Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Author Interview: Shuchi Singh Kalra


Shuchi Singh Kalra is an Amazon best selling author of two romantic comedies - 'Done with Men' and 'I'm big. So what?!'. She is the wife of an Army Officer, the mother of a pint size daughter, and two lazy cats, but she's also been an optometrist, a wine connoisseur, baking enthusiast, a restless traveller and a compulsive nomad. She's a sucker for funny romance and does her best writing surrounded either by mountains or the ocean. The characters in her books are the kinds everyone knows at least some of, in their real lives. She also runs a quaint writing and editing studio and is currently a full time editor managing the official blog of India's largest travel portal. When not doing any of the above, she loves engaging with people on social media and inflicting her opinions on random strangers. She loves creating quirky craft work and is a hoarder of eccentric fashion accessories for no reason at all. 

You can also go over our review of her latest book "A Cage of Desires" by clicking here. It was fun interacting with Shuchi. Have a look at the compilation our interview with her.

Where do you belong to? Our readers want to know about your education and family.

I was born in Lucknow but I spent most of my childhood in Libya. My parents returned to India when I was 11 and I completed the rest of my schooling from Seth MR Jaipuria School in Lucknow. I went on to study Optometry from the Bausch & Lomb School of Optometry in Hyderabad and then did my Masters in English Literature. I belong to a family of academicians, mostly doctors and professors. Both my parents are independent medical practitioners, and my husband is an Aviation engineer in the Army. I am the first in my family to go take up writing as a profession.


Tell us about your book.

It's been a long and arduous journey but my third book  ‘A Cage of Desires’ is finally out there in the stores now. Although it straddles many genres but if I had to label it, I think it would come closest to contemporary romantic erotica. It initially started off as a short story published in New Asian Writings anthology. The story received a lot of praise which encouraged me to develop it into a full-length novel. Like all my other books, this one too is also woman-centric but the central theme is far more intense. It's about a woman's journey towards facing her inner truth and finding freedom. At the same time, it also explores the depths of female sexuality, toxic love and emotional abuse. I'm sure every reader will relate to it at some level. 


Tell us about your other books.

My first Book was ‘Done with Men’. It was all about the romantic (mis)adventures of Kairavi Krishna – serial dater and ditzy girl extraordinaire. She is a travel writer and is urban, young and…single. After an unfortunate rash of loser boyfriends, she is pretty much done with men and ready to focus on her career. But her latest assignment, to cover Sunburn in Goa, packs more surprises than she bargained for. In the middle of partying, falling off her balcony, food allergies and ex-boyfriend encounters, Kairavi develops a hopeless crush on her dreamy doctor, but she isn’t sure if he would possibly be interested in more than her broken clavicle. And then we have Kay’s best friend Baani, Kapil (Baani’s fiancée), Ravi (Kay’s boss), Ricky (Kay’s latest ex) and the The Thought Bubble (Kay’s alter ego) to add to the mayhem. It was a fun romantic comedy.

My second book was ‘I’m Big so What?’. I have always felt that plus-sized girls have been severely underrepresented in Indian mainstream fiction. There are so many books from western authors that have plus-sized heroines but that space is severely lacking in India. I thought it’s high time the plump girl breaks out of the stereotypical role of a friend, sister or comic relief, and takes over as the main lead – with a strong personality of her own and dreams to boot. Through Roli, the protagonist of IBSW, I also wanted to explore and bring forth the social and emotional challenges that a person of that size might typically go through, and how it would impact their confidence and self-worth. 

While my first two books were at their core, breezy romantic comedies, my latest book ‘A Cage of Desires’ is comparatively more serious, dark and brooding. Like my previous books, this one is also women centric but it has more complex characters and emotions which are deeper and more layered than the first two books of mine.

What is your writing journey like, where and when did you start? Are you a writer by choice or by chance?

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My first unsuccessful attempt at writing a book was when I was ten. It was a science fiction written in a school notebook, and it eventually got lost somewhere.

I have always found solace in writing, even as a child. I remember writing little poems and stories although I never tried to get them published. All through my school years, my writing skills were my only saving grace as I had no other talent to speak of. I can’t say I wanted to become a writer because those days (using those words makes me feel very old), it wasn’t really seen as a career option, at least where I came from. But I did maintain a personal journal and won the occasional writing/essay competition.

