A few weeks ago, a few of you may remember that I interviewed a few authors over a week whose work had been published by the independent publisher Panther Publishing, so I thought I’d treat you to another handful of Q&As from some more wonderful authors who I have come to interact through social media a lot over the last few years of being a blogger.
Today I’m welcoming debut author Awais Khan to the blog, he’s been a wonder and allowed me to throw questions at him as he sits in his interview chair – *disclaimer* it may have been a sofa, we didn’t actually do this in person! Awais introduced himself to me at the beginning of this year, he invited me to review his first novel In The Company of Strangers which I loved. You can find my review here and you can order yourself a copy here.
In the glittering world of Pakistan’s elite, all is not what it seems…
Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging…
Desperate for emotional release, she turns to a friend who introduces her to a world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her.
Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive façade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.
So that’s the introduction done, how about we get on the Q&A?
Just for fun, I thought we’d start with a light lightening around:
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Morning bird or night owl? Night Owl all the way
Bookmark or corner folder? Bookmark
Tidily organised or organised mayhem? Organised mayhem
Could you share a photo of something that makes you happy please? Whether that’s a pet, place, your favourite snack etc.
London makes me very happy as does biryani.
I love London too, it’s definitely one of my happy places.
What is your favourite childhood book?
My favourite childhood book would be the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton. I used to devour those books!
What did you want to be when you grew up? Was it always an author?
I wanted to either be a doctor or a historian. I remember I was very good at Biology and History and wanted to choose one of these subjects as my ultimate profession. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
If you could choose only one season to last forever, what one would it be?
Winter! I simply love the crispness of the air, the gathering mist, the weak sun and chilly winds. But then, I live in Lahore, Pakistan – a place that has very hot summers. Here, we value our winters.
I’m from Wales an when we get 22 degree days, i’m not happy, I can’t imagine how scorching Lahore gets! I’m in agreement with the colder seasons, but autumn is my favourite!
What is your current read?
I am reading The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor. It was an impulse buy as I don’t usually read horror, but when I realized that it was a nice thriller, I decided to dive in. It is an absolutely amazing book. Very gripping. I’m loving it.
What do you enjoy doing outside of writing? Hobbies etc.
I love reading. And watching TV shows. If I’m not writing, you’ll find me either reading or watching American TV shows. I have a day job too (at least I used to back when educational institutions were open), so most of my time is spent with my nose in a book.
How many books have you written? Do you have a personal favourite? What is it and why?
I’ve written three books. Only one of them is published so far. The second is out on submission now and the third is a YA trilogy which I am editing. It is a complete departure from what I usually write, so I am very excited about it. However, my favourite would always be my debut, In the Company of Strangers. It’s my baby.
More books by you are making their way out into the world? I am so excited.
When writing a series, how do you keep it fresh? Is the second in the series always more difficult than the first?
I think writing a series is very challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. When you end the first part on a cliff-hanger, you sort of know that there is so much more that awaits you. It sort of adds to the excitement.
When researching for a novel, do you always have all the research before beginning or do you research as you go? What is the process?
I’d like to say that I do all my research beforehand, but that wouldn’t be true. I keep getting inspired by things. A lot of what I write is based on observation, so I keep adding to my writing. Until the book is finished, everything is a work in progress including the research.
Describe your typical writing day for us
Since I have a day job (an educational institute to run), I don’t often have time to write until late at night. My ideal writing days are during the weekend when I can head over to a café and write amidst the noise and chatter. It helps me concentrate. With the pandemic, that option is no longer open, so I just sit at my desk and feel sorry for myself until inspiration strikes.
Describe your publishing journey in 3 words
Time-Consuming. Frustrating. Rewarding
Do you have any writing quirks / needs? What are they?
I’m just happy with my trusted Macbook Air. I don’t really need anything especially not a snack as then all my attention is focused on the food, and I can never have just one snack. Once I start nibbling, I cannot stop.
If it gives no spoilers, what is the hardest scene you’ve had to write?
My second novel is on Honour Killing in Pakistan and it was especially hard to write about the gruesome reality of an honour killing. After writing that scene, sleep eluded me, and that’s when I knew I had written a difficult but powerful scene.
What do you find the most enjoyable / difficult thing about writing?
I struggle with dialogue, sometimes. Dialogue is a window into the character. It has to ring true and it has to capture the essence of the character. It doesn’t come easily to me.
What is a publishing highlight for you?
When my debut novel, In the Company of Strangers was picked up by two publishers within days of each other.
Can you give a one sentence teaser for anything you’re working on if you’re allowed?
This is from my dystopian YA trilogy: “The world as we know it has ended.”
I’m book teased and I only have myself to blame, you’ve got my two favourite words in that sentence: dystopian and trilogy!
Thank-you so much Awais for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s been so fun getting to know the author behind such a fabulous book. For those of you who have yet to read In The Company of Strangers, I highly recommend it – plus the covers (there are two covers depending where in the world you’re ordering from) are absolutely stunning.
Until next time,