Sunday, August 7, 2022

Amina Akhtar

Amina Akhtar is a former fashion writer and editor. Her satirical first novel, #FashionVictim, drew rave reviews and acclaim and was covered in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Martha Stewart Living, Entertainment Weekly, Fashionista, Book Riot, CrimeReads, and more. Akhtar’s new book Kismet takes on the world of wellness and all the crystals that go with it. This #OwnVoices novel is set in Sedona, Arizona, where nature is just as much a character as anyone else.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think right away the title leads the reader to know this might be about a spiritual or personal quest, a moment of fate, which is essentially what Kismet means. And with Sedona as the backdrop, hopefully it lures them in.

What's in a name?

For me, the names of characters have to echo in my head. I need to hear them, they have to sound almost musical. Ronnie/Rania was in my head forever! So I’m pleased I found a place for her.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be very into me I think! Murder, talking ravens, a desi woman trying to find herself. I think she’d understand that a lot. Also, she’d be thrilled I wrote a novel!

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

The middle! I usually have a vague idea of what I want the ending to be in my books. But it’s the middle part where I have to lead up to the ending that can be tricky. Sometimes I want all these insane things to happen but if they aren’t leading up to the ending, they have to go.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Ronnie is very much me when I was 18 and moved to New York in the 90s. I was a fish out of water, trying to find myself and my people. I wanted her to have that same naivety.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Family and life for sure. I think a lot of immigrants can understand that feeling of not belonging that Ronnie has. She’s stuck between two worlds and hasn’t found her place in either. I related to that because it’s also part of my own journey.

Movie wise, the late 70s and early 80s horror movies I grew up on are a huge part of my process. There’s always a tinge of horror in what I write, and maybe it’ll become a large part of my work.

And Hitchcock, of course. The Birds! Though I love so many of his films, especially Rope and Vertigo.
Visit Amina Akhtar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue