10 classics with less than 200 pages

Some readers get put off by tomes. Some people have lost the habit of reading books and are looking to get back to it. For the benefit of these readers, I’ve compiled a list of 10 books having less than 200 pages each. Happy reading.

  1. The picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde – 165 pages

This is Oscar Wilde’s only novel. Wilde combines elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction. It is a portrayal of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young man in late 19th-century England. The premise of the book is that as Dorian Gray lives a life of crime and decadence, his body retains its youth while his portrait reflects his debauchery

2. The wind in the willows-Kenneth Grahame- 172 pages

Four friends – the mole, the rat, the badger and the toad – go on a series of adventures. They explore the mysteries of life in the Wild Wood. They end up in a car crash, in jail, and a battle with weasels. A tale of wanderlust, this book will appeal to several generations

3. The painter of signs – R.K. Narayan- 183 pages

The painter of signs is the story of Raman, who paints signboards in Malgudi, R.K. Narayan’s fictional town. Daisy is an attractive young woman who engages Raman to paint signs advocating two-child families. This bittersweet tale of love in India reveals as much about the country as it does about its lead pair

4. The thirty-nine steps – John Buchan – 133 pages

This is the first and arguably the best of John Buchan’s Richard Hannay thrillers. Scudder, who is being chased by deadly traitors, seeks refuge at Hannay’s residence. He is soon found dead with a dagger driven through his heart. Accused of his murder, Hannay flees his home and takes on the culprits after being cleared by law

5. Bonjour Tristesse- Francoise Sagan – 113 pages

Cecile leads a hedonistic life with her father and his young mistress. When she is on holiday in the south of France, she takes a lover. However, when her father decides to remarry, a tragedy takes place

A picture of the 10 classics mentioned in the blog post

6. The prince and the pauper – Mark Twain – 190 pages

Two boys – one an urchin from London and another, a prince from a palace unwittingly trade identities. The urchin finds a life of riches while the prince is reduced to a life of rags

7. A streetcar named desire – Tennessee Williams – 142 pages

It is one of the most renowned plays of our time, winning a Pulitzer prize. Blanche Du Bois, a southern beauty meets a tragic end brought on by her insensitive brother-in-law, Stanley Kowlaski. The movie of the same name starred Marlon Brando as Kowlaski and Vivien Leigh as Blanche

8. Of mice and men – John Steinbeck- 121 pages

This novella is about two drifters – George and simple-minded Lennie. They start working on a ranch and George must keep his friend out of trouble. It is a powerful tale of friendship.

9. A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf- 117 pages

This essay by Virginia Woolf was first published in 1929. The author develops the idea of what would have happened to Shakespeare’s sister, arguing for the value of independence for any creative writer.

10. The outsider – Albert Camus- 111 pages

Mersault is a non-conformist. When his mother dies, he refuses to show any emotion. He commits a random act of violence and again lacks remorse, which compounds his guilt in the eyes of the law and society. This portrayal of a man confronting the absurdity of human life is an existentialist classic.

Hemingway’s way to good writing

Ernest Hemingway is so popular in literature that there is a writing/editing app named after him: The Hemingway app. The renowned writer’s most famous work is arguably ‘The Old man and the sea,’ for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

I started re-reading Hemingway’s ‘A moveable feast’ last week. It is a memoir of his life in Paris in the 1920s although written during the last years of his life. He writes about his encounters with literary stars like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and others. “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway to a friend in 1950.

In this blog post, I have compiled the following four tips from his observations on writing in ‘The Moveable Feast’:

Tip 1- Stop writing when you know what’s going to happen next.

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way, I could be sure of going on the next day. (Page 7)

I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. (Page 16)

Tip 2: Write one true sentence. Cut the ornament out and start with the first true simple declarative sentence.

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So finally, I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut the scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. Up in that room, I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline. “ ( Page 7)

Tip 3- Don’t think about writing when you are not writing. Put your subconscious mind to work.

