Esraa has been a writer for three years, She’s best known for writing Mystery/ Fiction/Poetry. She won multiple awards for Mystery /Horror and Poems writing. Her most famous books include (In Your Absence Series, Madre) She recently won the reader’s favorite book and nominated for the African Book Fund Awards.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
I want thank you, Jimmetta for having me. I’m so happy to have this interview with you. I’ve always liked writing and reading but it all really started five years ago as far as I can remember. I was bored so I thought to myself why don’t I give it a try and write a story? I started with Wattpad and I wrote my first Chapter. I wasn’t expecting it to be liked by even two people. But to my surprise everyone kept on asking for more. And I wrote my first story. What I love most about being a writer is sharing my experiences. I believe that with my writing I can help the readers to live a better life and trust themselves, to embrace themselves and their roots. I believe in the power of words.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
Sure! Right now I have three books published; Madre: Volume One, In Your Absence, In Your Absence: Emerald Lover, from the In Your Absence Series. Madre, Is my favorite professionally published book ever, It’s mystery with a little bit of horror. It’s about three kidnapped kids by an old creepy woman. The characters were inspired by The Supernatural Episode: The Real Ghostbusters. In Your Absence Books are my favorite ones that I’ve ever written, It’s all true and inspired by my family and loved ones, and my African culture which I’m so proud of. It’s about my experiences and feelings and about loving yourself and embracing your roots. You can find out more on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes And Noble. You can find out more about me on my Official Website: EsraaYousryAuthor.WordPress or my Social Media accounts, IG: @esraayousryauthor, FB: EsraaYousryMay, I respond to all messages and questions.
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?
From everything surrounding me, People and even the News and Music for sure! I analyze every little thing that I do.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
Good question! I don’t have a schedule for writing, it just happens. When I’m working on a new project, I usually write for three to five hours. If I’m really into it you can’t make me get up and stop until I’m done. I don’t outline my novels, never will, and my advice for any writer, respectfully, don’t you ever outline your work. Let it all come naturally. Trust me you will damage the whole process. Sometimes it takes me a month if I’m working daily sometimes it takes from three to six months, it depends on each story and my schedule, my mood and a lot of other factors. Currently, I’m supervising the writing of some new books by new writers, besides my work so I’m trying to find time to work on something new. But let’s say that you will hear from me very soon.
Me: I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one Esraa! I swear by outlining and having used outlines now for a couple of novels I will never go back to writing without an outline. I think every writer should use the method that works for them because a lot of outstanding novelists have used outlines. I just wanted to communicate that to the readers real quick.
5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?
You may find it funny, but you know The Three Little Pigs story and the hungry wolf? I remember that was the first story that I ever read, I was five if I remember correctly. My favorite Author to read is Maya Angelou. I will always love and respect this woman with all my heart. Currently, I’m not reading any book, sadly. I can’t find time to read any book lately.
6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Well, I made my family and myself proud. I have been told many times and I’m so thankful that In Your Absence: Emerald Lover, helped many people to feel better about themselves and embrace where they come from. People now come to me asking me more about the African culture which makes me so happy and proud of myself. I have been nominated for The African Book Fund Award, Won the Reader’s Favorite book. I don’t know what might happen in the next five years, but I’m sure that I will keep doing what I love and see what will happen, Like I said I believe in the power of words.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in terms of traditional and self-publishing?
I haven’t dealt with any rejection while publishing my first published book Madre, maybe because it was fiction. I have had many rejections while publishing my third book In Your Absence: Emerald Lover because of the cover and the content. They didn’t want me to talk about my African culture and they tried to make me change the cover and many other things. I insisted on not changing anything because I knew that I was doing the right thing. I received racist messages and E-Mails later after publishing the book but that was ok, because I didn’t change my mind, I insisted on doing the right thing.
No one can deny that recently, the popularity of self-publishing has increased in a major way, because when you self-publish you own the rights and royalties and complete marketing control while with traditional publishing it is very slow to market, a huge time investment and no ownership of the rights. Most people find it easier to self-publish which is both good and bad because let’s be honest, not everyone can be a writer and not everyone has the skill of designing and creating a good cover. We’re seeing that a lot lately, writers sending me books to review and supervise, and I can say that only 37% of them are professionally written and deserve to be published and read, while 63% of them respectfully, are poorly written and don’t make sense. I want to know your opinion on that as well, If possible.
Me: Now if you’re not good at coming up with a good story at all then there could be an issue but I think that for those who might be able to put together a great story but may not be great at being grammatically correct that would be what having good editors are for. I do think that with self-publishing it’s hard to find the balance between being the creative and doing the business side but some things you can learn if that’s what you really want to do.
8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself?
Of course, I read my books carefully before publishing them. But after publishing, I don’t. I get embarrassed reading my own books, I don’t know if it’s normal or not. But it really embarrasses me. Does it embarrass you too?
Me: I wouldn’t say that it embarrasses me but I don’t necessarily like to read my work after it’s finished. Of course I know that I have to in order to edit it but after it’s out there for the world to see I prefer to never read it again. However, I have read some of my stuff just by chance and have had that ‘did I really write that, wow I am good’ feeling. Lol
9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
It’s never too late to do what you Love. Life is an experience so take a chance to do what you love whenever you can. You don’t know what might happen later, I know many writers who started in their 70’s and they’re more successful than any other young Author who even started before them.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
True, I write to express my feelings and share my experiences with others. I write to represent my culture and make people feel much better about themselves, I believe in empowering women Especially women in Africa, god knows how strong they are. I’m proud to be an African woman, I write to make people respect our culture and the African women, I write to make people understand that we are beautiful just like our culture. I write to make everyone who read my books to embrace their roots and be proud of where they come from.