Interviews

“I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle” – Faiza Kayani

“We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die,” says Faiza Kayani as she discusses her life and activities in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites.

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am Faiza Kayani. A software engineer by educational qualification and part of Civil Armed Forces. I belong from Tehsil Sohawa of District Jhelum to a family with an army background. I have remained a bilingual debater for nearly 8 years, won different prizes and trophies for my institutes. I was President of COMSATS Literary Society and worked with different societies as a volunteer for the betterment of society.

2. What inspires you to write? 

I started writing when I was in grade 6. At that time my father was posted in Gilgit and I was studying at Army public School, Gilgit. My father is a book lover. And we have a vast collection of books at home, most of them comprising Urdu Literature. I am basically a keen observer and notice daily life routine of people around me and the changing trends in society, both positive and negative, social issues around the globe particularly in Pakistan. I convert my routine observations in verses and normally write about the common issues of society.

3. Tell us about your book “Mohabbat gustaakh hoti hai”?

“Mohabbat Gustakh Hoti Hai” is my very first published book. Its genre is poetry. It’s not only poetry actually. It’s me and what is happening around me. It reflects the common things happening around us. Readers will be able to relate themselves with the poems.
4. What challenges did you face when writing this book? Team Daastan has played a vital role in this regard. Especially Syed Ommer Amer remained supportive and encouraging. The only hurdle was the lack of time. It sometimes became difficult for me to follow up in time due to workload.

5. Which authors from Pakistan and from abroad do you enjoy reading? 

Bano Qudsia is my all time favorite. May Allah bless her soul with peace. And specifically speaking about poetry, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Saghar Siddiqi and Parveen Shakir are my favorite. Juan Eliya also has a status because of his poetry.

6. Where do you see yourself five years down the road? 

Hopefully, an author with many books published in my name and I am planning to write “nasar” as well. I actually want to work for the betterment of Urdu literature and book reading. As due to advancement in technology and availability of E-books, the trend of having books in hard form is vanishing from our society. I loved the trend of reading good books and then sharing them with our social circle. That trend has faded away and I intend at reviving this trend. I want to work in collaboration with team Daastan which is already doing their job in a great manner. We are a nation blessed with many talented people but aspiring writers do not know how to have their work published. I want to help such writers so that their talent will not die.

7. What advice will you give to aspiring writers? 

Continue doing your work. You yourself are the best critic and analyst of your work. Keep on reviewing your writings periodically. It will help you in maturing your work. The more you will write the more your skills will be polished and never ever get disappointed by criticism. It will always help you in grooming.

Advertisements
News and Happenings

“YOU RISE TODAY!” is now available on Amazon

YOU RISE TODAY! AD BANNER

This book, “You Rise Today!”, dwells to inspire and motivate readers of all age groups. You will go on a journey of self-discovery as each chapter discusses a certain value, ideology or a moral characteristic you find close to your heart. This book talks about the tests, trials, and tribulations we experience and learn from that adds value to our character, develops our personality, strengthens our beliefs, fortifies our viewpoints and builds our mental and emotional acumen to face the world with the resolve to succeed. We all are destined to rise above our ego and embrace life for in this journey we get to know more about ourselves. If you know who you are, you will rise, you will succeed. Begin your journey now. You Rise Today!

Click here to order “You Rise Today!” from Amazon 

 

Interviews

Sidra Amin: “When you love what you’re doing, you never really get tired!”

Sidra Amin, Co-founder, Peshawar Book Club and Overseer, Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF) – Pakistan, talks about her career, passion and various literary activities she happily indulges into in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites

26992636_1035488776590520_5865441793892249527_n

1. Tell us about yourself?

It is very hard to talk about yourself when it is not being done in metaphors and there’s a word limit. I am just a 22-year-old, trying to impact everyone’s perception of planet earth and earthlings by focusing on empathy and kindness. I talk a lot, and I am very loud when I know I am making sense. I usually smile a lot, and it is not on purpose.

Currently, I am leading Young Women Writers’ Forum, Pakistan which is working to empower women writers in Pakistan. I am also a co-founder at Daastan, an award-winning literary platform working towards promoting and publishing literature. I co-founded Peshawar Bookclub and Words & Metaphors, KP’s first spoken word platform. This seems like a lot of responsibility, however, when you love what you’re doing, you never really get tired. I write and read most of the time. It is what keeps me happy. As a person, I am always cheerful, and always laughing. God is kind to me. Also, I am a healthy food enthusiast but I end up eating cakes and chocolates whenever I am sad.

