ZM: I write romantic fiction under the pseudonym Zeenat Mahal. I also write mainstream fiction under my real name. Zeenat Mahal was published in 2012 by Indireads, an e-publishing company. I have an MFA in creative writing from Kingston University London. I am quite a capable cook, I cannot knit or sew even two stitches. I cannot live without books! If I don’t have at least twenty books on my nightstand I am lost.
What inspired you to become an author?
ZM: All the authors and books I read. I wanted to influence other people’s lives, give joy, summon fear and pity from within others like they had done with me. There is no greater pleasure than losing oneself into a world created by words. That’s magic in itself.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
ZM: Alhamdolillah, I have been on the Amazon bestselling list almost all year in 2014 and two of my books are still in the top ten (at time of interview); I also won the best MFA thesis award.
Have you always wanted to become a writer?
ZM: There was nothing else that made me happy like reading and writing did. Writing completes me.
What is your favourite genre of literature?
ZM: I love Romance and Fantasy.
What have been some of your biggest challenges to overcome?
ZM: I’m not sure how to answer that. Life is a series of challenges. Some you enjoy overcoming and some destroy you a bit, even if you win.
For many writers, it is notoriously difficult jobs-wise and many of us lose heart in what we do. What keeps you going?
ZM: I write because I must. I only got published in 2012 but I have several novels in my cupboard that nobody has seen yet. I write therefore I am.
What has been the best bit of advice ever given to you?
ZM: Don’t be precious about your writing or in other words kill your darlings.
Do you have any authors who inspire you?
ZM: All of them. I really love Jane Austen, the Brontes, and Patricia McKillip. I also love Helen DeWitt.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take?
ZM: Toothbrush and paste (that’s really one thing). Paper and pen. Soap.