You might remember Sarah Al-saad from her award-winning fake review Succubus: A Study In Mediocrity for the CLONE EBERT Award. Well after making it one from one we decided to see what makes Sarah tick with this short interview.
Hi Sarah, thanks for joining us. Firstly, what prompted the idea for Succubus?
Every time I turn around I see a billboard advertising some form of mass entertainment involving fantastical romances. Every time I turn the TV on, there’s a show involving supernatural beings with some sort of love triangle. Every time I go to the library, I’m assaulted by a multitude of steamy novels depicting the love affair between humans and demigods, or vampires, or zombies, or what have you.
Apparently, having an ordinary human relationship where your partner is not likely to kill you at any given moment is now quite passé. So I just thought I’d pacify my frustrations with pop culture, and my dislike of Megan Fox, by writing a scathing piece trashing such cheap, mediocre attempts at entertainment.
But, you know, to those of you who enjoy them, no offence and all.
How do you go about your writing process?
My writing process is pretty ordinary. I think of the idea and plan out the general format, and then I write a draft and keep improving that draft until I think it’s ready. In this case, inspiration came pretty quickly and I was able to complete it in a couple of days. It’s always good if you can show a draft to someone you trust and get their feedback. Having worked on something for a while, I like to leave it alone for at least half a day and come back to it with a fresh mind – it gives time for any new ideas to come to the surface and also allows you to look at the piece with a sharper, more critical perspective.
What sort of factors influence your writing in general?
At the risk of sounding narcissistic, most of my best works are inspired by things I’ve experienced, or observed, or have strong feelings about. This is particularly the case with articles such as this one. My works of fiction tend to slant towards the dark and bleak, mostly because I have a dead soul, but I also love comedy writing and descriptive writing.
I have a penchant for taking my everyday emotions and stretching them to the very limit for maximum effect on paper. If I have a fight with my parents? I’ll write a story about a guy who’s a juvenile delinquent whose parents send him off to military school. It’s a good way to vent, if anything, and usually when an idea has a certain meaning or importance to you, the resulting product will be more gritty, honest, sharp. Also you’ll enjoy writing it a lot more, and that’s the most important thing. Well, that and paying rent. So make sure it’s good.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading ‘The Satanic Verses,’ by Salman Rushdie. A highly controversial, highly convoluted amalgam of magical realism, eccentric-bordering-on-clinically-insane characters, and a dry, witty humour that lends a very tongue-in-cheek lightheartedness to the more contentious aspects of the story. When you start a novel with two men falling out of the sky, and one of them is singing Indian folk songs and seeing dead ex-girlfriends flying about on magic carpets, you know your readers have no chance of putting that book down.
Are there any stories on NiTH that have stood out for you?
I quite enjoyed She’s Funny That Way by Lydia Trethewey. I liked the madness of the protagonist and the eerily artistic, poetic descriptions of graphic violence. I also liked the idea of a female psychopathic killer, we don’t get enough of those in literature. Equal opportunities, bridging the gap between the sexes one murderess at a time.
What about fav authors?
My favourite authors include Stephen King and George Orwell; King’s unrivaled flair for blending dark humour with genuine, good old-fashioned horror stories only narrowly beats out his fast-paced, brilliantly crafted crime novels. And then he has beautiful, heartbreaking works like The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption under his belt. As for Orwell, his dystopian, profoundly moral and gritty books had my adoration ever since I studied 1984 at school, and the socio-political influence behind such novels is is compelling and informative.
Finally, Where can we find more of your writing?
I’m featured in Volume 2 of the ‘Robbed of Sleep’ Anthology, which contains short horror stories tinged with black comedy. I also have quite a few poems and short stories on the writing website Wattpad, under the username Sooss96. I’m working on a few projects at the moment, so I hope to have some more writing out there soon.