Interviews

“You will go places when you combine your passion and belief with fierceness!” says Muneeza Khan, Owner, The Vintage Nerd

Muneeza Khan, an artist by passion and heart talks to MOIWrites in this exclusive interview. She is Owner of The Vintage Nerd that lets her express her innate thoughts in the most creative and colorful manner.

1. What inspires you to create art?

Everything that surrounds us, created by the most supreme artist inspires me. The sea inspires my seascapes, the beautiful landscapes around the world inspire my nature studies and the feeling of creating something from a single dot to a design inspires me because of its unknown, magical result. So, I would definitely say my inspiration is a lot of different things all together as one.

2. What type of art have you been creating?

I paint seascapes, landscapes as well as make mandalas and zen art. My product line includes hand-painted magnets and miniature paintings but I also do customized art for clients looking for paintings for their spaces. I’ve also ventured into digital art. I’m a self-taught digital artist as well. I make digital art and then as per the client’s requirement I get it printed for them, on t-shirts, laptop sleeve covers, cushion covers etc. So my arts both manual and digital.

3. What is the story behind the name, “The Vintage Nerd”?

The story behind the name ‘The Vintage Nerd’ is short and sweet. These are basically two words that I associate myself with. I love all things vintage and I’ve always been a complete nerd so put them together and you’ve got a brand by me based on who I am and what I like. It’s very personal to me.

THE VINTAGE NERD is my brainchild and my Art brand that is all about my original, one-of-a-kind art and design work. I’m a mandala artist as well as a seascape and landscape painter with a degree and gold medal in textile print design and visual arts from the Department of Visual Studies, University of Karachi. The Vintage Nerd was born on April 29, 2016, out of the soul inspiration of sharing my art, my happiness with anyone to everyone who I come across. To me, art has always been a constant journey of learning and growing as an individual. My journey as The Vintage Nerd is on-going and filled with colors and the smell of paints designs with innovative beauty and unlimited experimentation to endless new creations!

4. How will you define Muneeza Khan?

I would say that she’s an artist with a vintage gypsy soul and a Mermaid’s heart. She loves to laugh and live life to its fullest potential because she knows that it is temporary and deserves to be experienced to its utmost potential. She’s hella strong because she’s faced some mighty storms and has survived through them and she’s in love with art, so much that it fills her heart with endless happiness.

5. What challenges do women entrepreneurs face in our society?

There are many challenges that come with the domain. Establishing yourself in your field is never really that easy. The biggest challenge is that most people don’t take home-based businesses seriously. Since it’s a home-based business so marketing is a hassle at times. And thirdly since it’s a home-based business, buyers usually haggle on the price as though it’s a sabzi ka thaila (a roadside vegetable vendor) and not a proper business. These are the top three problems that I personally feel occur a lot. But then problems vary from business to business. This is just from an artist’s perspective.

6. Do you think art is being given its due share in Pakistan?

No, it’s not. I think much like every other field if you’ve got contacts you might get ahead in this field but if you don’t, then galleries don’t give you a chance and finding your place is extremely difficult. Since I have a brand based on art I can also add that people want art for free, if it’s free it’s great but mostly no one wants to pay for a painting. So the art scene is pretty down here.

7. Your advice to the youth of Pakistan?

Recognize whatever your passion is and believe in it and be fierce in making it a reality. You will go places when you join your Passion and belief with fierceness! Good luck.

 

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Interviews

When ‘The Amjad Twins’ produce digital content, its twice the fun!

Kinza Amjad and Rida Amjad, The Amjad Twins, have created a stir on social media with their video content. They talk about their lives and plans in this exclusive interview with MOIWrites.

1. Tell us about yourself?

KINZA: Being a media sciences graduate I’ve always been interested in performing arts. I’m curious by nature and acting allows me to experience different characters in one lifetime. Most importantly it makes me happy.

RIDA: I recently graduated from SZABIST. My twin and I make comedy videos.

2. How did you come up with the concept of “The Amjad Twins?

KINZA: We had never planned on starting Amjad Twins. It was only after people started appreciating the live performances that we thought of pursuing it seriously.

