“It is true that one should write for themselves, and I do, but there are times when that just is not enough. There are times when you need people to understand why you do what you do” says Tooba Arshad in this exclusive interview.
Tooba Arshad is the author of “Unveiling the Unknown” a mystery thriller and dark fiction, which revolves around a 16-year-old Pakistani girl, Reeza, who has been kidnapped owing to a case of mistaken identity. The setting is spread over two continents, and the plot deals with international crime, intelligence agencies, crime mobs, self-discovery, family ties, and most importantly, character building. The novel has everything; from nail-biting suspense and reality-based action sequences, to a rather dark yet warm theme.
Tooba’s novel has been published by Daastan Publishing.
Click here to view Tooba Arshad’s Facebook page.
1. Tell us about yourself?
I think of myself as a passionate individual with diverse interests. I am a dedicated writer, a student, an unorthodox teacher, a motivational speaker, an aspiring editor, a born skeptic, and an obvious ambivert, with a strong personal moral code.
2. When did you start writing?
As far as I can remember, I have always been a writer. I do remember the first time I was appreciated for it though. I was 10 years old and studying in grade 6. I wrote seven short poems in a fortnight to impress my English language teacher. Although that was the only time I tried my hand at poetry until recently, I have been writing since then.
3. Share your experience of when you became a published author?
It was a long, exhausting, and frustrating ride…but in the end, I guess it is always worth it. I have been luckier than most, because I no longer feel that all my efforts are for nothing. It is true that one should write for themselves, and I do, but there are times when that just is not enough. There are times when you need people to understand why you do what you do. And I have never felt so accomplished as I did when my work finally got published.
4. “Unveiling the Unknown” is your debut novel. What is the story about?
“Unveiling the Unknown” is a mystery thriller, it is dark fiction, which revolves around a 16-year-old Pakistani girl, Reeza, who has been kidnapped owing to a case of mistaken identity. The setting is spread over two continents, and the plot deals with international crime, intelligence agencies, crime mobs, self-discovery, family ties, and most importantly, character building. The novel has everything; from nail biting suspense and reality-based action sequences, to a rather dark yet warm theme. In a nutshell, “Unveiling the Unknown” is not your usual mystery novel, but a life and death kind of story.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the story?
I was in a dark place when I started writing that novel. I had recently finished college, and my family was going through some tough times. Writing was my distraction, and probably the most selfish thing I have ever done. My biggest challenge was disconnecting myself from the fictional world, and making time for my loved ones. And when I finally did, it took me days to get back into that mindset again. Another challenge was continuing to write, when I was sure there was no point to it. When I was halfway through my novel, I had started searching for platforms to showcase my writing and was severely discouraged by the experience. But, it was the timeless love and endless support of my friends and my family that kept me going despite everything.
6. You were writing a book and focusing on studies. How did you manage these two distinct aspects of your life?
It is always a matter of priorities. For me, they keep cycling between the two. It is hectic, for sure, but I am determined not to give up either one of them. It helps, though, that I have been a multitasker all my life.
7. Who are your favorite Pakistani authors?
To be honest, I have not read a lot of literature written by Pakistani authors. But pieces by Ibn-e-Insha and Mushtaq Ahmed Yousfi are a welcome sight.
8. Where do you see yourself ten years down the road?
Life is unpredictable, and so are my choices. That is probably why I have not thought out my life that far. It does not matter how far I would have come then, or what I would be pursuing. All that matters is my passion, which I hope will grow as my personality does.
9. Writing requires persistence and imagination. How do you find the inner peace to write?
It is the other way around for me; I write to find that peace. My mind is constantly raging conflict, and writing helps settle it down a bit. That is all the motivation I need!
10. What message will you give to aspiring writers?
Keep at it. Even if you do not see a possible future, even if the process is frustrating, even if the circumstances are discouraging. Find it in you to rise above all that. Because, trust me, there is always a silver lining. Writing can work wonders in helping you grow as a person, and that should be your best accomplishment. Do it for yourself!