You’ve written romances of all kinds – second-chance romance, paranormal, royals, single mom etc. Which one is your favorite kind and why?
Oh, that’s an interesting question I haven’t been asked before. I think the books in my Inn Love romance series have been my favorite to write so far. I chose a different country and fictitious inn for each book, and being an innkeeper myself, I could subtly weave my own experiences into the stories. Plus, I just love armchair travel and can get lost in the research for the settings.
On the other hand, I also loved writing my paranormal romance trilogy because I’ve always enjoyed various elements of the supernatural. It was something completely new for me to write, bringing its own challenges and more freedom to try out something different.
2. Could you tell us about your educational background?
I don’t often talk about it because (especially in Sri Lanka) people tend to look down on me for not being a degree holder. I graduated from German high school with top marks, but I never attended university or got any other kind of degree (although I started an office management diploma in Germany for a few months, several years later). Life happened and I made some choices I don’t regret at all.
3. How easy or hard is it to put yourself in the shoes of the different characters you write?
I’ve always had a very vivid imagination and also been observant, so I find that part easy. And I think being an introvert helps. I can get into other people’s hearts and minds and empathize, which is important.
4. What are the challenges you face while writing series as opposed to standalone romance novels?
Some of my series feature stand-alone books even though they have a common thread or theme. I think it’s remembering details from previous books that need to be consistent. I’m pretty bad with dates/time frames, names, things like that.
5. Do you believe there is a formula when it comes to writing romances?
Well, if it’s genre romance, then of course there are certain unspoken rules; and if you write for a publisher, there are ‘spoken’ rules too. I’m not constricted by those but try to work with popular tropes and keep in mind what readers enjoy. I guess that is a formula in itself.
But I believe there’s only one rule that HAS to be met when writing romance: a happy ending a.k.a. HEA (happily ever after) or alternatively HFN (happy for now) if it’s a series.
6. Which are some books on romance writing you’ve read and would recommend?
I have to say I haven’t read any of those – although I do read general romance or writing advice blog posts. In that regard, I can recommend Jami Gold and the guest authors on her site, as well as Jesse Stuart.
7. Could you name some of your favorite romance novels?
That’s impossible, sorry! Some of my favorite romance novelists are Nora Roberts, Sylvia Day, and Cass Michaels.
8. Looking back at your journey as a writer, what are some things you would avoid doing today if you could?
Hm, another great question. I’ve learned from reviews of my earliest books that I shouldn’t get too lost in describing the setting and the background information but weave it into my plot and have my characters interact with it instead.
9. What do you consider your greatest achievement till date?
Writing-wise? Probably that I embarked on this self-publishing journey at all. I started in 2013 and I’ve published almost 20 books so far, some of them co-written.
10. What is your advice to aspiring romance writers?
Read as much as you can, and write as much as you can (ideally both in your genre, but that doesn’t have to be). And never forget that writing itself is just the start, it’s the marketing effort afterwards that counts, too.
What was your inspiration behind writing Isapuram Tales?
I did not intend to write children’s books. You could say, the books came to me. One day in 2016, when I was going through a challenging time in life, I felt the urge to write. I had a vision in my mind and felt a pressing need to write. It was a scene with a little girl laughing on a swing. She was being pushed on it by an old grandpa-looking man. Little did I know that it would lead to nine stories, which would eventually become two books. They are India’s first spiritual fiction books for ages 7-99!
Honestly, as I wrote, I had no idea of what would appear on paper. I worked in partnership with the Universe, in readiness and acceptance of what would appear. All I knew was I had no resistance to what was being written. As the stories came, they turned out to be simple reminders about life, the mind, people, relationships, emotions. In the stories, these were being experienced by children, questioned by children, but the wisdom they hold are important to adults as well. I re-learnt many important lessons as I wrote the stories, and at one point of time, I just knew they had to be shared with the world.
2. Could you tell us about your writing journey and educational background?
I started writing when I was in grade Five, poems about life, sorrow, and joy. Childish ones, but they seem very wise in retrospect! Writing and reading were all I knew. I would live, breathe, and sleep books. And so, naturally, I wanted to study literature in college. My dad wanted me to do engineering and we ended up deciding Commerce was the compromise! Makes no sense, but that is what I graduated in.