My journey as a professional writer began in 2005, when I was working as an Optometrist at an eye hospital. I took up some academic writing assignments just to escape the drudgery of 9-5 (which was more like 7-9 at the hospital where I worked) and it was only when I received my first payment that I realized that I could make a full-time career out of this. I quit that job, took the plunge and kept at it. Looking back, I feel so glad that I did. I wouldn’t trade my career and lifestyle for anything else in the world.

As far as writing my first full length novel goes, a friend of mine was telling me about her sister who had gone on a vacation after a breakup and had landed up in the hospital injured – that’s how the seeds of this story were planted in my mind. As for the title, I saw a random tweet by someone who wrote “I’m so done with men” and I realized that so many women (me included) have gone though that post-breakup phase when we say “I’m done with men” only to go falling in love all over again. It is not merely a phrase, but a feeling that most of us have actually experienced at some point. Since it encapsulated the essence of my story so well, I decided to weave it into the narrative and use it as the title too.


As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favorite?

My most favorite part of the writing process is the moment when I finish a book. It’s an amotionally overwhelming moment. I have never not cried every time I have finished each of my books. My second most favorite part of the writing process is reading the reviews for my book. Friends and family will always tell you that your writing is great but it’s really heartening to read a review from a reader I do not know that says that someone found your fictional characters so relatable and that it reminded them of themselves or some other real person. It’s a great feeling to read that.

My least favorite part of the entire publishing process is the marketing and promotion part. As a newbie author you assume that once your book is accepted for publishing, your job is done. It’s only after my first two books that I have come to realize that the hard part starts after your book has been accepted by the publisher. Even though my books were received well, in hindsight I realize that they could have fetched much better sale figures if I had concentrated more on marketing them well.Marketing and publishing are the hard, sweaty, boring part of the publishing process and I hope I get better at it with my future books.


Are you an avid reader as well? What kind of books do you read? What is your frequency of reading?

 I love reading all kinds of books from rom coms to classic literature to Indian writing and everything in between, I’ve lapped them all up. I believe that my writing style carries the influence of all the authors I have read till date. Unfortunately, between my current full time day job, my kid and managing my home, the worst casualty has been my reading frequency. I hope to make up for it soon.


Which is your favorite book and why?

There are too many, different ones in different genre :)


Who are your favorite authors?

There are just too many authors I love! I have been a voracious reader since childhood and I never missed a chance to bury myself in a book. From the Bronte Sisters to Enid Blyton, and Shakespeare to Sophie Kinsella, I’ve loved a whole lot of them. I am currently reading a lot of Indian authors and I think some of them are extremely good story tellers. 

Do you pursue any other profession apart from writing? How do you manage everything? How do you find family time amidst all this?

I have been writing professionally for over a decade as a freelance writer and editor with my small firm that went by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’. Currently I'm in a full time corporate job working with India’s leading travel platform. This is my first full time office job. I have a school going daughter and manage my home alone since my husband is in the Indian Army and posted in another city. It’s hard to manage everything alone and find time to write but I am trying to get better at stealing more free time to concentrate on my writing.

What does your writing space look like?


Every time I have moved houses, the first thing I have done is set up my study. That cozy space is always my favorite place in my house where most of my writing takes place.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

When it came to my professional assignments while I was running my writing editing firm, I couldn’t afford writer’s block because there were deadlines to be met and clients to answer to. However, when it comes to my books, I give myself more leeway to slack. When I do face the reader’s block while writing my books, I have discovered that reading books from the same genre I am writing is the best way to break out of a block. It helps bring my mind into the same zone and usually I find a trigger for the words to flow sooner or later.

What motivated you to write this book?

It was a discussion with a Pakistani author who writes under a pseudonym that triggered the story. I wrote a short story titled Maya which received a lot of critical acclaim from the readers and I decided to develop the story into a full fledged novel. From there, it flowed on its own.


How long did you take to finish this book? What was the process like?

