Q1. Tell us something about yourself?
I have been working as a journalist for the past 18 years. I have worked with The Times of India, The Indian Express and a couple of other newspapers before shifting to broadcast journalism. At present, I am working with Dainik Bhaskar. I belong to Shimla.
Q2. When did you start Writing?
Well, as an amateur pretty early. I think when I was 18 or so. But I thought of writing fiction in 2003. I tried and failed and then postponed it. Finally, I embarked on it in 2008 and took about six years to write my debut novel since I also had a full time job.
Q3. Tell us something about your book?
Simply speaking, it is a simple story of a woman out to find her mother, who abandoned her for money. At a broad level, it is a story of people, who do not have their moorings and identity. So ultimately, the protagonist called Sita Morrison, while in search of her mother, takes up the cause of people who are like her, who have a crisis of identity. Along with them, Sita starts a movement to set up the first ever non-territorial nation called Scattered Citizens of the Freeworld or the Scot Free World, where the moorings and ethnicity do not matter as much as the merit of the individual.
Q4. How does it feel to be a Published Author?
I am satisfied that the book is out and doing well. Initially, I felt apprehensive thinking that people are going to judge it or what if no one turns up at the launch. It is like throwing a birthday bash and no one comes. But, whoever I have spoken to, in fact, I never sought any reviews, instead people themselves started giving feedback saying that they liked my work. My first book launch was on June 12th at Chandigarh. I got a first call within 48 hours from a reader who said she had finished it and liked it very much. I think, if someone winds it up in 48 hours it means it is a smooth hassle-free read. Now that really is a good sign.
Q5. First of all you are an editor at a newspaper and now a writer. Tell us which one is better, according to you?
Both jobs require separate sets of talent. Newspapers deal with news, facts, analysis and writing it in a particular style. Writing fiction is a difficult graduation, particularly if you are a reporter. You have to ensure that common thread throughout the novel, make sense of the entire work, give shape to your characters, pace the novel well enough, ensure it doesn’t move too fast and also ensure it does have imagery, but not to the point where it gets boring and then be ready to face all kinds of off-hand questions -- intelligent as well as stupid -- as to how things could have been done differently, etc.
Q6. How was it working with Petals Publisher?
Working with Harpreet has been good. He is ambitious and really backs you up with his set of plans. He was kind enough to adjust to some of my idiosyncratic demands. I wish him all the success in his future endeavors.
Q7. Tell us some of your memories associated with this book?
I do not have real fond memories. I was only worried that it should see the light of the day, especially, for someone making a debut there is a possibility that you may abandon it half way through. So I just wanted to write it as early as possible. That anxiety I think was one big reason why I did not really enjoy writing it. I constantly had the destination in mind. In fact, some of my friends later on apprised me of paragraphs, sentences, narration, which they felt were the soul of the novel.
Q8. How do you envision your book and what impact will it create among readers?
I am sure it is not a run-of-the-mill stuff. It is unsual. It is a philosophical thriller, very linear and I have deliberately cut out the imagery to ensure it does not lose pace. I have just got one negative feedback out of close to a hundred readers.
Q9. What marketing strategy you are using to promote your book?
Well, I have already done two launches in Chandigarh and Shimla. I plan a couple more after a break. But I think books have a long and very different shelf life. One never knows, when it starts to create a buzz. It could even be five years after the launch. So even though, marketing is important but I believe a real book gets what it deserves.
Q10. What is the source of your inspiration?
My source of inspiration has to be the instinct to write better than yesterday. Anybody who is creative, would like to keep growing.
Q11. What is your favorite genre in writing?
I have always been in awe of good writing. So I do not subscribe to a genre of writing. But I suppose writing magical realism is challenging.
Q12. Any future projects?
Yeah. I will not like to disclose it right away.
Q13. How do you tackle negative reviews for the book?
Negative reviews can be helpful. It offers you enough to learn. But it is up to the author to selectively learn from the reviews. And also to let some of it come your way and not pay attention to. If I get a feeling, a particular review is not a review, but just a job done, then I will give it only that much importance.
Q14. How did you get the idea for the book. Did you do any research for the book?
The idea never came up at once. As I wrote, the idea kept graduating and fine tuning in my mind. I started the novel in 2008. The idea got a good final shape by about 2013. That is when I felt that this is what would be good enough. As far as research is concerned, yes small bits of research was carried out.
Q15. What Do’s and Don’t’s a writer should consider while writing a book?
The do’s are that you have to maintain continuity. It is a marathon work. The deadlines can be very impractical. And just strictly sticking to the deadline could mean invitation to howlers and major embarrassments in your work. So be true to yourself and invite as much criticism before the book is out. Well, I haven’t looked at the don’ts.
Q16. When you are not writing what you like to do in your free time?
Watching Youtube, reading, watching television. Of late swimming as well.
Q17. Do you think writing is the best profession in this world?
No, in that sense I am quite secular. It is a choice one wants to make and that choice should be left to the person and what one loves to do.
Q18. Describe your writing style?
In my case writing style would mostly be over-shadowed by the storytelling and the intrinsic philosophy that goes along.
Q19. What is your biggest strength while writing?
I use narrative style but not very descriptive and expository. In my debut work, I have tried to use shorter sentences where the novel has to move forward quickly. Since it has certain amount of thrill. Wherever, there is philosophy, I have tried to slow down to be more static. Again one may not find too much imagery because then there would have been a danger of sailing in three boats.
Q20. What message you would like to convey to our readers and fellow writers?
Read it and enjoy. I said at the very outset it is a bizarre and unusual work. Thefeedback which I later got was that yes I was true in saying it was bizarre and unusual and last word I left to the readers. And they have said it is wonderful as well.
Author can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It was nice talking to you. All the best for your book