Chirdeep Malhotra . Updated: 6/11/2022 7:30:55 AM Books and Authors

Author Interview: Nadya A.R.

Nadya A. R. is a lifelong learner, educationalist and humanitarian, apart from being a certified psychotherapist. She is also a motivational speaker, and has been conducting workshops and talks in Pakistan and Singapore. Her novel “Invisible Ties” was published in 2019, and got both critical and popular acclaim. The novel has been applauded for its unconventional and original storyline, and has also been nominated for the Valley of Words book award in the fiction category. In a candid chat with Chirdeep Malhotra, she talks about her book, her writing journey, her favourite books and authors, and much more. Read on!

Please tell us more about Nadya A. R. as a person.

I am a private and shy person. I like real and deep meaningful friendships. I love walking, observing life, and travelling. Going to different places excites me. I like to look at different healing modalities and an alternative way of life, which for me means a holistic and not a very clinical way of life, and that’s what I feel I am aligned with at this moment in time.
Having said that, I firmly believe that we all are growing and keep changing all the time in life. Change and adaptability to that change are the essences of life. I like to be in my familiar surroundings and comfort zone, and that is something that I struggle with, and at the moment, I am still a work in progress.

Has writing always been a part of your life? Or did you chance upon it later on and then instantly fell in love with it?

Yes, writing has always been a part of my life. I think my journey as a writer began when I started writing my diary. It was a place where I could just vent out my feelings. I think I was probably in my teens or it maybe earlier than that. I remember writing down all my fears and feelings, which I couldn't disclose to anybody else, in this diary. I wrote a lot of poems. Later on, I wrote a book of short stories when I was hardly 16-17 years old. And then, I wrote a novel.

Please tell us more about your book “Invisible Ties”.

“Invisible Ties” is a saga of love, loss, and displacement, set in Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and London. It is the story of a woman in her twenties, Noor, and her journey of coming into her own, being able to make her own choices and take charge of her life. It highlights the importance of cultural values, and the clash and confusion that often arises as one migrates and has to adapt to the norms of their new home.

What inspired you to write this novel? When did you start writing this book and how long did it take you to finish it?

I think for any story that you pick up as a writer to write a book on, you have to feel very strongly and passionately about it. So, when I decided to write this story, I was working on my thesis which was related to childhood attachments and how they are so important. As I was studying this in-depth, I had this idea of a protagonist who has had a highly insecure childhood and how that would influence her life. It took me three years to write this novel.

Tell us more about the protagonist Noor Kamal. How did the character come to you and how much did she change in the process of writing the novel?

“Invisible Ties” is the story of a young girl’s journey to find love and her struggle for self-discovery. When I decided to write this story, as I mentioned before, I was working on my thesis which was related to early childhood attachments and their significance in later life. Suddenly I had this idea of a protagonist ‘Noor’ who had a highly insecure childhood and how that would haunt her as she tried to grapple with trauma and reality in the highly volatile and unpredictable world today.
Noor is the pivotal character in the story and the book describes her journey. In many ways, she is the hero of the story. I have created her character as a very complex one, layered with a lot of shades of grey in it. Even her husband’s character has a lot of shades of grey, and to quite an extent, he has been perceived as a negative character. But that is exactly what life is about. Characters have to evolve. They are fluid and they will behave in certain uncharacteristic ways at certain times.

What were some of the challenges while writing this book?

‘Research’. I had chosen this theme of South Asia, carefully choosing Malacca and the post-colonial period, where Malacca and Singapore were British colonies at one point in time, along with India and Pakistan. I tied it all to different themes and looked at the unique history of all those places. So that was the common thread binding them all, running through the whole story like the Mughal theme and the story of Kohinoor. Noor’s name is Noor, yet she is like Kohinoor. She is displaced and is going to different places, and still is confused about where she belongs.
The research was quite intensive in a certain way because there were different countries and themes; the Mughal theme, Yin Yang, and places like Harmony Street in Malacca, Sheesh Mahal in Lahore, etc. I went all the way to Amsterdam to see the architecture. I do pay extra attention to them; I did a lot of research in the national library in Singapore and I went to every single place that I’ve mentioned.
Working on all these themes, settings, local cuisines, locations, weather – everything had to match to the T. And that meant they had to be carefully researched.
The history of every place that I have mentioned in the story has been researched in libraries and records so that even though it is fiction, yet it is sort of based on facts. It had to be authentic so that it feels authentic to the readers. All this research did get taxing but it was equally important because it is very crucial for the integral theme of the book “Invisible Ties”.

Can you recommend five books from any genre, for our readers to add to their reading lists, that you particularly cherish?

These are “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, Aravind Adiga's “The White Tiger”, Kiran Desai's “The Inheritance of Loss”, Kahlil Gibran's “The Prophet”, and Paulo Coelho's “The Alchemist”.

What are your other interests apart from writing?

I am a psychotherapist by profession and enjoy reading psychology research and other self-help books. Apart from this, I enjoy swimming, walking, and yoga. I also enjoy reading as mentioned above.

There are many new writers and poets who are aspiring to get their work published. What would you say to them?

I believe everybody has a story to tell. For me, writing is more than a technique – it is the sheer passion that culminates into a story and because it is coming from an authentic and genuine place, the story becomes powerful. So, my advice would be to just write, and to not fear rejection or anything. Do not worry about publishing too much. Be true to your story and your own unique individual journey.

What are you working on next? Any new literary projects that our readers should look out for?

Right now, I am researching for my next book tentatively titled “The Sanctuary” that will be different from “Invisible Ties” – which I feel was my story at that particular time and now my feelings are not the same.

Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

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