“It was in that room that I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time, I would be listening to other people and noticing everything.” (Page 7)

Tip 4- Use similes to bring your writing to life.  

Hemingway’s descriptions of women are rich and beautiful. ” She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain- freshened skin, and her hair was black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek,” he says of a girl in a café. ( Page 3)

Ernest Hemingway had a minimalist style of writing, and he believed in writing short sentences. Writers and editors would do well to read his work and glean lessons from his writing style.

Composition of a Woman

I read ‘Composition of a woman’ by Christine E Ray, a book of poems about womanhood and its attendant issues. ‘Composition of a woman’ is her debut collection of poetry that won the Reader’s Favourite Bronze Medal in Poetry in 2019.

Christine has covered topics such as fibromyalgia, depression, menopause, love, heartbreak, middle age, sexuality and vulnerability in her poems. She has laid bare her emotions on these pages unreservedly. Although dealing with complex emotions and topics, the book flows easily and will most likely have you returning to it to check out how a turn of phrase sits on the page or how something was described. The poet writes with candour and without a trace of self-consciousness or self-indulgence.

Cover of ‘Composition of a Woman’

The collection is in free verse, but some of the work is prose-poetry.

In one of her poems, she wonders how “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice”. She notes that some of them are mean girls!

Her ‘On becoming a poet’ encapsulates what it is to be a poet –

“Sometimes, adopting the names ‘writer’ and ‘poet’ led her to encounters with the most amazing minds connecting her with a larger community

At other times she thought that ‘writer’ and poet’ were the loneliest names she had ever called herself waking up every morning

To unzip her chest, her gut

And bare her truths to the world

Because like others of her kind

She was complex, messy containing

Multiple truths, not a singular one…”

Her sense of humour sparkles through some of the poems. Some of her poems are named after books by famous authors such as The Bluest Eyes, Bad Feminist, We should all be feminists, The bell jar etc.  She draws from the canon of great feminist literature and weaves magic on the pages of this tribute to womanhood. Read it! It’s available on Kindle Unlimited for free.

Hard Times

How does one cope with hard times? – It is a question that most people are contemplating amid the pandemic, but the answers seem elusive for most. Listening to music, writing poetry, reading, walking, exercise, playing with pets, chatting with good friends, writing, gardening, or simply zoning out can be therapeutic. But this pandemic has gone on for more than 1.5 years and everyone is looking for it to end. The end of the tunnel seems far away.

How long can hobbies carry us forward? When the pandemic began last year, I enrolled in so many courses, listened to so many webinars and read so many books that it led to eye issues and my personal computer and phone crashed!

Everyone wanted 2020 to end because they somehow believed 2021 would be different – ‘the promise of a new day’ to quote Paula Abdul . But 2021 turned out worse for most people with COVID-19 taking lives and people scrambling for oxygen cylinders. Now, things are better with vaccination, but we are not out of the woods yet.

Pic credit: Unsplash

Last year, I wrote entries in an app called Presently to record my gratitude and remain positive. This year, I’m taking care not to burden myself with too many tasks that lead to burnout. Saying no is an important part of staying alive and sane.

It’s common to get psychosomatic illnesses when one is stressed. A migraine, neck pain, body pain – these can wreak havoc on your wellness quotient. Almost everyone I know has experienced this. If you are feeling this way, I see you and hear you. Take care and get well soon.

I plan to get back to reading once my eye issues are better. These are the books on my TBR:

  1. Composition of a woman by Christine E Ray
  2. The Kitty Party Murder by Kiran Manral
  3. All Aboard by Kiran Manral
  4. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
  5. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
  6. The Beach Read by Emily Henry

And several others.

Which books have you been reading?

My 2021 Reading List – Part 1

I’d read 55 books last year, so this year I set myself a low target of 12 books since I was experiencing eye issues. However, it is July, and I’ve already read 32 books. Here is a list. I have hyperlinked some of these books to reviews I’ve written of them.  I’ve also hyperlinked my interviews with the authors of a few of these books. How many of them have you read? Do let me know in the comments.

