Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ayisha Malik's Imaginary Bookshop

Today we have a new Imaginary Bookshop participant. Ayisha Malik has kindly agreed to take part in the Q&A. Today is also the publication of her debut novel, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged is the first title in a brand new imprint from Bonnier, called Twenty7, which only publishes work by debut novelist, first in ebook and later in paperback


Hi Ayisha, congratulations on the publication of your novel, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged! Thank you for popping over to Writer’s Little Helper and becoming the latest author to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
The Lazy Gal’s Library. (So lazy, she can’t even be bothered to spell ‘girl’ correctly.)

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
In some kind of nook in London, where you have to go through narrow side-streets and walk down a flight of stairs before you enter this grand, be-cushioned place.

Would your bookshop have any special features? E.g. a performing stage, a cocktail bar, etc.
In true essence of the bookshop, perhaps a place to nap: some comfy sofas that double-up as beds with a nice warm fleece. Oh, and a fireplace.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
It’d be open twenty-four hours a day for those night owls. Seeing as there will be a napping area, they can read and then switch off their bedside lamp for a snooze before they start their reading day all over again.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I’m not sure which I’d ditch (maybe self-help) but I’d have a special section for, unsurprisingly, epistolary and diary form novels. A lot of people don’t like these forms, but I think they can be the most exciting type of narration. There’s a raw honesty in letters and diaries that perhaps you can’t quite attain in a normal narrative structure. If done well it’s the spilling of emotion, carefully balanced with the unravelling of events through the eyes of the narrator that’s deeply personal and engaging.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
All my favourites, of course. But if we’re being specific then a table full of clever satires and comedies: the type that make you laugh out loud and maybe even cry.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
Only being able to choose one is a bit harsh. I’m going through a Nora Ephron stage though so it’d have to be her. I’d want her to divulge to writers how to make a reader laugh, while making strong and poignant social, as well as deeply human, observations. Then I’d make her stay and churn out hundreds of more books so that we’d never run out of Nora Ephron.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
I don’t think I’m a very good self-publicist so I’d probably direct them towards another book I love and give them my book for free. This way they can’t come back and trash me for it if they don’t like it! And if they do like it then I’ll always be that lovely author who gave her book away.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Nutella cake. Obviously.


Ayisha Malik is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature at Kingston University and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing (though told most of her family it was an MA in English Literature – Creative Writing is not a subject, after all.) She has spent various spells teaching, photocopying, volunteering and being a publicist. Now, when she isn’t searching for a jar of Nutella in her cupboards, she divides her time between being managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy and writing. Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged is Ayisha’s debut novel.

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik is published by Twenty7 in ebook on 3rd September (£4.99) and paperback in January (£7.99)

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