RIDA: So, we had our live interview with GEO that day and the host of the show asked us about our Facebook page so that people watching the show could follow us. We didn’t have a Facebook page back then hence we decided to make a Facebook page right after the interview. Moreover, there was no creative process behind the name; we went with the first thought that came to our mind.

3. What is the usual creative process you follow when shooting for your videos?

KINZA: They happen at bedtime. That’s when I start getting ideas, I write them down and the next morning I realize they can’t be exactly executed. So out of the 10 ideas I think of I am only able to shoot one of them. Rest of them only look good inside my head.

RIDA: We watch a lot of online content because to create something you have to be aware of what others are creating/latest trends etc. So that’s one thing. Secondly, we take inspiration from our daily lives and try to make comedy videos out of them.

4. What is your life’s most memorable moment?

KINZA: I feel “mime” is my favorite one because the response made us realize we could give online videos a shot.

RIDA: When I learned to drive. I always wanted to drive since I was 3 or 4.

5. Your future plans?

KINZA: I would love to be a social media influencer and at the same time, I want to be that positive force in someone’s life.

RIDA: We are working on our Youtube channel at the moment.

7. What do The Amjad Twins love doing in their spare time?

KINZA: I love making musicallys.

RIDA: Driving, reading, Diy stuff, watching videos

Follow The Amjad Twins on their Facebook page: @KinzaRidaTwins

Note: Pictures of The Amjad Twins have been taken from their Facebook profiles.

Interviews

“Organizing PBWRP LITERARY FIESTA was a huge achievement for me” says Nazia Kamran.

Nazia Kamran Kashif, Founder of “Pakistan’s Bloggers, Writers, Readers, and Poets” (PBWRP) talks to MOIWrites in this exclusive interview.

1. Tell us about yourself?

Assalamoalaikum. I am Nazia Kamran Kashif, I am a work-from-home mother. I run an online bookstore Book Bee and I am also the Founder of “Pakistan’s Bloggers, Writers, Readers, and Poets.”

2. How did the concept of the Facebook group “Pakistan’s Bloggers, Writers, Readers, and Poets” come into existence?

As I mentioned above that I run an online bookstore Book Bee and I have a huge community of readers and writers. We have 68,000 members on our page and I used to get messages from the aspiring writers that they want to promote their writings on my page and they want their work to get published. As it was a book selling page so it was not possible for me to share their content. Therefore, I thought of creating a platform where writers can share their work and connect with the like-minded people. So, “Pakistan’s Bloggers Writers, Readers and Poet” came into being.

3. Tell us more about “Pakistan’s Bloggers, Writers, Readers, and Poets”?

It is a group for new writers where they can share their work. We have designed different segments to enhance their writing skills and every segment has an attached giveaway to encourage them to participate. We select weekly and monthly winners and send gifts through Book Bee. Some of the famous segments are “Quote Notion”, “Human Library”, “Prompt Friday”, “Shair-Goi”, “Prose Writings”, “Travelogues”, “History Mystery”, “Amazing World”, “Workplace Tips” and “Vocabulary Freak”.

4. What events have you organized so far?

We arranged “PBWRP LITERARY FIESTA” on July 22, 2018. We selected the participants from our group (Weekly and monthly winners) There were two segments. One was of Prose Reading while the other was of Poetry. 23 participants took part while popular writers and poets were invited as the judges who selected three winners for both segments. Over 300 people attended the event. Organizing this event was a huge achievement for me.

 

5. Who are the team members of your group?

Admin team: Nazia Kamran Kashif, Kamran Kashif, Nazia Ghous.
Segment heads: Javeria Abbasi, Qandeel Alam, Muhammad Saad Chaudhry, Komal Shahab and Fatima Ahmad.vWe run different segments and arranged the event for the first time.

6. What initiatives do you think must be taken to promote Pakistan’s aspiring writers and poets?

I think there should be local publications for our own writers as such writers do not get any guidance or knowledge of how to have their work published. We should arrange book launching ceremonies for our young writers too.

7. What is your mission in life? What are your greatest achievements in life?

My mission is to launch a magazine where only new writers can share their work. My greatest achievement is that I have persuaded people to become readers. When I had started Book Bee, people were discouraging me that there are no readers now and people don’t buy books. However, I kept following my dream and achieved success.

