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INTERVIEW: Laaleen Sukhera is Fearless in Life and Writing

Updated: Jan 30


Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


CHRISTINA: Laaleen Sukhera became known to me a few years ago through her social media as the founder of Jane Austen Society Pakistan and the Emirates and editor of a multi-author anthology Austenistan. She is someone I admire, not just because of her writing vitae. Laaleen works in corporate communications and runs a social club on the side and introduces people in the manner of Emma Woodhouse.


If you could tell your 21-year-old self anything, what would you share?


LAALEEN: Be fearless. Stop thinking what others will think and believe you can and you will. Keep at it even when it seems impossible. And learn financial management! Writing doesn’t pay all the bills – it’s an expensive vocation.

 

CHRISTINA: That is the truth! Tell my 21-year-old self that, too, if you run into her.


What do you think is your strength as a writer?


LAALEEN: I’d say the ability to use my voice with tongue-in-cheek authenticity. Additionally, the knowledge that simplicity and clarity is superior to long-winded sentences with multiple ideas and superfluous adjectives.


And, finally, the endurance to self-edit and scrap great chunks of work no matter how much of my heart and soul is in it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I learned this during my Screen Studies honors thesis at college and I owe it to Professor Marvin D’Lugo who was my faculty mentor at Clark University – it’s stayed with me for life.

 

CHRISTINA: Yes, you must have faith and courage to cut great chunks of work, words you may love, but not kill the forward momentum of the story.


What makes you get up in the morning? What do you love?


LAALEEN: I’m not a morning person – I hit snooze many times – but I genuinely like Mondays. They feel like a fresh start. And yes, a really great cappuccino (or three) gets me going. I also like hearing dance music when I’m showering and getting ready, endorphins and a zest for life! If it’s a weekend, well then, naps are gold.

 

CHRISTINA: Best advice for new writers:


LAALEEN: Firstly, write something that you would read yourself otherwise it’s not worth it.

 

Secondly, write something for yourself and assume nobody else will ever read it. Otherwise, you’ll be too worried wondering what they’ll think and that will inhibit your craft.

 

Thirdly, intention is everything. It’s the joy of self-expression that should reign paramount, not a hunger for publicity.

 

Fourthly, not everyone is a writer. I keep hearing people – mostly men – tell me they’re would-be writers with fantastic ideas only they don’t have the time nor the skills. My eyes travel to the top of my head each time I hear that claim. It’s quite the opposite of imposter syndrome. 


CHRISTINA: That fourth one about men. Ha! My mind when straight to Lady Catherine de Bourgh:

I must have my share in the conversation if you are speaking of music. There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. --Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 31

So far, what is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?


LAALEEN: I got tremendously lucky with Austenistan. I got to work with a group of women I admire and love, learn and interact a great deal, and journey metaphorically and geographically to new heights and geographically with a global book tour.

 

CHRISTINA: What a dream! And to have it published at Bloomsbury, too. You know me, I do love a strong Austen-inspired anthology and the chance to work with authors I admire!


If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?


LAALEEN: No matter what I do, I’m a writer. I work in corporate communications as – you guessed it – a writer. Even if I ended up as a librarian moonlighting as a detective (my ten-year-old self longed for this on a steady diet of Agatha Christie) I still would’ve wound up a writer.


CHRISTINA: Always a writer. I believe that. I hope you are finding time to write something new, at least for yourself. Thank you for your time and candid exchange. I look forward to one day meeting you at a Jane Austen event. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laaleen Sukhera is the founder of the Jane Austen Society Pakistan and the Emirates, now the Jane Austen Society MENAP (Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan). She works in corporate communications in Dubai. In her free time, Laaleen enjoys channeling her inner Emma Woodhouse with Cupid-esque social networking as a licensed matchmaker.

Follow Laaleen via Instagram: @JaneAustenInternational

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