Rabeeta Abbas is the author of Dead By Sunrise, a dystopian-fiction story compilation of a post-pandemic novelette and two flash fictions. She talks to Karvan in this exclusive interview
1. What inspired you to write a dystopian fiction book?
Dystopian fiction is a genre I naturally enjoy reading. Perhaps, also the genre I read the most. Usually, because they are thought-provoking and give you a different perspective towards life. We can say the fiction I read, the elements of dystopia, and the world’s circumstances, inspire me to write in this genre. Also, most of my stories tend to fall into the same genre. So, it wasn’t a surprise to me when I started writing Dead By Sunrise, and all stories came out as dystopian ones. And when we talk about DBS, the driving force for writing it was to make it a charity project.
2. Can you share a bit about the story, without revealing the spoilers?
I’d love to!
Dead By Sunrise is a dystopian-fiction story compilation of a post-pandemic novelette and two flash fictions. All three stories in the book are different from each other. It addresses bold and thought-provoking topics neatly wrapped in fiction that do not take a negative toll on your mental health.
The first story, named Picture Perfect, is a post-pandemic novelette with a twisted plot revolving around how the future after the Global Pandemic seemingly ends might look like. It narrates a tale about loss, hope, and seeking the truth.
On the other hand, the flash-fictions are titled Product Specifications and Hit and Run, respectively. Product Specifications is about human trafficking and kidnapping, while Hit and Run deals with the fear of abandonment, healing, and finding one’s peace.
3. You are also a co-author of international anthologies. Tell us something about them
There are two anthologies I have co-authored so far. The first one was Six Feet From Tomorrow and the second one was Untold Christmas Stories. In SFFT, there are 15 post-pandemic stories from 15 international authors, which means 15 different takes on what could be after the end of the Pandemic as we know it. Untold Christmas Stories was an invite-only anthology where thirteen authors from around the world collaborated to write festive stories in different genres. It was a rollercoaster ride for readers if you ask me!
Also, both these anthologies contribute to the cause of planting a billion trees, so that’s another reason why I loved the experience.
4. How did you think of becoming a writer and an author at such a young age?
I’ve always loved writing. More importantly, I’ve loved the idea of sharing my words and people resonating with them or simply enjoying them. I was one of those kids who planned a whole story when they were ten, thinking of actually publishing it! (But of course, it was just a spin-off version of one of Enid Blyton’s books, haha)
Anyhow, coming back to the question, I think I’ve always envisioned myself getting published and can’t exactly pinpoint the part where I started thinking about it. But, it wasn’t until three years ago when I wanted to start writing professionally and began my journey as a writer. After three years of experience in writing, I knew I was qualified enough to shoot my shot publishing!
5. What challenges did you face from writing the manuscript to turning it into a book?
The biggest challenges in turning the manuscript into a book were editing and cover designing, specifically cover designing, which was a fairly new domain for me. Editing was something I was familiar with, but of course, editing your manuscript is a challenge in itself since you have to completely renew your perspective towards the manuscript. However, one learns from experiences, and that’s the case for me! Adding new fields to my skill set is one of the best things that resulted from DBS!
6. Tell us about your publisher, Daastan, and how they helped you in achieving your dream?
So, initially, I had already published the book on Amazon and other storefronts. But, Amazon does not operate in Pakistan, and I wanted to make it available in Pakistan. Thus, I republished the book with Daastan, making it exclusive to Amazon and Daastan only so that it’s available to both national and international audiences. My experience with Daastan was great. Initially, I had my doubts, but everything turned out well, especially in the paperback printing.
7. Who are the authors who are your inspiration?
Some of my most favorite authors who have greatly inspired me are Patrick Ness, Lois Lowry, Hafsah Faizal, Sabaa Taahir, Khalid Hosseini, Paulo Coehlo, and Markus Zusak.
8. Which novel from a Pakistani author you enjoyed reading the most?
One of my most favorite novels from a Pakistani author is Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. It was a historical fiction book, and the writing style was so captivating, it was a challenge in itself to put the book away!
9. You are also running a CSR activity. What is it about and did you conceive it?
Yes, I am running a CSR activity through Dead By Sunrise. All proceeds from the book are directed towards charity. Currently, I am gathering funds and will be proceeding to use them to feed the poor sometime around August, hopefully. I wanted to write a book and use it to generate funds for charity because I wanted to use my art to help people. When you sell your art, you’re helping people stay entertained, so that’s one thing. And, using the profits to provide the necessities of life to the deprived ones is another thing. I wanted to go the extra mile and do both. Plus, this also helped me create a never-ending cycle because as long as the book continues to sell, there will be at least one person who gets rescued from hunger.
10. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?
If there’s something you’re good at, take time out to polish it. Develop a skill. Follow your passion. Take your time to learn, know your thing instead of blindly stepping into any field. Gain experience and always prioritize quality over quantity. These years are the years where you can be most productive so use them wisely. If you have any resources, use them well. If you don’t, build them yourself. Remember, you may not always have everything, but you do have the strength to work towards it.
Most importantly, clap for others and be supportive towards everyone. Help whoever you can, know your morals. The world needs more people on the good side. Do good, the universe reciprocates.
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