By Erum Noor Muzaffar
Tue, 05, 24

This week You! is in conversation with Hina Shamsi, author of ‘The Quintessential Fat Girl’ and ‘Love Knot’. Read on…


They say writing comes naturally; same is the case with Hina Shamsi. She has a natural flair for writing that she discovered much later in life. Armed with a master’s degree in marketing and finance, Hina aspired to work in the corporate sector. She worked for Kodak from 1997 to 1999. After that she taught at Greenwich University for two years, then took a break and joined SZABIST till 2018. Then she started writing small articles for a website ‘Chalktalk’. That was the time when she realised that she enjoys writing and came up with her debut novella - ‘The Quintessential Fat Girl (TQFG)’, published in 2019. “The TQFG started as an article but I enjoyed it so much that it slowly turned into a book,” explains Hina. TQFG was actually a social satire that was received well by the readers. Encouraged by family and friends, Hina came up with her second book ‘Love Knot’, a cross-cultural coming-of-age love story in 2021. Hina’s upcoming book, ‘Whispers of the Wounded’ marks her third venture into storytelling and is set to be published in summer 2025. In an exclusive interview with You! Hina talks about her passion for writing and shares her thoughts with our readers. Read on…

You! Tell us about your early life?

Hina Shamsi: I had a regular childhood like any other ’80s kid, with school, and playing with the neighbours’ kids, a lot of emphasis on religious education. As a kid, I had limited TV time and no social media. I would climb trees for physical exercise, eat home-cooked meals, borrowed books from the library and slept before 9:00pm. Summers would be something to look forward to with a vacation planned by my late father. This lifestyle would be a complete shock to today’s generation.

You! What made or inspired you to write your maiden book – The Quintessential Fat Girl?

HS: During the lockdown, I thought about writing an article on body shaming but once I started writing I realised there was so much to be said about the beauty standards of our desi society. Being subjected to such standards myself, I started writing about it and soon that article turned into chapters and then a book.

You! Can you tell us a bit about your second book - Love Knot?


HS: My second book Love Knot is a coming-of-age story. It’s a story about a Pakistani Architect, Aaira, and a Turkish Photographer, Mehmet. The story talks about the challenges faced by women who stand up to abuse and not give in. How they heal from this trauma. Being strong doesn’t mean that one is not hurt. The story also has a rich cross-cultural flavour. I had visited Turkey sometime back and loved the beautiful sites and culture; it inspired me to write about it. I wanted to share that experience with my readers. I am overjoyed by the response and appreciation from my readers.

You! Would you like to tell us something about your third book?

HS: My third book is a crime thriller. I am currently working on the last details of the story and Neem Tree Press UK will publish it by the summer of 2025. The story takes place between two countries, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. I can only reveal that the story draws inspiration from real-life events.

You! Could you tell us a little bit about your path to publication? From the itch of writing, the seed of an idea - through to finding an agent and being published?

HS: As I mentioned that my first book happened by chance, I showed it to a few friends who encouraged me to get it published. I had no prior experience of publishing and I was unaware of the syntax of the publishing industry. Since all my life I have learned through trial and error, I started searching for a publisher. I would like to appreciate a dear friend who helped me find publishers in India, but sadly, because of the political situation, nothing materialised. We continued our search in our own country and found a new publisher called Auraq who was keen on working with me. With a few hiccups and a lot of stressful nights, we finally decided to self-publish my first book.

You! For you, what makes a great story?

HS: Something that appeals to all senses. Similarly, when I write I want to give my readers a visual so they can imagine the situations and become a part of the story. Also, it’s worth mentioning that today, with limited time and focus, painstaking details are no longer appreciated by readers. The story needs to be crisp and fast paced.


You! How have the readers received your work so far?

HS: Oh, I am overjoyed by the response for both my books. I can’t thank Allah enough for the love I have received from my readers. Getting a personal message in my inbox from a reader who resonates with the story brings me great joy. Women found my first book relatable, sharing their stories of body shaming and finding solace in my writing. I was surprised when my first edition sold out from the market in the first few months, and I had to publish a second edition to restock the stores. Similarly, I feel humbled and honoured to have received reviews in all leading newspapers for ‘Love Knot’. It was one of Liberty Publishing’s top seller in 2022.

