Today we have Rafeed Elahi Chowdhury, the young author making news in the world of literature with his latest release, ‘Fayez Just Became a Father.’ This social drama and comedy novel, which marks Rafeed’s third publication, has intrigued readers all over the globe, including a huge following in his home country – Bangladesh. Currently residing in Vancouver, Rafeed is here to talk about his journey as a writer and to give us an idea of what the future holds for him and his readers.
Choosing a new genre with ‘Fayez Just Became a Father,’ where we saw you mix serious social drama with elements of comedy, must have been quite a big step. Were you nervous about how this would be received by your readers?
Mixing drama and comedy? Totally had me sweating at first, I won’t lie. From promotion to distribution, I heard a lot of ‘no’s from many people who were hesitant to work together with me. The first time I started promoting the project on social media, some reactions were welcoming, while some groups definitely hated it, because the cover of the book kind of conveyed what the story might be about. In the end, I stopped caring, and solely focused on the story itself. Here we are.
Mixing satire and sensitive topics – this might generate heat from readers who might not take kindly to certain jokes. Are you aware of that?
I am. So if someone gets offended, I’m planning on channeling my inner Uno champion – hit them with a reverse card. That’s the only way to go.
Your latest work, ‘Fayez Just Became a Father’, and your upcoming novel, ‘Rules of Eternity’, dropping this December 20th, are way apart in terms of genre and story. Was your writing approach or process different in any way?”
Yes, there was a shift in my approach. ‘Fayez Just Became a Father’ was a unique journey for me because, for the first time, I told a story that was completely detached from my own experiences. Every character, every bit of the plot, was purely based on the story itself, without any direct inspiration from events in my life.
On the other hand, ‘Rules of Eternity’ is a different game. This novel is much closer to my heart because it does have elements from my own life. There are moments, emotions, and beliefs in the book that are deeply personal, reflections of my experiences. It felt like I was putting pieces of myself within its pages.
Your upcoming novel ‘Rules of Eternity’ has a romantic theme, and you mentioned it draws from your personal experiences. Are we getting a sneak peek into your own love story here?
You don’t want me to answer that any break anyone’s heart, do you? Let me be everyone’s loving Rafeed.
Now that the year is ending, how was your 2023?
I think I saw the best moments of my life, as well as the worst moments ever, in this year. I don’t know whether to term it the worst year ever, but what matters is that I think these moments made me walk toward my destined version of myself. I understood the true colors of many people, I understood who it is worth staying beside. It was a life-changing year.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Nothing very bucket-list ish, but I want to make sure I don’t hurt anyone, I get the ability to do more for the people I love and enjoy every moment so that when the next year ends, I don’t have any regrets.
How do your friends and family influence your writing, if at all?
My friends, who I know, are not readers at all, would seem super excited whenever I’m coming up with a new book. They’ll make a schedule for me and tell me that they’re making plans to visit the book fair, or perhaps come over to celebrate. They are usually the first ones to purchase my books, who’d never take an author copy from me. And this enthusiasm, this energy, is something that does give me a lot of courage to write. In the case of my family, it’s the same. Every member of my family not only makes me understand how happy and proud they are no matter what I’m writing. I know for a fact that my parents never finished any of my novels completely, but they’re always there, praying for me and giving me the inspiration to go on. That is a support system I can’t live without.
As you’re going forward in your life’s journey, do you feel like the experiences are playing a big role in your personality?
100%. I am turning out to be more genuine. I mean if I dislike someone, I don’t anymore pretend to like that person, and call that maturity. I wish the worst for the person, no matter how immature that sounds, and only focus on myself, and my loved ones. Gone are the days when caring about others would be the first thing in my head. As long as I am not hurting anyone or messing with someone’s destiny, I think I’m good.
You said you get more inspiration to write from movies than books. Maybe you could name a few people from the industry?
Since ‘Fayez Just Became a Father’ is out, and ‘Rules of Eternity’ is coming up, which by the way has a lot of Bollywood references, I grew up watching the work of Shahrukh Khan. People who know me, know how much inspiration I take from not only his movies but from his life, from the philosophies that he shares with us. When it comes to romance, Rajkumar Hirani, and Imtiaz Ali’s works have influenced me a lot in building up characters, injecting emotions, and making sure that no moment in the story is wasted. Although I’m talking about people who work in the film industry and I operate in a completely different space, they continue to have an influence on my works, without a doubt.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?
I’ll mention two. One is something my parents keep on telling me, that if I don’t hurt anyone, and as long as I’m loyal to whatever work I’m doing, and I have the prayers of people, I hopefully won’t face any obstacles on the way. That is something I live by.
The second piece of advice was given to me by my best friend – Rageeb, which goes something like this – if you ever feel like you’re in love; I can’t share the rest of the advice, it’s too much.
How do you celebrate or reward yourself after completing a book?
Not only after completing a book, I reward myself every now and then, with food. Can’t say no to that.
Any last message to your readers for now?
Read ‘Fayez Just Became a Father’, and just a few days later ‘Rules of Eternity’ is coming out, make sure to read that too. Keep me in your prayers as always, keep appreciating my looks, and keep loving me.
Fayez Just Became a Father can be purchased from Worthy Books, as well as Rokomari, in Bangladesh. The novel can also be bought from Amazon in the US, Canada, the UK, and the rest of the world. For upcoming work from Rafeed Elahi Chowdhury, keep your eyes on his Facebook Page.