I Asked The 22 Questions You Need To Know #fashionvictim Author Amina Akhtar's Answers To

I Asked The 22 Questions You Need To Know #fashionvictim Author Amina Akhtar's Answers To

Meet the funny, talented, and #girlboss, Amina Akhtar.

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I interviewed Amina Akhtar about her background and debut novel, #fashionvictim now available.

1. When did you first start writing?

In general, when I was six. I wrote silly poems that my brother later set to punk music.

2. Did you always want to become a writer? If not what did you want to be?

I did! I went into journalism and then fashion because I wanted to make a living writing.

3. What was your childhood like and how do you think it influenced your writing?

We moved a lot. Like every one or two years until I was about 12. So reading and books were my friends. I think learning to create your own world as a child definitely influenced me. Also, we watched a lot of horror movies at way too young an age (The Exorcist at four—yikes!). So I loved all things scary, and our family outings were always to used bookstores.

4. Favorite book and/or author as a child?

I loved Oscar Wilde and still do. De Profundis is simply beautiful.

5. Favorite book and/or author now?

I don't have one favorite—I love so many writers. Stephen King, Caroline Kepnes. Just finished Laurie Petrou's Sister of Mine and loved it. I'm dying to read PJ Vernon's debut When You Find Me. He and I talk about writing constantly and he's utterly brilliant.

6. What are you preferred working conditions?

Having worked in digital, you learn to write and edit almost anywhere. But generally, I like quiet and work sitting on my bed. It's awful for my back, I know!

7. You have a history in fashion and writing for magazines such as Vogue and Elle. How do you think that influences you as an author?

Very much so. I wanted to use some of my experiences to create this dark and horrifying fashion world, but I feel it needs to be said, no one was murdering anyone where I worked.

8. What made you make that switch from online writer and editor to the author of a novel?

Well, that's a long story! I had the idea for #FashionVictim almost eight or nine years ago but got busy and never did anything with it. I thought, oh I'm not a "writer writer". And then my life went sideways. In 2013 my mom passed away and that was a difficult time, to put it mildly. I wasn't handling the loss well. And then I was also laid off. So I had nothing to do but be miserable and depressed and not get off my sofa. I took jobs that weren't career makers so much as rent makers, and in my off hours, I would write. Writing gave me a lifeline. Thus Anya St. Clair was born.

9. Do you have any advice for amateur or aspiring authors?

Do it. Shut that voice in your head up that says you can't write what you want. You can, you just have to do it.

10. They say writing reveals more about the author. Do you agree? What does your writing reveal about you?

That I'm a homicidal bi*ch perhaps? Probably that I find dark things really funny.

11. Is there anything you think your readers should know about you or your writing?

I love really flawed and messed up characters. So I think almost all of the characters in my book would be horrible to interact with in real life.

12. How, if any effect, do you think being a woman has affected you as an author and trying to get your book published?

It was hard to get published because editors didn't like Anya. She's unapologetic and she kills and she does it to achieve her goals. "She's not relatable!" Screw being relatable! I wanted to write and read women characters going for it, acting in ways that male characters have done for eons, but every rejection brought me closer to my editor and Crooked Lane Books. They got Anya. They understood her and I'm so grateful to them.

13. What inspired you to write #fashionvictim?

My love for horror combined with fashion made sense to me. It was a no-brainer. I wanted to write, but I had to make it a very me book.

14. What do you want readers to get out of your book?

Have fun; I love books that you can't put down. That you're thinking about when you're not reading them. I want readers to feel their time reading was worthwhile.

15. #fashionvictim portrays competition between women for a promotion. What type of effect do you think this could have on the audience.

I think a lot of women are set up to compete with each other in the workforce. I've had bosses who explicitly said they wanted to see me and another colleague fight, and that's awful. I think people will recognize that in the book as something we shouldn't have to deal with.

16. Speaking of audience, #fashionvictim is considered very #feminist and #girlpower. Do you think this deters men from reading your book and how/would you want to change that?

Is it? I love that. I think straight men may write it off as a fashion book and that's fine. But I also don't really care. I think going forward I'll have to make sure my characters kill more men and women equally. I'm laughing gleefully as I write that by the way.

17. Do you think being a woman had any advantages or disadvantages when writing and publishing your book?

I think women still have to deal with the whole relatable character nonsense, and I think being a brown woman didn't make it easier.

18. How do you think your book differs from other books in its genre?

I'd say mine is definitely on the crazier, more psychotic end of fashion.

19. Are you working on any new books or projects?

I am! I'm always writing. It's the only way to stay sane.

20. When should we expect another book (a sequel maybe?)?

I'd be into a sequel if people want one, but beyond that, I'm not talking about my new book yet.

21. Do you have any advice for young women?

The number one thing I wish younger me realized was that no one cares about what you do, and I mean that in a good way. We're brought up to worry what people will think of us. They're not thinking of you! They don't remember that time you put your foot in your mouth meeting them or fell on your a*s. Stop worrying about it and be you and have fun.

