Live with Iqra Khan – Conversations about Coming-of-Age Stories

In this week’s live, Daastan conversed with Iqra Khan about her book “Hackschool Project” and her inspiration behind it.

“Students do not stop being students, the moment the school bell rings & they go home; they take school back home with them,” says Iqra. 

As an author, it is very interesting to talk about one’s own work. Admittedly, there are so many expectations that one attaches with one’s work and audience. A book is a back & forth, never-ceasing interaction between the writer & reader. Just when you think you know all about a book, a reader or a critic comes along to put their own spin on it. Today we are here to talk about all these elements of writing. 

A glimpse into Iqra Khan’s early years of life 

Iqra is a dentist and an aspiring author from Lahore. She is currently pursuing her post grad education in Texas, USA. Her love for writing & reading began early in life. By writing for Pakistani English Magazines, she started her writing career in 2006. These years of dedication & practice later materialised into inspiration for fiction work that is now a published book. 

Iqra Khan & HackSchool Project

HackSchool Project  offers real life hacks through the characterisation and plot. It serves as a guide through troublesome waters of teenage.

”School doesn’t have to be as stressful as people make it.”

 Clearly, her book is evident of that. The plot revolves around three siblings and their daily life adventures. But the adventures in the book are relatable to the Pakistani audience. 

“Feedback is an essential part of writing & luckily I have received rather positive feedback. People write to me saying that my characters are relatable. And that’s something I always want from my writings.” 

Inspiration behind HackSchool Project

Growing up Iqra didn’t find Young Adult fiction that was relatable. She longed for a book that provided her a sense of familiarity. So she went by the rule, “Write the book you want to read” and “HackSchool Project” was conceived. 

“My book focuses on student life in a Pakistani family. It does so without adding dramatic, romantic or tragic elements to the story.” 

Likewise, the problem Iqra believes with dramatization is that it serves as an escape from reality. However, sometimes one doesn’t need escape from reality but a representation of it that hits home. Her inspiration to write a relatable fiction also comes from her mother’s experience as an educator. 

“I was a very active participant in the co-curricular activities. It was my job to be in everyone’s business. This gave me a much needed insight.” 

She made use of all the stories of her teenage years and portrayed them in a lighthearted manner. 

Romance in Young Adult Fiction

According to Iqra, Western Young Adult literature is oversaturated with romance. 

“Reading Young Adult Fiction, I found no relatability. I experienced a major shift. I thought to myself, I do none of this. I go to school, study, come back & sleep.”

Apart from the co-curricular activities, Iqra’s teenage years were monotonous. She further told Noor her ideas about romance. 

“Romance has its own place in storytelling. However, you don’t need to add it everywhere. And to be honest, I didn’t feel the need to add romance to my book, especially when I couldn’t make sense of it at that age. I believe so many girls can relate to it.”

Our Marketing Associate, Noor asked Iqra what’s her take on the whole romantic element of Young Adult Fiction. 

“I understand that phase of life. And I definitely understand why there’s a need for such literature in the first place. In our culture, love & romance are taboos. People don’t talk about these things to teens . So they’re naturally curious. For them, the only place to explore this aspect of life becomes media & books.”

Iqra Khan provides solution to Reading Problems 

As we know, with the dawn of technology & social media; the reading trends have declined. Therefore, it’s hard to get kids to read books. But don’t worry anymore! Iqra has a solution to this problem. 

“You will never find the message directly stated in my stories. For this reason, the readers root for my characters. Hence, they feel a natural pull towards the book. This allows me to educate them in a way they don’t feel pressured.” 

Iqra Khan on her Writing Style 

Every storyteller has their own unique ability to tell a story. We asked Iqra what her style is.

“My stories are character driven. So you will find a lot of dialogue sequences. Also I tend to stay away from descriptions. Furthermore, I believe in “show , don’t tell.” I consider my style easy & approachable.” 

Experimenting with Writing Trends 

Have you ever considered experimenting with the themes you write? And would you ever like to venture out of your current areas of focus? 

“Well, what exactly is considered experimental or trendy. I purposely write in the opposing direction of ‘trendy style’. My spin on the traditional themes make them accessible to a wide audience. For now, I believe I will stick to that & not step into the realm of ‘edgy’ writing.” 

Iqra Khan’s Future Plans 

Currently working on her second novel, Iqra is also enthusiastic about writing a sequel to HackSchool Project. It centres around the themes of generation gap, navigating through youth & stepping into the unknown territory of relationships. Lastly, Iqra would love to see a live action or animated adaptation of the HackSchool Project. 

Daastan extends heartiest wishes to Iqra for her future! You can buy her book here.


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Noor Hashmi
Noor Hashmi is a student of literature at Numl University. She is an aspiring poetess. She runs a blog by the name of “Diaries of Huda” sharing her journey through poetry. In her free time, she loves to paint and bake.

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