Akhila Saroha: Before beginning this interview, I would like to congratulate you on the publishing of your book, “Age was just a number”. How has the response of the readers been so far?
Shaheen Kazi: oh! I am delighted, thank you Akhila. Reader response is focused on the reader and the way reader engages in the script. The meaning of text is not really there until, reader involves to it. “Age was just a number” created much expectation to many readers and one of the recent episode I can share, a reader from USA pings me on my Instagram asking what are you up to? I said what? And there she is revealing she never gave a read to novels but this book had changed her mind and she will look forward to reading many, surprising element for me was when she mentioned that, she had started with the first page in the morning with a sip of coffee and later when she was back from work, she couldn’t stop herself and started to unfold the suspense page by page. Eventually it was 4 am and she was awake whole night. 5 years of continues writing and when you receive such response, it touches your heart and you simply become speechless with gratitude. Readers mentioned they liked the title and book cover it’s fascinating, many are stilling reading so overall they are relishing their read and that’s what every author’s goal is.
Akhila Saroha: Is there an inspiration for the character of Sameera? Or is it completely a creation of your imaginative mind?
Shaheen Kazi: hmmm..The inspiration is you, me, and all those acquitted teenage girls who were and currently is, we all have Sameera inside us, most of us have lived Sameera’s life in our past. The character I will not say is entirely imaginative, but yes I will say I wanted to portray this character in such a way where any girl of that age or any woman resembles herself in that shade where the teenager journey starts.
Akhila Saroha: The title of the book, “Age was just a number” says a lot on its own. How did you come up with the name, owing to the fact that the metaphorical associations cannot be ignored either?
Shaheen Kazi: Ah! Writing a novel is like driving through the mist with one headlight tripped, you can’t see very far ahead of yourself but every now and then it will clear that’s how I see. As you know my first release was a poetry book Dairy you & me and poems are typically full of metaphors, and I regularly write poems. We had always heard a lot from many people, “Age is just a Number” do we ever think how we were? What silliness or respectable things we did and that’s where this comes out ‘WAS’. From the moment I initiated to write this novel WAS entered as villain in my thought and I firmly believe first think of villain for our novel it will take you to the hero as you go…hahah…
Akhila Saroha: There are very less books that capture the span of time you have done in your book in a smooth manner. How did the idea of writing the book come to you?
Shaheen Kazi: so, people inspire people. After I wrote my first poem book, ‘Diary You & Me’, I was thinking about what I should do next? Never wanted to set myself for a specific genre, I felt to do something different and as you know we don’t do new we do just different, hahaha… from my reader’s response of Diary it encouraged me to come up with different and some challenging work where i picked up the file of AGE which I was writing continuously from 5 years. Once I opened up with a good friend I am thinking of releasing a novel as it about to complete, response was “those who write poems they find very difficult to write novels”, there you go! Now the novel is in the hands of readers. Author writes the book and reader completes it.
Akhila Saroha: How easy or difficult was it for you to design and develop the character of Sameera and show the psychological changes in her from a teenage girl to a grown up mature woman?
Shaheen Kazi: oh I call it, creativity is not what we select, creativity is what we reject. It wasn’t at all trying for me to portray Sameera character’s as I said, in my mind, the novel plot was very clear to me I only made myself to fit in her and made myself feel what if I am Sameera? what would I feel? What I will do? My goal was to keep readers believing in, even though reader and author know its fiction. When I wrote AGE nothing went into it that had not happened in real life somewhere at some time.
Akhila Saroha: Are there any present day writers you like to read? Or any writers of earlier times?
Shaheen Kazi: A big bookworm I am, all authors are awesome and they all inspire me. Yes, from my childhood favourite is Ruskin Bond novels and till date he is and Paulo Coelho.
Akhila Saroha: There comes a time in the novel when the character of Sameera seems to be most unhappy with life. Do you think she was a victim of circumstances or her actions?
Shaheen Kazi: I feel she became the victim of her emotions, where circumstances have made its way very easy.
Akhila Saroha: If there are people like Sameera, who have suffered like her in real life, what would your advice be to them?
Shaheen Kazi: Firstly, I never want any girl to suffer like Sameera, but if there is I would like to say to them, “You will never know the power of yourself until someone hurts you badly”
Akhila Saroha: If you have read any present day writing, what would you like to say about it?
Shaheen Kazi: I feel writing doesn’t come all of sudden, to write you need to be a good reader and a very good listener. Feel the emotions from every line that’s it. Don’t worry about the error that will improve your skills.
Akhila Saroha: Since “Age was just a number” talks about many aspects and themes, if you were to assign a genre to the book, which would it be?
Shaheen Kazi: My novel “Age Was Just A Number” is not only a novel, as you mentioned it has many aspects and themes. I would like to leave this for the readers to decide and remain uncategorised, out of the box..hahaha
Akhila Saroha: What advice would you like to give to the growing writers on the basis of your experience in writing?
Shaheen Kazi: I would say the danger is writing roughly that just stops instead of something that ends. Keep writing and rewriting, write and read your notes and rewrite. Remember it’s only you and the paper when writing and waste bin is your friend. Failure is fantastic don’t underestimate failure, trust yourself.
Akhila Saroha: Your writing shows a clear potential of a lot more to come from your pen. Please share about your future projects.
Shaheen Kazi: oh yes…you sense it right and thank you for your trust in my writing. Currently am working on two projects. I’ve something for my romantic readers and Halloween readers. Very soon, you all will see and yes this time genre can be easily categorized..haaa.
Akhila Saroha: Thank you for sparing time for this interview. I wish you the best for your future.
Shaheen Kazi: oh sweetheart pleasure is mine and Thank you for your best wishes and hoping to meet you again, very soon. I wish you 3b’s best, blessed & beautiful life.