Author interview with Zarina Macha

Zarina reached out nearly a year ago for someone to review her poetry book and her novella collection. I responded and since then I have had the pleasure of reading and review her works and now I have had the chance to interview her!

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Definitely a gift. It’s wonderful being able to create worlds and people with nothing but twenty-six alphabetical letters and imagination. When I write, I feel free, filled with endless possibilities in front of me. Sitting in front of my laptop I can be my best self, happiest and most fulfilled. Of course there are times when it is strenuous or I don’t know what to write or it feels like a headache, but the hard times are still worth it.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Sometimes I overthink sentences because I want to word them in a more ‘flowery’ or inventive way. I try not to repeat words, especially when I’m writing poetry. However, that’s what editing is for, so I try to just write freely and then save the critic for editing.

Who are your favorite authors?

Top two would be Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen King. I’ve probably read the most of their work. JW was my favourite growing up (along with Enid Blyton) and I still like to dip into her work as an adult. The King has been a driving inspiration for me in recent years. I’m also a fan of Louise O’Neill, John Niven, George R R Martin; as a teenager my favourites were Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot, Cathy Hopkins, and Malorie Blackman.

Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?

I don’t, but one of the best books from my childhood is called ‘Maya Running.’ I read it over and over again; this lovely tale about an Indian girl growing up in Canada who feels out of place. When her cousin comes to stay, she brings her golden statue of Ganesh, and Maya wishes her life to be different and realizes what she had all along.

What motivated you to become an author?

I’ve always loved to write, and my parents have been encouraging me since I was a kid. I was submitting stories to agents and publishers a few years back, but then decided that getting some work out there first via the indie route would be good to build up a portfolio. Long-term I would like to be traditionally published and am researching YA literary agents.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? 

A bit of both; I always start with the character, as character-driven stories are my favourite. I like the characters to drive the narrative and to either cause or react to conflict around them. (That’s what we do in life, after all.) But naturally as I write the characters develop, and certain quirks may arise.

Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?
I don’t directly base protagonists on myself as there’s the risk of becoming self-indulgent, plus I don’t feel comfortable directly writing about me. (I prefer to have parts of myself seep into the story or base a side character on myself; Simone in Anne is very similar to me.) Out of my three published stories (Every Last Thought, Psycho Girl and Anne) I share things in common with all the protagonists.

Tess Davis is an emotionally unstable schizophrenic who develops drink and drug problems. I’m not schizophrenic but I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. Evelyn Baxter is a psychopathic narcissist; I’m a sensitive empath but I share her intellect and grooming (in a less high-maintenance way). Anne Mason is an introspective gay black teenager; I’m not gay or introverted but I love to read and self-reflect. All three women are ‘different’ or ‘unusual’ in some way and feel out of place which of course is close to home and probably reflective of all teenagers.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My bed!

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful?

Okay, let’s bullet point this:

  • Having a website and active social media presence (facebook is great to network with other authors in writing groups, and Instagram and twitter also work well)
  • Setting up a mailing list and getting a regular newsletter running (I have a virtual assistant friend who set me up a mailing list and has given me loads of advice on stuff and helped me prioritize what to do)
  • Contacting local libraries (and schools if you are writing for a younger audience) about doing book selling events
  • Having business cards (or bookmarks) to hand out to people whenever they are interested in your work
  • For my poems, going to poetry events and selling and advertising my books – even if people don’t buy it they could take a picture and look you up online
  • Contacting bloggers to review your work
  • Doing cross-author promo like interviews and reviews with other writers
  • Looking for websites that promote books (whisperingstories and circleofbooks are two I have used) and doing paid promo (within budget of course)
  • I’ve heard Facebook and Amazon ads are good (if you have the money)







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Interview with Christine on my blog:

Thank you to Zarina for answering these questions! Check out the links above to follow her or to find her books!


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