But even as I studied commerce, the real writing began. I started freelancing during college. By the time I was 18, encouraged by my brother, I was writing for the Times of India Supplements. Then after graduation, I chose to do my post-graduation in journalism. Though I already had a body of work by then, it was the best decision I had made, for I got to study under the doyens of journalism. I ended up securing the highest marks and graduating with the Jehan Daruwalla Merit scholarship. Since then, I have been a travel writer, a content writer, a communications specialist with development agencies, etc. The writing has been varied.
3. Could you tell us about your publishing journey?
For years, journalism was the mainstay, but I wrote poems and short stories on the side, dreaming they would be published in books one day. More than a decade ago that dream came true with poems in literary magazines and short stories in anthologies. Around this time, I won an award from the State of Andhra Pradesh for one of my travel pieces.
Then I had a soul-awakening kind of period. After chasing words and success for years, I felt a disconnection with what I was seeking. I felt no fulfillment with what I had worked so hard to earn. For almost five years after that I almost gave up writing, working only sporadically. And then, just like that when I least expected it, Diya and Baba (the lead characters of Isapuram Tales book series) came into my life. I did have a contract with a traditional publisher. But soon into the journey, I felt a lot of differences in our approaches to the book. So, we amicably parted ways and I decided to take the crazy decision of self-publishing children’s books! It has been a wild and challenging adventure; India is still not open to self-published books and marketing them is very tough.
4. You conduct writing workshops on therapeutic writing techniques, too. Could you tell us about them?
I have always been interested in the mind, emotions, and the soul department since I was a child. These fall under the “spiritual” category, and I now identify most as a spiritual seeker. The therapeutic writing is an outcome of that journey. I have spent over 25 years learning and practicing from different spiritual teachers and traditions. But the last almost 10 years have been with a guide and mentor who I owe a lot of my awakening to – GD. Somewhere in these meanderings, I discovered how much I turn to writing as a tool to bring emotional and mental stability into my life.
I began to explore the power of writing in healing and therapy and later started offering it as a part of my therapy sessions with clients and in my workshops. I have since seen beautiful results for the same. Therapeutic writing brings the power of healing and transformation into your own hands. We all look outside us for healing and wellness, but writing is a simple skill everyone possesses and can be used very effectively to deal with stress, emotional challenges, and even to usher in change. I guide people through these processes in my workshops and one-on-one sessions and help them unravel their minds to bring in ease, peace and joy.
5. What are you writing now?
I am always working on many things at a time! I am primarily focused on a book of these therapeutic writing techniques, tentatively titled “The write path.” I am also working sporadically on a book for children. I also have another two books, which are being worked on as and when they happen.
6. Do you have any upcoming book releases or writing workshops?
I intend to release “The write path” as soon as possible this year. The writing workshops are an on-going affair. I just completed a 21-day program and will be launching another one next month.
7. What are some of your favourite books?
Oh, this is difficult because my favourite books have a lot to do with where I am in life… Some books I can still read again and again are ‘The little prince,’ ‘The alchemist,’ and Herman Hesse’s ‘Siddartha,’ etc. I want my son to read “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” now, because I once loved it. “Ishamel” and “My Ishamel” by Daniel Quinn blew my mind, when I read them two decades ago, and Shatrujeet Nath’s Karachi Deception did that a decade ago! Actually, it is easier to name authors than books. I love Amitav Ghosh’s writing, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s writing, some of Paulo Cohelo’s books, R.K. Narayan, and Ruskin Bond. In the past few years, I have veered away from fiction and find myself reading either children’s books or spiritual books. Children’s authors I love include Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Nandini Nayar, Paro Anand and Shruti Rao. I know I have mostly named Indian writers, but that is intentional 😊
8. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors?
I don’t think I have enough experience in that domain to be dishing out advice to others. But as someone who has been writing for decades, I would suggest – Be true to your voice. Do not compromise on what you want to say. But don’t be self-obsessed either. It’s a fine line 😊
9. What should a writer be mindful of when writing for children?
Children’s writers tend to dumb things down for kids. Some writers believe in sugar-coating things. But kids are wise. They notice things, we adults don’t. While we don’t need to throw the thorns of the world their way, do not make them believe the world is only full of roses. Be realistic without being bleak. I love the quote that says there is only a little difference between ‘partner’ and ‘parent’. Choose the first whenever you can.
