#Novembers first #Author #Chat is with the brilliant @AwaisKhanAuthor

Firstly, I must say and huge thank you to Awais Khan for taking the time to answer my questions.

I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea of No Honour come from?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jude! It is a huge honour. To answer your question, no, I never thought I would be a writer. I was always an avid reader, of course, but it wasn’t until I went to Canada for my bachelor’s degree that I realized that publishing was actually an industry. That got me interested in writing, but it wasn’t until I was 25 that I was able to write my first novel. No Honour actually began as a short story that I’d written for a magazine. My agent, Annette Crossland, took one look at it and told me that it was too important a topic to not be expanded into a novel. I wasn’t very sure, but thanks to her encouragement, I decided to attempt it. I had to do a lot of research because I wasn’t very familiar with life in our rural areas. I had to visit the rural areas in southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to see what life was really like and what I saw thoroughly depressed me. That was when I knew that I had to write this book.

How much research did you have to do for No Honour, and did you encounter hate in writing this book, as it’s a controversial subject?

I think there will always be some degree of hate for an author, but it’s the love from readers and supporters like yourself that more than makes up for it. I understand the criticism and I take it in my stride and use it to improve my craft, but I don’t understand blind hate, especially when people disregard my struggle and assume that I got here on pure luck. No, what you see today is the culmination of decades worth of struggle and I’ve only barely scratched the surface.

Abida’s Father is such a strong progressive character, did you base him on anyone?

Jamil was entirely fictional. However, I was aware that the evil father was a consistent stereotype in Pakistani television and fiction and I wanted to break away from that. Also, I wanted to show how much of an impact proper nurturing can make. Jamil was raised by a progressive woman who did not take any nonsense, and that enabled him to defy social convention

Who would you like to see playing the parts of Abida and Jamil, if No Honour is turned into a Movie?

Ah, that is a tough one. I think Abida could be played well by either Alia Bhatt or Sajal Ali whereas Jamil could be played well by Shaan from Pakistan or Sanjay Dutt from India.

As a child growing up, were you an avid reader? Do you have a favourite childhood book?

I was a very avid reader. As a matter of fact, when my parents would take me to a departmental store, I’d make a beeline for the books section ignoring the toy section entirely. I grew up reading The Secret Seven and Famous Five. I loved those books so much! Later, Harry Potter came.

What is your favourite book you’ve read this year and why?.

Ah, this is again a very difficult question. There can never be a single favourite book haha! Some books that I really enjoyed this year and would classify as my favourites are:

Better Confess by Alan Gorevan (He writes kickass thrillers with a generous dose of humour. Believe me, this book is worth all the hype it is getting and more!)
She’s Mine by A.A. Chaudhuri (This is Chaudhuri’s first foray into psychological thrillers and what an accomplishment it is. I was engrossed!)
Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen (This one will break your heart, but then mend it all over again. I inhaled this book!)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Nobody can do horror and thrillers quite like Shirley Jackson)

Do you have a favourite author or favourite book of all time?

Again, there can’t be a single favourite author 😉 My favourite authors would be Faiqa Mansab, A.A. Chaudhuri, Alan Gorevan, Donna Tartt, Eve Smith… the list is endless. Favourite book of all time… well, that would be Harry Potter!

What were the challenges you faced growing up in Pakistan? And did you have a role model?

Pakistan is not the best place for a creative person. You are forced to quell your passion every step of the way. Luckily, I have supportive parents, but many people don’t. However, even with parents who have supported me, society has questioned my every career decision and regarded it with scorn. It is not easy to endure all of this. Even though I was working on other things apart from writing, I would always be asked when my book would be out and how much money I was going to make or am making. Is that something you would ask a person who works in a bank or in an office? No, you wouldn’t, so why is it okay to ask writers how much they earn? I think my role model is my father. I have always looked up to him, but sadly, I have never managed to be like him. I am literally the opposite! I think my role model is my father. I have always looked up to him, but sadly, I have never managed to be like him. I am literally the opposite!

If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?

I’m not sure. History is full of so many horrors that I’m not sure I would ever like to go in the past at all. However, I suppose it would have been nice to be able to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall (9/11/1989) and see people finally getting their much-deserved freedom. I mean, I was alive at that time, but too young to remember.

You can pick 4 famous people, dead or alive, for a dinner party, who would you pick and why?

  • My paternal grandmother. She may not have been famous, but she was very special to me. I would give anything to see her again, even for a moment. I miss her terribly.
  • J.K. Rowling, only to beg her to write another Harry Potter book or maybe a prequel featuring Dumbledore.
  • Noor Jahan. She was such an accomplished singer. I’d love to listen to her sing live.
  • And you, Jude. Wouldn’t you like to join me for this fabulous dinner party and you are definitely famous enough to do so

When you’re writing do like silence or do you listen to music?

