07 Nov

 To uplift the mood of the bedridden whose life despair has eclipsed, and to enthuse emerging authors, they could climb to ivory tower even dragging their last leg from a morass with perseverance, there could be no better example than the footpath of internationally-published-renowned-author-poet Brenda Mohammed. This journalist has got the privilege of e-mail interviewing her. Her are excerpts 

Could you brief us about your upbringing, your family, and neighbours with your village, country and school as a backdrop?   

My father was a school principal. I was born when he was principal of the Union Village Presbyterian school in Trinidad, my home country. I had six sisters and three brothers. Because of my father’s status, we were well known and respected by all in the village. Neighbours and friends regularly visited our home to seek his help in getting their children accepted at the school.

 The principal’s home was in the same yard with the school and church, and we attended church and Sunday school regularly. My father held positions of responsibility in the church too. My oldest sister was the church’s organist, and at times she sang in the choir.

When I was seven years old, my father was transferred to another village in South Trinidad, and the setting of home, school, and church was the same. The people were just as nice.

 My father was granted a Government scholarship to further his studies in the United Kingdom, and my mother took charge of the home, and cared for us singlehandedly until his return.

 I won a scholarship to attend a prestigious high school in San Fernando, but after one year my father was promoted to Senior Inspector of Schools and transferred to East Trinidad. 

I and one of my sisters were therefore sent to St. Augustine Girls’ High School, another prestigious school in the east, from where we both graduated. 

How was your educational pursuit? Does the profession you qualified in cross fertilize with authorship of both books--fiction and nonfiction? 

My life in early years was based around my father’s career and moving from place to place.  He was again transferred to the south, and he built a brand new home for us in Marabella in South Trinidad. 

After graduation, I did not want to return to school to do higher studies. Although I was just sixteen years old, I wanted to work at a bank and I got the job. I also pursued studies in banking on a part-time basis and was successful. I received promotion after promotion, and achieved managerial status. 

As a Commercial Credit Manager, I was required to visit large businesses, assess their worth, write proposals for finance, and send them to our Head Office for approval. Most of the time I received clean sanctions, meaning that they were approved with no questions asked. That built up my confidence in writing. 

To answer your question, my profession cross fertilized with authorship of both fiction and nonfiction books. In fact, I wrote a story, ‘Dead Business,’ and part of the setting was in the morgue of a funeral home that I visited to assess finance for a crematorium. 

You were combating cancer? How was it like the life you spent? You have a book about how you overcame the dark spot in your life to flicker a ray of optimism. Will you allow as a chink into the book by way of a synopsis? 

I consider my near death experience with cancer to be a blessing in disguise.’

I Am Cancer Free,’ was the first book I published. It became a bestseller and motivated me to keep on writing. It was an award winner in the category Health and Fitness in Readers Favorite International Awards 2018, and winner of Mc Grath House Indie Book Awards 2016 in the category Best Non-Fiction. It received a five-star review from Readers Favorite, and I will share the review instead of a synopsis. 

Completed on:02/16/2017 Review Rating:5 stars! 

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

 “I Am Cancer Free by Mrs. Brenda C. Mohammed is the poignant memoir of the author's personal battle with cancer. Her faith in God and proving that ovarian cancer need not be a death sentence are what make this memoir a heartrending read. The author's 'never say die' attitude, the decision not to give up in life, and finally being cancer-free will encourage everyone who has been diagnosed with the disease or who has suffered from cancer. 

The memoir recounts from the time of diagnosis the experiences the author went through during the treatment, her emotions, fears, finances, until the successful treatment of the disease. 

It is a courageous story of survival, faith, and strength. The author chronicles every step of her journey methodically, without leaving anything out, making the narration very personal, honest, and palpable to readers. 

The presence of God in everyone's life, a positive attitude, and the power of prayers run through the memoir. The author reiterates the fact that faith in God removes all obstacles in life. The conversational style of writing connects well with readers, making it easy for them to understand her journey. 

The author has also shared the poems she wrote during that phase in her life, where she again speaks about her story, faith in the Lord, and a Higher Power. 

For all those who are suffering from cancer and are battling the disease, this book is a must-read as it will give them hope, strength, and courage to fight the disease.”

As a prolific and decorated author displaying a meteoric rise in the literary firmament, from where do you get the stamina to climb from one rung of ladder to another, and still keep the tempo, which proves to be the difficult thing?

 I am humbled that you have seen my accomplishments in such a remarkable light. My secret is, that I pray to God for guidance for each step I take. I give all credit to God. 

Stunningly, not only being prolific you are also versatile in genres. What can you say about that? Do you conduct thorough research before writing books? The language fine-tunes with the theme to render your book palatable. Could you say a word or two about that? 

Your question made me examine the genres I have written - memoirs, science fiction, romance, self-help, mystery, children’s books, psychological thrillers, poetry, and poetry anthologies. My memoirs and children’s books are based on my careers and travels. 

My Life as a Banker begins with my childhood and continues with my career in banking.   After leaving banking, I worked in Insurance and qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table, the Premier Association for Financial Professionals, several times.

 I travelled abroad to several conferences, and my books, Retirement is Fun and Travel Memoirs are filled with those experiences. 

With science fiction, mystery, romance, and thrillers, I used my imagination, and did some research too. 

Most of my poetry are motivational compositions. My self-help books are about writing, and I wrote this to help aspiring authors. 

You have bagged numerous awards. Tell us about the bright spots in your life concerning your authorship. What is the upside of giving an award? What must be the method of nomination (some complain about race/color... discrimination)?