8. Your message to the youth of Pakistan?

Keep trying. People will discourage you but take it as a challenge and keep trying. For me, discouragement is another step towards motivation. Dream big no matter what, put all your efforts and wait for the Karma. Success will be there, Insha Allah.

Interviews

“They wrote from their heart!” English finalists – Daastan’s Season 4 of “The Stories Untold”

DANIA SHAH

AUTHOR OF “OF SHAME AND SECRETS”

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/427

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“With teens soon approaching, she had gone through the scene a gazillion times in her dreams. A handsome Disney Pukhtoon, taking her by the arms, looking straight into her eyes, the fixed gaze, deep blue eyes and of course the magic touch. The eternity of the first kiss for a blossoming flower, rich in emotions, was sacred. Not for long though…Depriving a character of purity at such a fragile age was brutal. It renamed love to lust, replaced honor with horror, brought shame and secrets. But this unfortunate character had to suffer since the story was true.”

FAVORITE LINE FROM THE BOOK:  

“No religion, law, ethic or rule says that it is justified to hit others, much less beat them. Yet it is amazing how people judge you for being a victim”

1. When and how did you start writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. One – the love for literature runs in the family, Two- As a kid, my curiosity led me places, and more often than not I would end up creating troubles. Being a hyperactive child, my emotions were always on the verge, it was writing where I found solace. I received immense appreciation when I read my pieces to family/teachers or friends and of course as an artist, this is the only reason that pushes us further.

2. Your favorite Pakistani and Western (non-Pakistani) author(s)?

Pakistani authors:  Manto, Faiz, Naseem Hijazi, Ibn-e-Insha
Non-Pakistani Author: Ghalib,  J.K Rowling, Elif Shafak, Paulo Coehlo, Jane Austen

3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from Pakistan and abroad)

There’s too many, hard to pick a favorite: Man-o-Salwa by Umaira Ahmad, Godfather by Mario Puzo

4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

Author inspirations change from time to time. There was a time I bought the entire stock from Umaria Ahmad, after reading Peer-e-Kamil, then by Paulo Coehlo after reading The Alchemist, but if you look at each author and their stories, they are all inspirational in one way or other. Still, if I am to pick one, I will pick Manto for the fact that he always told the truth no matter how bitter.

5. The motto you live your life by? 

Success is not living a life of extravagance it is the ability to be able to help others. ( This is my own quote and this is my approach towards life)

6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

Ever since I started this business and got kids I rarely get any time to write. After Zainab’s incident, I couldn’t sleep for nights and skimmed the internet for child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. There were heart-wrenching facts that urged me to address the issue publically or launch a digital campaign (since I work through these channels already), however, there were concerns about the niche being too bold and against all my will, I postponed the idea for a later time.  But when I saw Daastan’s post about a story competition themed on Zainab, I immediately decided to take part.

I have suffered and I feel all of us have since as a society we are still struggling to break taboos and bring awareness.  I have always wanted to talk about sexual education, rights, and awareness and I thought this was a good time to do so. I thank Daastan for taking the initiative and helping people come forward with their stories. Initially, it was hard to put into words the atrocities that deprive young souls of their childhoods. I would come to a stop after writing a sentence or two, then go back and erase it. I would think of giving it up, but I did for the sake of a gazillion victims who would never be able to speak up much less identify they were being abused.

I never knew I would actually win the competition. I am glad that I took the decision to take part, and I am obliged to Ommer and his team for what bringing about the revolution in the literary industry of our country.

7. Your message to aspiring writers?

No matter how well you write, keep reading. Good writers read, Great writers read excessively. Keep sharing your work, don’t be afraid of the feedback. Learn from your mistakes, and write from the core of your heart.


NIRMEEN MAROOF

AUTHOR OF “KAUSAR BIBI”

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/438

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“Thoughtlessly, she glided her finger over the sleeve of her left forearm. Kausar purposefully wore long sleeves, even in summer. If she didn’t, then people would point and ask, always, always the same question. Where did you get those cuts, Kausar Bibi? They would say, their round, blank eyes gawking at her as if she were a circus attraction. And Kausar Bibi would smile, her practiced, perfect smile and tug her sleeves up to her wrist and chirp, oh, just an accident in the kitchen. You know how these things can be. An accident in the kitchen. She snorted. If only they knew the truth.

