She juggles being a wife, a mother to three sons, an author, an educational consultant, a faculty trainer and registered college inspector.
Her first novel, The Holy Woman (2001; also published as Fated to Love) won a Golden Jubilee Award and was nominated 'Best Book of the Month' by UK book retail giant Waterstones. And now the sequel, Typhoon (also published as Love's Fury) looks ready to meet with the same critical acclaim.
Meet novelist Qaisra Shahraz. Of Pakistani origin, she grew up in Manchester and comes from a very academic background, but her motherland figures prominently in her books and artistic inspiration. The Holy Woman is an impossible yet passionate love story set in rural Pakistan and now Typhoon with its plot going back and forth in time, acts as both a sequel and prequel to its successor.
In a a tête-à-tête with rediff.com's Insiyah Vahanvaty, Qaisra discusses Pakistan as she knows it, how she started writing, and her favorite books.
What inspired you to take up writing?
I've been writing since I was 14. There are no writers in my family, but somehow, I just wanted to write. It was a career out of the blue, you know. But now my best friend tells me, "Qaisra, you were always making up and telling us stories." I don't remember this, but she tells me. So I guess the desire to tell stories was always there.
I was published for the first time at the age of 19. An article I wrote was published in a glossy magazine called She. I was paid 75 pounds for it, which seemed like so much money at the time! And the first thing I did was to go and buy dozens of copies of it!(laughs)
The first time you see your name in print, it's magic! After that, of course, you can't be bothered to track it all down. It was a slow process, it didn't happen overnight. I moved from feature writing to journalism, to scriptwriting to books.
Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani
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Also see: On books, sex & relationships: Meenakshi Madhavan