Monday, September 2, 2019

Author Interview: Iram Fatima Ashi, Author of A Pleasant Secret

I am Iram Fatima ‘Ashi’. I am a non-resident Indian staying in Saudi Arabia. I was born and raised in India. I have lived in different places and explored different people and their cultures. I am connected with my own country by soul and miss that.
Travelling has been an important part of my life. I have always felt as though borders are just the constructs of our feeble intellects, we have to look beyond them, only then will our hearts be free. After spending so many years in different cultures and places, my quest is far from over. I want to travel till my last breath and I feel I don’t belong to any particular culture. I have accepted whole world as my own and have a deep desire to be buried wherever I die.
I pursued graduation and post graduation in English. I have been writing since the age of 13 in Hindi, Urdu and English. I am currently working as an Editor in chief of Reflection, an online magazine; Editorial Executive Sub-Committee member of VIEW (Print journal) and my creative work is part of 43 international anthologies.
My articles, short stories and poems are published in Indian magazines and newspapers. Internationally, my work is published in Canada, Uzbekistan and US.
I feel blessed on being honored by ‘Aagman Gourav 2015, 2016 and 2017’ in India by Aagman group.
I like reading, writing, painting, listening to music and observing nature. I take inspiration from real life, nature and anything which touches me. I am a poetess, writer, painter and overall an artist by heart. 
My poems and stories are simple yet subtle. You don’t need much literary prowess to understand its depth.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller? 
Ans: I started writing when I was 13 years old and in 8th std. I wrote my first poem on ‘pen’ and a drama which was performed in annual function against dowry and after that articles, short stories and poems and no looking back.

What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from? 
Ans: My parents and my friends… they have always believed in me and are my constant support; they appreciate, they criticize and they never let me give up. 

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they? 
Ans: I am a passionate writer and try to write regularly. I try to make a balance between my responsibilities and my passion. 

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? 
Ans: I suffer from writer's block many times and during that period I try to devote myself in reading classic and contemporary books. 

What are your current/future projects? 
Ans: Currently I am working on women oriented novel. 

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? 
Ans: I mostly write on romantic topic or any burning social issue and I can perfectly make balance these as I have many shades of emotions and I can express it well. 

Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published? 
Ans: I have experience of both publishing and I would prefer self-publishing because of transparency in it. 

What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc...) 
Ans: My father had a transferable job and so I explored many places, culture and people because of that and all that experience shows in my writing too. 

What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre? 
Ans: Mostly I write on ‘love’ and this is because I am a fun loving, romantic person in my life. 

What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you? 
Ans: I always carry a notepad with me and I pen down my ideas in short whenever I get it. 

How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why? 
Ans: No I don’t feel so as many people told me that they find my work inspiring and they too share their work or short stories after reading mine. 

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are underrated, overrated, or don’t matter at all? 
Ans: Yes, good review inspires others to read that particular work, thankfully I never get bad review on any of my work. 

What is your biggest fear about having a book published? 
Ans: The biggest fear about having a book published is not to get enough readers because of lack of promotions. 

If you have multiple books published what do you feel is your greatest work, why? 
Ans: Till now my 42 anthologies and 5 individual books have been published and I think my best work is yet to come. 

What is the intended audience for you book? 
Ans: I write about human sentiments and want to reach common people through my book. 

If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be? 
Ans: Be positive in your life and spread love. 

What makes a good story, why? 
Ans: I think every reader has their own taste, few like adventurous, few love mystery and few enjoy romantic story. Being an author we express our ideas, it’s up to the readers to accept that or not. 

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 
Ans: Yes, I read my reviews and give my response to that. I take bad review in constructive way to make my work better next time. 

What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…) 
Ans: The hardest scene to write is about racism and death as people are fearful to accept both facts. 

What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing? 
Ans: As you know I stay out of India and my closest friends are in India, I love to spend my time with them and it recharges me and I feel more creative after that. 

What would you like to write about that you have never written about before? 
Ans: I want to write on women’s suffering and their fight against that. This would be in my next novel. 

Were your characters based on real life people/events or did you make it all up? 
Ans: I like to observe people deeply and try to understand their behavior pattern and relationship in their life that helps me to create characters in my stories. 

What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers? 
Ans: I think in writing there should be easy language, relatable characters, realistic situations must be created so that readers can relate and enjoy your work. 

Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else? 
Ans: Writing is my passion and my love, so I enjoy doing it. 

What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing? 
Ans: In traditional publishing you are not sure that your work would be justified by them or not, as you have to blindly trust them for everything and in self-publishing, you have to pay for your own hard work that seems strange but at least you have the right to bring your best in paperback. 

What makes your book stand out from the crowd? 
Ans: Simple words, realistic characters and situations in my novel definitely makes my book stand out from the crowd. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style? 
Ans: I always like to read renowned authors like Jane Austen, Ernest Miller Hemingway, William Shakespeare and their stories always inspire me. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing? 
Ans: Be a good reader first and keen observer of real life and then pen down whatever you feel like worth saying. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers? 
Ans: Every person has their different passions like reading, writing, cooking, teaching, social work etc but somewhere we pack that and keep it aside while choosing our priorities. I would like to suggest that they should be a little mean to live for themselves too as they are also individuals with different identities and hobbies and passions. Take out the ‘me time’ for themselves… follow their passion… do what they love… to keep them happy and if they are happy then only they can spread happiness among others.

Definitely, all marriages are not made in heaven, and a few socially chosen partners turn their partners’ lives into living hell.
In this novel, Khushbu Khanna is the bold girl working as the C.E.O of a multinational company and lives her life on her own terms.
Sumit Aggarwal, who accepted all decisions of his parents and society and tries to be happy. Is he really happy in that fake cocoon?
Time and circumstances had separated Sumit and Khushbu. Then how did they become inseparable parts of each other and a pleasant secret of each other’s life?
Read and unfold the journey of the various characters layer by layer. It will leave you as a reader to ponder over questions like: Does something like soul-mates really exist? What is more important—Society and its norms or true love?
An exceptional story of separation and then the reunion of long-lost lovers...

Thank you, Ashi for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!

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