FAVORITE LINE FROM THE BOOK:

“It had been over fifty years, yet the memories still kept her cold at night. Cold and awake.”

1. When and how did you start writing?

I believe I was around five when I started the act of writing. I would copy down all my storybooks into loose pages and then tie the whole thing up with some ribbon. Stories, on the other hand, I began to write when I was fourteen. The internet played a huge part in that. I used to read a lot of fanfiction back then. I was impressed with how young the writers were, and confident too, to be able to put their work out there for the world to see. I wanted to emulate that, and that’s where it started.

2. Your favorite Pakistani and Western (non-Pakistani) author(s)?

My favorite non-Pakistani writers are Neil Gaiman, Truman Capote, Gillian Flynn, Jennifer Egan, Haruki Murakami and Ian McEwan. As for Pakistani, I enjoy the works of Bapsi Sidhwa, Mohammed Hanif, and Saadat Hasan Manto. New blood, such as Sidra F. Sheikh and Shazaf Fatima Haider, are also growing on me.

3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from Pakistan and abroad)

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Such a dark and beautiful book. And tragic too. It’s the closest thing, I believe, a novel can be to music. The cherry on top is that it’s written by an author whose first language isn’t English, so that’s very inspiring. Ice Candy Man/Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa is another favorite. There’s something almost nostalgic about an old Lahore, and the image of a group of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs sitting in a park and grousing about their British overlords.

4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

Ian McEwan, because he switches it up every time. His ideas are very original. In his latest novel, the main character is an unborn fetus. An unborn fetus. Now, who could have thought that that could be a likely narrator? He’s brilliant and makes me want to be brilliant too.

5. The motto you live your life by?

I have several mottos, but the ones I follow the most are,

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

“True failure is when you stop trying.”

6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

Kausar Bibi is about an elderly woman who must come to terms with her childhood trauma. My main challenge was the time limit. I had only found out about the competition a week before the closing date. There were only a handful of days to research and write down a 6000-word story and polish it up. I remember sending the final manuscript exactly fifteen minutes before the deadline and being so tired that I couldn’t even bring myself to format the whole document properly. I was just relieved and proud of myself for even completing such a feat!

7. Your message to aspiring writers?

Write, write and write. Then write some more. Repeat step 1. Find a support group. This is far more important than writers realize. It’s of the essence that you have someone read and review your work. That is how you can grow, after all. It can be a close friend, a teacher or even an online forum. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful resource for connecting writers from all over the world. Writing can be a very lonely profession but it doesn’t have to be. Have fun. There’s really no point in doing anything if it’s not fun!


SADAF SHAHZAD

AUTHOR OF “THE LIES THAT COMFORT US” 

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/474

 

EXCERPT FROM HER BOOK:

“It was the last thought before her world went completely blank. Her delicate head was harshly smashed against the same tree that had shielded her seconds ago. Nothing stood between her and the bad man at that moment. The little girl lay still-her tears disappearing into the cold hard earth. The earliest stars were their only witnesses. They twinkled frantically in the darkening sky but no one noticed the small body being dragged away into the bushes.”

FAVORITE LINE FROM THE BOOK: 

“If you let the monster take away both our babies, he wins.”

 

1. When and how did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since forever. In school, I enjoyed creative writing and poetry (sometimes). I loved to create stories for assignments and just for fun.

2. Your favorite Pakistani and Western (non-Pakistani) author(s)?

I don’t really have favorite authors as such because I like to focus on books rather than authors. Some of my favorite series have been written by Tamora Pierce, Michelle Sagara, Grace Draven, G. A. Aiken, Nalini Singh, Jay Kristoff, Laura Thalassa, Brent Weeks, Sherry Thomas, J. K. Rowling, Jim Butcher and Kristen Britain.

3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from Pakistan and abroad)

Some young adult books include The Duff by Kody Keplinger and Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles. I love epic fantasy and paranormal romance. My favorites are mostly series like Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce, Codex Alera by Jim Butcher, Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara, Wraith Kings by Grace Draven, Psy-changeling by Nalini Singh, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Dragon Kin by G. A. Aiken, Night Angel by Brent Weeks, Green Rider by Kristen Britain and more.

