Thursday, October 21, 2021

Farah Naz Rishi Interview - It All Comes Back to You

Photo Content from Farah Naz Rishi

Farah Naz Rishi is a Pakistani-American Muslim writer and voice actor, but in another life, she’s worked stints as a lawyer, a video game journalist, and an editorial assistant. She received her B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College, her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School, and her love of weaving stories from the Odyssey Writing Workshop. When she’s not writing, she’s probably hanging out with video game characters. You can find her at home in Philadelphia, or on Twitter at @farahnazrishi.

Greatest thing you learned at school?
Don’t ever give up on yourself, no matter how bad you think you are at something. Being bad at something simply means you have room to grow.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having readers email me and tell me they feel “seen” in my books. It’s truly the best feeling.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m currently writing another romcom that I can best describe as a mashup of Hitch x Kare Kano.

Can you tell us when you started IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU, how that came about?
I’ve always loved enemies to lovers, but I’m also a huge fan of stories about exes. I wanted to write a story about both, so that’s how the idea for this book came to me!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want people to be sitting at the edge of their seat while reading but then finally let out a huge sigh of relief when they reach the end. I like my books to make people feel hopeful.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love Deen to meet Ramy from R.F. Kuang’s upcoming book, BABEL. Rebecca and I have a running joke that Deen is a descendant of Ramy, so it’d be really cute!

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
Playing Kingdom Hearts with my little brother for the first time. I thought it was pure magic seeing all these Disney characters together on my screen. It was the first big RPG I ever played.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Play outside in the rain.

Best date you've ever had?
I remember randomly going outside late at night once, in college, and looking at the stars with the guy I was seeing at the time. It was perfect weather and we had a great view of the sky and we just talked about whatever popped in our heads. Ten years later, we got married.

What was the first job you had?
I was a cashier at CVS in high school. I still can’t believe some of the people I met on that job are real.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
Maybe to when I was twelve. All I did was play outside—flying kites, playing kickball, building tree forts—until the sun came down. It was the best.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The Hunza Valley in Pakistan would be amazing. I definitely recommend looking at pictures—it is gorgeous.

First Heartbreak?
Honestly, my first crush was a cartoon character (Gary Oak from Pokemon). I’ve been doomed to fall in love with fictional characters, and the fact that they’re not real pains me!!!

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
Does it have to be a person? Because I would definitely love to be my cat for a week. I just want to be fed and sleep all day. It sounds like the perfect vacation.

I find music is the quickest and most effective way to get me excited about writing a story. It makes me feel like I’m “seeing” the scenes I need to write, that I’m simply transcribing images in my head onto the page, which makes the work so much easier. Basically, it makes the story feel more cinematic. Plus, good music just makes me happy!

When I get stuck on a scene, I love hopping on and reading a couple poems. To me, poetry is a distilled, highly concentrated version of book themes, and they do such a good job of playing with words in interesting ways. Reading poetry always inspires me to look at my writing in a different way.

I don’t know why this happens, but without fail, if I step away from my computer and get my blood pumping with a good walk or run, I inevitably return with a better understanding of my book.

Find a trusted friend and tell them the plot of your story—if you’re stuck somewhere, your friend could be the new perspective you need to fix things. Or better yet, simply explaining the book verbally can help you fix things yourself!

Ever since I started writing full time, my reading habits have suffered immensely. But without fail, when I find a good book I can get lost in, I fall in love with stories all over again, which makes me excited to write my own. Plus, what better way to learn craft than reading a book that does it well?

I LOVE RPGs (both video games and tabletop games). They do such a good job of teaching you what it is about story that you most gravitate to, and I believe, help you cultivate those skills. Think of them as books, but interactive. In RPGs, you’re the protagonist, and your choices influence the story. Playing RPGs is a quick and fun way to find other options to tell your story, and without fail, always help me get out of a rut. Chuck Wendig wrote a great piece on why RPGs help with writing here.

I believe craft books are a good way to get started as a writer, but not all of them are made equally. A few that I love and find helpful are The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, Story Genius by Lisa Cron. Whenever I get stuck, I pull these out and read a few chapters as a refresher.

Writing by hand is magical. I got myself these white board posters that I’ve hung on my walls for brainstorming, and I swear my writing has gotten better because of them—all because writing out my ideas forces me to take my time and consider each word more carefully than when I just quickly type them out on my computer screen.

I went to the Odyssey Writers Workshop and one of our teachers, Mary Robinette Kowal, gave us what I consider the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten: set a small goal and reach it. And when I say small, I mean five words small. Because the goal is so small, you will inevitably reach it. But the likely thing that will happen is that once you sit down to write those five words, you won’t just stop at five words. Forcing yourself to write those five words is simply a clever way of training yourself to think about writing daily, to get the story constantly churning in your head, with minimal effort. It works every time.

Don't force yourself to do something if you're not in a good head space or you're physically unable to. There's no shame in taking a moment to rest. Sometimes, stepping away will give you the refresher you need to get back in the groove.

After Kiran Noorani's mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she's dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it's getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents' focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago--before Amira and Faisal met--Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother's relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?
You can purchase It All Comes Back to You at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you FARAH NAZ RISHI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi.