November 20, 2008
Nasreen Akhtar, a 34 year writer was recently longlisted for an award for her self-published book, Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet). It is a memoir about trying to find a partner on the web and traces the remarkable journey of a hopeful soul seeking something that every human being craves: to love and be loved.
How did the idea for the book come about?
My post graduate study was called ‘Eenie, meenie, minie, mo…Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet)’. Then one day purely by chance, I looked at it from a non-academic angle and saw that is was amusing at the same time and thought that if it was a book, it would be quite entertaining.
During the years that followed, many people told me that I should write a book but I did not take this idea seriously. Then someone very important came into my life and told me that he wanted me to do something with my writing as he believed that I could create something fantastic.
By that time, even though I had set up my publishing company, I abandoned the idea due to severe writer’s block. But when he shared his thoughts with me, how could I not honour his request? And so Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet) as the world knows it now, came to be in its full glory.
Why did you start you own publishing company – Greenbirds?
I explored the possibility of a career in publishing roundabout the time that the industry was waking up to the merits of diversity. There are many initiatives in place now which encourage inclusion but at that time it was a different story altogether.
So rather than wait for someone to give me a job which seemed unlikely, I decided to give myself a job. Sometimes all you need in life is a chance: what can be better than giving yourself a chance?
Is it difficult for unknown authors to get published?
It can be difficult for unknown authors to get published as publishing is a financial risk and most publishers out there do not want to take that risk on an unknown name – which is a paradox in itself because all those names that go on to become well known started off as unknown at some stage.
Luck does have a lot to do with it. An author’s work can be brilliant but if the editor cannot relate to it, or doesn’t like it then sadly, it cannot get far. This does not mean that there is a flaw in the work, but rather that there will be other publishing houses, other editors whose lists may be better suited.
What do you think is the best way to go about finding a life partner?
Stop looking! The more you seek that person, the more they hide from you. I believe that deep in your heart, you must always have the assurance that something amazing can happen to you anytime, anyplace, anywhere. And when it does, you need to know who you are – you cannot offer someone anything unless you like and respect yourself.
Do you think being British and Pakistani and in your 30s is a hindrance when it comes to finding a date?
No, it is a hindrance when it comes to finding someone to marry!
What is your funniest dating experience online and/or face to face?
I went to see a potential husband for the first time who didn’t like me physically. He said that he had to ‘attend to an important phone call’, which he did not receive but dialled instead. Twenty minutes later he was still on the phone, so I got fed up and left. As I reversed my car, he got off the phone, and said: ‘Wait! You can’t do this!’
‘Who says I can’t?’ I replied as I drove off.
Do you have any dating tips for young single women?
Never compromise on your own values as a person. If you would never treat someone in a certain way, never let them treat you like that either. Sometimes cultural pressure makes us put up with things we never would, but say no to bullying however it may be disguised.
Would you mind if someone you to the ‘Asian Bridget Jones’?
I can understand why I would be compared to the champion of single women – the one, the only, the unmistakeable Ms Jones- but I am not sure if it is entirely accurate. After all, do Bridget Jones and I share the complexities that come from having to grow up with dual identities and then having been forced to evaluate, examine and redefine our identities as human beings?
The book is out now on Greenbirds
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