1. Morgan Freeman came to my home to interview me. No, I’m not teasing. It’s entirely true and the story of my life which inspired my novel TO LAHORE WITH LOVE is based on this interview for The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman by National Geographic.
2. My upbringing was unconventional. I had a strange upbringing castaway as the only Asian in a charming Hampshire village in the English countryside. Although my parents were born in Pakistan, for reasons I could never work out, they chose to live in in this remote location despite the fact my father worked in London. He would commute every day. I learned what it was like to be being different in a crowd and it gave me a great perspective on different cultures, the nature of belief and how interactions with others can change us.
3. I am passionate about story telling. Despite having a great career as a lawyer, I always knew I had an insatiable and fiery passion for creative writing and storytelling. Even still, I had to challenge my own sense of expectation to pursue this desire to write. Attending creative writing courses helped to give structure to this pursuit. As a result, over the years I have gathered golden nuggets about the art of writing which literally led to the success of my writing career. I hope to share those nuggets soon.
4. I was invited to study creative writing at Cambridge University. I was delighted to be invited to study creative writing part time at Cambridge University and it was a tremendous experience. I find encouragement at the right time from the right person can give you the belief you need to see your way to the end of a project.
5. I need total silence and the lack of even the possibility of interruption to write. For this reason, I regularly hide away at the Cambridge University Library and in my dusty attic to write and I adore the meditative focus and calm it provides. Writing, for me, is about creative breakthroughs and mysterious connections. I often liken the writing process to staring at magic eye artwork. The dots and shapes only form into an image if you stare at them calmly for some while. In the same way, it can take lengthy calm focus for a story to come into being.
6. I love my work as an employment and equality lawyer. I had never considered my passion for story and my life as a lawyer to be connected, but I now see that it is. I encounter story after story of hurt, injustice and resilience in my legal life. And the cases I win and settlements I achieve are largely down to my use of words as weapons and tools. Nothing is ever lost. There are times I use those same skills in novel writing and storytelling.
7. I collect books. I have so many books I could open a library. Every book feels to me like a package of mystery and magic. But there is more. I genuinely believe that real life experiences can change us. But I also believe through empathy and connection, that a story can change us because it gives us the power to understand things we may never otherwise have, to see a point of view we would never otherwise have grasped. In short, a good novel could just change your life.