Q. Hello and thank you for agreeing this interview and congratulations on your latest book, ‘Aryavir’. Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an ex advertising person, so I think that explains a lot about my background! Advertising, especially when you spend 20 years in the profession, prepares you for a plethora of different activities, and I gravitated towards Writing. Being a naval daughter, I grew up all over India and had varied experiences in different cities, including Moscow where I spent three years and learned to speak Russian.
My childhood was unconventional, in that I finished my schooling by correspondence from the London University at the age of twelve, went through five years of art college and started work at 18. I was an Art Director and later Creative Director in agencies like Trikaya Grey, Mudra and Lintas Dubai before I decided that the claims of motherhood were more compelling. I currently work as a graphic designer and consultant for a destination and event management company, apart from my writing.
Q. Briefly, what led you up to ‘Aryavir’?
Briefly, I’d say growing up on the Mahabharata and Indian folklore, and then watching back to back episodes of Game of Thrones was the basis of my inspiration. I sat down to think about how wonderful it would be to invent a world that was Indian in ethos, but not restricted by any existing mythological characters and constraints… and that’s how Aryavir was conceived.
Q. When did you decide that you want to be a writer?
It started with branching out from art and design into writing copy, then writing content for travel websites and coffee table books. Suddenly, I was smitten by the glory of the written word! To begin with, I explored contemporary fiction, and wrote about what I knew best – but when I embarked upon the Guardians of the Blue Lotus series, I was very excited to be able to delve into what was, for me, uncharted territory.
Q. What is the easiest thing about writing you find?
Creating characters – that is without a doubt my favourite part. Fun characters, comlpex characters, intriguing characters… they all are just so amazing. They write themselves, actually, and develop a character of their own that I have little to do with once they get going. It’s a fascinating process.
Q. What motivates you to write?
The thought of finishing the book! It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, when the mental inertia sets in, which happens often to me! My mind becomes so overcrowded with ideas and thoughts that it just shuts down for a while, and I need to get away by binge watching a show or cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Once I have some distance, then it’s easy to get back to work.
Q. What do you prefer: Pen or Computer? And how do you stay organised (any methods, systems, tools you use)?
Computer – it’s so much easier to make corrections along the way. I do make handwritten notes, but I try and transcribe them onto my laptop otherwise they are all over the place and I forget I even made them! I write stuff on scraps of paper or the back of an envelope that gets discarded, and that particular thought is lost forever – so the laptop is definitely a far safer way to go! And yes. I do take backups! As far as method goes, for the Guardians trilogy I’ve needed to be a little more organized than in my previous books. There are too many characters and sub plots to get away with haphazardness! I write a four-five line synopsis of each chapter beforehand, just so I don’t miss anything. I may not adhere to the guidelines rigidly, but it’s a basis for how to move ahead.
Q. How do you relax?
Reading, chilling with friends and family, cooking, TV shows, meditation and chanting.
Q. Do you have an agent. If yes, how did you find them?
My agent was introduced to me through a friend, but at present I am representing myself.
Q. What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
In life, probably nothing. I believe that we are all a sum of our experiences, and I like who I am today. So I would not change anything. In my writing, I would have paid a little more attention to the post publishing duties an Author has! The hardest part of the work actually comes after a book is published, and that is the marketing and selling. In the past, I have left it largely to the publisher and maybe that was not the way to go about it.
Q. Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I started writing fiction when I was well into my fifties, which is not a common age in which to make a change in your profession. But I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I ever made, and am enjoying this phase of my life tremendously.
Q. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Reviews are very subjective, and don’t always represent the greater opinion on a book or a film. Having said that, it’s always wonderful to get good reviews and have your work be appreciated, only I’m not sure how much a review translates into sales.
Q. Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again & again?
Yes, I do re read books again and again. Some books are like precious friends I can find solace in time and time again! Others are classics that I enjoy reading purely for the joy of the language and prose. Examples would be the Mahabharata by different authors, Autobiography of Yogi, in which I find something new to ponder every time I read it, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women (while I was growing up), PG Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie ( I recently re read the entire Miss Marple series!)
Q. Your influence(s)/ favourite author(s)?
I have read everything from Agatha Christie and David Baldaci to Tom Clancy and Daphne Du Maurier. Everything is an inspiration! In the genre I wrote earlier, I like Judith Krantz and Danielle Steele. A lot of my recent reading is non-fiction, mainly spiritual. After I started writing, I began to read a lot more fiction, especially by Indian authors. There is so much choice out there nowadays. The reading audience out there is quite discerning, and one needs to respect their sophistication.
Q. What book(s) are you reading at present?
I recently finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and am halfway through Camino Island by John Grisham.
Q. Are you working on anything at the moment? When can we see your next work?
I’m working on part two of the Guardian’s of the Blue Lotus Trilogy, and bopping to complete it soon. It’s a time consuming project, but I’m enjoying the process!
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