Andaleeb Wajid – Author of the Month, February 2020

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February is the month of love and romance. And no one does it better than our highly prolific ‘Author of the Month.’

I’m thrilled to host one of my biggest writing inspirations – Andaleeb Wajid on ‘The Tina Edit’ where we discuss the love for writing, and more.

About Andaleeb Wajid

Andaleeb Wajid is easily one of India’s best contemporary writers that you can bank on for a good read. Whether you are a reader or writer, there is a lot in store for you in her books.

She is the author of 24 fiction bestseller novels in the Young Adult, Romance, and Horror genres. She is known for her fine art of storytelling, beautiful prose, and relatable characters.

Some of Andaleeb’s most popular books include ‘More Than Just Biryani,’ ‘Twenty-Nine Going On Thirty,’ ‘My Brother’s Wedding,’ ‘The Sum of All My Parts,’ ‘A Sweet Deal,’ ‘Asmara’s Summer,’ ‘The Crunch Factor,’ ‘The Legend of the Wolf,’ ‘House of Screams’, and more.

Her horror novel “House of Screams” has been optioned for the screen and she has an upcoming romance novel with Penguin Random House in 2020. Her YA novel “When She Went Away” was shortlisted for The Hindu Young World Goodbooks Award in 2017.

My tryst with Andaleeb Wajid

Andaleeb Wajid earns that rare distinction of being both a reader’s and writer’s writer.

Let me explain! A friend of mine who knew about my author plans a couple of years ago, asked me what kind of a writer I wanted to be—one for the masses or one for the critics. I immediately answered without thinking twice – “Both!”. I don’t want my books to impress only the critics while being inaccessible to the majority. At the same time, I didn’t want it to be so simplistic that it fails to satisfy the more discerning hungry reader. Andaleeb Wajid’s books achieve that perfect balance of striking a chord with both the types.

I missed meeting Andaleeb Wajid when she came to the Hyderabad Literature Festival in January 2019. But, I did purchase a couple of her books back then and shared it among my friends. And we all had a unanimous response that her books were vivacious and simply unputdownable. As a reader, I find that her books are unpretentious, harmonious, warm, sassy, and enjoyable. There is a great sense of adventure, especially in her romantic novels.

As a writer, I am highly inspired by Andaleeb Wajid’s author’s journey to date. She is fiercely passionate about the craft of writing while being confident and courageous to explore various genres of writing along the path. One can see the evolution and depth of her writing style over the years since her debut. And that is possible only when the author is committed to continuous learning and growth. On that note, it comes as no surprise that Andaleeb Wajid is also a writing coach and mentor.

Andaleeb’s creativity and her innovative streak continue to inspire the writer in me. ‘More than just Biryani’ is an excellent case in point. Her intuitiveness and spontaneity when it comes to fleshing out real characters is something any aspiring writer can learn from.

Some of the hallmarks of a good writer are honesty, empathy, and a sense of justice and fairness. All of these admirable traits are present in abundance in Andaleeb Wajid. She has strong moral ground of what’s right and wrong in our society and the world at large.

When I reached out to Andaleeb a couple of days ago for the author interview, she graciously obliged. Though I sent in my questions at the nth hour due to a personal crisis in my family, she understood my situation and responded with promptness and adaptiveness. This brief interaction has taught me a lot of traits to emulate from her.

I’ve tried to touch upon the various aspects of a writer’s life in this brief virtual rendezvous.

Let’s get rolling!

1. You’ve written in various genres, intersecting some of them with panache. Which of the genres have you enjoyed writing the most? Also, are there any new genres that you’d like to explore in the future?

A. Thank you! I enjoy writing romance, but I also love horror. I find horror quite challenging to write because I don’t think it’s easy to create a sense of dread and yet ensure that the readers keep turning the pages.

My favorite genre, however, has to be Young Adult, which is what I started my writing career with. In the future, I would love to write about crime, but I am not sure if I can do the right sort of research.

I also want to write a historical sub-genre, be it in romance or horror or any other genre. Let’s see!

2. I believe that the best writing coaches are writers themselves. As a newbie writing mentor, I am curious to know your thoughts on this. Writing doesn’t fetch monetary perks that you’d typically see in other professions, even though it ideally should as it involves a lot of cerebral activity and creativity. Many don’t realize that writing takes a physical and mental toll on you. As a writing coach and mentor, how do you inspire your students to read and write more?

A. I think having a large body of work across different genres does help to reach out to people and make them see what I mean.

The money aspect is necessary but not given its due because of this lofty idea that writing is a noble profession.

For me, a writer is an entertainer and when I’m reading a book, I do want to be entertained. This is what I aim to bring out in my books, the urge or feeling that the reader simply has to turn the page.

I always tell my students that writers really need to mine their lives for experiences, and this is only possible if they have rich and full lives outside of the writer’s desk.

So, I do advise them to get a job and stick with it, but to also take writing seriously and not merely treat it like a passion

3. What is your greatest writing aphrodisiac? I mean what is it about the field of writing that keeps you going on and on churning one book after the other?

A. I thoroughly enjoy the process of crafting a story, taking readers down a path, letting them discover my characters and hoping that they fall in love with them.

I also enjoy it when readers reach out and tell me how much they enjoyed my book and specifically tell me why instead of just saying it was nice.

4. President Donald Trump’s recent visit to India hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again brought Islamophobia to the forefront, fanning the hatred and deepening the divide among harmonious communities. As a prolific author, writer, and influencer, what is your take on the current socio-political situation in our country post the NRC-CAA bill and Trump’s visit to India?

A. At the moment, we are grappling with horrific stories and images of what is happening in the capital of our country. I don’t understand why a particular community is being victimised. It’s hard for me to remain unaffected and be expected to give a take on it sensibly and objectively in our current situation.

I am not sure how I should answer this question to be very honest. As a Muslim, I strongly identify with myself as an Indian. I am from this country, and this is as much my country as anyone else hailing from another religion. Just because I’m a minority doesn’t make my claim any less.

But I don’t see any other community being asked to prove their patriotism and things like whether they are Muslim or Indian first. Despite not taking on victimhood, Muslims are still the targets here in the current socio-political climate.

5. What is the one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring authors, including me, who look up to your writing career as a huge source of inspiration?

A. Today, we have lots of young people out there who would rather write than read. They simply don’t have the patience to read but want to write their own books. To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader first. So, my advice to all aspiring writers is to read more than you aspire to write.

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