Few meetings happen on the spur of the moment and become quite dear. One such cherished moment was meeting Andaleeb Wajid at the launch of her latest book – ‘Twenty Nine going on Thirty’ at a leading book store in Bangalore. While visiting the store, when I got to know about it, I couldn’t resist but enter the book launch. Ms Wajid was already speaking. Unlike some of the contemporary authors, her crowd was matured and engrossed in catching every word she uttered - smiles of admiration on their faces.
Andaleeb Wajid is a writer of miscellanous topics, such as food, relationships and weddings from a Muslim perspective. Some of her popular books include Kite Strings, My Brother's Wedding, More than Just Biriyani, No Time for Goodbyes, and many more.
~You are a wife and mom of two – managing your family along with writing. Share a sneak of your daily life? How do you manage to successfully juggle everything?
My kids are grown up now, so it’s easier to write. I take my writing seriously and look at it like a proper full-time job. I sit down at my desk in the morning and try to get some writing done before midday. After that, I catch up on reading, TV shows, etc. If I’m in the mood to write more, I might write more than my usual one chapter per day.
~You have been a writer ever since you were 10. What made you aspire to be a writer?
I’ve always been interested in telling stories but mostly because I do enjoy talking a lot. I realized that writing stories was the next logical step and didn’t really think of it as a career option. It was something I had fun doing and for the longest while, I didn’t associate having a career and having fun at the same time, as being possible.
~How did your course of writing altered over the course of your writing career?
I think my craft has honed quite a bit over the years. I was not very technical earlier and would just write from the heart but now I concentrate on the plot and make sure that every little detail is there for a valid reason.
~Among all of your works, which is the one that makes you the proudest? Why?
Almost all of them, actually. Getting a book published today is easier than before but it doesn’t make the achievement any less important. Each of my books holds a special place in my heart for various reasons. Readers however, have shown immense love for My Brother’s Wedding, More than Just Biryani, Asmara’s Summer and the more recent, Twenty Nine going on Thirty.
~What is your greatest experience as an author till date?
Every time readers write to me about my books, it makes me smile. But one of the most amazing and surreal experiences for me was to go on stage and pitch my books at MAMI Word to Screen last year in Mumbai, in front of reputed directors like Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bharadwaj, etc.
~Was publishing your first book a piece of cake or a hard nut to crack? Share the journey of your initial days.
It was extremely difficult. Today, the process is easier and slightly more transparent. Back then (2008-9), several publishers didn’t have websites and it wasn’t easy to get in touch with them. I faced numerous rejections from many publishers repeatedly for my first book. Some of it was also due to my inexperience in the craft of writing and because I was unable to slot the book into a defined genre like YA or romance. Finally, a publisher agreed to publish my book but I’ve retrieved the rights from them in 2012 and it can be read for free from my website.
~When not writing, what are the things that you indulge in?
Reading. I read whatever I can get hold of but I have a fondness for thrillers and murder mysteries. Romance too. I watch TV shows with my kids, Netflix, etc to unwind.
· ~Any upcoming book(s) on your cards? If so, what should your readers look forward to?
My first novel for kids – The Legend of the Wolf has been published by Speaking Tiger in May. I have two more books coming out this year – The Sum of All my Parts, published by Amaryllis in August and House of Screams, published by Penguin in October this year.
· ~Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
So many of them! JK Rowling, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Mo Hayder, Diana Gabaldon to name a few.
· ~What is your message for writers in the making?
Read as many books as you can. Without reading, you can’t possibly become a good writer.