Author Interview: Momus Najmi
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the return of my series of author interviews. This week I am delighted to bring to you author & podcaster, Momus Najmi.
So, Momus, would you like to start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Hello. I am Momus Najmi, author and podcaster. Born in Kuwait, where I grew up. Lived in Pakistan for over a decade as well and for a long time now been living in Britain, being happily British.
I don’t necessarily like to box myself with labels, but if I had to describe myself, I would say I am a secular humanist, freethinker, history enthusiast, social commentator, linguaphile, and bibliophile. With a deep appreciation for storytelling, developed from a young age.
I am the author of ‘The Silent Betrayal’, and ‘Mumblings of a Fool’ and I have a podcast about history & mythology called ‘The World of Momus Podcast’. I have a degree in business administration and a master’s in creative and professional writing, among many other certificates in various other fields. I also intend to undertake more in the future as time would allow me.
Could you tell us more about your first published work The Silent Betrayal and where the inspiration came from for your story?
Well, The Silent Betrayal, is about this young guy named Johann Blakemore, who is the sole heir of a multi-billion dollar organisation. He is trying to uncover his, still alive, father’s Nazi past and his mother’s mysterious death. Stuck between finding the truth and making his own reality, he decides to delve deeper. So, it is a first-person narration, and we are following his thoughts and actions as they evolve during the course of the story.
An excerpt from The Silent Betrayal
‘………. There are choices we can make, we are told. We are free to choose as we please, free. But are we really and can we really choose? Choice is an illusion given to us to make us believe that there is any freedom involved in our lives. And this illusion does become a reality when we spring the thought into existence by believing in it, but the freedom of its undertaking still remains an illusion. We live in a world where we are controlled by the thought of our freedom, we are free, free enough to cage ourselves in the illusion of freedom. An absolute waste of intellect.’
I had other stories which I wanted to write first. Back then they were 5 different stories, two of them quarter of the way written. But for some reason I decided to write this one, an unplanned story. I started writing it and it developed into something the more I wrote. Usually, I have a clear idea and then I map it out. Then I start writing and keep evolving, changing the storyline as I go along. This was out of nowhere.
Many authors have completely different experiences when it comes to publishing, particularly in the self-publishing field. How did you find the process for your debut?
As this wasn’t really the first story I wanted to publish, but because it was finished, I decided to publish it anyway. I wasn’t that bothered about the publishing process itself. Although I did learn a few things along the way. I created my own book cover and self-edited the book.
There was a huge mistake I made with this book. Because the process was so new to me, to self-publish it on Amazon, I mistakenly published the first draft of my novel, instead of the third final draft. And I didn’t realise I had done that till after a year of it being live. So, that was really embarrassing. Also, I don’t think it was a smart move to only self-edit the book and not have another pair of eyes involved.
Self-publishing does remove barriers and it is great for authors to remain as independent as possible and be in full control of their work. But on the other hand, having no real external quality checks to publish can mean it is easy to make mistakes like mine, or in other cases produce sub-standard work bringing the perception of indie-authors down. There are pros and cons to self-publishing, but I think it mainly depends on how much effort each individual author puts into it. I did definitely learn a lot, and I took that learning forward when I self-published my poetry collection a year later.
Is there anything you would do differently within that process for future works?
I seem to have touched on this in the previous question. I would definitely get a few readers to beta-read my second novel, and also get it edited. And even though I like making book covers, I think I would outsource that as well if I was going indie again with my upcoming book.
I have not decided yet which route I am going to go – whether I remain indie by self-publishing or whether I go with a publisher. I am not thinking about that process yet and instead concentrating on finishing the book first.
But either way, I would make sure which draft of my work I am submitting before I submit it.
Are there any non-fiction genres that stand out as your favourites?
I do read a lot of non-fiction books, and they range wildly. The two that I seem to focus most on would be history and philosophy. But it really isn’t limited to those two genres. I like exploring new and unique ideas.
