This interview with Ernest Dempsey was first published in April 2007.
I was born as Karim Khan in July 1976, in Hangu, a small town in the NWFP province of Pakistan and I remained there till the completion of my college education. Then I moved to the nearest big city Peshawar, the provincial capital, to graduate in geology. Now I am employed at my alma mater as a research associate, writing as Ernest Dempsey for an international audience.
I grew up as a very introvert sort of kid, confined mostly to my home and playing with my younger brother Shais who has been my life-long chum. Shais and I were crazy about English/American TV shows like Knight Rider, Dempsey and Makepeace, Airwolf etc. These shows were the primary inspiration for my imagination to create stories and dramatic situations. I started writing at 12, beginning with incomplete, short episodes of action/adventure/comedy and walking up the road of creative expression till I wrote complete stories when I was 15 and onwards. In 2001, as I was completing my graduation, I started writing short stories having a literary spirit.
In the final year of graduation, I started reading classic novels. While I liked the works of most of the big names, D.H. Lawrence, Edith Wharton, and Charles Dickens were the most inspiring forces to carry me away. Later, I became very fond of Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, and Oscar Wilde. The poetry of W.B. Yeats and Eudora Welty’s short fiction are also an inspiration. I have a lot to read and life still seems very short to achieve a good deal of knowledge in literature.
I write short stories, essays, articles, poetry, and book reviews. Poetry is mostly occasional and I also conduct author interviews. My first novel is in progress. The themes and modes of my writings vary, though much of my work has a humorous/satirical bent. I have published a book of humorous/satirical stories titled The Biting Age (World Audience Inc, New York, 2006) and two more books of mine are expected this summer to come out in New York. One is a short poetry book Islands of Illusion while the other is a collection of stories on the theme of death. It is called The Blue Fairy and Other Stories.
I am writing some humorous/satirical titbits to be published in book form. My work on my first novel is lying in abeyance. I do write something daily for magazines/websites.
It begins with lots of plans for exciting articles or stories for the day but usually ends with little achievement. I am very indifferent to life in general but when it comes to writing, I am the most ambitious person ever. I always feel the need to write more than I currently am able to do.
It keeps me going. After writing a few good lines, I feel a surge of confidence and happiness that stays with me for some time.
Of course, I am not able to pursue and develop my ideas to the full and this sometimes sends me to the blues.
What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience?
They like my satire and insight. But I place more value on constructive criticism that tends to help me refine my work. For example, someone three or fours years back, commented on the characters of a science fiction story of mine, calling them rather cartoonish. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the reader and saw that they really were sort of cartoonish. So I knew that good science fiction characters are created differently.
Do you write for a particular audience, or is your first priority to satisfy your own creativity?
My creativity comes first. It is a matter of authorial catharsis for me and the audience are always off my mind’s screen when I am creating a work. But this is also one main reason why my work has been called ‘idiosyncratic’.
Do you have a homepage? Do you have any short stories or poems published online? (If so, please provide the URLs):