Andaleeb Wajid is back at her mother’s house, this time for a month. It is Ramzan—the months of fasting and praying. She logs in from her refuge—the desk in her peppermint green room. A romance writer, love is her business. In 2021, she spent six months in her room, writing happy ending, even as she dealt with the other side of the four letter word she has based her career on—loss.
“Everything kind of change”, says Wajid, who is currently promoting her trilogy, Jasmine Villa. “My mother-in-law and I got admitted together (with covid-19), and my husband the next day. I recovered. My mother-in-law and my husband did not. They both passed away”.
Robbed on her ever-after — a promise in her books — Wajid continued to script for others. Five days after her husband passed away, she went back to her novel—Loving You Twice. “The only stable thing was that moment when I would sit down to write,” she says. “I just felt that whatever happens in the world, one thing that would be with me is my writing. That is still a place where I have a certain amount of control over things.”
When she was not plotting perfect scenarios, she tweeted her way through her pain. Her story became symbolic of the grief that engulfed everyone. Wajid wrote poignantly about her pain, offering a window to her devastation. “I sometime think about how my husband would react”, she says. “He would like joking sort of person. He would be like, ‘Look at me, I made you famous.’ He could flip it like that.”
Wajid swings between horror and romance, and from being published to choosing to self—publish. She writes for young adult. Jasmine villa—which centres on the three Hasan sisters: Tehzeeb, Ana, and Athiya—was self published till it was brought by Westland. “Self-publishing opens the doors”, she says. “I am control of everything. The sky’s the limit. A publisher will publish one book of mine at a time, at most. And I write fast. I needed to find a way to get these books to the readers without having to wait for years to get a publisher to pick them up.” In 14 years, Wajid has written 60, more than 20 of which were self—published.
Jasmine Villa was immensely successful when she first self-published it. Each book in the series deals with the love story of a sister. Jasmine Villa is the house they grew up in. one way to love kicks off the series with the story of the eldest sister Tehzeeb. Life— and complications—begin after her marriage to Ayub Ahmed. The ever-after is not as happy as anticipated. Then there is the love story of Ana and Luqman in the second part of the series— Loving You Twice. And the third book revolves around the youngest and most feisty Hasan—Athiya. Wajid’s characters are Muslims, and they belong to conservatives families. Tehzeeb’s in-laws do not want her to work. Athiya is uncomfortable with telling her father that she does did modelling.
Wajid’s love story is not lust free. “The reader does expect sex,” she says. “Even though she first shied away from intimacy, she has now embraced it. Her women are not prudes—there is a fair amount of kissing and more. Nor are her men chaste. “I have read hot and steamy romances, and I thought I could never write like this”, she says. “In my earlier books, I imply intimacy. I have two sons. What if they were to read the books, I thought. Or my aunts”. (IPA Service)