You! What are some of your favourite books?

HS: This has always been a tough question, yet I am asked this repeatedly. Well, to name a few ‘The Architect’s Apprentice’ by Elif Shafak, ‘Rumi’s Daughter’ by Muriel Maufroy, ‘Oliver’s Story’ by Erich Segal, ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth, ‘Pyar Ka Pehla Sheher’ by Mustansar Husain Tarar, and ‘Fear and Hope’ by Al-Ghazzali, to name a few.

You! What did you like to read when you were a little girl?

HS: The first book that inspired me and I recall vividly was ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I was in 8th grade and I had to read it for a school assignment. The story’s writing style and the ending amazed me, leaving me in awe.

You! What is your advice to aspiring writers?

HS: Finish your drafts before even considering publishing, just like I was told.

You! Who are your favourite authors that inspired you a lot?


HS: There are so many, it would be unjust to name a few. Every stage of my life I had a favourite author and as I grew older their work stayed with me.

You! What is your opinion on eBooks?

HS: Technology is a way to look forward. I strongly believe in adopting new methods that are relevant to the times we live in. Nevertheless, I enjoy the smell of books, so I prefer holding and reading them, feeling their pages. I am aware it might sound clichéd, but I have a tendency to be old school. Books are something I love to collect.

You! Are people still interested in reading and buying books?

HS: Sadly, it’s a small niche industry now. With so many other platforms to tell a story, this is a dying creative field. Additionally, our attention span, commitment, and interest in one story have been greatly influenced by the prevalence of social media platforms like TikTok and Reels.

You! If you could offer one piece of advice to writers looking for their work to be published, what would it be?

HS: As I said earlier, finish your draft to the best of your capability. You are your own competition. If your words are true, it will find its own readers.

You! Have you thought of writing in Urdu?

HS: Yes, many times, but I don’t have the sensibility and attention to details that Urdu fiction books offer.

You! What are the challenges, in your eyes, that are being faced by women today?

HS: The women of today are stronger and focused than ever. They inspire me. Luckily, our society is slowly opening up to giving women opportunities, and it’s a good time for women – they have the whole world to conquer. Challenges make the work more exciting.

You! What is the most important advice you can give to women?

HS: Don’t be apologetic for the choices or mistakes you make in life. Own your life and things will fall into place. Follow your passion, keeping your femininity and your quality of nurturing intact. Please understand that women are blessed with emotional strength. It’s time we realise our strength and use it to our benefit.

You! What does a typical day look like to you?

HS: A typical day starts with morning prayer, and then some rest followed by some exercise. Reading some informative article on my phone before breakfast. Then checking my emails and then either researching for my book or writing. My mom’s phone call in between is a must. The day ends with a pleasant evening walk in the outdoor. I just love the outdoors, followed by dinner and prayers before I call it a day.

You! Your philosophy of life:

HS: Nothing is the end of the world until your last breath. There is always another option waiting to be explored.

You! What is the most important relationship lesson you have learned so far?

HS: No compromises on RESPECT and many compromises on all other things that are temporary and will be forgotten soon. Choose your battles wisely. I don’t believe in wasting time and energy on petty issues or people.

Also, if I am happy with myself, I can give a lot more to all my relations. People in our life are on a need-to-know basis and they don’t need to know what doesn’t concern them. It’s a good way to coexist peacefully.

You! What are some of your favourite ways to relax and have fun?

HS: I love the outdoors, so time spent with nature is often my favourite and I find it extremely relaxing. Other than that, a delightful meal or coffee with people close to me (mostly family and friends).

You! How do you keep a balance between family life and work?

HS: Alhamdulillah, my children have grown up, so I have more time than I had when they were younger. So, it works out well for me.

You! What books are currently on your bedside table?

HS: ‘Saladin’ by Jon Man was my recent read. Next on my TBR is ‘The Fury’ by Alex Michaelides.

You! What’s next on your agenda?

HS: Fingers crossed. I want to write a children’s book about environmental awareness. The environment and nature hold a special place in my heart; hence this has been on my mind for some time. It’s too early to say much, but I am working on this project and looking for like-minded individuals to help me with my project.

Erum Noor Muzaffar is the editor of You! magazine. She can be reached at