Out of all my books, ‘A Cage of Desires’ took the longest for two reasons. First, it was unlike my first two books, which were breezy romantic comedies, a genre which naturally comes to me. ‘A Cage of Desires’ is a dark, brooding, contemporary romantic fiction with a sprinkling of erotica. The characters are way more complex than my other books and the emotions are darker and more layered. It was an emotionally exhausting process to write it and took me more than two years to finish the book. 

What are you hoping people to gain from your book?

‘A Cage of Desires’ hopes to connect with the darker side in all of us that lies hidden under layers of our superficial real public self. I hope that people struggling to bridge the gap between their deep real selves and the roles they are forced to play in the real world can identify with the characters in the book and believe that if Renu can break from her cage of desires to discover her true inner self, then so can they. 

What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?

It’s really difficult to accept the fact that when you have poured your blood and soul into writing a book, the publishers might not love it as much because they receive hundreds of manuscripts a week. That rejection is hard to face, especially when you are a newbie author. It’s extremely demotivating and often makes you want to give up writing altogether. But once your manuscript gets accepted by a publisher then this challenge is over. The next hard part comes when you are waiting for the book to finally release in the market. The gestation period between a manuscript being accepted and the book finally seeing the light of the day is extremely long in India, frequently extending to well over a year. It’s pretty frustrating to wait that long. And once the book is out, then the next challenge is to market and promote your book. That part is another long sweaty journey along a dreary boring road. But if you love writing enough, all this pales in comparison to the joy of holding a book in your hand with your name written on top of it :)


What kind of research have you done for the book?

I mostly write from imagination, but I draw from my personal experience and those of people I know. So far, I haven't written anything that requires very intensive reasearch or fact checking but I will delve into that too soon enough. All thanks to the internet, most of the research I have needed so far has been possible with the help of a broadband connection.

Any story behind deciding the title of this book?

‘A Cage of Desires’ traces the journey of Renu who escapes from her cage of desires to discover her real self. It’s an inner journey of pain and hope. The title just popped in my head one day thinking about how all of us are trapped in a cage of our desires and how much we want to escape from it and discover our true selves without needing anyone else to validate our existence.


Why should we read your book?

There is no end to the issues we as women face everyday! Right from safety, sexism, social pressure, career limitations, family dynamics, gender prejudices, abuse—there are so many issues that need to be talked about. One might say that some of these are relevant to men too, but women’s voices have been stifled for far too long. And as a woman writer, I felt I owed this to my tribe. We women live in the same world, but at the same time our realities are very different. I was brought up by very progressive parents who never discouraged me from voicing my opinions, or expected me to put up with the social norms just for the sake of it. I was a wild, rebellious teen but nobody asked me to tone down my personality and be more ‘ladylike’. My father taught me to hit back at bullies, and not take nonsense from anyone. As for the society, I could somehow never bring myself to care enough about what other people think about what I say or do.

Gender biases existed all around me but they were not a part of my immediate environment. It took me a while to realize that the way I was brought up was not the norm. My relationships with men opened me up to a lot of grim realities.

A large number of women in India continue to struggle with gender biases on so many fronts every day that it is insane. I want to be a voice for all these women and write about big and small issues that affect our everyday lives. Through ‘A Cage of Desires’ I have tried to carve out characters that everyone can identify with, at least in part, and believe that if they can discover their true selves, then so can everyone.

Do you have any blog or website the readers can visit?

I have a website that your readers can connect with me at http://www.shuchikalra.com/ . However, I admit that I am more of a social media person and the best way to connect with me is through my twitter handle @shuchikalra


What advice do you have for budding writers?

I don’t think I am experienced enough to dole out advice. I myself still am on the learning path. But I can definitely say that don’t wait for the perfect moment to write that book cooking in your head. Set a routine, write a few words everyday and FINISH that first draft. Don’t waste time on fancy words and expressions when you are writing – just let the story flow. And some of the harsher things that I wanna tell young writers are

- It’s going to be slow. Very slow. There’s no such thing as instant gratification.
- It’s not enough to be a good writer. You have to learn to market yourself well.
- Don’t count on books for money, at least until you have a few bestsellers out in the market

Becoming an author requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It is an unbelievably slow and painful process, at least for most of us. There will be times when you feel like giving up – just remind yourself why you write and keep going at it.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Author Interview: Sunil Sapra


The author, Sunil Sapra is founder and CEO of Singapore based growth Accelerator for early stage software companies, Risan Asia Business Partners Pte Ltd and has been involved with many startups in his 23 years of work. Since childhood, he participated in plays, dramas and other stage activities. During his college days at BITS Pilani, he acted in, directed and modified few Hindi plays and was very passionate about this art.