2. How did the Peshawar Book Club come into existence?

We arranged a Bookay meet up in 2016, and a mutual friend told me he would like to do this more often. One month into it, and I found myself and Sameed, someone I was meeting for the first time, sitting among a book readers talking about “Forty Rules of Love”. This is how the book club came into existence. We did not have a plan, just an agenda of adding value to our meetups. Today, we have come a long way, my co-founders Sameed and Zarak have been the constant force behind the growth of this Book Club. We have arranged 22 book meetups since April 2016. We are just a bunch of people trying to bring some sane thoughts on the table over a cup of tea while the entire world is in chaos.

3. As Co-Founder of the Peshawar Book Club, what are your responsibilities?

My only responsibility is to talk and talk and talk. And trust me, the members hate me for this! I am usually moderating, and trying to get as many book readers on board. Peshawar Book Club is the chilliest place, my safe home, my escape from the everyday mundane routine.

4. You are also Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Daastan? Share your experience of working with this publishing platform?

I am no more the Editor-in-Chief at Daastan. Someone who is way better than me, my mentee Mahnoor Naseer, is now the Editor-in-Chief. I am Director Events now, focusing on managing activities on the ground. I joined Daastan when I was kick-starting my work with non-profit companies. And this was a step-up for me in every capacity, both personal and professional. I was 20, young, and just unaware of what was out there in the big bad world. Daastan was where I encountered things. Ommer, the founder grilled me by making me do things I did not have any experience of completing. He exposed me to work that has helped me learn more about myself. He put his vision and my ideas together to create Qissa– Pakistan’s first online self-publishing platform. My journey with Daastan has been nothing less than an adventure, nights of insomnia, and a lot of happy moments. Daastan gives me a reason to be happy every day.

5. Share your experience of working with Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF)- Pakistan?

Let’s accept it, in this society, a woman expressing her thoughts sounds like an oxymoron. When I joined Young Women Writers’ Forum (YWWF) back in 2014, it was just Young Women Writers’ Forum, Peshawar, a sister concern of Pak Women Writers’ forum. The aim of the forum was to empower women writers to voice their thoughts. A few months into joining the forum, I was selected as Press Secretary. We worked really hard, and in 2016, I was selected as Overseer to lead Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore chapters. That was a huge step for me. I was very young, and the presidents of all these chapters were way more experienced than me. YWWF, Pakistan is real work. We are a non-profit, so the work here is really hard. Our team comprises four cabinets, each consisting of different volunteers working day and night to make a positive difference in Pakistan. In my tenure in YWWF, we have arranged over 50 events on the ground all across Pakistan, including nationwide story writing competitions, international mentorship programs, and national and international mushairas. We have a huge network of women writers. And the forum is nothing less than a blessing for me because I can start all my initiatives here as all the four cabinets are extremely strong, and the writers in each cabinet are very passionate.

6. You were awarded the “Innovative Initiative” award at the Innovative Youth Awards 2017. Tell us about this achievement and for what project were you given this accolade for?

“Innovative Initiative” award was a surprise. I did not know I was nominated by my co-founder and my mentor Syed Ommer Amer. God is kind and always blesses us with the best. We need to keep moving forward.

7. Your future plans?

I do not plan my future. I have never done that. I just make impulsive decisions based on facts and figures and usually they fall in place. I do not say it is a good approach, but this is just how I am. I do not have any future plans for now. I am just going with the flow.

8. You earned a degree in Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering from the University of Engineering And Technology, Peshawar but your heart is in writing and reading. How do you manage to work in these two distinct fields?

I did NOT want this question here! LOL I think when you know where your heart is, it is easy to work. Earning a degree in Mechatronics was a passion, and Alhamdulillah, I have been able to put that dream into reality. Writing and reading cannot parallel it as they are a part of me. There is no competition between the two even though at every stage of my life, I have been made to feel there is. Both are equally important. I love automation. I love working in the field. And if God wills, someday I might pursue a career there.

9. As Editor-in-Chief of Daastan, what do you think are your top 5 picks of short stories submitted by writers to the three editions of “Stories Untold” competition?

I will be very honest, I only read the stories of season 3. And I absolutely loved every one of them. We had over 50 stories, I believe. And so many of them had potential. If I had to pick 5, I would go with these:

1. Memoir of a Lost Odyssey by Bhaskar Paul
2. True Justice by Naveed Shehryar
3. The Mirror Trials by Rachel Kallembach
4. Kingdom of Derya: Aitmaad and the Clan of Seven by Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
5. The Mulberry Murders by Abhirun Das

10. Your message ton aspiring writers?

Two things keep me going in life.