I do tend to lean more on Exploratory Non-Fiction but from time to time, I also enjoy reading Narrative Non-Fiction, especially if it is an interesting travel book.
As you can tell, I find it hard to pin down any one particular genre. Although, I would tell you what I don’t like. Something that is a clear turn-off for me within non-fiction and it is a distinct bias for a definite point of view. Of course, we all have our biases as individuals, but it is off-putting to have your opinions only be led by your biases.
To give you a taste, I am currently reading a book on the origins of the Slavic nations and waiting to read a short book about the history of local governments in Britain written in 1966. Also listening to an audiobook of memoires – narrative non-fictions are really good as audiobooks if read well. And eagerly awaiting to get into a book I found, 1888 edition, about the history of the conquest of Peru.
With your podcast, novels, and poems you are a man with many plates spinning at once. How have you found that experience and would you like to tell us a bit about working in areas beyond publishing novels?
Let me put it this way, if I was only writing books, I would have a lot more finished manuscripts by now, but perhaps my life wouldn’t have been so fun as well.
How do I find that experience? I don’t recommend it. I don’t think it is for everyone to be doing a lot of different things at the same time. Especially when you also have a day job, 5 days a week, like I do – which I do like as well. However, it seems to work for me. I have long lull periods with my writing, it has been four years since I published my first novel. But by having a podcast now, I am constantly creative. Before I started my podcast, 8 or so months ago, my other creative outlet was cooking.
In my experience, what I have found is that for me personally, I need something engaging and creative to do on a regular basis. Podcasting helps fill that gap when I am not writing. And with podcasts I do all the content creation, video making, edits, thumbnails, and so on myself, so it really does keep me busy. I intend on getting myself into a lot of other things in the future. As I always say:
‘Life is filled with a multitude of possibilities, and we should explore as many avenues of thought as our interests can hold.’
Are there any fun facts we should know about Momus Najmi?
Fun facts about me? I don’t know. In my core, I am a very silly person and I like having a laugh and having fun. But I don’t know if there are any fun facts about me. Although a lot of fun things have happened to me.
Let me think. I escaped twice from school when I was in a Montessori in Kuwait. I don’t know how I managed to evade my teacher, and every other school personnel and the people minding the gates, but I escaped and was found by the police wandering the streets looking for a way home. My parents got properly told off by the police as did the school. The other time I only escaped the classroom and caught the principal off-guard in the common grounds asking him to take me home because to me he looked a lot like my school bus driver. I didn’t like going to the school, not because I hated learning, but because they mostly taught things, I wasn’t interested in. Fun facts, well I guess I do have a lot of them. Including another time in Montessori when I slapped my teacher because she told me put my head down and take a nap, but I didn’t have my favourite pillow and she kept telling me to sleep. Years later, she met my mum and me in the park, not remembering that the kid was me and recounting the slapping incident to my mum as her most shocking experience as a teacher to little kids while I hid my face from her. I was always a punk, still am, will be till my last days.
Lastly, would you like to tease us with what to expect from you in the coming years?
Currently, I am working on a short novel with the working title of Insan (it is a persian/urdu word which means human). It is roughly about a guy who has had a tragic life, which has led him to an extremist and destructive path. And now he is re-evaluating his decisions, by taking a journey into his mind and conversing with his many archetypes.
As I mentioned before I have 5 other stories which are a quarter written, and now about 6 more whose stories have been mapped out. So, I intend on starting to write all of these stories and finish them one by one. So, expect a lot of work from me in the future.
Apart from that my podcast, The World of Momus Podcast, will continue and hopefully there will be more and more interesting episodes on there. Currently, I am working on an episode to give a brief overview of the entangled history of Ukraine and Russia, which probably will be out at around the time you put this up. People who are interested in history and mythology should go check the podcast out, available on all major platforms.
I owe Momus a massive thank you for taking part in this interview. It's been too long since I gave authors a space to discuss themselves and their work. I'm looking forward to keeping it going.
Until next time,