10. Which books on writing would you recommend?
“Elements of Style” by William Strunk and EB. White. It’s an old book but one I believe every writer should read. I would also recommend “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and “Writing in general and the short story in particular” by Rust Hill.
Congratulations on your book ‘Stars from the borderless sea.’ Could you tell us about it?
Thank you so much. “Stars from the Borderless Sea” is a collection of three non-linked novella length stories, each of which has a strong, mature woman protagonist at its center. On a usual day in their busy, well settled lives, the morning newspaper takes them back in time. They recall the loves of their lives and their relationships, which shaped their lives today. Through their life journeys, the books explore different facets and nuances of love. It also shows how these women overcame their challenging circumstances and lived life on their own terms.
2. What prompted you to write ‘Stars from the borderless sea’?
Love is the most universal emotion. Everyone craves it, searches for it, laments not finding it. Yet, if you ask them what love is, each will have a different concept or a definition. As the quote from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park goes “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.” This book showcases some of the many facets of this universal and powerful emotion. The overarching theme of this book is love-and its myriad forms.
The book started as a short story, which is now the third story of the book-Humraaz. As I wrote the story, I began to outline the other two stories showing different relationships between the protagonists.
Romance is one of my favorite genres as a reader, but most of the books focus on peppy young protagonists with a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. I wanted to go beyond that etch out characters who have matured through their life journeys and explore the concept of soul mates
3. How did you arrive at the title of your book?
Both the stars and the sea are not defined by any borders we may construct. They are eternal and infinite. And that is exactly what love is-immeasurable, infinite, impossible to define. The water in the sea below and the stars in the sky above are not limited by borders or divisions; in fact, they defy them. Similarly, love does not conform to conventions, definitions, or stereotypes. However hard we try; we cannot limit it to our rules. That is the premise of the book.
4. How long did it take you to write the book?
I started this book in June 2020 as a short story. But then I put it aside, mainly because I didn’t have the confidence to develop it into a longer form. A few months later, the story kept haunting me, asking to be told, and I returned to it. By February 2021, I had almost completed the first version of the manuscript, which was ready for feedback and beta reading. But then the second wave of the pandemic happened, and I wasn’t able to make any progress, so again there was a gap a few months. Later, more round of edits and revisions continued. By August 2021, I was ready with the final manuscript.
5. Could you take us through your writing journey?
I am a late entrant to the world of writing. In 2019, I started writing small pieces and some poetry mostly on Facebook. A few friends encouraged me to write more often, and I began writing short stories and flash fiction. I enjoyed participating in the “Muse of the Month” contest organized by Women’s Web, where the prompts given were very thoughtful and inspiring. I also wrote some poems and non-fiction pieces relating to the pandemic. I really enjoy writing short stories, and even while I was working on this book, I regularly wrote short stories alongside. Five of my short stories have been published in three anthologies.
6. Could you tell us about your publishing journey?
The publishing journey is as much a learning journey for an author as is the writing journey.
Once the manuscript was complete, I began querying with literary agents and publishers both. I finally signed with Readomania Publishers in December 2021.
7. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Favorite authors change with time and stages of our life journeys, and it is not possible to select a few. But I have always enjoyed reading non-fiction and memoirs, in addition to general fiction. Some books that have left an indelible mark on me are “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl and “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Gawande and Oliver Sacks are authors whose words I have devoured for many years. “Love Story” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” are two books that I can return to any number of times
For the last few years now, I have been making a conscious effort to read more and more contemporary Indian writers, and it is a pleasure to discover the wonderful body of literature they are creating, especially the brigade of women writers!
8. What is your current read?
‘I am reading Stolen focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention’ by Johann Hari and ‘One True Loves’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9. What were some lessons you learned while writing this book?
I learnt how important having a writing routine can be. Writing daily, even for a short while a day, helped me complete this book and write many other pieces. I also discovered so many online platforms and writing communities which were very encouraging for me.
