I got this amazing opportunity to have a virtual chat with Abierto Reino, the author of Shapes of water. This book is a collection of poems and stories with a diverse range. It mainly focuses on the different traits of humankind. I absolutely loved this book and it gave me goosebumps too.
You can read the book review here.
So, in this virtual talk, we talked about the inspiration behind Abierto's writing, her writing process, dealing with rejections, favorite books and movies and much more.
Please tell us about yourself.
I am Abierto Reino, a poetess and fiction author. I live in the UK, but originally, I am from Denmark, where I have lived most of my life. My roots and heritage have grown from Pakistani soil. I started writing at the age of 10, inspired by all the books I loved to read. Mainly the genres of horror, fairy tales, fantasy and fiction. Over time, I particularly developed a fondness for historical fiction and fiction that focuses on human nature and the complexities of our minds. I stopped writing for several years due to career and family life commitments but finally found my way back to storytelling a few years ago. I am an introvert, I prefer solitude over gatherings. I am very fond of charcoal art and floating mentally over a cup of coffee. I can eat chocolate any time a day, and currently, I am working on my master’s degree in psychology.
Great. Good to know you. So, I read your book and I found it to be pretty different from the usual poetry/ short stories book. From where you got the inspiration?
Shapes of Water came from many years of thoughts and feelings on the human mind and not to mention, the world we live in. There is so much ache, so much pain in this world, and how can you not ponder on it? How can you not wish to mend it just a little bit, try and give something back to a world that desperately needs more compassion and kindness? We are social beings. We need other people and relationships to existing, to feel life is meaningful. And love, especially with love, I wanted to give a different notion, than the romantic one. To give the notion of love being about staying, loyalty and understanding. About growing despite the cracks and bruises we give each other’s souls and hearts. I hope, I was able to deliver this.
Absolutely. That's the part I loved the most about your book. It must have been tough to write and compile everything. What was your writing process like?
It was very, eh, floating. Meaning, I wrote it at any time during the day and night, whenever thoughts, feelings and words emerged and pushed to be put down in writing. There is no organisation to my writing. It is not like I schedule a specific time a day to sit down and write. When I feel I need to write, I write with whatever tool at hand, be it my phone, a notebook or my computer. This of course means, there is much mending to do after, things are in different places, but I have tried to be more organised and it just kills my spirit.
What made you write about the life of refugees?
I have been very occupied with the refugee crises, especially after The Arab Spring. It’s been such a devastating development to witness. You feel helpless and you lack the understanding of why this world has turned so cold and cynical, why compassion is so little. It hits hard, it is a thing that is present in my mind every single day. The loss, the pain, the death and the hope, the despair…how can this not touch you?
I agree. There's a very little compassion left. My heart aches every time I see any terrifying news or read any article.
How did you deal with rejections?
Well, I take it as they come. I am quite realistic and practical on that front, I know the competition is fierce and many publishers are looking for something that fits a certain box, which makes it even harder. But as long as there are people, appreciating your words, then you write.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I’ve learned that words are truly powerful. They can make or break, they can mend or hurt. They are givers or takers, depending on how you choose to use them.
Absolutely. You can do wonders with words. That brings me to my next question. What’s your favorite books or movies and what do you do when you are not writing?
I read quite a lot, I’d say. My favourite authors are based on both stories, character building and for some just their language: Stephen King, Umberto Eco, Ildefonso Falcones, Elif Shafak, Ghazzali, Dickens, Poe, Michael Kretz Krefeldt, Carsten Jensen, K. Ishiguro, Jules Verne, and Faiqa Mansab. I love historical novels and literary fictions. I do not watch much TV actually, I mostly read or write if time is at hand to do so. If I watch something, it is usually a historical series and movies, or themes that work around human nature, life.
Nice. Are you working on your next book? Can we expect to read more from you?
The second poetry collection is halfway, and I am editing my first children’s fantasy novel at the moment with a brilliant beta-reader on my side. I have the outline of two novels developing, one is a women’s fiction and the other a historical novel. So, I really hope I will be able to deliver more in the future, hopefully, something worth reading.
That's good to know. Looking forward to it. Here's my last question for you. What advice do you have for someone who is planning to publish a book or new authors?
Very hard questions, there are so many hurdles and obstacles. But, persevere! There is a way, and you will find it eventually. Ask people about their experience with publishers, before you go ahead. It is the best way to get the best understanding of how and what the publisher is like. Trust your gut, if something does not feel right. Remember, it is your book – your baby, and it deserves the best you can give.
Thank you so much, Abierto for your time and candid answers. I wish you all the best for your upcoming projects.
You can buy the book here.