I hope you have had the chance to read my latest book review here. I loved reading Motorcycles and Camels and I love following up my reviews with an author interview. Why don’t we dive straight in and get to know Nejoud Al-Yagout better? 🙂
i) Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write Motorbikes and Camels?
What inspired me was the struggle between the old and the new, liberals and conservatives, women and men, believers and unbelievers, gays and heterosexuals; and the invitation to create a community uninfluenced by judgmental thoughts and imposition. So, now to answer the first part of the question: what is projected in the novel could, albeit in a minor way, say a bit about myself, since I have an obsession with coexistence, tolerance, and dancing with duality.
ii) Where do you draw your inspiration from while creating characters for your novels?
The inspiration was an internal reaction to the external (or vice versa, depending on one’s perspective).
iii) Which character of Motorbikes and Camels do you identify the most and why?
I identify the most with Salma when it comes to her spirituality, but not her personality or upbringing. It was easy to create a character that willingly ventures outside the confines of dogma and conditioning, only to discover the wisdom, the beauty, of the so-called “other.” Sometimes, we need to transcend what we have been taught and find what resonates most for us. This is awakening.
iv) What were some of the roadblocks you faced while writing and publishing Motorbikes and Camels?
During the process of writing, I had a choice: either to surrender to the threat of censorship or to write the story the way it wanted to be written. I chose, with the support of my mother who galvanized me not to succumb to fear, the latter. It’s about honoring the story.
Ain’t it tragic, if not frustrating, that I cannot sell the novel in bookstores in my country because someone can still be offended by the word gay or by the notion of freedom of worship or expression?
v) Who do you consider to be your greatest inspiration?
A tie between Ramana Maharshi and Rumi.
vi) Have you ever experienced writer’s block and how do you deal with it?
For me, there’s a very efficient way of dealing with writer’s block. By trusting the flow, I throw away or discard any writing when a block arises. If something works for me, I know I will see it all the way through. Otherwise, I must be writing from a space of habit rather than a vortex of creativity.
vii) What advice would you like to give to budding authors?
Let the words come through you and get out of the way. You can always edit what comes out later.
viii) Rapid Fire questions
-Coffee or Tea: Tea (herbal).
-Desserts or Savoury food: Both ha ha!
-Secret indulgence. Afternoon naps.
-Favourite celebrity: Thich Nhat Hanh.
-A place you have always wanted to travel: Iceland.
ix) What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have another book in the pipeline?
It’s up to the dictator in my head, but I have an inkling the next book is a poetry collection.
It was lovely chatting with Nejoud. Do you have questions for her? Feel free to ask in the comments below 🙂