  1. The midnight library – Matt Haig
  2. The introvert’s edge to networking  – Matthew Pollard
  3. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  4. To be or not to be a writer – Sweetycat Press
  5. Strangely familiar tales– Vijayalakshmi Harish
  6. The anatomy of scars– Arjun Raj Gaind
  7. Hate that cat – Sharon Creech
  8. Isolocation – Various poets
  9. Vignettes – A slice of life – Chandrika R Krishnan. Here’s my interview with the author.
  10. 23 letters of love – Suchita Agarwal
  11. Writing flash fiction- Carly Berg
  12. Moonletters- Dr. Saumya Goyal
  13. Women Mutiny- Various authors
  14. The adventures of the JP family- Radhika Acharya. Read my interview with her here.
  15. Three is a lonely number – Baisali Chandra Dutt
  16. Eating sugar, telling lies – Kuzhali Manickavel
  17. La Douler Exquise – Kavya U Janani
  18. Anthology of short stories- Volume 1- Edited by Jilly Snowdon and featuring my chick lit story ‘Snapshots of a single girl’s life’. It is available on Smashwords here.
  19. The cursed stone – Ushasi Sen Basu
  20. Raising Capable Children – Sakshi Varma
  21. Good Morning, Monster – Catherine Gildiner
  22. Who’s who of emerging writers 2020.
  23. The Lucy Temerlin Institute Guide to Starving Boys: Their Salient Features, How to Find Them, How to Care for Them after They Die, and Four Considerations … on Cryptodiversity and Decoherence – Kuzhali Manickavel
  24. ‘Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021’ featuring my bio as well! The book is available here.
  25. Side Effects of Living – Edited by Jhilmil Breckenridge and Namrata Kathait
  26. Jaya – Devdutt Pattanaik
  27. Death is my beloved – Laudeep Singh
  28. Chasing Sunsets – Vaibhav Dange
  29. Kintsugi – My flash fiction story ‘Mended and Precious’ is included in this anthology available on amazon! Do read it and let me know what you think.
  30. Tickled Pink – Five of my poems are featured here as a result of winning a competition and my content was declared “the best content”.
  31. Misters Kuru – Trisha Das
  32. Teachings of Bhagavad Gita– Richa Tilokani

The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita by Richa Tilokani

With the pandemic raging worldwide, everyone is returning to their roots to find solace and seek comfort. Richa Tilokani’s ‘The teachings of Bhagavad Gita’  – Timeless wisdom for the modern age- comes at the right time to offer wisdom to those who seek it. I thank Richa for the review copy. This 226-page book, which promises to contain the essence of the Bhagavad Gita, should invite readers who are daunted by the perceived complexity of the original text.

Richa in the preface says “I was taught the Bhagavat Gita – which is a part of the epic Mahabharata written by the sage Vyasa- by my grandfather Pandit Vishnukant Shastri who was a revered scholar and a true devotee of Lord Rama.”

Distilling the essence of 700 verses, which are considered to contain Brahm Gyan or supreme knowledge, is no mean feat and Richa has attempted to simplify the text and adapt it to modern times.

Book Cover

Richa has laid out the book in 18 chapters, starting with an introduction or Vishad Yoga, moving on to an introductory summary of the Gita or Sankhya Yoga, and then covering the art of work or Karma Yoga, the transcendental knowledge or gyan karma sansaya yoga and other aspects until the eighteenth chapter, The art of renunciation or Moksha Sanyasa Yoga.

“The Bhagavad Gita says that Arjuna is full of sorrow, at a time when he should have been fighting the war. He represents the common man who is full of unhappiness, dilemmas and worries at most times. Arjuna faces many difficult questions on the battlefield and these are similar to the problems people face on the battlefield called life,” says Richa.

The book has nuggets like “With knowledge and devotion, one can become free from the illusions of the world.”

The real cause of sorrow according to Lord Krishna is ignorance, and only true wisdom can give one freedom from it. I recommend this book to the spiritually inclined, who want to glean knowledge, gain wisdom and rise above their sorrows.

