Q. How did you come up with the idea of writing this genre?

When I was 16, one day I was praying to God before going to bed, as per my routine. The words came out in rhyme, in the form of poetry. Next morning I wrote it down and realised that I can write poetry. Since then whenever anything touches my heart and triggers me to write, thoughts come to my mind in poetic form.

Q. Where did you find the inspiration to write this book?

For the last four decades, I have been writing poetry and reading it to my family, fans and friends and they have shared their appreciation and love for my work. Their feedback made me realise that my poetry connects me to humankind in a special and lasting way. It is a platform where I can share my concerns, experiences and feelings. For me, writing brings inner satisfaction and happiness and at the same time it works like a healer. I intend for this body of work to be a guide to positivity, courage and happiness. This is the reason why I was inspired and motivated to compile my poetry, publish this book and reach more and more people throughout the world.

Q. What exactly does your book convey?

My book conveys the message that we should accept the fact that life is not a bed of roses. So we should be prepare to accept the unpleasant situations and handle them wisely without moaning. In order to do this we should replace the painful addictive relationships with pleasant ones and the relations that we lost with the celebration of what we have. We just need to be courageous and positive, and to be focused on our goals to win the game of life.

Q. What all was going in your head while penning down this book?

I did not pen down these poems to be part of a  book, initially. Instead, this book is just a collection of those poems which I have been writing during the past forty-five years of my life. In this time, whenever I felt I had strong feelings that touched my heart, that made me very happy or sad, I started talking to myself and wrote down the words that came out, which eventually took the shape of this book.

Q. How much time have you used to commit to this book?

Thousands of hours and countless of days and nights since the past forty-five years of my life.

Q. Was there any moment you backed off from the idea of writing a book?

Once I had the idea of editing and collating the wealth of writing I had, I never looked back. Although I had some issues with typists and the publishing company, I was determined to get it done quickly.

Q. How do you handle the criticism that comes to your way?

I’ve had a bit of a tricky time in the past balancing my message and words with the meter of the poem. The best way through is to get a respectable opinion, sometimes take it with a pinch of salt, and go with what I feel. Every poem in this anthology is something I can stand behind, that I am happy with. When a piece of art is finished and witnessed by an audience, it is completely up for scrutiny, and that’s normal.

Criticism can be healthy, to a certain degree. Everyone gets criticised. It was Oscar Wilde that said, ‘When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.’

Q. How would you like to advise budding authors?

I would like to advise budding authors to keep writing and be proud of yourself as it is a highly prestigious thing to be a writer. Read as many good books as possible. Avoid plagiarism but learn from others’ work.

When you finish a piece of writing put it aside and forget it for a while. Come back to it when you are ready to look at it with fresh eyes and mind. Then read it as a reader. See what you feel and think of it. If you are not sure and happy then redraft it as many times as it reaches the level of satisfaction. When you find it is perfect then say well done and move on.

Use your writing skills to experiment, and find peace and inner satisfaction. Also write to entertain and share your experiences and feelings with your readers. If you have set goals to achieve from your writing then be specific about your goals, focus on them and keep at it.

Book Review: Shahnaz Ke Jugnu