1. Write every day. No matter how bad you write, do not stop writing, and never let anyone stop you from doing so. Writing every day only improves your skills, even if you are just writing about your daily experiences in your diary.
2. God and the universe always rewards you for your hard work. If not in the ways you want, then in ways you can never imagine. Keep working, keep taking baby steps, and see how good things will come your way.

 

 

Interviews

“I write because it makes me feel good.” Exclusive interview: Kinza Javed Choudhry, author of ‘The Rainbow Journey’

Pictures were taken from Facebook: @kinzajavedchoudhry and provided by Kinza Javed Choudhry

17904347_445220655821735_6981569615369903347_n

1. When did you first begin to write?
Reading and writing have been my favorite hobby since childhood. When I was eleven, I used to write stories and keep them in my drawer. This continued until I was fifteen. A strong desire of writing ‘something good enough to be published’ arose within. My best friend motivated me to write more. My relationship with writing began soon after passing my Matriculation (grade 10) exams.

18051561_1897327390537343_1498307541_n

2. Which novelists, authors, and columnists you like to read?
J.K.Rowling, Nicholas Sparks, Khaled Hosseini for English novels. Umera Ahmed and Nimra Ahmed for Urdu. I have never read columns, as a major part of my interest lies in novels particularly related to the genre of fiction and fantasy.

3. Did you ever face the writer’s block? How did you overcome it?
Yes, I faced it quite sometimes while writing my first novel. I can only write more and well when I can feel the situation or the characters that I am writing about. To overcome this situation, I would write sentences whenever they came to my mind and then compile them in a proper way later.

4. Tell us briefly about your book and from which genre it belongs to?
“The Rainbow Journey” is an English novel belonging to the genre of Realistic fiction. The basic theme revolves around Love, Lust, and Friendship. The word ‘Rainbow’ is for seven friends and seven phases of their ‘Journey’, which is life.

5. What inspires you to write?
I do not actually possess a reason to write. I write because it makes me feel good. When I cannot express my feelings to anyone, I simply write and capture them in words.

1

6. What was the most challenging part from the time you decided to write a book to the time you became a published author?
I had no idea how challenging writing will be to me when I first began writing. Being an Engineering student, I did not find enough time to work on my book. I used to write whenever I got time. However, I had no idea of how to get the novel published once I had completed the first draft. Perhaps the most challenging part for me was to search, find and contact publishers and publishing companies.

7. What amount of research went when writing the first draft of the book?
I needed a lot of research to go into my book since I am an Engineering student with no English/Literature background. I never took any course in English or literature. It was my vision that stood by me during this process of research, writing, editing and publishing.

8. Which authors are your favorite?
When I choose books for reading, I mostly do not look at the author’s name. So far, my favorite books include Jannat k Pattay (Nemrah Ahmed), Peer e Kamil (Umera Ahmad), Harry Potter Series (J. K Rowling), The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini), Karakarum ka Taj Mehel (Nemrah Ahmed), Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) and all books by Nicholas Sparks. The list goes on but I would definitely like to include ‘The Rainbow Journey’ in the list.

9. What key qualities transform writers into successful authors?
Hard work, Stability, Passion, and a strong will to compete and survive.

10. Your advice to aspiring novelists?
No matter how challenging writing becomes for you, keep writing. And remember, reading is essential for writing. Read, write, have faith in the Lord and be confident when pursuing your passion of writing. One day, you will become a successful author.

Book Review

Zeenat Mahal brings to life Chandni, Haveli and the 70s brought to life

18137948

Image Source: http://bit.ly/2kjOtdy

Haveli
(Novella)
By Zeenat Mahal
Indireads Incorporated (July 8, 2013)
ISBN: 978-1-927826-02-7
70 pp

The expression and style with which Zeenat Mahal describes the scenes and settings in her novel, ‘Haveli’, takes the reader back in the 1970s. Although those readers born in the 1980s, like me, may not truly connect themselves with the aura of the 70s, nevertheless, Zeenat expresses details with such vividness to create a strong image in the reader’s mind.

If her prowess to describe the story and her command over the concept of ‘show don’t tell’ isn’t enough to capture the reader’s attention, then her ability to bring the characters to life adds value to her narrative. Just take for instance the opening lines of her novel, “In the summer of 1971, I was still learning how to pour tea correctly from my grandmother. I was not Japanese either, nor a geisha. I simply had the misfortune of being the granddaughter of Zaitoon Begum, the widow of the last Nawab of Jalalabad.” Instead of telling the ancestral details of her family, she tells us about her grandfather, being a Nawab, and how it was important for her grandmother to do everything with elegance – even it was a task as simple as pouring tea in a cup.