10. If you could be a literary character for a day, who would you be and why?
Alice. It would be such an adventure to follow The White Rabbit into the magical garden. And be a guest at the tea party along with the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and Dormouse. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to play croquet with the Queen of hearts? And enjoy as life got curiouser and curiouser?
Your memoir “of divorce and discovery” will be out soon. Could you tell us more about the book?
Rewriting My Happily Ever After is a true story of a three-year period of my life. At that time, I had walked out of my marriage of sixteen years. Despite being brought up in Mumbai, having an advanced degree and having returned after spending fourteen years in the US, I had always lived in either my parent’s or husband’s house. Moving out was a major decision which required me to learn, unlearn and relearn many things while I figured out my new life as a single parent. My book covers my journey to independence.
To help other women who may find themselves at the same crossroads as me.
Going ahead with the decision to divorce is not a trivial one for women who live in a culture that looks down upon a ‘broken family’. Even women who are financially self-sufficient or have family support prefer to live in a unhappy but familiar state instead of finding a happy life outside of the known boundaries of their life. I wanted to share my thinking process and the coping strategies I used to figure out my new life.
3. How long did it take for you to write this book? Could you tell us more about your journey?
I procrastinated for over ten years but began writing earnestly in Jan 2021. I wrote for 50 minutes every morning before my workday began. It required commitment, discipline, and some suffering to bring the book to life. Some days it was difficult to relive those painful memories of the past but the greater goal of connecting with readers made me keep going.
4. This is your fourth book. How has the experience of writing it been when compared to your first three books?
My earlier books were compilations of short stories (Negative Space) and essays (No Longer NRI and Train Friends). Those were easier to put together because they were written as standalone pieces around a theme.
This memoir is my first major book-length creation and took much more concentrated effort. I wrote the chapters as independent pieces and then moved them around to make the narrative cohesive. It required three drafts, a handful of beta readers and a professional edit to bring it to its final stage.
5. How did you gear up to write this memoir?
To be honest, I needed a lot of convincing to sit down and write this book. I intuitively knew that there was a need for such a story to be out there because divorce is a topic that Indians/South Asians tend to brush under the carpet. Still, I was reluctant to subject myself to the pain of reliving a difficult part of my past. But having a decade-long gap between the events described and the writing made it bearable. I am glad I wrote it because the writing was cathartic and also gave me closure.
6. What advice do you have for someone who would like to write their memoir?
I would recommend that you read a lot of memoirs to get a good understanding of the literary form. While there are formulas and standard approaches, you should be clear about the story you want to tell and how you want to do it because after all, memory is subjective and evolving. Just like a fiction writer chooses what to put in and what to leave out, a memoir writer also creates a narrative with very specific and intentional choices about the story and the storytelling, even though the events are unchangeable.
7. How has your background as a scientist helped you in your writing process?
This is an interesting question. As I mention on my website, I observe life carefully, look for signs and trends, verify it with my own understanding and then propose a solution, a suggestion, or an insight. Personal essays come easily to me because of my background because it involves a deep exploration of certain ideas and themes. And although I enjoy fiction, it does not come as naturally to me.
8. Whose memoirs would you recommend to writers?
I have read memoirs by Americans like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love), Dani Shapiro, Melissa Gouty – I would recommend all of them. Recently I have become very interested in memoirs by Indian writers like Kalpana Mohan, Ashwini Devare and Rohini Rajagopal. I interviewed these three authors on my blog and the discussion was fascinating. I intend to continue the author interview series for Indian memoir writers.
9. Who are your favourite authors and what genres do you like?
My current favorite fiction writers are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Marjan Kamali. I also read a lot of non-fiction – current read is How to raise a feminist son by Sonora Jha and of course, I’m always on the lookout for memoirs J
10. Do you have lessons to share from your writing journey?
Writing is a means of creative expression. But like all art, it requires patience, practice, and discipline to hone the craft and to go deeper. The learning happens in the doing and gives tremendous personal satisfaction. Being able to share it with others is the other side of the coin which is wonderful but is not the motivation to continue with your work of writing. It helps to keep this in mind.
If you want to write, do it for the right reasons.
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.
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.
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.
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.