To read Richa’s interview about her writing journey, favourite books and more,  check out my earlier post. You can buy The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita on Amazon.

My book reviews of ‘Chasing Sunsets’ by Vaibhav Dange and ‘Death is my only beloved’ by Laudeep Singh

I read ‘Chasing Sunsets: Poems and prose’ by Vaibhav Dange as a part of the HBB Book Review Programme. It is the author’s third book of poems, but the first one that I sampled. After reading ‘Chasing Sunsets’, I’m eager to read the poet’s other two books of poetry: ‘Letters from a stranger’ and ‘A walk on a burning bridge.’

The poet has dedicated ‘Chasing Sunsets’ “to every person who is torn apart in love and is grateful for it.” In the acknowledgements section, he has thanked the people who stayed and also the people who left.  The book cover is designed by Dhriti Chakraborty.

Book Cover of Chasing Sunsets

The poems are divided into four sections or “chapters” as the poet calls them: Cyclic emotions, Denial, Breaking Point and Acceptance. The poems are written in free verse.

‘Chasing Sunsets’ has poems on depression, grief, fear, love, loss, inertia and even one poem on the pandemic.  One of the poems mentions wormholes and the space-time continuum. Another poem carries “a message from the moon.”

The poems are deeply emotional and reflect sensitivity. They cover a range of emotions and these poems would appeal to anyone who has ever been in love and felt its joy and pain. I recommend this book to all lovers of poetry and to introverts and highly sensitive people. 

Better editing would have led to a more pleasurable reading experience.

I recently read ‘Death is my only beloved’ by Laudeep Singh as a part of the HBB book review programme. The book has been published by Invincible Publishers. It is dedicated to “everyone who has a heart that bleeds and eyes that weep.” The cover design and the beautiful illustrations in the book are by the poet’s sister Shruti Singh.

The poet ends his acknowledgements section with “ I want to thank all my former girlfriends for stabbing me in the heart.” There is also a preface and a section where he quotes famous poets.

Book Cover of ‘Death is my only beloved’

The opening poem “Conked out” is almost macabre, with the poet comparing broken dreams to underfed malnourished babies. A few poems later, there is “Purgatory,” which is more like the poet’s musings on the demise of a loved one. Some of the poems seem like ramblings. The poet also touches upon smoking and drinking in one of his poems, outlining his dependence on them. The poet also comes up with some strange musings “ If I ever tie the knot and if I ever have children, I want them to abhor me for two reasons. First, because hate is purer than love. Second, because if my children happen to love me, then they will never be able to live their own lives as they will always mourn thinking about all that their father had been through in his life, long after I perish from Earth’. The poet, in another poem, talks about teachers who picked on him in school. The poems are in free verse.

I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. The illustrations and cover art are, however, fantastic. Have you read either of these books?

Interview with Author Richa Tilokani

  1. Could you tell us about your book, “The teachings of Bhagavad Gita” released on 15 April 2021?

Well, as the name suggests, the book introduces the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to the first- time readers and also to those readers who had attempted to read it earlier but gave up due to its perceived complexity, language barrier etc.

I have attempted to translate it simply, to showcase the Gita’s treasure trove of wisdom in a clear and easy to-understand manner.

I hope anyone who reads it will be able to use its simple tools and tips to imbibe its core message, which encourages us to be the best version of ourselves and to live life to the fullest.

2. What prompted you to write this book?

Most translations of the Gita are written by great saints and spiritual experts, so many people are wary of picking them up as they think they will be too complex, not relatable, too long or too abstract.

I felt that I could approach it in a way a lay person would understand, as I had the unique advantage of being one myself. I thought I could reach more people in this way and also dispel many myths and misconceptions around it like it is only for the older generation, etc. No, it is relevant and useful to everyone and anyone who wants to live a meaningful, productive life.

We, the smartphone generation, are grappling with so many problems including COVID-19, so anything which can help us manage ourselves better seems to be the need of the hour. (Of course, we were not living in a pandemic when I started writing it.) 

