About The Author – Sameen Rashid Khan (now Sameen Danish Sayyed) is a Profesional Writer, Public Speaker, and Mental Health Worker, residing in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. She is the daughter of Mohd. Rashid Khan, a Civil Engineer and Businessman by profession (also a closet writer), and Mrs. Yasmeen Khan. Both her parents being avid readers, she grew up along with books. Her love for reading ignited her passion for writing in her. She started writing her first novel at the young age of 12. It is currently an incomplete draft lying on her PC, but it gave her writing talent a push forward. In 2015, she started working on ‘The Aftermath’ and got it approved by Blackbuck Publications. It was published as a paperback in 2017 and gave her amazing reviews. Later, she finished writing a series of short stories titled, ‘A for Ambiguity’, that she self-published on Amazon Kindle. Her next book, ‘Mostly Me’, is a collection of poems that she has written during a troubled phase in her life. Sameen’s latest book, ‘Rendezvous in Rehab’ is a collection of 9 short stories focusing on women residing in Indian Rehabilitation centers. The USP of the book is that it is based on true events. Now married to Mr. Danish Sayyed, a Senior Network Engineer by profession, Sameen is working on future writing and speaking projects mostly revolving around mental health.
I would like to begin by congratulating you on the publication of “Rendezvous in Rehab.” How has the response to the book been so far?
Sameen Rashid Khan: Thank you very much. Rendezvous in Rehab is one work that I am most proud of because of the way it has turned out. The response has been amazing! A lot of people have reached out to tell me that they have been brought out from the darkness of ignorance after reading it. But the best feedback I’ve received so far is being able to inspire one of its protagonists to stand up for herself and fight for a better future.
Your book, “Rendezvous in Rehab,” is a product of the work of real-life events and incidents. What led to the idea of writing “Rendezvous in Rehab”? Were there any events that inspired the work?
Sameen Rashid Khan: I have a major in Psychology and a very curious mind. As a student, I got the opportunity to be exposed to rehabilitation centers and something about the outside told me that there was a lot to those places on the inside as well. This combined with my ability to bring stories to life is what inspired me to get into the process of writing the book.
How easy or difficult was it for you to write and connect a contemporary subject with the learnings from the present world and also remain objective about them in “Rendezvous in Rehab”?
Sameen Rashid Khan: I think somewhere, seeing things from an objective perspective was instilled in me as a child and I am very grateful to my parents for that! At the same time, I have absorbed my education rather than just studying for the sake of it. This is how it becomes a little easy to remain objective and as for connecting my writing to contemporary subjects- that has always been my forte. If you look at my earlier writings, you’ll see that they reflect the same.
Through “Rendezvous in Rehab” you have tried to show a different side of human existence. Why do you think that this side has got less mention so far?
Sameen Rashid Khan: As human beings, we have the ‘if it is not happening with me, it is not happening at all,’ tendency in us. Also, we choose to remain ignorant of what instills uncertainty into our normal life. This, I believe is why we ourselves don’t try nor do we encourage others to see the different faces of human existence.
“Rendezvous in Rehab” shows the uniqueness of your style of writing. How is this book different from your previous books? Please share a little about them with the readers.
Sameen Rashid Khan: So, mental health has always been the core when it comes to my writing. But every story is unique and needs to be told in its own way. While my first book, ‘The Aftermath’ was a complete novel (a story that reflected the after-effects of suicide) it still had the contemporary mental health angle. My poetry collection, ‘Mostly me’ also reflected the journey of struggling with mental health issues in a society that doesn’t attempt to understand it. However, for ‘Rendezvous in Rehab’ it took a different direction altogether. I realized post ‘The Aftermath’, that maybe reading a novel is too time-consuming for our fast-paced society. That is when I thought of using brevity to convey my message effectively and Rendezvous in Rehab was born.
“Rendezvous in Rehab” shows the story of a different set of people. How would you categorize “Rendezvous in Rehab” as its appeal seems to be to a broad audience?
Sameen Rashid Khan: When I wrote the book, I knew that I was not targeting a certain section of the society. My target audience was each and every human on this planet. The stories are also about humans- different or alike, we are the same species and I think it’s high time we move on from just knowing how much a person earns or how they’re faring in their love life to actually knowing what makes a person who they are (i.e. their struggles). So, Rendezvous in Rehab can be categorized as, if I may say, “a source of awareness about our own species.”
“Rendezvous in Rehab” has given a powerful introduction to your potential as a writer. Can the readers expect more from you in the future? Please share about your future projects.
Sameen Rashid Khan: I’m really honoured to hear that! As for my future projects, I assure my readers that I won’t be disappointing them and that this is just the beginning. There’s a lot more to come along the lines of mental health advocacy.
You have chosen a title that is relevant and best suited. What is the story behind the creation of the title, “Rendezvous in Rehab”?
Sameen Rashid Khan: Well, I wanted to introduce the real face of rehabilitation centers in India to my readers and I played along with the phrase ‘ a day in rehab’ until the very end. Finally, it struck me that a rendezvous is more structured than a random meeting and it fits perfectly well with the seriousness of the message that the book gives. That’s how I ended up with the title.
“Rendezvous in Rehab” shares stories which are born from your passion for imparting awareness about mental wellness. Do you have any other favorite writers or any which you read regularly?
Sameen Rashid Khan: To be honest, when it comes to authors, I don’t really have favourites. The mere reason is that I have exposed myself to multiple genres and authors and I know the effort that goes into a book. So, each one is doing their best I believe.
Talking about my passion for imparting awareness be it related to mental health or any other area; I would say that’s why my writing was born. I grew up in a family which has taught me that if you are blessed with a gift (like writing for example), use it as an advantage to serve humanity.
Your book is born from the real world but takes the frame of fiction. How would you categorize “Rendezvous in Rehab” as it is also a product of both, whether as a work of fiction or non-fiction?
Sameen Rashid Khan: I am so glad that this has been brought to notice! Right from the time I started writing books, i.e. at the age of 12, I knew I didn’t want to confirm to a category or a genre. But to make it easier for the reader population I always categorize ‘The Aftermath’ and ‘Rendezvous in Rehab’ as works of what I call, “realistic fiction”.
If you were to describe your book “Rendezvous in Rehab” in a few words without giving any spoilers, what would those words be?
Sameen Rashid Khan: For those of you who are considering reading the book, I would simply say that it will give you an insight about the lives of women behind the walls of Indian rehabilitation centers. For others, I would say that if you care about mental health advocacy and women’s rights, you definitely need to know these stories; because you cannot advocate for something unless you yourself are completely aware of it.
What advice would you give to budding writers who may be planning to write in the same genre as “Rendezvous in Rehab” or in the category of quarantine writing?
Sameen Rashid Khan: I actually don’t believe in giving advice when it comes to writing mainly because it is a form of art and expression that comes from the soul. So yes, I would tell my budding authors that let the writing come from your soul, but remember to have your research and facts right before you put it out. A topic like mental health is very fragile and needs to be treaded through with utmost caution.
Thank you very much for sparing your time. I look forward to reading more books from you in the future. All the best.
Sameen Rashid Khan: It has been a pleasure expressing myself here. Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to more collaborations with you in the future.
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