Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a British actress, model and author, of Kuwaiti origin. I grew up straddling between Kuwait and England. So to me, both countries are equally home.
I’ve been a part of many theatrical plays like The Drunkard (2005), The prostitute (2006), Money makes the world go round (2006), Four Wonders (2007), Ms. Brown (2007), Murder Mystery (2007), Schizophrenia (2008) and then short films like Expect the Unexpected (2011), Poonam (2011) and Kismat (2012), of which ‘Expect the Unexpected’ received the highest response and instantly shot me to fame for my role in it.
Apart from a couple of TV commercials, music videos and guest appearances in films, my next big break was in television, as the host of a local TV show – Diary of a gypsy (2012-2013)
Then, I took a tour into the modeling world after winning the title of ROCK calendar model in 2012 and making my way through a beauty pageant in 2013.
There has been no looking back ever since.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the best designers and renowned photographers in different countries.
However, in 2014, I went through a dark phase that was a huge setback, which was exactly like hanging between two worlds, living a nightmare that refuses to end, while fighting the mighty dark with just a ray of light. Believe me, giving up feels so much easier than the struggle to get through it and live.
But, by 2016, I got through it, making my comeback into the modeling world with a photo shoot in Florida, wrapped in a 13 feet long Burmese Python, that was in support of ‘Save the Wild’ and my first published novel ‘The Maze-Dark Shadows’, through which I’ve been receiving a lot of love and support.
What I’ve learnt from this whole experience is that when the world burns you down, the phoenix inside you rises from the ashes, with wings so big and strong that nothing can ever drag you down again.
Although works brings me to New York more often than not, I still maintain my house in England along with my apartment in New York.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Maze (Dark Shadows) Volume 1 of ‘The Maze’ Series.
More than this novel being a product of inspiration, it’s been a product of a phase.
I did face dark periods from time to time, while growing up. I grew up with darkness as my old friend. Every time, it tricked me into leaving, but it never really did and it always found its way to me.
So, instead of fighting it, I made peace with it.
But, not very long ago, it got to me, ripping the heart out of me, exiling me into an intimately dark phase that ended me in the cruelest way imaginable.
Lost in an eternal shell of empty darkness with no way out, my sole companion through it was my manuscript which is now unconditionally a record of everything that transpired back then. There’s a huge part of my life underpinned in every page, shadowing every character and weaving through every dialogue.
Then, just when I thought I was broken beyond repair, I moved to New York, and woke up from my worst nightmare.
New York fixed me up with love and gave me so much more than I ever lost. It made me find me, in a world that was so much bigger and brighter than I imagined, fading the past away to the background. And somehow, that was everything.
I now see life from a new perspective, in light of a new beginning.
While being my best friend, this novel also simultaneously sank me into the deepest of waters. It did mean testing my own limits through the most uncomfortable of situations, like observing dead bodies at crime scenes, cadavers at post-mortem and riding with NYPD homicide detectives around New York, all to provide authenticity to my readers. It wasn’t an easy journey, to say the least, but I know I emerged stronger on the other side, and so will you.
A maze, by definition, is an intricate puzzle of paths and hedges through which one has to find a way out.
‘The Maze’ (Dark Shadows) has been written on a similar note, designed exclusively for the mind, with a psychological hook, leaving you trapped, haunted and questioning everything you have ever known.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
This may sound totally crazy to some people, but I genuinely get brilliant ideas in the bathroom. By that, I don’t mean ‘any’ bathroom, it has to be mine. And I’ve got a very pretty and spacious bathroom. If only I could, I would shift my study in there. I’d seriously be so much more productive.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I grew up with the J.K. Rowling influence. So, she takes the crown on that one. I love the way she takes relatable emotions, casts them into working as her essence and weaves them into her fabric of a magical world.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently on the book tour for the first book of the ‘The Maze’ series. So, there’s absolutely no way I can put my mind to work on the next book. But, I’ve been actively researching some elements that I would like to work with, in the novel that follows.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’d say, Social Media, simply because unlike other promotional channels, it isn’t a one-way street where only you do the talking.
Here, you get to interact directly with the people for whom you are creating this piece of work.
And, if you can get past the non-constructive criticism that you may have to endure, you may have some good feedback that would help you get a general idea of what works and what doesn’t for your readers.
Moreover, I have to admit that I quite like the feeling of going for a book or merchandise signing to a country I’ve never been to before, yet, meeting people there that aren’t complete strangers and that have traveled long distances for me because we already have a connection.
This delicate bond would not have been possible through any other channel, apart from social media.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Dreams don’t just happen to come true. You have to go out there and make them happen for you. You can’t give up even when the lights have faded out at the end of the tunnel
Getting published isn’t as easy as we imagine it would be when we write our first manuscript. Any new author trying to find their voice in this world would resonate with that.
But, I’ve hung up my first heart-breaking rejection letter beside my publishing contract. Not to remind me that the difference between them is a span of three long years of continuous rejections and misery; but as a reminder to keep walking through the rough storm until I see the rainbow at the end of the lane sparkling.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
You can walk away saying we don’t need this. But there’s something in your eyes saying we can beat this.
Yes, it’s one of Taylor Swift’s lyrics, but it gets me back on track, every time.
What are you reading now?
Again, being on the road for the book tour doesn’t really give you the time to read anything apart from sections of your own book. But, my next read will definitely be a book of a comedy genre. I think my mind has earned that little break.
What’s next for you as a writer?
The Maze (Part 2)
I’ve already commenced with the blueprint and should be able to start working on it soon enough. But, so far, I’m very excited with what’s coming up next.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Too many to list!
I’ve grown up loving books and my love of writing came through reading. So you can only imagine how many favorites I have in my study, that now looks like a professional library.