Huma Tanweer, a proud recipient of the prestigious Asia’s influential woman award, nominee of several prestigious awards and with more than 7 books to her credit, was awarded the International Literary Award for Fiction-Woman Writer of the Year at the Taj Vivanta, Dwarka, New Delhi, on 18 September by Ukiyoto Publication, Canada.
Counted among the prominent writers in the literary circle, she has the honour of having her books published in different countries. Some of her works include How to Become Rich, Art of Loving, Women Entrepreneurship, Body Language- A microcosm of our self and soul, The Social and controversial issues, and He loved me enough to let me go.
Here are the excerpts of Umran Hussain’s conversation with Huma Tanweer.
Tell us something about the Award-winning book “He loved me enough to let me go”.
He loved me enough to let me go is a nuanced take on the human psyche in its extremes of light and darkness – the depths of human morality and the exaltedness of unconditional love.
This romantic thriller unravels the struggles of a young boy against all odds in a land outside of his home. Within the contours of a traditional Kashmiri household in the egalitarian setting of foreign countries, the story spins into a tale of love and infidelity; readers are left wondering if both sentiments can maintain a balance. This intensely gripping novel offers a fun and complex mystery with some great romance and seduction on the side.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I harboured no dreams of being a writer when I was young, though I did dabble in writing. I was 19 when my first book was published.
The plot stayed with me for months before I gathered the wherewithal to finish the book. But the discipline of writing, its stark loneliness, does not usually appeal to the young and skittish. So, I did what all Indian children are taught to do: I acquired degrees – an undergraduate degree in Geography and a Master’s degree in Travel and Tourism.
Post my studies I worked in corporate sector and then switched to digital marketing. So, I never did see myself as a writer. I started writing seriously seven years ago, when I was going through a terrible personal crisis, in order to escape from my reality.
The moment I saw How to Become Rich was nominated for International Commonwealth Award was the first time I let myself admit that I was a writer. And I’ve not wanted to be anything else since.
You’ve written books in different genres, Huma – romance, erotic, thriller and even a few nonfiction books. How do you find shifting between genres? And do you feel any external pressure from the publishers, critics or readers to label yourself as a certain kind of author?
There has been feedback, tacit as well as open, that it would be easier to ‘market’ me if I had stuck to one genre. But this has primarily been from some publishers; readers have been quite happy to read what I have to offer if it was in a genre that appealed to them.
I understand the concerns publishers have, and it does seem to make me ‘risky’ in the sense that readers don’t know what to expect, given I’ve shifted through multiple genres. But having said that, I have a terribly low-boredom threshold and must keep changing what I do. Someday, I hope, when I’m looked back on as a writer, they will say this was my strength – that I wrote across multiple genres and wrote them well.
‘Exception and Perfection continues to define you and your books’. What is the secret behind your success?
The smell of a new book, my new book, which holds years of my life, my little dreams, and being able to send it off on its own journey, out into the world, which accepts it with a gracious heart and mind, that is success. Nothing, no one, can ever replicate this feeling of joy.
Who are your favourite authors? Are there any books you love from the perspective of a writer, which makes you wish you had written them instead?
Oh, so many – where do I begin? Every P. G. Wodehouse book, Norwegian Wood by Murakami, Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Anuradha Roy’s The Folded Earth. These are my comfort books. I return to them over and over again for catharsis when I feel the soul needs some purging.
What would you say are the joys of writing, if any? So many writers speak only about the anguish.
There’s joy, certainly, otherwise why would one have chosen this silent, obscure life? You are sitting at your desk; there’s no word of encouragement, but then there’s this joy of using language, trying your hand at writing something that’s worthwhile, that actually dares to take place.
On the days that you’ve done a good piece of work, there’s no pleasure like that really. Comes once in a while, not every day.
What do you think of the new wave of Indian writing in English?
I don’t think it is simple to be a writer anywhere in the world. More so in India when you are writing in English. Fortunately, what used to be once an urban readership is now expanding to small towns.
This will be the readership that will sustain the Indian writer writing in English. Indian writers writing in English are being recognised and even revered. However, it is also weighed down by mediocrity. A mediocrity that stems itself from the fact that anyone who can string a pretty phrase believes that is all that is required to write a book.
How does one gauge literary success?
Through personal satisfaction. If that doesn’t appease you as an artist then awards and critical acclaim are standard benchmarks.
What according to you are three absolutely essential qualities to be a writer?
Three absolutely essential qualities to be a writer according to me would be curiosity, compassion and the ability to communicate.
All in equal measure. If you allow me a fourth, I would add a sense of wonder, because if one doesn’t have a sense of wonder, one wouldn’t find anything worth writing about.
What would be your advice to young writers who want to be authors?
Read at least 100 books before you attempt to write one! Read, read, read a lot! And write every single day. Write and read as much as you can and this is the way to bump into the field.