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Aaina Batool is an avid reader from Pakistan with a BBA (Hons.) degree. She is a published writer, photographer, social media marketer, videographer and baker. She has 2 books published with Daastan and she is also the winner of LUMS young writer’s workshop 2017. Her short story has been published in the Pakistan Academy of Letters and she has adjudicated the Essay Writing Competition at PIEAS’s National Olympiad. Her recent publication was in Stormy Island Publishing's anthology 'Salty Tales' which is available on Amazon.
MWS: Hello Aaina, how has your day been so far?
AB:It's been great. I had an order to make so that kept me busy.
MWS: Besides writing great stories, what do you do as a day job?
AB: I run a homebased bakery business with my mother.
MWS: That sounds amazing! What is your most popular good?
AB: It's not a good. It's a flavor: chocolate fudge.
MWS: Chocolate fudge is delicious! I'm sure it's very hard work. Do you all deliver the items also?
AB: Yes we do but we also give them the option to pick it up themselves ( we've had really bad experiences with delivery services where they dropped entire cakes that took us days to make)
MWS: We will be talking about some of your stories in a moment, but I want to know the personal side of you. First, I love your name, does it have a special meaning?
AB: Haha, I wish my name had a special meaning but it just means, 'someone who has big eyes'. A lot of people ask me what my name means since Aaina isn't really a common name here. And when I tell them what it means, they just look deep into my eyes and look confused.
MWS: Lol! Oh my, that's funny. You were born and raised in Pakistan, for those of us who only have a one sided idea of life there by media sources, can you tell me what it is really like to live there?
AB: Sure. Pakistan is a beautiful country
which is deeply enriched in different cultures and traditions. It's nice living here. The lifestyle is easier. The northern areas are overwhelmingly gorgeous, something everyone should see.
MWS: It sounds lovely. What books inspired you to want to be a writer?
AB: A lot of them did. I started reading from a very young age. I read a lot of enid blyton and I believe it was her books that first made me want to become a writer. Fiction became a solace for me and I started reading even more. There's this one book that has always stayed with me and that's 'Bill by Chap Reaver'.
MWS: I will have to check it out. . I want to talk about Karachi Sea, your Salty Tales story. I admit my heart broke reading it. As best you can, without giving anything away, what was the inspiration for it?
AB: I'm mostly inspired by my dreams. They make up some of the best stories, don't they? I had a dream which I molded into a story. But I was also inspired by Khaled Hussaini's Kite Runner.
MWS: Yes! Dreams definitely make the most fantastic tales! . Tell me a little about the books you have published with Daastan?
AB: So Daastan holds short story competitions each year and after seeing the first competition and the talent it brought forward, I decided to participate in the second competiton. The theme was to write about your personal demons and at that time I was going through some problems of my own so I wrote about that and submitted it.
I was shortlisted in the top 30 out of 180 submissions and was assigned a mentor to help me polish my story. It was sent to the judges again and was shortlisted in the top 15 and then in the top 5. Daastan published my short story in a book form and I received prize money as well. I recently participated in Daastan's Season 5 competition and my short story was selected in the top 5. It is going to be published and they've released the cover as well which is very exciting to look at.
MWS: That is awesome! I look forward to reading it! You have another short story called "A War Within", the main character, Hira, struggles with social anxiety. Is that something you have had to face yourself, or know someone who does?
AB: Social anxiety has always been a part of me and when I wrote A War Within, all of the struggles that I've faced came to the surface and poured themselves out on paper. It was difficult to understand the difference between shyness and social anxiety and when I finally understood it, I wanted to share it with the world, hence the story.
MWS: I can relate to that, and I'm sure it will help someone understand their own anxiety. A lot of writers have pen names now. Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym or do you already?
AB: No, I don't believe in pseudonyms. I have always published stories under my own name.
MWS: You are also in photography, do you look for things that would make a book cover or for story
AB: Not really. I don't know why but photography and writing have always been two different aspects of my life. I've never mixed these and I like that.
MWS: What is your process for writing a story?
AB: I always imagine an ending in my head that I believe would be really fun to write about and
I work my way from there. It's difficult because I have no characters in my head, no filler scenes and no location specificity, just the ending. But to think that someone might also think that it's a cool ending makes me think that it's worth the agony of starting from scratch.
MWS: I like that idea! I have done something similar on occasion, but usually with at least one character. So to have nothing but an ending and creating the rest is very impressive! Are you working on anything right now? If so, can you give us a an idea of what it is about?
AB: I'm actually going through writer's block right now but hopefully it will pass soon.
MWS: I'm sure it will pass soon and inspiration will hit hard. Are there in tropes you try to stay away from when reading or writing?
AB: When reading, no, because I believe everything I read will inspire me in a different way. When writing, yes.
MWS: Lastly, where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
AB: Great question! I am a super ambitious person and I have a lot of things that I want to accomplish but most importantly, I want to write and publish a novel. I've had several ideas that I deemed worthy enough to turn into novels but writing a novel is more difficult than it seems. My hope is that I'll have at least one novel in my hand that I'm really proud of.
MWS: I hope that you do and I look forward to seeing more from you! Thank you for talking with me today!
AB: You're welcome! And it was a pleasure talking to you.