Before the readers could involve themselves in the novel, the title, Haveli, brings upon a burst of imagination where the reader is compelled to think if the story is about a Haveli, or has to do something with the people living in it. However, the story is set in a Haveli – which focuses on a family – and especially a girl, Chandni, who is quite open-minded.

The story also entails the strong will of the Pakistani woman living in the 70s – those who adhered to simplicity but also expressed their emotions when needed. The novel begins with a serious tone but as the readers explore Chandni’s character, they experience delight when least expected. Zeenat Mahal’s protagonist, Chandni, is one of those girls who are lively, determined, and often finds themselves in hot water because of their straightforwardness.

Furthermore, one objective that Zeenat Mahal accomplishes through Haveli is to break the stereotypes about the 70s. Any writer could explain the beliefs prevailing among the middle and upper class of that era; however, Zeenat’s appropriately correct words used in the right context blends her views about the 70s with the story, giving readers something for introspection.

Chandni is a girl who grew up under her grandmother, Zaitoon Begum’s wing. Chandni calls her grandmother Bi Amma, a name that is appropriate to a grandmother, who has a strict nature and lives in a Haveli in the 70s. Chandni’s mother, Zainab, left this world for her eternal abode when Chandni was a child. Shah Jehan is Chandni’s father, who abandoned her years ago. Although Chandni never found the love of her parents, she does know how to love, which is for her crush – a man named Kunwar Rohail Khanzada. The one-sided love affair began for Chandni, when she was only nine years old, and Khanzada was 28. Chandni loves her despite the fact that Khanzada is married.

Living with her half-brother, Zafar, Chandni has a different personality from her family members. Chandni doesn’t like her name; perhaps it was an old-fashioned name for her. However, Zeenat Mahal chose an appropriate name keeping in mind the time the novel is set in. Instead of being called Chandni, she prefers others to call her ‘C.’ While Chandni is daydreaming about Khanzada, her aspirations of being her bride shatter when a wealthy and an arrogant person, Taimur, arrives at the Haveli. He is Ali or Baba’s son, her late mother’s friend. Moreover, Bi Amma, or The Broad, has decided to wed Chandni with Taimur. This is a decision Chandni wants to overturn at the earliest. It seems that Taimur and Chandni aren’t on the same page. Despite hating each other, Chandni also refers to him as Alpha Male, Uriah Heep, and Evil Moriarity. The animosity between the two is so deep, that Taimur calls Chandni as Medusa.

While this love-hate relationship is expanding, out of nowhere, Chandni’s father walks at the Haveli to claim Chandni. To add confusion, he wants Chandni to marry a groom of his choosing. To everyone’s surprise, she is willing to go with his father, perhaps to get Taimur out of her life. This also shows Chandni’s father’s egoistical behavior but also reveals that she wants to use her father to leave Bi Amma, Taimur, and the customs of the Haveli.

Perhaps it’s the rules being followed inside the Haveli that she despise, and not the structure itself. The suspense gradually builds as the readers become curious about Chandni’s future. The moment she fights with her half-brother, Zafar, with whom she has a good relationship, things becomes unsteady. The readers find themselves entwined in between many people, issues, and a question; what will Chandni do? What makes Haveli an interesting read is Zeenat Mahal’s ability to blend the characters with the plot and gradually move the story forward. Instead of giving importance to one character, she treats all characters equally. Where she thoroughly explains Chandni’s interest in Khanzada, she also explicates the hate that Taimur and Chandni share for each other. Moreover, Zeenat manages to place Bi Amma’s rigid nature right in between. Furthermore, Mahal’s prowess to put humor, comic timing in-between dialogues, and interweaving all characters together to form a cohesive plot, retains the reader’s attention throughout the 63-page novella.

The joint family system portrayed in Haveli is another cultural phenomenon that families in Pakistan were following during the 1970s. The readers are transported back in time because of Zeenat Mahal’s ‘show don’t tell’ technique – which is any fiction author’s greatest weapon. Zeenat describes the upper-class society of the 1970s, their lifestyle, education, clothing, and their philosophy of life that keeps the readers’ imagination moving. Writing fiction is a challenging task but Zeenat has done it with ease. From revealing the characters – their emotions, ambitions, and actions – to creating conflict and embedding a resolution among the characters at the end – each scene reverberates with Zeenat’s imagination and her command over her story.
Haveli
(Novella)
By Zeenat Mahal
Indireads Incorporated (July 8, 2013)
ISBN: 978-1-927826-02-7
70 pp