Interview with Neha Yazmin

What was the main inspiration behind your debut self-published novel Chasing Pavements?
Usually, it takes a combination of different factors and experiences to inspire a whole novel. I take inspiration from good books, films, music, and of course anything interesting I know. I also draw on my knowledge of Psychology.

You do need one or two triggers to start writing though. For Chasing Pavements, it was this bizarre vision I woke up with on the morning of August 1, 2010. I opened my eyes with Jamie in my head. I could see him so clearly - his hair, his eyes, his demeanour. As though he was a very good friend, I just knew him - his pain, his apathy, his past, his present. What I didn’t know was his future.

But I wanted to find out.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about him, his life, his family, and music. Christmas 2009 with Jamie and his family was the first scene that came to me that day.

Music had a critical part to play in it too. That summer, I had been obsessed with Muse’s single Neutron Star Collision and I knew that song represented Jamie (and Mukti) when he first came into my life. A fading star, losing his way.

The other song that had grabbed me was Marcus Foster’s I Was Broken (the lyrics speak of no longer being broken). That was the song I wanted to represent Jamie (and Mukti) at the end of the book. All year, I had been fascinated by the idea of two fading stars, coming together and then emerging brighter as one, and somehow this concept inspired the storyline.
How did you start Chasing Pavements?
The first scene I envisioned was Christmas 2009. It played in my head like a film - I didn’t dictate much of the action, it just rolled like a movie in my mind. Astonishingly, I didn’t write that scene until the very end!

What I started with was the first encounter between Jamie and Mukti. I had become very interested in the needle sculpture after seeing it for the first time that year and I wanted them to meet there. As I wrote that scene, ideas for their next meeting came to me and I wrote that. And then the next meeting, then the next…

Once I filled in the gaps between those scenes, I went back and wrote the beginning. Strangely enough, the Christmas 2009 section in the final version of the book is very similar to the daydream I had on August 1, 2010.
Do you have a writing routine?
I have a full-time job and get home at 7pm, so I have very little time to write, and I have to fit in my other responsibilities. I wrote Chasing Pavements when I was still living with my family and things at home were pretty hectic. Hardly any peace or quiet or privacy or time. But I just couldn’t not write these amazingly awkward scenes between two intriguing characters.

I didn’t have my own desk or a comfortable chair. I put my laptop on my bed, knelt on the floor and typed. Not great for the knees! But that’s something Jamie had to do too - put his keyboard on his bed, get down on his knees and play. It was a bonding experience for us!

I would love to be in a position where I can write full-time. When I write, I lose track of time and space and don’t feel hungry or thirsty. I don’t feel the need to do anything other than sit with my laptop and write. I’m the kind of person who would have a routine for each day, the week, the month. And stick to it!
What was your favourite thing about writing Chasing Pavements?
Reading fiction for me (and the majority of people) is a form of escapism. It’s the same with writing, only you get to escape to a world you’ve created, spend time with characters you’ve brought to life, experience all the pain and pleasure and excitement that you envision. That was great.

The best part though was getting to know Jamie and Mukti. They have become a very big part of my life and I don’t think they will cease to feel like good friends to me for the rest of my life.
Do you have a favourite scene in Chasing Pavements?
My favourite scene is definitely the first kiss between Jamie and Mukti. It’s the most iconic moment in the book, I think. Epic.

It was actually inspired by a story a former colleague of mine told me a few years back. On the train home from work one evening, he was sitting next to a man and a woman who had seemingly just met on this particular commute. They were talking about each other’s jobs, where they lived, and previously studied; the kind of conversation a normal guy would strike up with a girl he met on the train. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Until the guy took hold of the girl’s collar and just kissed her!

Afterwards, the girl giggled, coyly.

My colleague had been convinced that they had only just met - how could they simply kiss like that? Unfortunately, he departed the train before the couple so he couldn’t see how that little romance played out.

But I could imagine a whole love story around this incident and wanted to work it into a book. It just didn’t materialise until 18 months later when Jamie popped into my head!

I would still like to write that train-kiss scene into a novel or short story at some point…
Are the songs in Chasing Pavements original?
Yes. All original. All written by me.

A couple of the songs were written before Jamie/the book even existed (e.g. the first song in the novel, Square 1, was written almost exactly a year earlier); a few came after the first draft was complete. I wrote a number of them while writing the sections the songs appeared in (such as One Half, which came to me at the same time as it came to Jamie in the hotel room), a few were composed especially for scenes I had already written, and the rest came during the time I was writing the story.
Chasing Pavements had the perfect ending. Why did you decide to write a sequel to it?
I didn’t actually decide to write a sequel to Chasing Pavements. Chasing Pavements didn’t start off as a first in a series of books about troubled soul mates Mukti and Jamie. I had no idea what would happen to the manuscript – whether it would get published, and if it did, whether it would be successful. And even if was, even if fans demanded one, would that be enough to warrant a follow-on book? Did these characters have another tale to tell?