 I have won several literary awards in the USA, Peru, Kazakhstan, Seychelles, Nigeria, India, Romania, Argentina, Morocco, Philippines, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Indonesia, and the UK. 

I made headlines in several newspapers around the world. Many of my books were bestsellers when newly released and many received five-star reviews from Readers Favorite International. 

In November 2018, I won two awards on the same night, from Readers Favorite International for my science fiction book, ‘Zeeka Chronicles,’ in the category Young Adult Thriller, and my Memoir, ‘I am Cancer Free,’ in the category Health and Fitness. 

I received those awards in a magnificent ceremony at the Regency Hotel in Miami. 

Three of my books won gold awards in Connection EMagazine Readers’ Choice Awards - Zeeka Chronicles, in the category science fiction, [2018] Stories People love [2019], in the category romance, and How to Write for Success, in the category non-fiction. [2019]. 

In Sept 2021, my mystery book, Barry Holmes Mysteries, won me Best Writer - Fantasy Award in the CLR [ Culture, Literature and Research] Awards. 

My science fiction book, ‘Zeeka and the Zombies’, has been approved by to be made into a cinematic book, and it is presently in production. 

To answer your question, awards motivate a writer to improve and that is the upside. I do not think that race or colour should be factors when nominating someone for an award. 

I give awards in my Literary forum to poets who are deserving and are considered five-star poets. Awards should be based on a writer’s work and nothing else. 

Given your talent and the impacts your books about cancer and How to Write for Success, among others created, many wonder when is it you bag a Nobel prize in literature. What is your take on this?   

Alem, to win a Nobel Prize, someone who has already been nominated for one, must nominate a writer. I do not know any of the nominees or winners personally. It seems way out of my reach, but with God nothing is impossible.   

Have the five-star reviews you received motivated you for further thrust into literature?  

Yes. They certainly have. 

Your poems appear in reputed journals. What inspires you to write poems that some think is a restricted domain to the select few? You have a circle of poets. Would you relate to us about that?  

 I do not think that writing poems are restricted to a select fewIn fact, I believe there are more poets than writers of fiction and non-fiction. I am a member of numerous poetry groups on Facebook, and I am being invited to join more new ones, which are being formed every day. 

Of the 42 books I have published to date, ten are poetry books. I expect to publish my eleventh one for my birthday on 1st December. 

How and why did you establish a literary network on How to Write for Success?   

I started the How to Write for Success Literary Forum in February 2018, with a mission to spread Literary Talent Worldwide. At that time, I had the help of four Administrators. 

In 2019, we were concerned with the number of suicides in the world, and decided to publish an anthology with poems to prevent suicide. 

Since it was our first attempt at an anthology we kept it low-keyed. We opened a sub-forum to collect the poems and named it - Poems for Prevention of Suicide Literary Forum. Poets from around the world participated in A Spark of Hope: A Treasury of Poems for Saving Lives, The Kindle versions of the book were given free of charge, and the book achieved Amazon No 1 bestselling ranking within a couple of days. 

In 2020, we published Part II of A Spark of Hope, and that too earned Amazon No 1 bestseller ranking. 

The Covid pandemic started early 2020, and caused chaos in the lives of citizens all over the world. There was a rise in Domestic Violence and the Administration felt there was need for an anthology against Domestic Violence. 

Another sub-forum, - Literary Forum for Poems Against Domestic Violence was created for this purpose. Volumes One and Two of Break the Silence: An Anthology of Poems Against Domestic Violence were published in 2020 and 2021. 

Again, the Kindle versions of the book were given free, and both volumes achieved Amazon No 1 bestseller rank. 

With the success of How to Write for Success Literary Network, and the popularity of my book How to Write for Success, many members were inspired to publish books. 

We saw the need to establish the third sub-forum, Library of How to Write for Success – Books only. 

The fourth sub-forum, Grupo Hispaniomundial De Escritores - UHE Trinidad and Tobago was formed as a result of my appointment as National President of UHE Trinidad and Tobago, by the President and Founder of Grupo Hispaniomundial De Escritores, Carlos Hugo Garrido Chalen. 

Today, we have sixteen efficient persons who help with different aspects of the Administration of the Literary Network which comprises of the main forum, four sub-forums, and members in excess of 13000. 

In February 2021 we started a half yearly magazine and have published two issues in March and September 2021. The next issue will be on the fourth anniversary of the network. 

We also have a website and YouTube channel. 

Did covid-19 and the economic meltdown affect your penmanship? (Some say on the other end covid-19 promoted readership)  

 Covid19 brought about many changes. It stopped me from travelling, but I spent the time writing.  I believe it also promoted readership because book sales have increased. 

Do you have a plan to be a publisher and help emerging authors?  

Becoming a publisher would entail hiring a big staff. I do not have future plans to do so. However, I believe that if I have succeeded in mastering self-publishing, every writer can do it. My reasons for publishing’ How to Write for Success Volumes One and Two’ are to help emerging authors master the art of self-publishing, and save the expense of hiring a publisher. 

Do you have a plan to write a fiction about Trinidad so that others enjoy the story of your motherland?   

Some of my fiction books are set in the beautiful island of Trinidad. They are The Gift of Love, The Axe Murderer, What Happened to Mary Loo, Barry Holmes Mysteries, and Heart-Warming Tales. I may write another one soon.   

You are an advocate against domestic violence and suicide. What works did you (and friends) do to such effect?   

Together with several bestselling authors from my literary forums, we have published four Amazon No 1 best-selling anthologies for these causes: A Spark of Hope I and II: A Treasury of Poems for Saving Lives, and Break the Silence I and II: An Anthology Against Domestic Violence. 

We have had many heart-warming reports that these books have helped to save lives.

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