22. What social media can readers find you on?

I'm on Twitter and Insta! @Drrramina You will see lots of photos of my dog, Beanie.

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To The High School Senior, It's Not All About College Applications

Finish strong, be mindful of your needs, and live in peace.

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I wish I could have said this all last year, that you will never have it as easy as you do right now. It's the end of the road for childhood and you're wondering what else do I do with my life now that I'm going to college? It's a mix of emotions and feelings that are hard to process. My goal is telling you this is the year to do everything fun and live like you haven't before. This doesn't mean skip school on the daily and get bad grades(it matters until the end because of college).

But above all else, don't let college applications define your year. People think applying to college is the story of what happens senior year(which is mostly true but I promise that is not the only thing that matters). There is so much more to life than college applications and laughing how everyone becomes depressed their last year from being around the same people. If I could tell myself last year, it would be this:

First, it would be to not argue with people at all. This last year is simply too scared to fight and argue with people over nothing. Do your best to be kind to everyone and not cause problems for other people. Everyone deserves to have a nice senior year.

Second, enjoy being able to live in your own room and not share with anyone else. Once you get to college there's going to be a lot of unnecessary noise that you sort of get used to living with.

Next, do not take an abundance of college classes. They're only going to help you but so much and you're not going to want to do the work anyway. Don't be one of those people who does this and doesn't feel the need to have a social life. It's no joke, recognize you're human and be mindful of your needs.

In addition, there is no such thing as a perfect school. Every school has its flaws and most of the time when people say yes, they're saying yes to the marketing campaign the school has. There is a large difference between the marketing campaign for the school and actually living there. It's always good to go to your top school and tour a second time so you know what definitely fits you.

Most importantly, do not be too consumed in your cell phone and pretend that you don't care about anything. That's like a lame childish response pretending you don't have feelings. And for those that still think this is the way to go, I can't wait until you take a sociology class and learn about how humans are dependent on one another.

Appreciate everything mom and dad have done for you. Do not fuss about what is put on the dinner table, and instead be grateful that they took their time to prepare a meal for YOU. Nothing compares to mom's home-cooked meals. Because that dining hall food can really mess you up.

You will be working the 9-5 all day every day. There will be more work, you will be stressed out about reading around 300 pages of material per week, and have the stress of having two tests as the only semester grades.

Lastly, you will actually have to adult for the first time ever in college and find what keeps you motivated. It's not a hand holding game with constant support. You have the opportunity to do a lot by yourself but also with others.

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Fiction: Sunday Morning

Have you ever woken up by the calming rays of sunlight to a perfect Sunday morning?

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The warm light shined through the thin, white curtains to gently wake me from my slumber. My body was instantly warmed, and I felt safe. It was like I was a small child again, being held by my mother.

The morning light brought more than just warmth. It brought hope. The hope of a new day. Life didn't feel like something that had to be dealt with. It felt like a promise. Life didn't feel like a countdown clock. It felt like a precious moment to experience and to treasure. It was an indescribable moment of serenity. It was one of those things that could not be understood by words, but by experience.

My body, trapped between the sweet morning sunshine and the heavenly comfort of my foam bed, didn't want to move, however my brain yearned for movement. It yearned for life. Little by little, I pushed through my drowsy state and managed to get my tired limbs off the bed. With my feet that felt so light and my brain that felt so free, I made my way to the washroom.

I moved my arm slowly up to the sink knob and a rush of soothing sounds made its way to my ears.

Shusss….

As if I was in a hypnotic state, I held my hand directly under the faucet, feeling the cool stream in between my fingers. The sensational feeling held me in a trance. I just stood in awe. I just looked and felt the water falling through my fingertips. I remained in that frozen state for a few minutes, then quickly snapped out of it.

I quickly tied my hair up in a messy and lazy ponytail and ran my fingers over my cheeks. They felt soft. I splashed the cool water all over my face. Carelessly getting strands of hair wet.

I made my way into the kitchen. The same light that woke me up now shined through the window, filling every surface with gleam and happiness. The steel surface from the oven reflected the light's bubbly persona. I made my way to the counter and reached for the coffee maker.

Shusss….

The pot quickly became heavy. With a click, the pot sat snugly into place. With a pop the container opened. The smell of instant coffee powder filled the air, somewhat choking my nostrils. I scooped a helping full and shook it into the thin, white paper filter. I laughed, flashing back to when I was small, making dresses for my barbies using the coffee filters.

The warm presence and soothing sound of steam filled the kitchen. It was so serene. Out of nowhere, slender arms hugged my waist, ever so softly. A gentle head laid upon my shoulders, snuggling her face against my neck. My whole back was warmed by her body that had bathed in the sunlight. Her breath was silent, yet held a strong presence.

With a soft voice, she mumbled in her sleepy state: "Morning."

I wondered to myself, 'How could such a small thing hold so much love and happiness?'

This morning was sincerely just wonderful. That's the only way to describe it. It was everything you imagine happiness would be like. Beautiful. Peaceful. A heaven that could bring you to tears. I've never felt so… happy.

Then, I woke up to a blaring sound of an alarm clock.

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