4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

Every author I read inspires me in some way. Some inspire me to stay away from certain things LOL. The reason is probably the diversity of styles and perspectives. As a new author, I have a lot to learn. Reading a variety of authors shows me possibilities of how plots maybe executed or characters might be grown.

5. The motto you live your life by?

Love yourself.

6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

The Lies that Comfort Us was tentatively titled Denial. This is the main theme of the story. I’m part of many women support groups where members anonymously share their experiences with child abuse. It made me realize that many people voluntarily blinded themselves to the truth. Anyone can be a predator. Statistics reveal that most victims/ survivors actually know their abusers. No one should be labeled safe. Once you let your guard down, the predator makes their move. I wrapped up the story by discussing the people who are forgotten in such cases and how they are victims too. A perfect family faces their worst nightmare when their only child is abducted. The biggest challenge was a lack of facts. Unless you talk to professionals or study papers written by them you won’t understand this issue. I have explored this theme in depth but I still had trouble comprehending it.

7. Your message to aspiring writers?

Read negative reviews. Try to understand what readers dislike and why. Get maximum feedback from your target audience. Listen to opinions but don’t lose your unique voice. The world doesn’t need more of the same thing. Correct grammar is essential. Stay connected to your readers.


Hossein Syed

AUTHOR OF “CHILDREN OF THE WOODS”

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/437

Hossein Syed.jpg

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“He pulled at the handle and ignored the rough sound the pintels put out; rusted through they were—rains were unkind to this house—always. He opened it enough to make a gap to pass through. Outside, a small bulb flickered overhead, sparsely lighting the big vase and dry flowers, petals fallen upon the mahogany table, his mother had put there. They were roses, dark and red, like blood, in the shadow. Cold robbed roses of a sweet hue, dulled their arms till they lost the strength and fell away from the calm—petals plucked before their time had come to fully bloom.”

1. When and how did you start writing?

I started writing when I was fairly young—around seven or eight years old. My first experiments with writing were making small comic-books. Then I stopped writing in my early teens (for some inexplicable reasons) and picked it up again in my late teens. There wasn’t even any reason for dropping the hobby; I suppose I’m just a whimsical individual.

2. Your favorite Pakistani and Western (non-Pakistani) author(s)?

I lean more towards poetry than prose. My favorites would have to be Sufi poets such as Nizamuddin Auliya and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. In English, I would say that Edgar Allan Poe, John Updike, Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, and few others really appeal to me as their style and structuring is very complex and almost poetic in nature. I’ve always preferred prose stylists over story-tellers, as there are so few of the former.

3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from Pakistan and abroad)

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. It’s a German novel, but it’s truly one of a kind. The genius of Patrick Süskind is grossly underappreciated. I also greatly admire the prose—and the manner in which the language is used to create varied effects—of Updike, Lawrence, Nabokov, Poe, and Bronte.

4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

This is a hard one because my greatest inspiration has always been John Keats, closely followed by John Milton. The beauty of Keats verse, its sensuousness, dream-like, near-hallucinatory quality, is unmatched in my eyes. Yes, few other Nature and Romance poets are also inspirational (Shelly’s Ozymandias and Blake’s The Sick Rose and A Poison Tree are phenomenal, also), but Keats’ is the sole reason why I ever picked up writing again. That and the manner in which Milton pushes the boundaries of language itself in Paradise Lost is an unprecedented feat; Satan is a brilliant character! In fact, if you haven’t read these two, especially Keats’, you’ve never read great Literature!

When it comes to narrative structuring, I prefer character-driven narratives (Russian and Japanese) to the western (predominately American and British) plot-driven narratives—in the latter, characterizations are almost always a demonstrative affair, as everything a character does is meant to drive the plot forward. That’s a fairly limited approach, and, sadly, that’s all we see due to the dominance of American pop-culture. I truly believe that variety is the spice of life, and more people should look into Russian and Japanese literature to truly understand characterization. So, my approach is to utilize more of the eastern approach, with smatterings of western narrative structuring. Choice, as in Kabuki and Noh Theaters, also plays a great part in my stories.

5. The motto you live your life by?

The bigger they are, the harder they kick your arse; better find some evasive maneuvers to outwit your competition.

