- Could you tell us about your flash fiction collection, ‘Vignettes: A slice of life’?
“Life is happening while you are busy making plans,” said John Lennon.
I think this thought runs through most of my writings as stories are happening as you are living your life! My writings are mostly experiential – things that can happen to you, neighbour, someone you know. That’s my theme for this collection. A smile or a chance encounter can make you view life differently. It’s not just a 6- year old having a puppy follow him home. It can be at 60 too! What happens if a statue starts talking and says, enough is enough to statue politics? What if our memory decides to take a walk? Do we ask a visually challenged person if he really wants to cross the road? What happens when patriarchy meets democracy? Is there an age to offer help or can we become younger and find the purpose of our life by offering that help? What if an underling has to suddenly step into the giant shoes of his employer without advance notice? All the above and many more make for this eclectic collection of twelve flash fictions.
2. Could you tell us about your writing journey?
I was seventeen and my very first story was published in Woman’s Era. Short of taking out a billboard, I tried to let everyone know that I wrote. I walked a couple of inches above the ground.
It was my mother who noticed my scribbling on the back of the calendar paper and she read the story that talked about a married couple who have teething problems but they eventually iron them out. She did not know what to make of it considering my age but she was sufficiently invested in it to seek a second opinion from my ‘perpetually procrastinating father’ who was more of a serious reader. She made me visit the local typist for the story to be typed out, get it re-typed after the edit and then use the ‘snail mail’ enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope in case of a reject.
It was one hell of a costly affair not to speak of the time taken between writing and publication if at all. By the time, I finished my college three stories were published in the same magazine and as many faced rejections. Looking back, I believe that despite such early successes I couldn’t capitalize enough because of limited markets for short stories and sending them out was even more of a tedious job. Moreover, I smarted at the rejects. Today, I am happy getting them as it is preferable to silence!
I have published around 300 pieces in both print and online media. Some of the well-known markets have been: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Mint, Quint, Jakarta Post among others. Stories have found their way into Good Housekeeping India, New Woman among others and have my stories out in ten anthologies. So, all in all am in happy space. Recently, I have started my blog and am happy at the way it has turned out to be.
3.What do you enjoy writing the most? – Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, journalistic pieces or some other form? Why?
I started with short stories, moved to poems (though I call myself a reluctant poet!) wrote plenty of articles then ventured into flash fictions. I think I am hooked to flash fictions particularly after I discovered them
4. What is your educational background? How has it helped you in your writing?
I am a teacher by profession. I have done my MA in English Literature. My reading and teaching of English has helped me quite a lot. Moreover, it provided fodder for plenty of articles based on parenting and academics/ teaching etc
5. What motivates you to write?
To share my thoughts, the high of seeing my name in print… there must be more to it..but if I don’t write for a couple of days in succession, I feel I am missing something
6.Which are some of your favourite reads?
I have eclectic taste. I like crimes – the kind of Agatha Christie and little known Evelyn Anthony. I like humour in PG Wodehouse books. I love thrillers a la David Baldacci, Alistair Maclean. I am very fond of court room scenes like the Perry Mason series. I love romance a la Mills and Boons (I am very choosy about authors .I like Carole Mortimer, Janet Dailey, Charlotte Lamb) I discovered Jill Mansell and love her books. I am not too fond of non-fictions though I do read them but it can never be my first choice!
7. Name some of your favourite literary characters.
Uncle Tom from Uncle Tom’s Cabin
8. Which books on writing would you recommend to aspiring writers?
I liked Atomic Habits..though it is not on writing . It gave me direction
9. Do you have lessons to share from your own writing journey?
Don’t be disheartened by rejections. Write every day and read extensively. I learnt all of them during the pandemic… so guess the 9th and 10th are interconnected
10. What lessons do you have to share for writers during the pandemic?
We all are in the same boat. Accept that and try and write every day even if you are not too happy with what you write.
Found the interview very interesting.
Nice interview aishwariya! Read the book and found it interesting!