Later he lost touch with this creative side, and for many years didn’t do anything in this domain. After moving to Singapore in 2013, he started writing once in a while but it was during the silver jubilee reunion of his batch in 2014 that his poetic side found its “Faqeera” and he wrote some poems and songs for the reunion. Since then he has written over 500 poems in the last 4 years. Most of his poems are inspired by the daily life and what goes on around us. When you read his poems, you will feel as if you have written them yourself and that’s the power of “Faqeera”.

We interviewed him recently. Here are the excerpts.

Where do you belong to? Our readers want to know about your education and family. 

I was born and raised in Gurgaon and lived there for most of my life and for last five years, I have been living in Singapore. My parents worked in Education department and I was born on Teacher’s Day, so it was destined that someday I would write a book. 😊

I studied engineering in BITS, Pilani and actively participated in the Hindi theatre there. That’s where I developed interest in the creative side of life.


Tell us about your book. 
The book Faqeera Chal Chala Chal is a collection of 84 Hindi poems written by me. The poems cover everyday emotions with topics ranging from Self, relationships, God, dreams, wishes, pain etc. People who have read the book tell me that they feel as if they have written it themselves.

Tell us about your other books. 
Faqeera Chal Chala Chal is my first book. However, I should do at least 2 more, one this year and one next. 

What is your writing journey like, where and when did you start? Are you a writer by choice or by chance?
Certainly, by chance. I started writing only around 2014 and it wasn’t serious. I posted few of them on my Facebook, friends liked them and encouraged me to write more. 
Around the same time, we had our BITS batch reunion and I wrote a fun song “BITS Pilani Jaisi Koi Jagah Kahan” which was loved by BITSians of all ages and batches. I followed it up by the first poem in the book “Kadam Tham gaye”. That’s how the momentum built up which is over 500 poems strong now. 
After my father read some of my poems last year, he insisted that I should get them published and that’s how the book happened.

As a new author, what is your favourite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favourite?
The most favourite part is when you feel your words have done justice to the thought and it gives you immense joy. If everyone else likes the poem and I don’t vs. I like it and no one else does, I will pick the second case always.

When you must decide about how many should go into the book and which ones to drop, that I think is the most difficult part. I won’t use the cliché that I love all my poems equally.  Out of the 500, that I have written, I certainly like about 50% much more than the rest 50% and I do have my Top 25.

Are you an avid reader as well? What kind of books do you read? What is your frequency of reading?
I used to be an avid reader and would finish at least one book a week. It was no surprise for my friends and acquaintances to receive books from me on any occasion. Motivational, biographies, mythology, fiction, poetry, stories, venture capital, technology, almost every genre. Now a days, my reading has dropped quite a bit and I read summaries and blog more than the books.

Which is your favorite book and why?
Krishna – The God who lived as man. The most mesmerising book about the most complete, the most magical Faqeera that the world has ever witnessed. Many of my poems are inspired by this book including my very favourite, “Kahan ho, kahin par”. My book is dedicated to Krishna.  

Who are your favorite authors?
Kaajal Oza-Vaidya, Osho, Gulzar Saab, Subroto Bagchi, Mohan Rakesh, Manto.

Do you pursue any other profession apart from writing? How do you manage everything? How do you find family time amidst all this?
I have been working in IT sales for 23 years and currently run a Singapore based Venture Builder company that helps start-ups in international expansion.

Poetry is a hobby and passion and not profession. Writing doesn’t take away much time because I write only when I am in the “Faqeera zone”. The ones I wrote just for the sake of it or on someone’s request are so visible and clearly out of place. 

As long as my work and writing doesn’t intrude in my family time, they don’t have any problem with it. 😊

What does your writing space look like? 

