Interview With Feminist Thriller Writer Amina Akhtar

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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Sorry Adults, I'm Going To Embrace My Generation's Uniqueness And There Is Nothing You Can Do To Stop Me

I'm going to embrace the selfies, social media, and the six Kardashian siblings.

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Being almost 20 years old, I have lived through two decades. I witnessed the VERY end of the '90s, the entire early 2000's period, and now I have seen the 2010's almost all the way through. I was the kid who grew up watching Rugrats, watched Hannah Montana after school, to now watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians every Sunday night. I wore overalls as a baby which changed to Juicy Couture sweatsuits, which is now high waisted everything with a crop top. We take selfies every chance we get. We photograph every meal. Share our entire lives on Instagram and then watch other people's lives on Youtube.

And to the older generations, they don't get it.

Millennials and Gen Z get shamed for our "liberal and unique" personalities and lifestyles. For the generations before us, they don't understand why all of us are constantly watching Vine, screaming Ariana Grande lyrics, and ranting on Twitter 24/7. These are some of the things that define our generation. However, our generation is much more than pop culture and technology.

Our generation is more accepting of sexual fluidity, is racially diverse, and is very independent. We are environmentally aware and are striving to protect our planet. We are striving to make this world a better place. We want to be more accepting, more educated, and more open-minded.

Go back 50 years and life would be completely different. Races were separated. Sexual and gender fluidity was taboo or not even acknowledged. No one cared about recycling, composting, or self-sustainability. So, sure, my generation can't put down our iPhones, but my generation is probably one of the most influential generations and I'll take that.

I'm not trying to disregard previous generations. They went through some of the craziest periods in history. They dealt with wars, cultural economic depression, racism, slavery, and strict gender rules. Men worked and women were domesticated. People didn't spend money because of the lack thereof growing up. There wasn't much technology, really at all. It was a simpler time.

But do not forget, during the '60s, they loved afros and Elvis. The '70s loved bell bottoms and tons of tie-dye. The '80s was full of neon and big hair. These trends were of the times. They were exactly that... trends. I'm sure the Baby Boomers didn't understand Gen Y, just like how Gen Y doesn't understand Millennials. And, I'm sure Millennials are getting fed up with Gen Z. It's what happens. Time changes and commodities from your era just to fade into new commodities.

So, please stop shaming my generation for being obsessed with social media or loving Kylie Jenner a little too much. Let us take all the selfies we want. Let us express ourselves through art and sports. Encourage us to be whatever we want to be. It's our time now so let us enjoy it before time passes. We shouldn't have to be sorry for living through the times, like generations before we did.

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Keeping A Journal Handy Keeps Me From Forgetting My Eventful Past

Also, it's genuinely the best way to get out pent up emotions.

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Time is flying by so quickly, and it's so difficult to keep track of every little event I'm a part of. At the same time, though, I find myself sitting at my desk wide awake every Saturday at midnight just writing in a journal about the past week.

Who did I see? How did I feel? What did I accomplish?

Even the most minute of details becomes the most important topic in the world, and I find myself enthralled in memories now immortalized in a notebook. The moment in which I'm writing as much as I can remember is peaceful, and I think that I am most at home when it's the middle of the night and no one can disturb the flow of thoughts.

After all, the purpose of having a journal is to expose one's future to reminders of the past otherwise unforgotten. One of my essays from eighth grade is wedged between two pages in an older book of mine, and when I stumbled upon it just a few weeks ago, I spent the next hour dissecting every little feeling I could remember from the time when I wrote that piece.

There's something amazing about having a journal to presently write in and eventually look back upon with open ears and listening eyes. There's something magical about being able to recount the tirade of feelings I experienced three, four years ago even now. It's as if I've envisioned a pathway to walk down (some would call "Memory Lane"), and I can find myself walking down that road at any given time.

In freshman year, I would spend an hour every day of the weekend just writing. About anything and everything that came to mind, only as long as the pen I was holding wasn't lifting itself off the paper. The amount of vivid description I put into every nit-picky part of my day was astonishing to read. I didn't want to forget anything, and I thought I could avoid forgetting by telling my future self what I knew.

Recollecting plain information, whether it be facts and figures or charts and data, can seem mundane, something one is unable to relate to and therefore "care" about, but recollecting emotions is putting on those same shoes one wore in a previous time and revisiting a slew of old memories.

It's embarrassing sometimes to find little mistakes in my writing or little places in which I attempted to sound profound but ended up sounding paranoid, but that characterized who I was as a writer back then (and maybe even today). Because I have journals full of pages and pages of sketches and words and feelings, I know who I used to be. I can remember who I was two years ago because of a journal entry from January 2017.

There was a day in sophomore year when I realized that high school was meant to be stressful, not a carefree adventure. I wrote down everything I felt that day, down to the sound of the bell ending the school day. And when I sat there a month ago and reread everything I had poured out, I laughed to myself, thinking that this rude awakening I had been ranting about was just the beginning.

It's comical and heartbreaking at the same time to sit through a journal written so long ago, but I think it's all worth it. The weeks are counting down as this school year is coming to a close, and while I spend all my time ranting aloud about how stressed I am, my true emotions only show up on the pages of my journal. Safe to say, I feel more at peace knowing that there's someone in the future going through this journey with me.

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