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