I don’t have a writing space as such. I have written poems while on a travel, during evening walks, at home, office, restaurant, hospital, cinema hall, anywhere. It’s all about the “Faqeera Zone” engulfing you. However, my balcony overlooking the ocean is my most favourite corner for writing. Have a look at the writing corner and the mesmerizing view from there.



How do you overcome writer’s block?
I don’t force myself to write because the contrived poetry isn’t something that I like. Since I write only as a hobby, I am not answerable to anyone and that’s why I go for days/ months without writing a single poem and sometimes I write 5 poems in half hour. There is no pattern or discipline to it yet.

What motivated you to write this book?
Some friends on my Facebook who regularly read and encourage me, always suggested that I should convert few of my poems to a book but I wasn’t very serious about it. 

When my father insisted that I should publish them and my wife helped me get a publisher and suggested that we should associate the book with a good cause. That energized me and got me going.

How long did you take to finish this book? What was the process like?
Most of my poems were scattered on FB and on my page www.facebook.com/chalfaqeera
Though the poems were ready but the process was still energy consuming one. The challenge was to get them all together in a document, decide the structure and flow of the book, out of 300 poems at that time, how many to include and which ones, do proof reading, how should the cover page look and what it should depict, acknowledgments etc. 

As a first-time writer, you change your thoughts and plans every day and that needs so much rework. It was very difficult to draw a line that after this no more changes and this is final copy.
Overall, it took about 4 months of working on weekends but with gaps in between.

What are you hoping people to gain from your book?
Most of my poems are straight from the heart. They are not necessarily my experiences but sometimes a friend told me something or I read about something or some other inspiration. I hope that the poems will make people think and help them connect with their emotional side.

What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
Mentioned already. Otherwise, the publisher was quite supportive.

What kind of research have you done for the book? 
There isn’t any research involved actually, because the poems are based on one’s emotions and experiences.

Any story behind deciding the title of this book?
Can’t recall since when and why, but I have always used the word Faqeera for the soul, the inner voice in my conversations and writings. And since life is a journey where nothing stops for you, the time, the earth, the world, nothing. So, one must keep moving too.  That’s why, Faqeera Chal Chala Chal. 😊

Why should we read your book?
Two reasons:

- It might help you find and connect with your own Faqeera. Trust me, that would be an awesome feeling.

- All proceeds from the book are being donated to charitable organizations. The book needs that support.

Do you have any blog or website the readers can visit?

What advice do you have for budding writers?
Write something that inspires you and let it flow. Unless you are writing a professional book, write for self and don’t interrupt the flow of thoughts. Edit later and edit brutally. 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Book Review: My Feathered Friends & the Book of Poems-Part 1


Book Title: My Feathered Friends & the Book of Poems-Part 1
Author:  Sunil Bhatia 
Publication Date: January 2017
Edition Language: English
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 230


Firstly, a big thanks to the author for sending across the book to me for review.

To begin with, the first thing I loved about the book is the quality of pages, the appealing bright cover and the textbook kind of feel that brought in nostalgia with it.

This book has majorly two halves, you may call it two-in-one. The first part is a narration of author's experiences, clubbed with his imagination and his love for nature. The second part comprises of poems.

The first part gives life to birds, and makes them the characters of the respective stories. Each of them leaves a positive impression on you, some thoughts that linger for long. They are like self-help lessons. Above all, they are not just usual do's and don'ts or speech kind of self help chapters, but interactive and story-like. The protagonist, who is a city dweller, converses with various species of birds. They are actually like his friends. A variety of birds, pigeons, peacocks, owls, parrots, doves and many others were his characters. The book is aptly titled "My Feathered Friends..."

Initially, not everyone may be able to digest the idea of the book. During first few pages, you may not be able to cope up with the frequency and the overall motive. But gradually, you start living in the book and believe in the world the author is showcasing- fiction, fantasy, self-help and poetry.

It shows the love of the author for birds and also, a different perspective altogether. Imagining birds to speak, narrate and give you life lessons is exemplary.

The second part has a poetic delight, well thought over, nicely composed poems. The poems are simple, easy read and convey messages individually. The poems belong to various categories, and each of them is for someone. They highlight the problems in the world, in very simple yet creative manner.

