do) is one of them. That's what makes it so interesting. The greatest joy also comes when readers reach out to you and let you know what kind of a monster you are (I used to be able to tell who did or didn't read my books based solely on their reaction when they see me).
In all seriousness, the reason why I write is simple: I write the books I want to read. It's a completely selfish decision and after publishing about 3 novels and 7 short stories, I came to realize that once a writer publishes something, they no longer own that. The readers own the experience, they are the ones who form opinions on it and imagine it however they see fit. All an author can do is just hope to steer the story in a direction that completely satisfies them.
NQD: How do you see yourself contributing to the world with your books and your blog?
M.G: In a lot of ways, I began my blog to kind of document my journey. When I first started, there was no road or YouTube video to show me the way. The doors were completely shut, and I feel like I don't own this information and I feel a sense of responsibility to share as much as I can with anyone who wants to do this. That's why you can find my exact writing process and methodology online. You can find the tools, the process, the website and almost everything I know about writing on there.
My life's mission, I think, is to help those who dream of becoming authors stop dreaming, and I can only hope that my story acts as a catalyst and ignites the flames in just one person and get them to think: Maybe I can do this too.
NQD: What matters most to you when coming up with a good book cover design? We especially love what you’ve done with Fortier!
M.G: I actually don't interfere in the process. I work with a USA based designer and all I have to do is send him some information along with the theme and genre of the book. I try to give the designer an idea of what the book "feels" and just trust him to do what he does best.
In reality, not all authors are great designers. Professional designers know what they're doing, and they know what sells. So, unless something was terribly wrong with the concept, I choose to trust my designer.
NQD: Any upcoming books in the near future that we can tell our followers about?
M.G: Absolutely! Currently finishing up the first draft of Titanlord 2 (expected to be released on October 2020) and then followed by Fortier 3 (est. November 2021).
I try to finish and publish a few shorts every day as well, so I won't leave you without a new dark and twisted read for long!