Talking to Ayisha Malik

Read time: about 3 minutes

I loved reading Sophia Khan is not obliged, and it was an absolute joy to have the lady behind the book answer a few questions for us! The book talks about Sophia Khan, a 30 year old single Muslim woman who is looking for the man of her dreams and also penning her book about muslim dating. If you want to know more, read the full review here.

About the Author

Ayisha is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing .She has spent various spells teaching, photocopying, volunteering and being a publicist. Now, when she isn’t searching for a jar of Nutella in her cupboards, she divides her time between writing and being the managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Ayisha is one of WH Smith’s Fresh Talent picks, Winter 2016.

Lets get on with the questions shall we ?

A little bit about how you got into writing.

A: It’s always been a passion of mine, which is what led me to complete a masters in Creative Writing. I knew that one of the best ways to understand how to get published was to work in the industry and so I managed to get a part-time job at Random House, which led to me becoming a full time publicity assistant. After a few years I realised I couldn’t hold a full time job and write at the same time so I got another part time job at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. Here I was able to dedicate time to my writing, as well as honing my skills.

Your experience with books - both reading and writing them.

A : I’m always surprised at the intense experience a good book can give you. People say that reading can transport you into another world, but for me it’s always much more about understanding something that’s elusive. The best writing for me is one that opens up ideas and hits you with profound human truths, whether that’s in a literary masterpiece or a rom-com. Of course, none of this matters if it doesn’t also, to some degree, entertain. Entertainment can be light and heavy. Depends how you look at it. On the flip side, writing is about peeling back the layers and finding that truth yourself. It’s the difference between being taken to a destination by someone and venturing out to find it yourself. Both are extremely satisfying, but the latter, of course, is much more of a struggle.

Your experience of writing this particular title and what you’d like to tell the bibliophiles who will be reading the book.

A : I’ve begun to see Sofia Khan is not Obliged as a writer’s coming-of-age story. The book now feels like a mishmash of personal opinion, frustration at the way Muslims are often perceived, a love letter to my family and friends, but most importantly a reminder that you don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously. If I discovered one thing writing this book, it’s that comedy is a brilliant way of engaging the reader, and especially yourself, in the story you want to tell.

Your future plans with respect to your writing, will you be doing a book tour in India perhaps?

A : A book tour in India would be an absolute dream. When can you fly me over? The sequel to Sofia Khan is not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, will be out in April. I’m now working on a third book, which is different to Sofia Khan. It’s set in an English village where a Muslim family lives, and it explores the idea of community, the inevitability of change and much more. I’m currently doing research for it and can’t wait to start writing it.

Gazala Amreen

Logophile, bibliophile, writer, designer, high on wanderlust and all things pretty.

Bangalore, KA