The author's way is very innovative, assuming the birds are conversing and being a part of his day-to-day life. I liked the first half of the book more than the poems. This is simply because, this style of narration and imagination is clearly distinct and rare.

After reading the first part, I am awaiting part two of this book!

I would recommend the book for all nature and poetry lovers. I rate it 3.5 on 5.



(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book.)

If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at bookreviews@mansiladha.com.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Book Review: A Cage of Desires


Book Title: A Cage of Desires
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Publication Date: May 2018
Edition Language: English
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 175



Firstly thanks to the author for sending across the book for review. This book is a fiction based on a woman's life as evident from the amazing cover of the book. The cover of the book summarized pictorially exactly what the book is about. The title is also apt. I generally don't read erotica, so at first I was apprehensive if I must go with it or not. But the cover was enough to attract me towards it.

I am fond of woman centric stories, and hence opted to read it. The book is of ~200 pages and hence, a breezy read. The flow of the story is straightforward, no confusions at all. Though, during initial few chapters I was suspecting it to be inspired from Indian movies. Gradually I realized it is much more than that. The plot is penned so bravely, boldly and intensely. This is highly uncommon for Indian authors. Being a woman author in India, and keeping the society and culture into consideration, it is in itself a bold step to write a book like this.

The book revolves around the protagonist Renu, a simple home maker, who takes care of her kids and a nagging father-in-law single-handedly while her husband works in another town and is least bothered about the family. She, like other Indian women is bound in the web of her duties but deprived of her rights. She longs for love and affection, the desire of loving and being loved back. Her husband never realizes her worth. She doesn't get back from him what every married women needs. But bound under the rules of Indian society, she isn't allowed to look for alternates to fulfill her desires and to keep bearing her misfortune. The book is an encounter of her with other men in her life, and the fulfillment of her desires with them. The multiple facets of an Indian woman is indeed well depicted. Through the course of the story she finds love, hatred, betrayal and keeps bouncing between all these, angry and unsatisfied. (I won't give any spoilers here :) ). The story progresses on how she combats the destiny and emerges victorious. She chooses the unconventional, something that must be a motivation for other women too.

This book is also a satire on the Indian society where people are fond of reading and watching erotica behind closed doors. But at the same time, are ashamed to know their women being involved in it. (Resisting spoiler again). Maya is a writer who writes erotica under pen name and is loved and appreciated by all, but it becomes a cause of shame if men find their women in Maya's place. 

The scenes are well narrated. Love making is quite descriptive. At times, you can actually imagine what is happening, and that is the quality of a well written fiction. The usage of words and sentences for the portrayal of emotions is appropriate. It is indeed a well revised and wisely edited work.

However, at certain points you may feel that there is exaggeration of emotions, or redundancy of the same thoughts over and over.

Overall the book is a well thought over, emotional roller coaster ride.

I would recommend the book for all those who are fond of women centric Indian fiction books. I rate it 3.5 on 5.

(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book.)

If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at bookreviews@mansiladha.com.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Author Interview: Rahul Rai

Rahul Rai, an IIT graduate has recently authored a book called The Myth of Hastinapur. The book is based on the greatest epic of all times, Mahabharata. The well articulated book is based on great research and depicts good story telling. We recently had an interview with him. Have a look at what we discussed. Also, visit here to read our review of his debut book.







Where do you belong to? Our readers want to know about your education and family.
I am an IIT alumnus and after my graduation, I have been working as a data scientist for more than 10 years. My hometown is Lucknow where my parents live now while I am located out of Gurugram. My father is a retired civil servant while my mother is a housewife.

Tell us about your book
The Myth of Hastinapur is based on one of the greatest epic in the world, Mahabharata. It contains stories around different incidents which eventually culminated into war while the end chapters’ deal with guilt, remorse and reminiscences of few main actors in the war. Each of these stories can be read independently though they follow a sequential order to maintain the continuity of the tale.