6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

The idea behind Children of the Woods was to flip heroic and Romance tales on their heads in different ways. The horror genre, for me, became the catalyst to drive home the whole theme: the atmosphere is created through the backdrop of night, forest, and other natural phenomena, such as wind, mist, rain, etc; and against this backdrop, a boy goes out with a trusty lantern (like a hero’s sword) to rescue his female friend: another small child like him.

I wanted to try something a little unconventional, something which isn’t done too often these days, and that’s the play with colors and sounds in a manner that creates illusions of visual imagery—a Romantic-era technique.

It’s, as I said, heavily inspired by Keats’ works that are rich in … basically, vocabulary items that act as a substitute for color schemes in visual arts. In theater (and film, too) colors play a major role, especially in Noh and Kabuki theaters, and define a lot of tonal variations. I, too, tend to use words that work well with sound and colors—words that are meant to be read aloud; or, at least, I strive for this effect that tends to create substance through style.

7. Your message to aspiring writers?

Don’t copy trends, especially script-orientated prose—it’s an over-used and abused style of writing; create your own Style. It isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of hard work and patience, but that’s true for everything in life.


FATEMA BHAIJI

AUTHOR OF “HEROES & VILLIANS”

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/410

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“She thinks she is a boy. We had hoped that it would correct itself but my worst fears have come true. We need to fix this. She acts like a boy. She wants to dress like a boy. She wants to run around with boys. No matter what I try to do she just won’t listen to me. I hope I can trust you to help me.”

FAVORITE LINE FROM HER BOOK:

“We’re different and they don’t like anything different because they can’t control it. We’re outliers and they can’t fit us into their equations so they have to correct us.

1. When and how did you start writing?

I think the first time I wrote something just because I wanted to was in the 9th grade when a teacher handed us a list of topics that we could write on during our off time. We were given a free hour to do what we wanted and I ended up writing three different stories, one of which called ‘The Visitor’ become the base of a novel I am currently working on.

2. Your favorite Pakistani and Western (non-Pakistani) author(s)?

Sylvia Plath is an all-time favorite writer and poet of mine. I actually carry around her collected poems and read them when I’m on the bus or waiting in line for something. As for Pakistani authors, I’m going to say Shazaf Fatima Haider but I might be slightly biased because she was one of my favorite teachers as well.

3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from Pakistan and abroad)

One of my favorite books is Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard. It explores the complex issues of gender, presentation, and sexuality in a way that the reader can easily empathize with and relate to the main character, Pen, as she navigates through friendship, family, and society. Kamila Shamsie’s Kartography would be my favorite Pakistani book.

4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

Saying J. K. Rowling might be cliche but that’s where I started reading and writing. One of my first stories was actually a complete rip off of Harry Potter: the trio of friends, the villain and the wise old wizard included. I also admire how she kept trying despite the rejection letters, that’s important as writers.

5. The motto you live your life by?

Don’t let the fear of other people’s opinions let you define your life. I know we’re only human and society shapes much of who we are but if you want to do something that makes real a difference there will always be people lining up to tell you all the ways that you’re doing it wrong. Just persist, believe in yourself and above all be kind. That’s my motto.

6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

Heroes and Villains is a story about a young boy who feels he is born in the wrong body looking to find support from his mother. However, things don’t turn out the way that he had hoped and the betrayal leads him down a dark path before he can find the light at the end of the tunnel again. To know more about it you can check out the story and leave your reviews at https://www.meraqissa.com/book/410.

7. Your message to aspiring writers?

Write the things that you don’t want to because they scare you. They always make the best stories because they’re often written from the heart and will end up connecting more with people. And don’t get stuck editing early on, finish writing and then go back. Trust me, I get stuck re-re-re-editing before I’m even finished and those stories never get finished.


ASHUTOSH BANSODE

AUTHOR OF “THE DARK RUSE”

https://www.meraqissa.com/book/395

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“They had scary faces, their pangs protruding out of their mouths and their bloodshot eyes leering at me as they laughed mockingly. They closed in on me and were about to devour me….”

FAVORITE LINE FROM HIS BOOK:

“Let me be the star that my mother feels proud of and not the beautiful flower that could be plucked anytime. Let my mother see the light and not the sight of her flower dying.” 

