Zarreen Khan – the Author and the Tryst With Her Namesakes

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Zarreen Khan and the tryst with her namesakes

I typically never Googled myself. My Facebook profile was private, my Twitter profile half-dead and my LinkedIn profie said I’m a marketing professional. S,o it wasn’t like I was going to find any surprises about myself on the internet.  Then I wrote a book. And excitedly Googled myself to see if anyone out there had read it and what they thought of it. That’s what I typed in the Google search bar – Zarreen Khan. Guess what I found – my namesake, Zareen Khan, the actor known for the film Hate Story 3. Next, I searched for ‘zarreen khan’ in inverted commas. Apparently Google doesn’t bother with an extra ‘R’, so here she was again. Not willing to give up, this time I searched for my name suffixed with the keyword ‘author’. It showed up results for Zarine Khan’s Cookbook! This time it was actor Sanjay Khan’s wife. There was no winning with Google.

Now my ‘online’ identity was in jeopardy. I could either start telling people who I am or I could change my name. Changing my name seemed a bit complicated so I’m just going to tell everyone who I am! And therefore, this question becomes very important! Who am I!

Professionally, I’m a marketing consultant, a specialist in consumer insights, having worked in glass offices, behind wooden partitions, drinking mugs of bitter coffee, doing all my math on Excel Sheets and prettying up Powerpoint presentations for more than 10 years now. In addition, my current credentials include being a mum to two very sweet but slightly naughty children (some would argue the use of the word slightly here) aged 3 years and 7 months, and am living a live Tom and Jerry show, playing the role of a maid, doctor, magician, actor, trampoline, band-aid… you get the picture. In my time off, I’m a new author.

Why do you write?

Because I love it. I’m not sure how else to explain it. I feel like I’m watching a movie in my head and transcribing it for you.

I’m not really sure how to answer this question because I’ve been writing since I was 8. Or maybe 6, I don’t remember.

My first physical evidence is this tattered, old register filled with my scrawny handwriting, dotted with hilarious spelling mistakes, spinning stories about chocolates and sports and flying machines and what not. Somewhere in my teens I started maintaining a diary and secretly hoped someone would read it because it was so much fun but everyone seemed to want to respect my privacy.

Then I dipped my fingertips in the blogosphere but pulled them out because writing about me wasn’t as fulfilling as writing ‘stories’. So, that’s why I write. Because I can create my own world, have my own characters, tell their tales. (Or sometimes, tell my tale disguised as them!)

Do you have a day job? How do you balance it with writing?

My day job is maintaining peace between my 3 year old son and his 7 month old sister. The only thing I can balance, typically, is my sanity. There is no time for a funny ritual.

I sometimes steal time to write once they’re asleep at night, at 11pm (yes, I’m not even one of those sorted mums who can get their kids into bed at 8). I stuff my face with chocolate cookies since they can no longer snatch it from me, perch my laptop on the little table and get some writing done. The only funny ritual I can think of is that I don’t write one story at a time. I have such a case of ADD, I end up writing multiple scenes from multiple stories at the same time and then spend all my time sewing it all together.

In short, my process is being a scatterbrain. And the more I think of it, I do have a quirk I’d like to confess. I go a little batty with fonts. Before I start a new story, I spent a lot of time deciding the font to tell it in.  It just breathes a little life into the drama.

What made you write this book?

I took a sabbatical. And wrote a semi-autobiographical book on it.

What happened was this: I was working 6 days a week- full days on Saturdays and the Delhi Gurgaon toll plaza wasn’t free in those days. So I basically lived in office or on the road, in my car.

This was okay for a few years because I would wake up at 8, bathe, breakfast and leave. Then I got married and we started running a house. Which meant, we had to wake up at 5 to switch on the motor else we’d have no water for the rest of the day. This took its toll on me and I decided to give up my job temporarily.

Initially, I was a little lost about what to do with all my free time since I had also successfully delegated the handling of the 5 am motor to my husband. After spending a lot of time playing Candy Crush and begging people to send me a life who would often ask me to get one, I realised I can perhaps put my time to better use. So, I decided to restart writing.

And the first subject I could think about was a sabbatical.

It also rung true at many levels because suddenly a lot of my friends were dissatisfied with their work. The golden glint of their first jobs had faded, they were stuck in jobs they didn’t love. And it turned out to be a perfect, relatable story to tell.

About the book

It is unabashedly a chic lit! It’s got a whole lot of feeling, loads of relatability if you’ve ever been in the corporate world, the frustration is bitable, yet it has a cosy blanket of friendship, a sprinkle of unclaimed love, oodles of humour and lots of pace.

It’s special because it will strike a chord with you and sound a little like the voices in your head.

It tells the story about a girl who faces the fatigue of working in a corporate job and who decides to take a break without a real plan.

What do you think readers will love about this book?

The relatability, the humour and the different play of romance.

Your style, stories & genres you deal with, your inspiration in writng.

Everything inspires me. Every single person I meet, every single story I hear, everything I see, everything I breathe.

But I only want to tell fun stories, happy stories, stories that seem real and stories that make you smile. That’s the type of stuff I like to read and that’s the stuff I want to write,

My style is therefore, contemporary, relatable, simple, funky and fun.

Is there a writing schedule you work with & how do you deal with Writer’s block?

Like I said, with two little children, you can’t manage any schedule.

I’m not sure if I’ve really had a writer’s block. I may not feel like writing sometimes but give me a peaceful corner and a scene from some story, some book will come rushing into my head.

It’s not a block I struggle with, it’s a writer’s chaos. Too many stories spinning around my head.

Your advice to aspiring authors

I’m too new to give advice. But if you love writing- just write. I don’t write books. I write stories. So, tell a story. Your story, any story.

You don’t have to use flowery language. You just have to have a story to tell and have conviction in it.

Find a good publisher. Feel like you’re publishing on your own terms. Get published because you feel it’s a good book and not because you want to be famous. Writing typically doesn’t make you famous. Writing should make you feel good.

And face it, you need book marketing. I’ve read so many fantastic books that I wish the world knew about. Lost because they weren’t marketed well or even sold. One of the funniest books I’ve ever read was picked up from a small store in Jaipur and even now isn’t available on the internet. Make sure your books are out there for people to consider. Talk about them.

And finally, review. When you read, let the writer know what you thought of it. One of my recent reviews said – ‘Why isn’t this book famous?’ That just meant the world to me. Tell people how you liked their books, so that when you start writing, you can be told that too.

What kind of books & authors have had a profound impact on your writing? 

I’m not sure if books and authors have had as much of an impact on my writing as much as people around me have. That said, I do have a bunch of favourite authors I want to mention:

JK Rowling – For her imagination and simplicity.  Not only the Harry Potter series but her Coromon Strike series is brilliant too.

Douglas Adams – For his sense of humour. He made me read Sci Fi.

Meg Cabot – For her relatability: That was me in Princess Diaries. And I read them when I was 36!

Anuja Chauhan – For her ‘toe curlingly’ sexy romantic writing.

These and more have made me LOVE books and made me realise that this is where my passion lies.

Author(s): Zarreen Khan
Publisher: Amaryllis
Release: July 2017
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
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Aspiring author, frequent blogger, freelance editor, book critic, movie buff, mihidana fanatic. Lives in Pune. Before the above titles, I was a PhD dropout in Soil Science from the US of A, which rather coerced me into switching gears and professions. I work in both English and my mother tongue Bengali.

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