I don’t really have a preference. Whenever I am in London, I love to write in cafes. My favourite haunt is the Starbucks in Brunswick Centre near Russell Square Station. I can write in the silence of my study just as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Someone told me once to think of my biggest possible aspiration and imagine that it has come true. I was told to hold on to that feeling and believe in it, and that if I do, it will come true. In many cases, that has happened.

What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received?

The gift of friends. I’ve always had very few close friends. In school, I was the weird kid who loved books and hated sports. College was a huge culture shock for me and I just didn’t get to enjoy it the way I should have. I think I bloomed properly in my 30s. I now have some amazing close friends and life is good!

Are you currently writing another book?

I am, indeed. I am writing another book for Orenda. This one is set between Lahore and London and explores the immigrant experience to a great extent. I think it will resonate a lot with South Asian ex-pats living in the UK.

Thank you once again, Awais for your brilliant answers, it’s great to get to know you better!

Awais Khan is a writer and consultant based in Lahore. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Durham, he has studied Creative Writing at the prestigious Faber Academy in London. His work has appeared in the Aleph Review, The Hindu, Missing Slate Magazine (he was also their Author of the Month), Daily Times, MODE, The News International etc. He teaches creative writing through the Writing Institute in Pakistan and has a large student base both in Pakistan and abroad. He has conducted lectures on creative writing at Durham University, American University of Dubai, Canadian University of Dubai, United States Educational Foundation of Pakistan, Kinnaird College, Hajvery University etc.

Awais has also been featured in various magazines, TV and Radio channels. His interviews have appeared in the Khaleej Times, HELLO! Pakistan and Shots Blog UK to name a few and his TV and Radio interviews have appeared on Voice of America, Dubai Eye, Samaa TV, Cambridge Radio, Luton Radio, Uxbridge Radio, Indus TV, PTV Home and City42. He has had events at Foyles Charing Cross, Waterstones Cambridge, Waterstones Durham, Hillingdon Libraries, Dubai Literary Salon and Dolcino Loughborough.

His first novel, IN THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS, was published by The Book Guild in July 2019, by Simon & Schuster India in December 2019 and by Liberty Publishing Pakistan in April 2020 to much critical acclaim. Stunning reviews have appeared in Khaleej Times, Hello!, Free Press Journal, Dawn, The News International, Daily Times, Outlook Magazine, Newsline, Daily Telegraph (India), Pakistan Today and the novel has been hailed by bestselling authors and journalists including Faiqa Mansab, Soniah Kamal, Anita Chaudhuri, Miranda Husain, A.A. Chaudhuri and many more.

Audio rights for IN THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS have been acquired by Isis Audio for publication in 2021. Awais next book will be published in 2022, by Orenda.

You can find Awais here on Twitter Instagram here Facebook here

You can buy In The Company of Strangers HERE

You can buy No Honour HERE

No Honour by Awais Khan

The Blurb…….

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

I had seen a lot of reviews for No Honour by Awais Khan, and although its not my normal Genre, I know that Orenda Books never publish a doozey, so i ventured in.

From the first page i was utterly gripped and appalled, this is not a book for the faint hearted, its a hard hitting, emotional story of female honour killing in modern day Pakistan.

I found it compelling and harrowing at the same time, I’m not sure that I’ve read a book that manages to write such beautiful prose about such awful events and activities before, but the further i got into it, the more I knew this is a masterpiece of our time!

It feels weird saying what a superb book No Honour is when its such a sad hard-hitting subject matter, but if we don’t write about these things then nothing will change, and if there’s one thing I’d like to see happen from Awais book, its that it helps change the ancient ways to a more equal society for women.

I was really taken by the lead character’s of Abida and Jamil, their inner strength and love for each other is so well written, you could almost feel their pain and love coming off the pages in waves. And the thing that I liked the most was the ending!

I did have to take breaks from reading No Honour as I found it, in parts, very harrowing, but its not written to shock, it is integral to the storyline.

I’m so glad I read No Honour, it is definitely a 5 star read, and opened my eyes to how other cultures live, which lead me to Google to find out more!

Awais Khan

Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University. He has studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim and he regularly appears on TV and Radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He is currently working on his third book. When not working, he has his nose buried in a book. He lives in Lahore.

Books by this author

You can buy No Honour from Orenda books here – https://orendabooks.co.uk/product/no-honour