Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was born during the 80’s in a country that was going around political upheavals and resistance, I was lucky enough to always been encouraged to read and write. My father would gift me different toys or gadgets for finishing a book and narrating the story to him. My mother being a typical mom, was more responsible towards my academic and social upbringing. While still in my teens, I founded the Pakistan based SOME – Save Our Mother Earth a NGO geared towards educating the youth about environmental causes. By the time I got into A – Levels, I was sort of devastated to learn my mother was diagnosed with diabetes which later became one of the indirect causes to her early death. Upon her death, I decided that diabetes hence onwards should not be a fear factor and thus after elaborated research, I launched another research based NGO BAD – Battle Anti Diabetes. When still in my teens I was fascinated by beauty contests and got involved with beauty pageants and formed Best Model Pakistan an organization responsible to select Pakistani representatives for various international modelling contests with an aim to promote Pakistan as a tourist friendly country. I was also the founding editor for a British Council Karachi, based public speaking club Hyde Park Juniors newsletter and has interviewed various celebrities for magazines like DAWN Young World and The Weekly MAG. Being an avid traveler and keen learner of different social cultures I strongly believe that for good ideas and true innovation, one need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate and social media allows me to pick my times for social interaction! In leisure time I am found blogging or producing independent films. All these adventures in my life inspired me to become a story teller and so far has written two short novels and one story.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
One fine morning I was reciting the Holy Quran and came across the story of Adam and Eve. Later the same day was watching a television series, based on a mythical creature and thus that became an inspiration for my new book Beyond The Black Mountains.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I just focus on events or emotions throughout the day that surround me and observation of people without judgement, attempting to look into their past for character development. In today’s world of technology, research and development, inspirations are abundant, at least for me.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Many, in Pakistan I have been influenced by Sadaat Hassan Manto, Bano Qudsia and Ismat Chugtai. On the international arena I have been influenced by Charles Dickens a lot.
What are you working on now?
A collection of short stories. I churn stories that are fiction but inspired from real events therefore I am collecting all interesting happenings around me, that are part of the social circus we call society!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I recently published a fan page over Facebook. Earlier I was dependent over only www.goodreads.com but now I’ve found www.awesomegang.com/. I also try Google ads and Facebook promotions. With every passing day, I am learning something new, I guess this process will never stop.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
It is a long lonely road. I’ve just begin the journey, come join me, let us explore it together, but just learn to protect your time and space in which you write. I did my best to keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to myself.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
My grandfather used to say stars can’t shine without darkness, and I should be that darkness!
What are you reading now?
Story of the Night by Colm Tóibín. I find his work too similar to that of Dickens.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I really want to try and write a story in Urdu, being it my mother tongue, I believe, I might be very right to let go of the real world and get lost in another one, the world that I accept or reject more easily.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Holy Quran, because that will give me courage to fight against all odds and strength to overcome all problems. My second choice will be a Classical Comedy by Eric Segal as laughter is the best medicine and last would be my family album if that amounts as a book as my family gives me positive vibes and strength.