What is your writing journey like, where and when did you start? Are you a writer by choice or by chance?
Since childhood, I have loved telling stories to people around me. I had a blog (now defunct) of my own where I used to share my stories with my near-ones. But I lacked discipline of writing a book. It was around 3-4 years ago that I decided to follow a more organised approach towards writing which helped me come up with The Myth of Hastinapur. I would like to keep on writing more in future so would like to classify myself as a writer by choice.




As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favorite?
I consider myself as a very picky learner. Even in my professional career, I don’t like things which are a black box about which I don’t have much knowledge. I try to decipher them till I am able to break their code. I was able to complete this book around October last year but I took a lot of time in understanding the publishing process. From editing, illustrations, book cover, ISBN assignment, online distribution etc., I found everything exciting considering they were quite novel to me.

Needless to say, a lot of people helped me through the process. I liked your review which talked about how The Myth of Hastinapur seems to be edited well. I am highly indebted to Alka Ranjan for this. She painstakingly took up the task of editing which was not limited to just looking for grammatical errors and sentence correction, which in themselves are hugely demanding tasks, but also provided me with great ideas about the overall flow of the stories and suggestions to improve upon certain scenes.

Like editing, each of the different processes were a learning experience for me and I enjoyed them all be it learning from Vikas’s thought process when he was sketching illustrations or co-ordinating with Abhilash when he was trying to create the cover of the book.

Are you an avid reader as well? What kind of books do you read? What is your frequency of reading?
Yes, I am. I really love reading fiction. Paul Auster, Vladimir Nabokov (you need a dictionary along with his books), Haruki Murakami are few of my favorites. The Book Thief, One flew over cuckoo’s nest, The Bridge on the river Kwai, Mrityunjai are few of my favorite books.

Which is your favorite book and why?
It would be difficult to point to a particular favorite as there are so many but would like to talk about the ‘The Book Thief’. It is based on the 2nd world war and revolves around a German family. Very few protagonists come closer to the endearing portrayal of characters like in the book thief. This book in its pages brings to life each and every human emotion and I would recommend everyone to read it.

Do you pursue any other profession apart from writing? How do you manage everything?
Yes, I am a Data Scientist by profession. I think everyone tries to find time for their hobby which is writing in my case. I like writing. It helps me at many different levels and has definitely helped me to grow. So, it is not that difficult to find time for it. The Myth of Hastinapur was written when I was enjoying my holidays or when I was engaged at a client location or when I was travelling. I tried to find time for it whenever I was free from my other priorities.

How do you overcome writer’s block?
There is only one way (at least for me) to do it; to keep on writing. ‘Tears of Rudra’ was one of the stories with which I struggled. I think I spent almost 15-20 days thinking about how few of its last pages needed to pan out where each day started with writing a paragraph and ended with deleting it. And it was only after a fortnight that I started making some progress. So, as a writer, I think you should keep on pushing yourself to write good content.

How long did you take to finish this book? What was the process like?
It took me almost a year to finish this book though few of the stories like ‘Yudhishthira’s Dilemma’, ‘Wrath of Draupadi’ took shape couple of years back. Writing is not always enjoyable even if you have written tonnes of stories, novels etc. It requires a lot of patience and self-motivation. Like any other activity which someone wants to get good at, writing requires one to give his undivided attention and remain focussed.

What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?
Each step was a challenge considering it was a totally new venture for me. I followed a sequential approach to each of the steps (editing, cover design etc.) as I was a bit busy on personal front but it helped me gaining deeper understanding of the whole process. Considering the amount of time I have invested and the information and knowledge I have gained about the whole process, I think I am ready now to establish a publishing house J though I intend to remain a writer.

What kind of research have you done for the book?
My research is mostly internet based. But for The Myth of Hastinapur, I had my repository of knowledge ready about Mahabharata, Puranas, Ramayana which I had studied in my childhood. But internet helped me refresh my memory. Also, I tried to remain as close to the facts as possible. 

My whole idea was to while remaining closer to the incidents as written in Mahabharata to humanise the whole façade and make it more realistic with a belief that each one of us has the capacity to become Yudhishthira, Draupadi, Arjuna or even a Krishna. Needless to say, each one of us can become like Duryodhana or Shakuni as well and should remain aware of this fact.

Do you have any blog or website the readers can visit?
I am present on Facebook and made a recent profile on Goodreads.