Plus, a woman’s view point on the sacred book was also missing, so I tried to incorporate that as well.

3. How did you undertake the research for this book?

I feel like I have been preparing to write this book my entire life. I was taught the Gita from a young age by my granddad, who was an eminent scholar and prolific author. He and my mother were blessed to have learnt its essence from their Guru.

Growing up, as a family, we attended a lot of Gita and spiritual classes, talks and lectures. I was always making notes trying to understand more about it and a few years back, I felt that if I organised them better, not only me but many others, too, could benefit from it.

For additional research, I read a lot of books on it, searched online and had long discussions with my mother who explained the concepts in detail and shared literature on it. My sister and dad have also supported me in my research.

Even after so many years, I still learn something new from it, every time I reread it. So the most important point is to approach it as a humble student, with gratitude and a devoted outlook. I tried to do that and it made my journey a little less daunting.

Pic of author Richa Tilokani

4. Could you tell us about your publishing journey during the pandemic?

Well, I got a lot of “no’s” when I started out. Publishers said they had already covered the topic, wondered whether it was really necessary or it did not seem to fit their plan.  It’s a tough time for the publishing industry, so the path ahead was not clear initially.

I was, however, not overly worried because I was ready to self- publish. I was not going to let the pandemic stop me, after taking so much from us already.

So, I decided to try one more time and sent the manuscript to Hay House India and to my delight, they were willing to publish it. I am very grateful to them for all their help and cannot thank them enough. The team is very supportive, kind and patient and this is very encouraging to a first-time writer like me. 

5. Could you tell us about your educational background? Has it helped in your writing?

I did my graduation in Commerce from Ethiraj College in Chennai then went to Mumbai to do MBA in marketing from SP Jain.

Writing after MBA is a cliché now after so many similar stories, but if the heart wants to write, write it shall.

I think my MBA background helped me to a great extent- in the sense that we are taught to think about the bigger picture, go deeper into the details and look at innovative ways of analysing any paradigm.

I have tried to apply what I learned- thinking critically, analysing, researching, structuring the learning, editing, examining alternatives and re-learning at every stage.

Learning the art of Marketing was a pleasure and as you may know, it is all about communicating with and delighting the customer. So, it came handy when I decided to write- my aim was to make the content easy to read, relevant and understandable so that my readers could benefit from it. (Especially since the topic is so deep, layered and vast.) From making PowerPoints on the art of management to writing a book on the art of self- empowerment, it has been a rewarding journey indeed!

I believe that whether as a student at a business school or as a student of life, if we can learn the importance of the three types of work- hard work, homework and team work- we can achieve so much more.

6. Do you have lessons to share from your own writing journey?

I have been writing for a long time now. Be it marketing communication, press releases, poems, ad films, columns or books, I love writing them all. So, my key takeaway is if you are passionate about something, just keep at it. Keep honing your skill, don’t give up; try to write every day. All good things take time and yes, even writers block fades away. Even if it may take months or years. (Just kidding! Or not.) Have faith and read a lot – that always helps

7.Name some of your favourite reads?

I love reading Charles Dickens, Deepak Chopra, Amar Chitra Katha, John Grisham, Jeffrey Archer, Robin Cook, JK Rowling, Danielle Steel, Sophie Kinsella, Mills and Boon etc. There are just so many books I have enjoyed- both fiction and non-fiction. Earlier, I would read more fiction but now I like to read content that inspires me -like I am Malala, Stephen Hawking, the Ishavashya Upanishad, Rumi’s sayings etc

8. Name some of your favourite literary characters.

My favourite character is Sherlock Holmes because he is brilliant, bold and he can solve any problem. That seems like a much-needed skill today, I suppose. But he should have been written as a woman character- that would have made him even more interesting.

