Recently I was able to review two works by author Aliya Anjum, Two Weeks of Solo Travel in Greece: A Pakistani Girl’s Diary and An Arranged Marriage, and as part of our BA Mini Event she’s kindly taken the time to let me interrogate her!
Apart from being an author Aliya is also a history and travel buff, as you’ll be able to see in the interview below, with her own history including teaching, journalism, hosting a current affairs program, working for the Pakistani government, and studying in both her home country of Pakistan and abroad.
1. Globalisation is a topic that crops up several times in Two Weeks, what do you feel are some pros and cons of globalisation?
Globalization has connected people like never before due to quantum leaps in technology. My e-books selling on Amazon to customers across continents are a testament to Globalization. In my opinion the greatest upside of Globalization is the communication revolution. If used prudently, it can bring people together to serve humanity.
On the downside, globalization favors Corporations. They are benefiting from Globalization, often at the expense of the poor in almost all countries, including western countries as we have seen in case of Greece.
2. I get the sense that you’re quite the traveller, where else in the world would you love to go?
I am a travel buff and if fate and circumstances allow it, I would love to travel all over the world. The continent next on my bucket list is Africa. I think its a fascinating continent with the Sahara Desert, the Kenyan Safari as well as the Nile.
3. Will travelogues be something you write with each journey you take or is writing them more of a sporadic venture?
Writing a travelogue is immensely satisfying. When I penned down the travelogue in Greece, I relived each beautiful memory through it. However, it is also a time consuming task, since one has to commit many hours to it early on, when the memories are afresh and combine it with historical details gleaned from reliable sources, all the while ensuring that it remains engaging. This is quite a challenge.
Based on that I really cant say whether I would pen down a travelogue each time I travel. I suppose it would depend upon the readership of this one.
4. When deciding on a place to travel to, what are the aspects of a destination that helps you choose?
Travel is an adventure and being a scribe, ideally I would love to take off on a round the world trip. However, pragmatism rules over fantasy. Being a solo female traveller, my first concern is the tourist friendly scale of the country/area. Europe is hence my favorite destination. I would love to go visit the Amazon rain forests but perhaps that is not the ideal destination for a solo female traveller. My second criteria is the richness of the place in terms of history and culture. In my travels I have discovered that each country has many unique things to offer and travel to anywhere is enriching.
5. In Two Weeks I got the sense that people showing generosity and kindness towards you at times surprised you, has the reception of strangers towards you when they’ve discovered where you’re from and that you’re travelling alone surprised you in your travels as well? Both in and outside of Greece?
I do not think my solo travel created a stir, except in cases where I was specifically asked where I was from e,g the hostel owner in Athens told me I was the first girl to arrive from Pakistan. As far as generosity goes, I think all nations make an extra effort to accommodate a tourist. Kindness from a stranger is always heart warming as it reaffirms our belief in the goodness of the human spirit. I think this is the greatest upside of travel, that it shows us the common good in humanity, which is best demonstrated by a stranger.
6. In another interview one of your answers mentioned that you were teaching part time and plan to again in 2012, what do you feel this means for your writing career?
I have MBA students taught part-time from 2008-2010. I do thoroughly enjoy teaching and it helps add perspective to my writing e.g when I talk about Globalization, my understanding is directly derived from my academia background. A layperson would not know the power of corporations or their detrimental affect on local small businesses. Teaching a single course does not affect my writing.
7. In case any of our readers are would be Indie authors, do you have any advice you can give to writers contemplating the Indie path?
The indie path is very rewarding but challenging at the same time. To establish yourself as an author is quite a task. The first pre-req is great writing, which of course comes with innate talent, practice and a passion for the subject. The second and more prolonged pre-req is marketing skills, which all of us struggle with. If you enjoy writing, do it for the love of the written word and be smart about it. Chance favors the prepared mind.
8. An Arranged Marriage is a fiction piece based on true events, what are your thoughts on arranged marriages and do you think they can survive in society today?
An arranged marriage is a true story and it is not the story of one woman, rather the scenario it depicts, is a reality for a majority of middle classed women in traditional cultures such as Pakistan and India and even within the greater Muslim world.
Arranged matches run the entire gamut from being blind marriages to serving only as an introduction to eligible men and women. In cultures where free mixing is not the norm, it is the rational way to seek marriage. In recent years after the internet and cellular communication boom, love marriages are on the rise in Pakistan. However, there is no set formula. For some, arranged marriages turn out great, for others a love marriage leads to bliss. I think all of us inherently seek a soul mate whom we meet in the most romantic setting, but in reality few people are that lucky. Even if you choose someone yourself, its not always about being hopelessly in love, often its a rational choice about who we can live with.
9. Given that all writers have their own authors they look up to, are there any authors you idolise and would love to meet? Or have met in the past?
I do attend literary events in Pakistan and have met quite a few authors. However, the writers I admire are usually too far away in US/Europe and inaccessible. Akber Ahmed, Robert Fisk, Amartya Sen, Robert Greene, Noam Chomsky, Stanley Wolpert, Arundhati Roy, Vikas Swarap and Francis Fukuyama are some of the names I hope to rub shoulders with one day.
10. Are you able to share with readers any projects you have at the moment and/or an idea of what we can expect from you in future?
I published three books in June, a short story in July and another in August. At the moment I am working on polishing a collection of horror short stories I wrote in 2008. They won a Commendation Certificate by Pakistan’s National Book Foundation in 2009 and these are aimed at a YA audience.
Aliya Anjum is also the author of several other titles including Muhammad’s Wives, Where is Paradise?, and Solo Travel Tips For Women. If you’re looking for her books, you can find all her titles at the following: Smashwords / Amazon US / Amazon UK
Don’t forget to enter our eBook giveaway while you’re here for a chance to win a copy of Two Weeks and An Arranged Marriage.