I am slowly getting my blog up and running again. I am not yet able to post any new reviews, so you guys probably won't see one until tentatively May. I am studying for board exams, and things are hectic. However, I will be posting interviews in the meantime, so please email me if you would like an interview! I am accepting interviews even if I have not yet reviewed your book.
I recently interviewed Lara Zuberi, a fellow doctor and author of a wonderful book, The Lost Pearl. You can read my review of her book here.
1. Tell me about yourself and how you first became interested in writing?
I had wanted to become a writer for as long as I can remember, probably when I was five years old. As I grew up, I changed direction, and went into medicine, which, as you very well know, is a wonderful, yet all-consuming career. Once I completed my fellowship in Hematology/Oncology, I hit the pause button on the job-front in order to care for my infant son. When I took that break, I had a chance to revisit my childhood dream of writing a novel, and once I began this fulfilling journey, I just could not stop.
2. How do you find the time to write while dealing with the demands of a career in medicine?
Creating balance is one of life's greatest challenges. Balance between home and work, balance between passion and profession. Being wife, mother,daughter, physician, writer, and being good at all of them all at once is hard--impossible perhaps--but I think one has to create the balance in such a way that one role is not competing with the other, but rather complimenting it. The thread that links medicine to writing is empathy I think, and though most people think of medicine as a science, it really is more of an art. I love medicine and teaching as a profession, and writing as my passion--but I write for leisure. I think the moment it became a job, it would lose its charm. If I have a thought in my head, I usually try to write it down before it has a chance to escape-often in the middle of the night.
3. What was the inspiration behind your book, The Lost Pearl?
I started writing The Lost Pearl with a very vague plot in mind. I wanted to write something which was a bit more than just a love story, something which painted a picture of the underrepresented middle class of Pakistan, with emphasis on human relationships and a moral lesson hidden within.
4. Is there any particular book or writer that inspired you, either while growing up, or as an adult?
Several writers have inspired me. I have to name Khaled Hosseini among contemporary writers because when I read The Kite Runner, I loved it, and when I learned that the author was a physician, I realized that these two professions were not, in fact, mutually exclusive.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
# 1.Never forget what you wanted to be when you were five years old--because that was the purest and most original of all your dreams.
#2 don't write to sell books, it will reveal itself--write to fulfill your heart's desire to write--that too will reveal itself. Your first draft is the most important, but it's usually very flawed. Recognize that, and be prepared to spend plenty of time on proofing, editing, polishing, rewriting. Don't be in a rush to finish or publish.
#3. Be open to criticism. It will make you a better writer.
#4 There are few tragedies greater than an unwritten book--so if there is a writer inside you, pick up your pen--isn't it better to be part of a miracle than a tragedy?
6. What's next for you?
I am pleased to share that Ilqa publications is publishing The Lost Pearl in Pakistan. I am currently half way through the first draft of my second novel, Torn Pages, which I hope to complete before 2015. I am back to being a full-time physician though, so the progress is slow, but steady. It is a novel within a novel and the 'torn pages' are both literal and symbolic. Will share a small excerpt, "He had spent years running away from the memories of their time together, while she had spent the same running towards them, catching the moments, so she could hold them in the palm of her hand. They remained forever in each other's eyes--he as the sparkle in hers, and she as the sand in his."
You can buy Lara's book here.