Muhjahid, it’s an honor to have you on my blog. I don’t know you personally but your words have touched my heart more than once and I wanted them to touch my blog also. I’m so happy you agreed to do this chat.
1. Can you tell me a bit about who Muhjahid Qahhar is and how you came to be a writer?
My love for writing evolved and matured inside a prison cell. I had read nearly 1,000 books, studied half of them. Of all the fiction I read, no one seemed to tell the tales that played in my imagination day in and day out. Having maxed out a twenty-five year sentence, prison culture encompassed far more than bars and concrete for me. Today, everyone, to some extent has been affected by prison culture. I saw a void to be filled. The weaving of stories with a delicate balance of grime and sophistication, where the educated, successful woman crossed paths with the ex-felon. A world that peels away her degrees and melts away his past, exposing a woman and a man. Writing began as a productive outlet for me, a way to bring my fantasies to life. Something that allowed me to live and love, to plot and murder, to educate and discuss the things most people feared discussing publicly. When I discovered my gift, I set out to be original, to become one of the best to ever put words on paper.
2. Very ambitious. If you could share one thing that not many people know about you, would be surprised to know about you, what would it be?
That I was a correctional officer for several months before getting locked up, and did my time in the same state, some of it in the same prison I worked at.
3. Wow. How about your writing -what genre would you say you write in? Are you defined by it or do you define it?
African American fiction. It does not define me, I definitely, in many ways define it. While I welcome readers from any culture, I never allow what they may think or how they may respond, to influence my writing. You will feel the soul of black people in my stories; the good and the bad. Real stories. The embarrassment, the racism, the perversion, the very nature of black people and how it has been altered by environments and time, all wrapped up in entertainment.
4. I happen to have been blessed with reading many of your words of wisdom on your Facebook page, so many of them seeming like practical advice but since people rarely infuse the practical in their interactions, your words hold so much meaning. Can you tell me what inspires you to share your thoughts with your friends and what you hope comes from it?
A very wise man once said, “Speak the truth regardless to whom or what.” The world today has become so animated and sexually charged, if I don’t share the worlds of knowledge I was blessed to receive, many people would live and die having never been exposed to real talk. There are many people who find themselves constantly offended by me…but they find themselves hating to love me, and loving to hate me for doing what I do. I do it mainly for the youth, giving them a view of what was to compare the here and now to. It is necessary for them to know that they are not the authors of their current, wayward behavior. Because of my criminal background I have found that I’m able to reach a segment of our community that the black intellectual is unable to influence. No individual can rise any higher than their people. None of us can live as islands. My posts are intended to inspire people to think.
5. Mission accomplished. What about your publishing journey- what’s your story?
I took the independent route in the face of being offered a publishing deal on several occasions. My goal is to build my brand well enough to form my own publishing company, and do it all my way. Needing no permission from anyone to write what I like and giving other authors the freedom to do the same. Starting with a novella, I am spearheading a company, From Criminal to Credible, built on integrity, a safe haven of sorts for new authors who want to be treated fairly, like family.
6. I admit to taking somewhat of a hiatus from reading, opposite of what many others do during summer so I haven’t read your published work but I’ve been hearing great things about both of your books Ambivalence: The Beginning and No Instructions (Ambivalence) (Volume 2) and both have excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon. Can you tell me a bit about these books and the message that resonates throughout so that I know what I’m diving into when I do start?
Ambivalence: The Beginning is a novella, a story about a brilliant, promising professor at Hampton University and Tenaka Campbell, a charismatic, intriguing, intelligent ex-felon. It is centered around two people from extreme opposite sides of the track giving a different perspective on being equally yoked. It deals with snooty friends who turn up their noses at the professor for opening her mind to a man they feel is below her. There is Tricia, a student at Hampton University who was Tenaka’s pen pal, and Antwan, an old friend of Tenaka. The both of them complicates his life in ways unimaginable. No Instructions is a full length novel, the sequel to Ambivalence. It continues the story while adding a few new characters that create an equally alluring story that runs parallel with the original. The finale, Unswept Dust, has all the makings of a classic. It is slated for the end of this year.
7. If you had an advice to share for a new author, juggling this work of writing and all the other demands of life, what would it be?
My first piece of advice would be to make coffee your best friend. Do not allow your mind to play tricks on you, leading you to believe that your situation is special. There are many of us juggling children, jobs, marriages, relationship issues, problems of every color. Let nothing stop you from writing. I am sitting in a room right now where the TV is on, people are present and talking. I threw on a pair of headphones and pushed everything else out. It is not my ideal writing environment, I prefer quietness, but l I can’t wait around for the perfect environment, I must adapt and overcome in order to compete. My readers could care less what my obstacles are; they are concerned with the next book.
8. Very insightful advice. I hear we can expect a new release from you in August. Is this true? If so tell me about it.
Unswept Dust is the third and final part of the Ambivalence trilogy. Yes it was due in August but I’ve had to push the date back…to around November. It is well over four hundred pages and sums up what I predict will go down as one of the best urban classics in modern history. The entire trilogy is a detailed account of the psychology of prison culture from an in depth, new perspective. Every angle is addressed; the mother with a child by an incarcerated father, the teenager, the wife, mother, brother, and sister of an incarcerated love one, the community on the receiving end. Unswept Dust touches on the reasons men return from prison feeling hopeless, giving you a front seat view of what men face socially and economically when they return. It exceeds the stereotypical shoot ’em up, gutter, drug dealing culture that generally accompanies such a tale, leaving the reader with plenty to think about. A novel with the affect of non-fiction.
Nafisah was never officially my girlfriend, yet she was much more than a cut-friend. So, when I caught my time, well, I guess she didn’t feel it was her responsibility to ride it out with me. I can’t really fault her for that because my nose was Grand Canyon for this red shawty during that time. But I never asked Nafisah to wait for me or anything like that. Shit, my sentence was ridiculously long. No sensible man would expect any woman to put a lock on the pussy for that amount of time. My only request was for her to
visit me from time to time; you know, just let me see her, hear her voice, smell her, and maybe squeeze that ass and slide in a finger or two when the opportunity presented itself. I didn’t feel like I was being unreasonable. After all, she claimed she would always love me. An eighteen year old takes that sort of thing to heart.
9. If your readers want to reach out to you, what would be the best way to reach you?
Readers may email me: email@example.com
Or friend me on facebook: http://www.facebookmuhjahidwoodson-qahhar
My books can be found on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle download
Muhjahid, thanks so much for your time and for agreeing to this interview and I’m looking forward to reading your work.
Click covers to purchase Ambivalence: New Beginnings or No Instructions by Muhjahid.