Sunday, March 21, 2010

Let the blog tour begin!

I am honored to have the opportunity to host a blog tour for the very smart and unique novel, "Resolution 786", written by Mohamed Mughal. Mohamed will be 'joining' us for the next three days, where he will answer up to three questions posted by you, the readers, about the novel and his writing approaches. As promised, the first person to post a question receives a free autographed copy of the book.

I'm very excited to have some thought-provoking discussions, and see what new light Mohamed can shed on his literary works and ways!

I hereby declare the blog tour open.


  1. Hello Inna! I'm excited to be the first poster. :-) I'm a chemist and I believe that Mohamed has studied chemistry, as well. I was wondering how his background as a chemical
    engineer influences his writing, if at all.

  2. Hi, Inna - thanks for hosting this!

    Mohamed, The story line seems to contain an indictment (pardon the pun) of a particular version of God (known in many circles as OOO, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient). What would you say to that? Is the book against that version of God? Is it just pointing to questions that are asked by spiritual seekers in trying to determine how their concept of God fits their theology? Something totally different?

  3. Dear Anonymous - I like the question and will give it some considered thought. I promise an answer in the next couple of hours. Congrats on being first poster and on winning the signed book :)

    Dear "edakehurst" - I see the first inning of this blog tour's going to have some hardball/fastball :). Only kidding - "Resolution 786" is a novel all about asking the hard questions and your particular question is certainly consistent with that theme. I will give you my honest and complete answer in a little longer than a couple of hours but certainly within a day.

  4. Many thanks to Anonymous and edakehurst for visiting my blog and joining us on the blog tour. I think we've got some great questions here, as well as varied, and I eagerly await Mohamed's answers!

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    My answer went above the posting limit, so this is the first half of the answer :)

    I have to start by saying that I absolutely LOVE your question. I’ve never really thought about it explicitly, but the truth is that my academic training in chemical engineering does indeed influence my creative writing.

    I think I’ll answer your question along two dimensions. The first is structural. The second is topical detail.

    Structural: My training as a chemical engineer entailed problem-solving through the use of linear thinking around the notion of processes and repeatable, predictable reactions. In that sense, I can see that in my creative writing, I tend to organize my themes and thoughts (and hence, my prose and plot) in ways that are consistent, integrated and logically cohesive. If you read “Resolution 786” closely, you’ll see that many scenes, especially at the minute (molecular?) level, have an integrated set of details. For example, if someone cites an event or characterization in an e-mail message, many scenes later, a detail of description or dialogue will support that previous citation. An interesting permutation of my detail-oriented linear thought process is the fact that I use literary cubism as my overall architecture for telling stories, so data and storylines and narrative exposition are offered through multiple written venues such as e-mails, poems, dialogue, and legal documents and may appear, at times, to be non-linear. Still, despite what might at first glance appear to be an unorthodox amalgam of cubist writing, in the final analysis, as applied by me, becomes an integrated, internally consistent system of systems that, if successful, weaves an understandable story that has a unified theme and is told through the motives and experiences of consistent and believable characters.

  6. Very happy to have the opportunity to ask a question and hopefully read some answers to other's questions as well! great that you are doing this blog tour! thank you.

    I would really like to know how autobiographical the book really is! There are certain similarities between the writers personal life story (mentioned on the cover) and that of the main character, this is not by chance, is it?

    Thanks again for a great book! enjoyed reading it...

  7. Dear Anonymous - the 2nd half to the answer to your question:

    The second way in which my training as a chemical engineer influences my writing is along the dimension of topical detail. Yes, my first novel and the partially completed draft of my second novel both deal heavily in themes of theology. But looking back through the prism of your question, I now see that topical details revolve around my training and experiences as a chemical engineer. Adam Hueghlomm is in Iraq to collect data to test the efficacy of a new mine-detecting technology; he carries a research notebook with him. Hueghlomm’s intense reverence for logic and literal interpretations is the basis for the legal indictment of the Lord in that first novel. Euclidian geometry and the mathematically infinite nature of pi are invoked in the title of the final chapter of the novel, a tip of the hat to my engineering training in mathematics. Moving from my first novel and into the second, here’s how a minor but frequent character in that novel is introduced:

    Oh he loved his own kind, clinging to them in a square dance of loose bonds. His rotund torso held up two punctuation marks, small appendages that poked into the world in a dissolving, soft clutch, an ever open 104.5 degree arc of welcome. Aetch, as he often called himself, had been born in the early twilights, above a gurgling, empty ocean, on the tip of a crackling electrical discharge that shot from nothing to nowhere. He was a quite witness to the endless turn of wheels, the cycling infinity of death and rebirth. ‘Each one of them is a retold pun in a never-ending cosmic comedy,’ Aetch-to-oh often told himself, a gargled giggle.
    Oh, the people he’d known. Oh, the places he’d been. Oh, the things he’d seen.”

