If you like historical fiction, then we hope you’ll enjoy getting inside the head of Mehreen Ahmed, author of The Pacifist.
The Pacifist synopsis: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.
During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit but fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?
Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.
Interview with Mehreen Ahmed
Own Your Geek: What made you want to write?
Mehreen Ahmed: My world views and love of nature make me write. I see something beautiful, I feel like jotting it down. I see something disturbing I feel like writing about it. Hence, all my books are criticisms of our society in some way, or issues which I feel warrant attention. I want to make a difference through my books.
Own Your Geek: When did you first really consider writing as something you could make a career out of?
Mehreen Ahmed: I wrote a novella, Jacaranda Blues. It became heritage listed with the State Library of Victoria, added by Cambridge University Library, and the British Library. That helped with my decision a great deal.
Own Your Geek: What do you do to relax when you’re not writing?
Mehreen Ahmed:I read with a cup of coffee. This calms me down and helps me to escape reality.
Own Your Geek: Who/What are your inspirations?
Mehreen Ahmed:Nature is my source of inspiration, particularly rain. But the trials and tribulations of human life also bother me to the extent that they force me to pen them down.
Own Your Geek: What defines your protagonist?
Mehreen Ahmed:Strong, ambitious and of formidable character. Peter Baxter from my book The Pacifist, is exactly that. He starts poor but strikes it rich through sheer hard work and becomes a man of the world. His experience also makes him twisted in the end but that is expected, given what he had to go through. I am projecting reality, not fantasy.
Own Your Geek: What was the hardest scene to write in your book (if it doesn’t spoil anything!)
Mehreen Ahmed: The grieving scenes which I have described in stream of consciousness. They were the hardest scenes because there is never enough words to describe peoples’ sufferings of such magnitude.
Own Your Geek: Did you learn anything interesting from writing this particular book?
Mehreen Ahmed: I learned a lot about the gold rush period in Australia. How people poured in from many different parts of the world to extract gold. It was a period of adventure, of mate-ship and of course ownership. People fought for wealth. They suffered on account of it but also showed solidarity in the gold mines. Human drama played out in nuances through peoples’ behaviours and actions.
Own Your Geek: How much research did you do before/during writing it?
Mehreen Ahmed:A lot. I did a lot of research for this book as it was a historical fiction. I researched not just about the gold mines but about railways, living conditions, salary and pay, the corporate world, and many other aspects portrayed in the book.
Own Your Geek: Do you already have another book planned? If so, is it in the same world or series as this one?
Mehreen Ahmed:My next book is quite different. It is a short novella. It’s still early in development, so there isn’t much to tell about yet.
Mehreen Ahmed has published with Cambridge University Press, Taylor and Francis, Routledge, Story Institute, Cosmic Teapot Publishing and other peer-reviewed journals such as ISTE and Language Learning and Technology, and On-Call. Currently, she writes mostly introspective fiction in the stream of consciousness style. Mehreen has two MA degrees in English and Applied Linguistics from the University of Queensland, Australia and Dhaka University, Bangladesh. One of her short stories, The Anomalous Duo has been translated in German and waiting to be published in the anthology of “Familie (er)zählt: Selection of stories completed; Sammlung abgeschlossen. She has contributed to several anthologies and has written newspaper articles.
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