This is the first in the series: “Meet the Author.” This is Andaleeb Wajid.
Many authors write very well when it comes to the stories they tell, but falter when it comes to telling their own story! This talented young lady is definitely one who does both well. Hear what she has to say about herself. I am sure you will find the “About me” section in her website as charming and well-written as I did. To me, this is so typically Andaleeb whose sense of humour is always to be found just below the surface.
I first came to know Andaleeb in 2009 when her first novel “Kite Strings” was published. I was then writing my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You.” We had our debut novels published by the same firm and exchanged notes, then and later. This reminds me of a line in Wodehouse where two writers working in the same publishing firm, Lord Tilbury’s Mammoth Publishing say to each other that it makes them almost like fellow serfs!
Blinkers Off, Kite Strings and More Than Just Biriyani are some of her books and she is busy with more in the pipeline. It made me quip, “Now that you have the Blinkers Off, you can pull the Kite Strings to have More Than Just Biriyani.”
Curious to know what Andaleeb meant because I loved the sound of the name, I began by asking her the question she has been asked many times before.
1. I love your name. What does it mean? Tell us a little bit about yourself. What events in your life shaped your choice to become an author?
Thank you! I love my name too especially as it’s so unique and rather hard to forget. It means ‘nightingale’ in Persian and I really hope you won’t ask me if I can sing! (Because I can’t).
I was born in Vellore which is my hometown as well but I’ve lived all my life in Bangalore.
I can’t really recall any specific events that led me to becoming an author. I’ve always loved listening to and telling stories and I just took it forward with writing. When I was around 16 or 17 and everywhere around me, my classmates were choosing careers, I used to feel left out because I knew that having a career was not on the cards for me. My mother had plainly told me that I would be getting married as soon as I finished my degree classes. That was when I realised that writing was something that I could pursue without it getting in the way of my personal life.
2. Who were some of the authors you admired? Who, in some sense, influenced your writing style and choice of subjects?
There are too many to name here but I’ll just try and list a few – Martha Grimes, Jodi Piccoult, JK Rowling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve tried hard to develop my own style of writing but the closest I can come to inspiration would be Martha Grimes’ Hotel Paradise which kind of kick started me into writing Kite Strings.
3. You have a hectic schedule as I can imagine. How do you find the time to pursue your passion for writing? What would you recommend to so many people out there who would love to write but fear they “don’t have the time.”
I’m afraid it’s a bit simpler for me than it would be for others. I know, you’re surprised to hear that, but writing is my ‘only’ job. I don’t have any other day job. So I sit down at my desk every morning, jot down notes, review what I’ve written the previous day, and dither for a little while before I get down to writing. When your only focus is on writing, it is quite easy to be prolific. However, I admit that you have to be dedicated too.
For those who ‘don’t have the time’ but want to write, I’m not sure what advice I can offer as I have all the time in the world to write! (There! I just made a lot of people envious I guess!) Nevertheless, if you’re serious about writing, you have to try and find even a small window of time to get it done. It may just be a few scribbles in your notebook or some character sketches but it all builds up when you sit down to write.
My schedule is simple. The moment the kids are out of the door for school (which is why I hate weekends and vacations), I make tea and then promptly sit down at my desk at 9 am. It’s not a 9-5 job but yes, having that kind of regularity makes me feel good about it. I may not sit there for even an hour, but actually sitting down makes a difference.
4. Tell us briefly about your books. Which was your favourite and why?
At this point, I’ve finished writing 8 books and the 8th one was completed recently.
Kite Strings, my debut novel was about growing up and making choices and decisions. Blinkers Off (Rupa) had a much lighter premise and was a breezy romance.
My Brother’s Wedding is being published by Rupa in May 2013. As the title suggests, it’s about a wedding in the family and the kind of upheaval it causes at home.
More than Just Biryani is being published by Amaryllis in April 2013.
The Big 3-Ohh!!! is a fun chicklit kind of book about the apprehension that women have about turning 30.
The Sum of All my Parts is an intense love story focused around a crochet class run by an old woman.
Sepia Dreams and Sepia Blues are two books of a three part Young Adult fantasy series about a present day teen who travels back thirty years in time to her mother’s teenaged years.
Favourites are hard to choose but it would have to be More than Just Biryani. It’s got my favourite topics – food and love.
5. What would you say as parting words of advice to new authors, budding authors and the many who would love to see their work in print?
Find a schedule that works for you, stick to it and write. Don’t stop writing when you’ve written one book and are looking for publishers. I made that mistake and wasted four years while I waited for someone to publish Kite Strings. Also, develop a thick skin. Not everyone will love your book and like your characters. Be prepared to hear criticism about angles you may not even have considered. Once the book is out there, it’s a bit like free for all for everyone to say what they want. Only you know how much hard work you’ve put into it.
Famous last words? Don’t give up. No wait. Make that ‘Don’t stop writing’.
I have no idea of the current size of her fan following but she can count me as being one of them. I am sure this will grow to be huge with each successive book from Andaleeb. And no, I didn’t ask her to sing, but if you like this interview, maybe some time later we should persuade her to give it a try!
To catch up with her, you can follow her tweets.