9. What are the lessons you would like to share for writers during the pandemic?

To my fellow writers, I want to say just hang in there. It’s a difficult time and everybody is suffering in varying degrees. The losses are heart-breaking but we have no other choice. Let’s just take care of our loved ones, stay safe and wait it out.
Writing is such a solitary exercise, so we miss meeting people, going to new places, experiencing new things- that’s where we get the energy to keep going.

But we are in no position to complain because so many others have it worse than us. Let’s do what we can to help others and also take care of ourselves. Write, exercise, smile more, dance, read or take a break- it’s not the time to put pressure on yourself.

10. Which is one book (other than your own) that you would recommend to bibliophiles?

It is difficult to recommend one because there are so many wonderful books out there. I would recommend a genre- motivating, inspiring books, because they are very positive, interesting to read, and they have a lot of tips which we can implement in our lives. And that’s great if we can benefit from the wisdom of our fellow beings. Perhaps we can avoid making the mistakes they made and simply make new ones- seems like a win-win proposition to me.   

Book Review of ‘Misters Kuru: A Return to Mahabharata’

‘Ms Draupadi Kuru: After the Pandavas’ by Trisha Das was released on 22 August 2016. I now received ‘Misters Kuru: A Return to Mahabharata’ by the same author through the Blogchatter book review program. The book is published by Harper Collins India.

Trisha Das is also the author of ‘Kama’s Last Sutra’, ‘The Mahabharata Re-imagined’, ‘The Art of the Television Interview’ and the internationally acclaimed ‘How to Write a Documentary Script’. She has written and directed over forty documentaries in her filmmaking career. Trisha has also won an Indian National Film Award (2005) and was UGA’s ‘International Artist of the year’ (2003). She has also written columns and short stories for ‘Magical Women’ and several publications.

Book Cover

The book opens with Arjuna making love to a nymph and contemplating his own relationships with his fourth wife Subhadra and his first wife, Draupadi. Later, Subhadra informs Arjuna that Draupadi and Kunti have been reborn on earth. When Arjuna brings this up with his brothers, they decide to follow the two women to earth to bring them back to heaven.

Meanwhile, on earth, Amba seems to be experiencing post-partum depression. Draupadi has joined NPTV and become a talk show host. She even has a stalker! Kunti has become the warden of a home for orphaned children. The Bhartiya Youth Mata Centre from Ayodhya has made a large donation to the orphanage.
Kunti says that aeons ago, she had announced the marriage of her five sons to one woman: Draupadi. But now, she grants Draupadi her “freedom.”

The author places Yudhisthira in a position where he is challenged for his life choices by the public and Yudhishthira explains his stance, marking a stark contrast between then and now. Arjuna chances upon cricket being played and finds out he has a knack for the sport. Narada Muni helps out in the kitchen of the orphanage where Kunti volunteers. Bhima comes face to face with Karan, the reincarnation of his former half-brother, Karna in the orphanage. They start a food business together!

The modern-day setting of Delhi serves for a retelling of the age-old epic that is as colourful as the book’s cover. Some readers would be shocked that Arjuna finds a dildo in Draupadi’s bedroom. Parts of the book are more ‘Veere de wedding” and less Mahabharata, but then this is not a mythological retelling, but a creative retelling of the story using the original characters and setting them in present-day Delhi. Whether it’s Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva going shopping for slim-fit jeans and Nakula saying, “They must have balls of brass these days” or Arjuna feeling itchy “down there” one wouldn’t imagine the heroes of the Mahabharata in such situations.

The author has taken absolute creative license with reimagining the Mahabharata. Humorous situations are aplenty and the author lets her imagination run riot with the cast of characters from India’s oldest epic. Some may not take to this book as they might feel it trivialises the heroes of our epic. One needs to have a whacky sense of humour to enjoy the twists and turns this story takes. The book will appeal to millennials and the less sedate crowd.

Here’s the link to the book on Amazon India. This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program.

Interview with Author Chandrika R Krishnan

  1. 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

In this blog post, I feature an interview with Chandrika R Krishnan, author, self-confessed 'reluctant poet" and storyteller.
Author Chandrika R. Krishnan

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.

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