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Saturday 25 July 2015

ℚ Song Of A Dead Star: Song Of A Dead Star [1] - Zamil Akhtar

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about his début novel, Song Of A Dead Star (, Zamil Akhtar , 435 pages) an epic science fantasy adventure filled with mystery and romance.

On his website, Zamil shares creative writing tips, as well as two of his short stories: Peace Bringer and The Demise Of Pandas - do make sure to visit him!

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Hello Zamil, and welcome to BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for your epic novel, Song Of A Dead Star?

"When I was younger I would spend hours dreaming up fantastical tales inspired by fantasy/sci-fi videogames, books, movies, and TV shows.  I grew up in the Middle East so I would also try to re-imagine some of these stories in a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy or sci-fi setting.

Song of a Dead Star is all that inspiration from my childhood and teenage years combined into one epic, magical story.  In my heart I always wanted and still want to tell stories that move people emotionally and bring them into an incredible world.  That's what inspires me to continue writing."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Much of my youth and the culture shock I experienced moving from an urban center in the Middle East to suburban United States is reflected in the book.  A lot of the philosophies I wrestled with when trying to create an identity for myself during that confusing time are also present.  Most importantly, I tried to convey some of the strongest emotions I had experienced, such as a strong feeling of alienation and up rootedness upon moving to a new place where you don’t fit in."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I actually made the cover art myself.  It reflects one of the concepts in the book called “spectrum” whereby a character can create a map of his surroundings in his mind using the electromagnetic spectrum.  I wanted it to be colorful and unlike other covers.  I also wanted it to have a strong sense of mystery."
I think you achieved that.  I also like the font you have used for the title; it exudes a real Middle-Eastern feeling.

Why should we read Song Of A Dead Star and what sets it apart from the rest?

"I really eschew most science fiction and fantasy tropes and also the tones of most stories in those genres.

My fantasy story has a Middle Eastern theme instead of a Medieval European one.  As I am from the region myself, I eschew most of the clichés from Middle Eastern, Aladdin-styled fantasy as well.  In fact, the thought process is more along the lines of “what if the Middle Eastern Golden Age had never ended and the region was able to continually developing intellectually and technologically independent from the West?”  This thought process makes the setting unlike any other book I’ve read."
Can you tell us something quirky about Song Of A Dead Star, its story and characters?
"I took some of the character names from one of my favorite JRPGs [Japanese Role Playing Games] called Xenogears, as an easter egg of sorts."
I must admit I had never heard of Xenogears, but then again it was never released in Europe... but I love the idea.  I can see that XenoSaga Episode II was... I may have to have a little look...   Being Italian I grew up on Japanese anime/cartoons - Goldrake, Mazinger Z and so on...

Who would you recommend Song Of A Dead Star to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"Anyone who likes imaginative tales and doesn’t have too much trouble suspending disbelief will enjoy my story.

As a warning, this novel doesn’t fully conclude the story and leaves a lot of room for a sequel, so don’t go into it expecting all loose ends to be tied up."
If you could / wished to turn Song Of A Dead Star into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I would prefer to turn it into a videogame, actually.  But not the narrative; I would like to make an open world videogame with the same setting and different characters that perhaps takes place before the events of the story.  The setting and magic system in the book would make an excellent videogame, I feel.  It could even work as an MMORPG [Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game].  I would want the game to capture the same feeling of adventure of the novel."
Nice idea!

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like to read all kinds of genres.  One of my favorite books is a Japanese romance novel called Socrates in Love.  I also enjoy literary works written by Indian authors, like God of Small Things.  In fact, I tend not to read too much of the genres I write: science fiction and fantasy.  I have read most of the classics of the genre but avoid reading contemporary stuff unless it is really unique.  The last fantasy book I really enjoyed was Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, also because it is Middle Eastern themed and very well written.  I would say that at this point, I’m really trying to read things that are unique and different instead of derivative fiction."
What is your writing process?
"The first thing I do is make myself a cup of tea.  Then I sit and visualize the scene I want to write for ten to twenty minutes.  I try to become the character and think what he or she is thinking.  With my five senses, I try to feel what he or she is feeling.  This is usually quite an intensive process so after a few hours of writing I am burned out.  I really enjoy this process because it gets me very emotionally involved in what I write. "
What is in store next?
"Right now I’m working on an entirely different novel series, though Book 2 of Song of a Dead Star is also in the queue.  My new novel will be more of a historical-based fantasy, also inspired by Middle Eastern history.  It won’t have any science-fiction elements and even the fantasy will be rather lite, as I am opting for realism with some fantasy elements.  I’ve just begun writing it after planning the novel for the last few years, so it will be a while before it’s ready."
As a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better, we ask to share with us a picture of yourself with a pet or with something that is special to you...
I don’t have a pet but I am fond of cats and went to a cat café last weekend.  Here’s a picture from that visit.

Brilliant!  See, this is exactly why I ask this question - I had never heard of a cat café before, but I love the idea (as I said before, we do have nine cats, and a little while ago we did have 13 ourselves...), and I cannot believe just how widespread they are.  If I did my investigative bit correctly... that picture was taken at the Cat Café Neko no Niwa in Singapore, and you can meet the cats on their website.  The big ginger one in the window should be Kai Kai, a two year old boy; to his right I think I can spot Mr White and his brother Dewey (both 2 years old).   I am  also pretty sure the two on the far right are Emma, three years old white female, and Jia Jia, who is Kai Kai's sister.  Finally, I think the fluffy black one on top of the cat tree is Baloo, who is a six year old male, and the one being petted by the table appears to be Demi, a five years old female!  :-)  I don't think I can identify the other two fur babies in the picture.

 I love it!   Thank you Zimal!

Song Of A Dead Star - available NOW!

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