the good book corner

Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews

Interview with Moni Mohsin

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Now if you haven’t read Moni Mohsin’s Butterfly series, it is entirely your loss. “Butterfly” ….. just between you, me and the four walls………..has made the readers laugh and squirm at the same time. Full of humour, satire and an introspective edge, the books look at events that have sometimes rocked and sometimes questioned the Pakistani perspective.

The three books in the series – The Diary of a Social Butterfly , Tender Hooks and The Return of the Butterfly, written by the reigning queen of chick-lit, follow the life of a Punjabi socialite in Pakistan. The same perspective and thinking rings a bell across the border as well and Butterfly entertains the readers with her wise cracks.  With her appalling English and perfectly manicured nails, Butterfly gives her opinion on anything and everything. A bit silly and shallow sometimes, her warmth does peep out from the pages, making most fall for her at some point or the other.

The Good Book Corner interviewed Moni Mohsin.

TGBC: Had “The Butterfly” had a name, what would it be?

MM:Dolly.

TGBC: Your typical target audience?

MM:Anyone aged fifteen upwards who can read, has a sense of humour and is interested in social commentary.

TGBC: Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

MM:I inadvertently offended someone who was known to me by putting their namesake in the column and making unflattering remarks about them. It was completely accidental – because this reader’s name happens to be quite common — but they naturally got very upset and told me off roundly. Try as I might, they would not believe that it was accidental and that no offence was intended. Though I grovelled for days,  I don’t think I was ever forgiven.

TGBC: “The Butterfly” does have very strong opinions about the political scenario in her country and is not shy from expressing them. Any repercussions?

MM:None so far, but fingers crossed…

TGBC: What song best describes your writing ethic?

MM: My Way! (preferably sung by Frank Sinatra backed by an entire orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall).

TGBC: If you could cast your characters in the Bollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

MM: Irfan Khan would be Janoo, that much tau I know. Aur Butterfly? I don’t know… someone glamorous (but not too glamorous!) who could do comedy. I though Nimrat Kaur gave a really nuanced performance in Lunch Box. And she looks Punjoo. But can she do comedy?

TGBC: What is the worst criticism you were given? And the best compliment ?

MM: I guess this question relates to my writing. The worst was when someone told me, ‘No offence vasiay aap bohat shallow books likhti hain.’ And the best book-related compliment that I’ve ever received (I think it was The Diary of a Social Butterfly) was actually a story I was told by a friend. This friend of mine had another friend, a Pakistani lady who lived in Canada who was estranged from her elderly mother. The mother fell ill and became bed bound, so the daughter resolved to go and visit her. But though she wanted to see her mother and spend time with her she was uneasy about the initial meeting because they had not parted on good terms and over time the silence between them had lengthened and grown deeper. What would she say? How would she break the ice? She had a copy of my book with her and on a hunch, she decided to take that along when she went to her mother’s. After the preliminary greetings there was an awkward pause. Not knowing what to say she offered to read to her mother. Her mother agreed. And so she started and soon the mother and daughter were laughing together and, as happens so often when people can find a way to laugh together, all the anger and resentment melted away. So my friend called me from Karachi to relay the story to me and to say that her friend said thank you.

TGBC: When does “The Butterfly” return and what’s there to look forward to?

MM: Not just yet but when she does it will be with another novel relating the next chapter in the life of Sana and Jonkers.

 

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