A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Zahirra Dayal

with Zahirra Dayal:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences? Zahirra: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it’s only since the lockdown that I’ve found the time and space to commit to my craft. I joined Twitter last year in August and have found an amazingly supportive writing community online. I started submitting stories to literary magazines and applying for all the mentorship opportunities I came across. My first influence was my intrepid grandmother whose life story and resilience inspired me to start writing. Q2: Who are your biggest influences today? Zahirra: My biggest influences today are women writers whose art is a form of activism for example Arundhati Roy, Elif Shafak and Tsitsi Dangaremba. I also love writers who interrogate the status quo and are not afraid to say the unsayable.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Zahirra: I grew up in postcolonial Zimbabwe, and living under the racially divisive shadow of colonialism has definitely influenced what I write as I am interested in interrogating notions of brownness and the themes of marginalisation and belonging. My life as an expat in the UAE has also informed my writing and the sense of being an outsider.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Zahirra: Winning a Jericho Writers training bursary to do the self-edit course has been my most meaningful work towards being a writer. I learnt so much about the craft of writing.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Zahirra: Being longlisted for the Laura Kinsella Fellowship was a pivotal moment for me as a writer. It’s given me the self-belief to persist.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Zahirra: I love reading and usually have three or four books on the go. I find baking therapeutic.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Zahirra: I’m working on my debut novel at the moment and have a writers website that I’ve recently created to collate all my short stories https://t.co/Mp4bvooPqh 

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Zahirra: My favourite line is a quote from Rumi ‘wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life’ – I believe gratitude is a mindset that can transform your life.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Zahirra: There are so many writers and creatives who support me. @movinghistories @shonatiger @reshmaeyafe @TrivarnaH @AnkitaSharma_26 @gladwinemmanuel @mahlephula @earlgrey79_lisa @anishakaul9 @WritesKat @linleysarah1 @LorraineRogerso @TisdallLaura @Debialper @golightlysabina @farukhoosain @shikshawrites


Twitter: @zahirraD


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lisa Mary Armstrong

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Lisa: I’ve always been an avid reader. My mum would take us to the local library every week which I loved. I read a lot of Roald Dahl and Enid Blayton when I was younger and then moved on to the “Sweet Valley High” series by Frances Pascal and “The Vampire Diaries” when it wasn’t as well known. I was bit of a romantic soul and starting writing teenage love stories in my first year of high school which probably weren’t very good.

Q2: Who is your biggest influence today?

Lisa: I am an eclectic reader and it needs to move me. Right now, I am a huge fan of Louise Peterkin whose debut collection “The Night Jar” is simply stunning. I love Mary Oliver, Dorothy Molloy, Tishani Doshi is a tremendous talent and my good friend Elizabeth M. Castillo writes so beautifully. Being the romantic that I am and having an appreciation for the Spanish and Greek language I just melt when I read the likes of Neruda and Cavafy.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Lisa: I grew up in a small town called Johnstone which is in Scotland. I do tend to write about my childhood as we lived near the countryside, and I have very fond memories of Lochwinnoch where I spent a lot of time with my nana.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?

Lisa: I have traveled all over Greece and it’s a country that I love to visit. I’ve always been interested in Greek mythology and how women are represented in Greek myth so it does feature a lot in my writing.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?

Lisa: I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a writer because I don’t believe there is anything better out there than seeing something you’ve created come to life on a page. I didn’t get into poetry until I was much older. I’ve only been writing poems since December 2020 when lockdown happened.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Lisa: I grow roses and enjoy getting out into the garden. I play the piano and music has always been such a big part of my life. I’m also a mother of five so that keeps me on my toes and relaxing isn’t something that I’m able to do often.

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work?

Lisa: I’m working on my first collection and have a few poems that are due to be published in The View Magazine which provides a platform for criminalised women and campaigns for social justice https://linktr.ee/The_View_Magazine

Q8: Favorite lines from your poems/songs, or favorite piece from another?

Lisa: My favorite line is taken from a Mary Oliver poem “Tell me what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” She had such a wonderful way of looking at the world and her poetry helped me through some really difficult times during the pandemic. I emerged with a greater appreciation of nature and felt more connected to the world.

Q9: Who has helped you the most with writing?

Lisa: I think just having the support of the poetry community and having my work published has really spurred me on and great journals like “Fevers of the Mind” provide a wonderful platform for poets of all ages and abilities like me. I love my Twitter friends in the poetry community. Elizabeth M. Castillo is just a phenomenal writer and genuinely one of the most beautiful and supportive people I’ve ever met. Elizabeth Bates who runs Dwelling Lit is another kind and gorgeous person, Anisha Kaul, Annick Yerem and Zahirra Dayal. There are just too many to mention.

2 New Poems by Elizabeth Castillo : New Start & Black Dolls for Christmas

3 Poems by Anisha Kaul : “At the Dead of Night” “Flight of Tragic Wings” “A Commotion of the Holy Ones”

Bio: A writer/poet/mother living in Scotland. A big fan of Greek Mythology and feminist reimaginings, old Hollywood Actresses/films, the theatre, ballet and music. I’ve always written creatively for the catharsis and only started tinkering with poetry in the pandemic. My inspiration comes from poets such as Mary Oliver, Carol Ann Duffy, Emily Dickinson, Sappho, Anne Stevenson, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Molloy, Derek Mahon, Dylan Thomas – the list is endless. To read more about Lisa go to her website at https://lisaarmstrong2179.wixsite.com/website