The Who, What, When, Where and Why with Ayisha Malik

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By Jade Craddock

Last year saw the arrival of a new writing talent, Ayisha Malik, whose debut Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, introduced a new kind of romcom heroine – the Muslim girl next door. Malik’s debut drew comparisons with Bridget Jones, and today sees the release of the second book in the series, The Other Half of Happiness, following Sofia’s further (mis)adventures in love. Here, she stops by to answer the who, what, when, where and why of her writing journey so far.

1. Who has been the most important person in your writing journey?

It’s really a number of people rather than just the one person; family, friends, work colleagues (I was managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, working with Helen and Kathryn, who were major players, I feel, in me getting a book deal). Before getting an agent, the above would be the ones who’d bolster me, support me and give me advice.

2. What motivates you to write?

I think any writer will tell you it’s the need to tell a certain story – sometimes I think my first book, Sofia Khan is not Obliged, was just a four-hundred-and-fifty-six-page rant. Ultimately though, it’s an attempt to tell multiple stories, because it’s revealing the inner lives of, usually, more than one character. Sometimes you want to give your characters hard questions and find the answers in a story, the likes of which you often can’t find in real life.Other Half

3. When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing since I can remember. I still remember getting five merits from my English teacher (shout out to Ms. Mavity who always encouraged my writing) in Year Five for a police drama I wrote during the summer holidays. It was very bad.

4. Where do you write?

Usually at my desk at home where I’m surrounded by my books. When I get a block I tend to reach out for any of my favourite books and skim through them, just for inspiration.

5. Why did you write this book?

I didn’t think Sofia and Conall’s story was finished. Even though I was keen to write something other than Sofia Khan, it was a good time to see where they ended up and how they’d deal with getting married so quickly.

Ayisha Malik is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing (though told most of her family it was an MA in English Literature – Creative Writing is not a subject, after all.) She has spent various spells teaching, photocopying, volunteering and being a publicist. Ayisha was one of WH Smith’s Fresh Talent picks in 2016.


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