Faisal Ansari has spent the majority of his adult life strapped into a suit writing marketing and stuffy legal documentation for M&A transactions in the City. Despite growing up in London, Faisal’s overwhelming preference is to be outdoors. When trapped indoors he reads until his eyes bleed. Faisal wrote full time to complete his first novel, The Pestilence.
With your novel The Pestilence, what can readers expect?
The story begins when a mysterious electrical phenomenon rolls above the cities of the world. The lightning which comes from the east, shines as far as the west and turns night into day. Two brothers of the lightning, Samuel Srour and Victor Pierre Chaput, are gifted powers by the storm. Their paths intertwined, with enemies on all sides.The book is a thriller, a page-turner unfolding over a sixteen day period which counts down the arrival of the Pestilence. The Pestilence is my debut novel and is book one of the Jerusalem Chronicles.I am quietly proud of it.
Did the book take long to write?
I wrote The Pestilence from October 2014-June 2015 and was lucky enough to be able to treat it as a full time job. Following editing and amendments the book was published by Matador on October 31 2015. It took 12 months from inception to publication.
What was it like moving from the City into the real world?
I had been working in the City for 16 years. It was physically and mentally challenging. The long hours meant you were away from the people who matter most to you. Looking back it was an excellent experience, but there wasn’t much scope for creative writing. The closest I got to being creative was trying to sneak inappropriate words into legal documents such as Listing Particulars. My favourite sentence was saying that a product had a “banal penetration” rate in a market. Then on the next draft of the document the “b” would mysteriously disappear. Unfortunately, I never got it past the lawyers.
Are any of the characters in the book based on real life?
Victor is the only one who is based on someone I know; an Investment bankerwho looks exactly like Louis XVI.
It says in your bio you are a big reader, what type of books do you read?
I love reading. When I am writing I stay away from fiction and read science/social science/ economics books and the occasional biography. When I am not writing I binge read fiction almost as a catch up. As long as it captures my attention, I will read any book in any genre from the Song of Ice and Fire to The Alchemist. I don’t have a favourite book, but I love Murakami.
I understand there is also an audiobook.
Yes as an indie author, I produced the audiobook myself. My own voice is to high pitched cockney sparrow to be of any use in the audiobook. I found a brilliant actor in Gareth Pierce who performed the 16 or so voices in the production. Not only is Gareth highly talented he is also depressingly good looking.
How do you deal with the fear of your book being rejected or trashed by critics and readers?
I read somewhere that writing is a strange process of anxiety crowned by pleasure. Waiting on feedback is indeed anxiety inducing. I was lucky in that I had a network of people around me that would review and critique the book as I wrote it. Importantly they had the courage to tell me when something didn’t work or what I wrote sucked balls.
So far the book has had good reviews and I love what I do. Like all things, the more I write the better my next novel will be.
What advice can you give to anyone considering writing a book?
Dostoevsky said that one must have the courage to dare. I think any new writer needs to have the courage to sit down and go for it. If you write from your heart, if you write from within; then the without will take care of itself.