Whether it be films or books, I don’t believe in releasing sequels for the sake of it. Just to find out what the characters did next. The second instalment should be a project in its own right, and it must include all the elements of a standalone novel. This includes character development. Yes, even if your protagonist underwent a great deal of growth and development in the first novel, it shouldn’t stop there. Whatever happens in part 2 should inevitably change the characters in some way, otherwise the events in the sequel are probably not worth documenting.

The sequel has to meet the standards expected by the audience, whether they have read the first book or not. You shouldn’t rely on the notion that fans of the first book will read the second one. If you're lucky, then the majority of these fans will probably buy the next book, but if it isn’t up to scratch they will feel cheated. It might even affect how they feel about the first book. So writing a sequel to a book like Chasing Pavements isn’t a decision to be made lightly.
Do you have a favourite scene or chapter in Make You Feel My Love?
Yes, it’s the chapter called ‘Orbit’.
What are you working on at the moment?
Nothing, unfortunately. And below is the reason behind my break from writing. Taken from my blog post titled "When Life Becomes Stranger Than Fiction – An author’s story".

"It all started with some exciting news. In November 2012, I got engaged. The wedding was due to take place on Christmas Day 2012, so I had very little time to do anything other than go to work and come home to plan and prepare for the big day. Time passed too quickly, and before I knew it, it was half-way through December and I’d left ordering my bridal bouquet till the last minute. Only to be told by the company that they don’t deliver over the festive period!

I thought it was the end of the world, that the wedding was going to be a disaster – when you’re a stressed out bride-to-be, a professional in the financial services industry who is also trying to make it as an independent author, thoughts like these enter your head. I should have waited a little longer before I let my catastrophic thoughts get the better of me though, because heartbreak would engulf me by the end of the day.

About an hour after I spoke to the bridal bouquet company, I received a call which changed my life forever. My mum had been taken into emergency brain surgery. My world turned upside down. She’d fallen down the stairs and hit her head. Blood clotted in her brain, squashing it. The surgeons were able to remove the clot but warned us that she may never recover from the injuries incurred, or worse, never wake up. It felt like my life was over. My writing, my upcoming wedding, none of it seemed to matter now. I might lose my mum, the most important person in my life, I didn’t care whether I wrote another word or got married on Christmas Day, or any other day.

The two weeks that followed were hell. Mum was still unconscious. Machines were breathing for her. No one knew what was around the corner. I was falling apart, and also into depression. I wanted to cancel the wedding. My family urged me to reconsider. Everything had been arranged and paid for, not just by me, but by my fiancé’s family too, so it would be unfair to make them suffer such losses. I understood all this, but I didn’t have the strength to carry on. I didn’t have the strength to do anything.

A few days before Christmas, I had a dream that my mum would open her eyes on the day I first visited her after the wedding. By then, my family had succeeded in convincing me to go through with it. I’d also realised that my mum would be devastated when she learned that I’d cancelled it. She’d blame herself and feel guilty forever. It wouldn’t help her recovery. So the show went on, but because of my emotional state, everyone (apart from me) decided it was best that I didn’t visit the hospital until a few days after I got married. It wouldn’t be much fun for the guests, or my new in-laws, if the new bride was constantly breaking down with tears.

I tried to be strong. It was hard but I found that if I kept my head blank of all thoughts and took deep breaths whenever any painful memory invaded it, I could just about make it. Being blank was the only way I survived those first couple of days after the wedding – it was so overwhelming. So many new faces, a whole new life, a new routine… I kept telling myself that I’d feel so much better when I finally saw my mum. Thankfully, my dream about her waking up came true. I think I cried non-stop for an hour at her bedside when I saw her eyes, fully open. They were so warm and you wouldn’t have been able to tell that they had been closed for over a fortnight. It was also the first time my husband was allowed to visit the hospital, and the first time he saw me cry so much. It brought us closer together and I’m really glad he was with me.

Things have been very tough ever since and the New Year started with a mix of pain, worry, tears and also some laughter and excitement. It was the first time in my life that I literally had no free time whatsoever. If I wasn’t trying to be a good wife, a good daughter-in-law, a good employee at work, I was trying to be a good daughter and visiting mum in hospital every day after work.

Life remains hectic and unpredictable but the pain is bearable because I have a husband who is very supportive and knows how to make me laugh. I don’t know when I’ll be able to continue with my writing, and I apologise to fans of the Poison Blood series who are eagerly awaiting Book 3. I promise you all, as soon as I have time to write regularly, I will continue with the vampire romance – hopefully you’ll think that it was worth the wait.

