- How many books and novellas have you written so far?
I started out as a short story writer. My short stories for children and adults have been published in newspapers and magazines across India. My book publishing career started with two nonfiction books – published by Harlequin India and Collins. After that, I started self publishing my short stories and novellas and there are about 20 of these ebooks right now. Recently, two of my romance novellas were published by Juggernaut Books.
2. Could you tell us about your writing journey?
My writing journey began in school when a teacher encouraged me to write stories and read them out to my classmates. I grew up reading books and always thought it would be wonderful to live in the world of publishing. My idols were authors like Beverly Cleary and P G Wodehouse. So, during my full time stint at a major newspaper, I asked them if I could write short stories for the kids’ supplement. And that’s how my writing career got serious.
The chance to traditionally publish two nonfiction books came a couple of years after I became a full time writer. After that, I wanted to take advantage of self publishing, inspired by Sundari Venkatraman who showed us what a good option it is. And with time and experience, I can say that both paths to publishing have pros and cons. That’s why I recently published two romance novellas with a publisher too.
3. What is your educational background? How has it helped you in your writing?
I am a psychology graduate from University of Rochester (USA) and I’ve always had a keen interest in human behaviour and emotions. My understanding of human nature and my empathy that has come from that, has helped me write characters from the heart. When I write, it is easy to put myself in the character’s shoes/mind/heart.
4. Could you tell us about your latest book?
My new novella, Mira, is about a woman who has just escaped from a domestic abuse situation. She is eager to find herself. Her estranged husband wants to make things difficult for her and her father isn’t supportive because divorce is looked down upon in society. But Mira has support and the willpower to build a new life. That includes finding love in an unexpected place.
5. You are a mental health advocate as well. Could you tell us more about the work you do in this area and why you chose to do it?
I chose to speak openly about my struggles with anxiety and depression on social media and with anyone else who wants to talk to me. Twitter has a good mental health community that encouraged me to speak up. Twitter is the place where I found out that I’m not alone.
In my writing, I have protagonists with mental health issues sometimes, including anxiety and body image issues.
6. Which are some of your favourite reads?
I love reading books by Sarah Morgan and Mandy Baggot. I recently read a fun book called Excess Baggage by Richa S. Mukherjee. Reet Singh has a very romantic book with a hot hero called Satin & Sapphire. Loved it.
7. Name some of your favourite literary characters.
Lord Emsworth and Jeeves from P G Wodehouse books. Ramona from Beverly Cleary books. Andrea from The Devil Wears Prada.
8. Out of all your books, which one is closest to your heart and why?
I am a cat lady and a proud cat mom, so Crazy Cat Lady Finds Love is closest to my heart.
9. Which is one book (other than your own) that you would highly recommend to bibliophiles?
This is too hard! I recently loved a nonfiction book about the Jaipur royal family called The House of Jaipur. I rarely read this genre but it was very informative and written in an interesting way.
10. Any words of advice to aspiring novelists?
Find out what works for you – whether it’s 20 minute writing sprints or early morning writing sessions. Don’t try to copy anyone’s style. Be you. And don’t use two words where one will do.