Tell us about your foray into the field of writing. How did it all begin for you?I think I was destined to be a writer. I feel Allah had chosen this profession for me. Because I have a degree in Engineering, so I never thought I would opt for writing as a profession. I also feel that I did not choose writing, writing chose me. I had this natural inclination towards writing ever since I was in school. I loved writing and creating stories in my head, came very naturally to me. I had written some stories growing up, but just as a hobby. I never got them published anywhere. It was only when I was in the final year of my engineering, when I got to know about an annual digest circulating in our university which was holding a writing competition. I took part in it, just for fun but the story got selected and printed. I felt really encouraged. So it started from print media and then electronic media, and then I got towards writing professionally, so it began from there. Have you ever thought of changing your medium and writing in Punjabi or English? Do you know other languages?I feel I can express myself better in Urdu. However, if I did get an opportunity, I think I can write in English as well and be able to express myself in this language too. I’m fluent in Urdu, English, Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Japanese and Italian. Only because I got to spend a lot time travelling to Japan and Italy so I picked up these languages pretty fast. How about poetry? Have you ever considered giving it a shot?I doubt if I can express myself writing poetry. Maybe as a child, I must have written a poem or two, but being an adult, I don’t think I can. Maybe because, in poetry writing, one has to express themselves with fewer words and I’m not the one to do that. Poetry is not everyone’s forte. ‘I aim to tell my readers that there is both evil and fairness in the world. I want to give them courage and most importantly, hope’You are also a recognised screenwriter. How different is it from writing a book?It is really different. Because you see, when you write a book, you are explaining and expressing yourself considering the entire environment and feel of a story. You are reaching out to your reader in a way that your words make an impact on him/her. So your words need to be powerful enough and your pen has to be strong enough. But screenwriting is different because it’s a team effort. When your words are being translated onto screen, the director comes in between as well. The job of the director is very crucial in this regard because if your story, dialogues and concept is not executed affectively by the director then your hard work goes to waste. The writer and the director need to be on the same page for that. Your romance novels Humsafar, Diyare Dil and Matae Jaan are now internationally acclaimed drama serials. When you were in the process of writing say Humsafar, did you expect it to attract so much attention and fandom?Not at all. And I also feel when you pursue something which is close to your heart, with the intention for it to be a hit and for it to win awards, then you cannot be natural. What has inspired you to write these beautiful and acclaimed stories? How much fiction are they and how much non-fiction?There have been a lot of inspirations. A writer is only driven by inspiration, considering everything which is going on around us. We’re also going through a lot day and night and all that adds up to our inspirations. My stories have been partly fiction and partly non-fiction. And my effort has also been such to amalgamate reality with fiction. I aim to tell my readers that there is both evil and fairness in the world. I want to give them courage and most importantly, hope.What are you currently working on?Currently, I am writing a script along with being excited for the release of forthcoming film ‘Parwaz Hai Junoon’ which I have penned myself. It’s a tribute to the Pakistan Air Force and will release this year on Eidul Azha. The script on which I’m working on is a romance thriller. It’s the first time I’m writing on this genre so it is a lot of fun. I’m almost done with it and would like to add how much I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully, the audience will enjoy seeing on the screen as much as I did writing it.What motivates you to excel no matter what?I only aim to give my best and do something constructive with the skill I have. I try to be as positive as I can be. I would like to believe I’m a hardworking woman. Whatever I do, I put my heart and soul into it. Writing is very demanding like that. A story has to be very close to my heart for it to penetrate through my words with impact. A lot of people come up to me, suggesting topics and issues on which I should be writing, but unless it strikes a chord with me, I cannot.What according to you has been your biggest achievement so far?Drama serial ‘Udaari’ was my biggest achievement. The time I wrote the story, was the time when the Kasur child abuse case was fresh and so it was taboo even to talk about it. A lot had to be done even to research on that case. It was very difficult and very challenging. So the only reason I wrote it was because I wanted to do something for the victims if I could in any way through my writings. I wanted to raise awareness and understanding in the society for this. So I take great pride in ‘Udaari’ because I feel being a writer, I somehow carried out my responsibility in bewaring masses about this menace.We at Daily Times consider you one of our national heroes. Who are some of yours?There are so many. Abdul Sattar Edhi, Jahangir Khan, Dr Adeeb Rizvi, Hakim Muhammad Saeed, Mahira Khan, Fawad Khan, Atif Aslam, Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram and Imran Khan are some of the people who have been quite instrumental in making the country proud and progressive. AchievementsTHE MAGIC TOUCHFarhat Ishtiaq is not just an award-winning author of various bestsellers but she is also a recognised screenwriter for many drama serials, plays and films.INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIMFarhat Ishtiaq’s novels have been adapted into acclaimed drama serials and films, which have tasted success in not just Pakistan, but all over the world, including Humsafar, Matae Jaan Hai Tu, Mere Humdum Mere Dost, Diyare Dil, Bin Roye, Rehaai, Udaari and Parwaaz Hai Junoon.RAKING IN THE AWARDSIshtiaq is the proud recipient of a number of honours and awards including the Hum Honorary Phenomenal Serial Award for Best Writer at the 1st Hum Awards 2013. Then she was nominated for Best Writer for ‘Rehaaii’ at the 13th Lux Style Awards 2014. She was again nominated for Best Writer for ‘Diyare Dil’ at the 15th LSAs 2016. She won Best Writer for ‘Diyare Dil’ at the 4th Hum Awards 2016. And in 2017, she won Best Writer for both the LSA and Hum Award for ‘Udaari.’Published in Daily Times, August 4th 2018.