    Who is Aetch-to-oh? He’s a water molecule who has been floating about the earth since the early twilights of creation. That’s right. A water molecule is a character in “Christmas in Mecca.” I believe this, too, is an observable manifestation of my training as a chemical engineer. Who else might include a water molecule (complete with his 104.5 degree molecular geometry) as a character in a novel?
    Apologies for the rather long answer. Here’s the short version:
    Yes, my training as a chemical engineer influences my fiction. It forces me to have a logical and internally consistent storyline despite my seemingly unorthodox literary style of cubist writing. It also provides me background material that helps me create the details of scenes, settings, characters and chapter titles in my fiction.

  8. Sasha,

    And my thanks to you for your kind assessment of the novel!

    A little off the topic: are you the same Sasha Selipanov who designs helicopters and sports cars? If so, I LOVE your work. It’s a consummate union of beauty and power.

    I can’t put a numerical value on how autobiographical this novel is, but qualitatively, the short answer’s “A lot.” Scene 1 has a physical description of Adam Hueghlomm. It’s pretty darn close to what I see in the mirror. Adam’s an Indian born in Africa. Same here. Adam’s an engineer working for the Army. You can guess who else is. And the list goes on and on….

    For me, fiction is a form of catharsis for long-standing psychoses. Accepting that premise, it’s inevitable that the created is a reflection of the creator. I came to a realization recently while quietly composing at my writing desk in the early winter morning: the primary male characters in my second novel are projections of major archetypes that comprise my present being. These archetypes are the noble poet; the miserable wretch; orthodoxy’s interrogator; and the curious child. I think that all writers write from their personal experiences, from who and what they are at that moment of composition. That said, I don’t think that most writers indulge themselves as much as I do in making their central characters SO MUCH like themselves. That type of self-indulgence does have an admittedly narcissistic quality to it, and I don’t give myself a free pass. On page 42 of “Resolution 786,” in speaking about Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Becca asks, “What kind of egomaniac puts himself in his own writing.”

    The lovely Becca Gowetski might be saying that, but the truth is, that’s me taking a well- deserved jab at myself.

    Thanks for picking up on the autobiographical elements of the novel. No, it wasn’t by chance. It was by self-indulgence.

  9. Thank you for your reply,

    This is a great answer, in fact it goes pretty deep by addressing the inevitable link between a creator and their creation. Sometimes I feel that we are programmed to be creative in a very self replicating way...

    I must admit, I could always feel that bit of autobiography in your book, it was almost obvious that you know the main character really well. Even the "well deserved jab" at yourself shines through the book in many ways, not just through that single quote.

    p.s. glad you like my work, the helicopter you mentioned is a bit of an exception, i did it as a student many years ago. I currently work as a car designer, no more helicopters for me a the moment :)

  10. Dear edeakurst,

    First the short answer: No. Resolution 786 is in no way meant to be pejorative towards any concept of God or towards any framework of spiritual belief, to include the belief that the Cosmos is inert of spiritual elements.

    That said, why a storyline that focuses on the Abrahamic “face” of God? Simply put, because that’s the face that I, through the circumstances of my birth and life, am most familiar with. I was taught to pray in a certain direction, in a certain way and at specific times of the day. I was taught a set of stories that depict a God who behaved out of jealousy and anger and who, at times, hurt and killed. As a child, I questioned that God. I got older; I lived in Africa, Europe and North America; I traveled on pilgrimages to Varanasi, Kathmandu, Jerusalem and Mecca, into the rituals of the Masai in Kenya and through the ruins of the Mayans; I read; I lived with and loved souls of different faiths. Now, through the mosaic of those life experiences, I no longer question that God of my youth. I question us and the choices that we make for ourselves.

    Adam Hueghlomm lives in a prison of his own making, trying to force logic and linearity onto a phenomenon that lends itself to neither. The notion that one may find God through entirely logical means is akin to saying “I will reduce the process of falling in love into an integrated set of first order differential equations and when I solve for variable ‘x,’ I will be in love.”

    You can’t. I tried.

    And so God is a minor player, background scenery in the stage that frames the story of Resolution 786. In the end, it’s a story not about God, but about us and our struggles and our choices and the world that we’ve created for ourselves, a world in which we see a tremendous, hopeful spirit of human kindness residing side-by-side with a shameful disposition towards butchery.

    An indictment of God? No. Rather, it’s an open-eyed, full-frontal exploration of ourselves.

  11. Mohamed,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer so fully. That was very close to the impression that I had when i read the book, and one of the many reasons that I loved it, so it is great to hear that from you.

    What an excellent additional insight into your work and your approach to it.

    Thanks again!

  12. At this point in time, I would like to thank everyone who posed questions to Mohamed; I think we had a great 'discussion' here.

    Many thanks go out to Mohamed himself, for taking the time to visit this blog and answer the questions so thoroughly and wholeheartedly. A separate thanks for writing such a wonderful piece of literature, that has clearly affected a number of people in such a profound manner. I look very much forward to reading your future works!

    Also, for those of you who missed Mohamed on my blog, you can still catch him on his international blog tour. Here is the info:

    22-24 March 2010, “Not-quite-a-blog” by Imran Ahmad, United Kingdom,

    23-25 March 2010, “Another Writer’s Life” by Austin Camacho, United States,

    Hope to see you back soon!