1. When and how did you start writing?

Most of the time people fail to acknowledge their true potential which is hidden under their self-imposed fears, lack of confidence and self-belief.  It is just that one step of confidence which has the power to alter the state of any situation and turn it into one of the glorious moments of your life. I have always struggled with confidence when it came to speaking in public, expressing my thoughts or displaying my qualities. It was on 4th September 2015 when I wrote my first inspirational article which reflected my introspective thoughts on giving that extra tug to yourself and doing things with confidence.

 2. Your favorite Indian and Western (non-Indian) author(s)? 

Arundhati Roy, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and Amitav Ghosh have always impressed me with their fine writing and powerful messages. My favorite non-Indian authors are Haruki Murakami, George Orwell and Khaled Hosseini who have always mesmerized me with their flawless and profound storytelling.

 3. Your favorite novel(s)? (Both from India and abroad)

‘Norwegian Wood’ is my favorite novel which is written by Haruki Murakami. I have also enjoyed reading his ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ which is a collection of his short stories. Other books which have made an impact on me and my writing are – ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini and ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy.

 4. Which author is your inspiration and why?

Haruki Murakami is my source of inspiration. The beauty of his writing lies in expressing various shades of human emotions and taking you to a whole different world as he explores suspense, romance, youth, and relationships. His stories can be very simple and very esoteric at the same time. The joy, the sorrow, the bewilderment and amazement that you feel while reading his books is a testament to his sheer brilliant art of story-telling!

 5. The motto you live your life by?

My motto is- ‘Learn from all the experiences in your life. And improve!’

 6. Tell us about the book that made you become the finalist at Season 4 of “Stories Untold”?

‘The Dark Ruse’ touches upon various dark shades of our contemporary society. The story revolves around an adolescent boy, Rohan, who is still malleable to his experiences and the norms of our culture and society. It is a heart-wrenching mystery which unfolds as Rohan’s mother delves into the encounters written in his diary only to realize that her son and family is trapped in a vortex of adversities. The book, although fictional, is based on the theme of child abuse and forays into the recent haunting events of inhuman exploitation. The book is an attempt to spread awareness and expression of my strong feelings about this subject.  

 7. Your message to aspiring writers?

Always write about things which you strongly feel about. I believe your creativity comes from the intensity of your feelings. Before writing always think about your audience and who do you want to address it to. Believe in yourself and create your own unique style. There’s a different high in writing and touching peoples’ lives. Be responsible, be change-driven and make an impact!

Interviews

Meet the youngest female author from Kashmir: Ayesha S. Khan

“If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader,” says Ayesha S. Khan, who has become the youngest female published author from Kashmir.

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1. Tell us about yourself?

My father named me AYESHA. Since to him, this is the most beautiful name a girl can have. My pen name is Ayesha S. Khan. I hail from Muzaffarabad- the capital city of State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. I am 22-year-old and currently, I am a student of BS(English Language and Literature) at the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad.

2. What were your feelings when you became the youngest author from Kashmir?

Obviously, I was over cloud nine. But, the most important thing which I would always cheer is that KASHMIR part in this whole phrase. “The youngest published female author from KASHMIR”. I can’t describe in words that how does it feel to be recognized by the name of your motherland.

3. Tell us briefly about your book without giving any spoilers?

My book “The Freezing Point” is a cause and effect tragedy. As we all know that the effects are the result of some causes. The problem is we mourn over effects without paying heed to the causes. We want to mitigate effects and their drastic by-products but what about causes? Causes are the root of all effects. They need to be focused.
“The Freezing Point” sheds light upon the character’s life journey from bright and pleasant to the dark and bleak. It highlights the scenarios or causes which transform a normal human into an evil one. To know more read the novel and leave your reviews at https://www.meraqissa.com/book/510

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4. Who inspires you to write?

In my direct family, my brothers have always been an inspiration to me whether it be a writing or doing something else. My brother once told me that: “I can see an excellent writer in you”. I realized his words later when attracted a lot of appreciation for “The Freezing Point”.