In the meantime however, I have published the sequel to Chasing Pavements - Make You Feel My Love and I hope the readers like it.
Published 2013-08-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Witch's Blood, Book 2: Bloodshed
Series: Witch's Blood. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 85,300. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
MAGIC. MURDER. MYSTERY. "A dead witch, killed in an unfathomable way. The disappearance of the person that would've been the police's prime suspect in this investigation. A person that – god help me – I trust. And fancy like mad. Who haunts my dreams and burns me with his touch. The almost certainty of more killings. And my psychic powers have deserted me. I'm in trouble. Big trouble."
Witch's Blood, Book 1: Bloodless
Series: Witch's Blood. Price: Free! Words: 43,890. Language: British English. Published: June 12, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
MISSING WITCH. MISSING BLOOD. "What's a powerful witch like me to do when she's been made redundant? Settle down for the quiet life? As if! I love being a witch, using magic to save the day. It's what I was born to do. My destiny.
If I Say Yes (Love & Alternatives #1)
Series: Love & Alternatives. Price: Free! Words: 128,120. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(3.00 from 1 review)
You know the story where the girl-next-door-type is getting married to a jerk – and she's only marrying him because she's given up on finding Mr. Right – only for the man of her dreams to walk into her life days before the wedding? This is not that story. My story does however, include a man I'm going to marry and a man that... You'll find out soon enough...
Poison Blood, Book 4: Apocalypse
Series: Poison Blood. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,160. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
Ellie has a mission. But she doesn't know where to start. Who to trust. Everyone's kept secrets from her, but they all seem to find out about hers. All she knows for sure is that she is the key to steering the world into a new era. When faced with the ultimate betrayal, Ellie must rely on the very person that had steered her away from her rightful path. The question is, is it too late?
Poison Blood, Book 3: Prophecy
Series: Poison Blood. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 62,530. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Here's what I know: I'm Ellie. I'm the last vampire Slayer. I'm also a redundant Poison Blood. My body no longer runs with blood that can poison vampires to death. Because I'm a vampire now. The world's most powerful immortal, Christian, turned me. My salvation or my destruction is but a leap away. I'll either fulfil my destiny, change the world as I know it, or die and bring about Apocalypse
Someone Like You (Soulmates Saga, Book 3)
Series: Soulmates Saga. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 183,710. Language: English. Published: July 27, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » New adult
Jamie and Jonny are madly in love with Mukti. Mukti loves them both but she has chosen to be with Jonny, despite believing that Jamie is her soulmate. As the past collides with the present, who will Mukti choose forever - her saviour Jonny or her soulmate Jamie? 'Someone Like You' is the epic third instalment in the Soulmates Saga, which sees Mukti and her loves facing the toughest tests yet.
Make You Feel My Love (Soulmates Saga, Book 2)
Series: Soulmates Saga, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 138,460. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » New adult
(5.00 from 1 review)
After a tumultuous year, star-crossed lovers Mukti and Jamie are starting a new life together in New York. Mukti has found her calling in life and Jamie's music career is taking off. But as all this brings new obligations and responsibilities, their love is once again put to the test. The sequel to Chasing Pavements unravels even more secrets and lies which threaten to split them apart forever.
Poison Blood, Book 2: Absolution
Series: Poison Blood. Price: Free! Words: 33,320. Language: British English. Published: October 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
"I don't know what being in love is like for humans. It never happened to me, not really. I only thought it did. Thought it for a long time." As a senior official at The System, Christian routinely works on secret missions. When he uncovers a project kept secret from him, he investigates. Why was he kept in the dark about this vampire The System is after? Does it have anything to do with Ellie?
Poison Blood, Book 1: Revelation
Series: Poison Blood. Price: Free! Words: 29,610. Language: British English. Published: August 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(4.00 from 5 reviews)
"I don't know what blood tastes like to a human. I'd never even licked a tiny drop of it from a pricked finger, let alone suck on a bleeding cut. The shedding of blood, my own, or anyone else's, always made me scream or panic in fear and revulsion. Now it's my only food source." Ellie is not a typical teen vampire. She still has her humanity and conscience. And the same distaste for blood.
Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1)
Series: Soulmates Saga, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 136,120. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Romance » New adult
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Singer/songwriter Jamie York is suffering from writer's block. Until he meets Mukti. Suddenly his creativity blossoms and he feels torn - he has to keep seeing her, but can he bare his tortured soul to her? But Mukti has her own secrets and is just as troubled as he is. Can Jamie and Mukti help each other come to terms with their pasts and move forward together, or do some ghosts haunt us forever?