5. Which authors from Pakistan and abroad have been your favorite?

Being a voracious reader, I read a lot of authors from Pakistan as well as abroad. In Urdu Literature, Ashfaq Ahmad, Mumtaz Mufti, and Qudratullah Shahaab are the most adored ones. In English Literature, I love to read Khalil Gibran, John Green, Khaled Hosseini, and Nicholas Sparks. Moreover, I couldn’t resist applauding Elif Shafak for infallibly portraying the companionship of Rumi and Shams in her magnificent work ‘The Forty Rules of Love’.

6. What motivates you to write?

Social injustice in the world and particularly in our own country -Pakistan is my biggest motivation to pen down stories and articles. I want readers to take home something worth pondering. I think other writers should also take inspiration from the issues which are deteriorating society in one way or another, and start working on them.

7. What message will you give to aspiring writers?

Getting published was not a plain sailing job. I know people think it’s easy to write something and you’ll get published in a month or so. This was not a case with me. I had to wait patiently to go through the processing of writing, editing, and publishing. Even, I was so desperate to have a glimpse of my book’s cover. The point is good things take time. If you really want to write and become a published author first practice the skill of patience. Secondly, Never think about the monetary benefits. Just excel in the skill, and give your hundred and ten percent. Our teacher once told us to, view money, fame and success as a by-product. Lastly, If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader. Reading gives you a lot of stuff to mull over. You can’t become a good writer if you aren’t a good reader. Here, the important thing is choosing reading stuff. Always try to choose the material which makes you think positive. So, that your writings may impact the masses.

Opinion

Sheba Sultan pays tribute to Miss Saeeda Ghauri, who will always be her inspiration!

By Sheba Sultan

As I type this words, I cannot help but feel very sad. A beloved person has gone to her final rest and there was nothing that I could do for her. So with gratitude to my friend, Omar Iftikhar, who has agreed to post my humble note, I write these words with a heavy heart.

Miss Saeeda Ghauri, age 80 years, known to many people, especially the students of St. Joseph’s Convent Girls High School, as our Urdu teacher of classes 9 and 10. We are all sad as we hear of her demise. But she was here, in our city Karachi, all her life. None of us, me and my school-mates, or any of the students before or after us, were in contact with her. Perhaps because the era to which she belonged kept a distance between teachers and students. This makes me glad that at least in this age of digital nativeness, we can somehow be in contact with one another.

Ms. Ghauri was a really nice lady. She taught us Urdu. And I don’t remember her ever being harsh with anyone. She was one of those people who kept their thoughts to themselves. I did my matric in 1998. Two years ago, a book was published by renown writer Mrs. Hamra Khalique. As I held the book in my hand, I said to my mom that this lady on the cover looks like our Urdu teacher, Ms. Ghauri. And lo and behold, the back cover said that on the cover was a photo of the author with her two best friends; Ms. Haseena Moin and Ms. Saeeda Ghauri! So in this way, fate gave me a chance to meet Ms. Ghauri once again after almost 2 decades!

She was quite frail and quite tired of life. Having remained unmarried, the burden of singleness in our society weighed heavy on her shoulders. When I visited her, she was living in the bosom of her loving family; nieces, nephews, and their children flocking around her. Ms. Ghauri was sitting on a peaceful diwan, her parrot at her right hand and the breeze from a spacious window blowing at her back. Her niece, the Principal at a prominent school, really has a lovely home. And the most charming spot at this home belonged to Ms. Ghauri. This year her niece also provided her with the blessings of Umrah. Indeed, Ms. Ghauri was a much-loved person.

A few weeks ago there was a luncheon for her. Her friends and her family gathered together and had a nice afternoon of lighthearted sharing. Recently, her family celebrated her birthday. And right now, we all remember her and feel the sadness creeping up again and again. Miss Ghauri was a gentle soul. She really never harmed anyone. She lived a quiet life. And she was a beloved friend and family member. Miss Ghauri has gone to her final rest, today, Saturday, May 5, 2018, and I write these words in her memory because in her quiet way she left an undeniable imprint on our hearts. I will never forget and this will inspire me in the years to come that teachers are always remembered by their students. Teachers always remain in our hearts. And Miss Ghauri will indeed remain in my heart forever and ever.

Sheba Sultan is the author of ‘The Room in the Mausoleum’ and ‘Daldal kay Paar’.

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.