Today on 'On Writing', we have the gorgeous Shilpa Suraj who is a bestselling Harlequin author.
A published author with Harlequin India, Mills & Boon Indian author collection, Shilpa Suraj’s first love has always been romantic fiction. Both her books The Girl He Left Behind and Rescued by Love have spent a consistent amount of time on the Amazon.in charts.
An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. A passion for English and creative writing, in particular, saw her participating in writing competitions at school and dabbling in copywriting for an ad agency as a teenager. Seven years in the corporate space and a spell at entrepreneurship all hold her in good stead for her multiple current roles of author, wife and part-time employee at an architecture and interior design firm.
Welcome to 'On Writing' Shilpa.
Follow her on Twitter handle: @shilpaauthor
Do people treat you differently when they know that you are an author, that too, a bestselling romance author?
I don’t think people treat me differently as such when they know I’m an author but yes, there is definitely a lot of interest when you tell someone you’ve just met that you’re an author. Everyone likes to know more about you and the process of writing a book and having it published. I suppose it’s a world that they don’t often get a peek into.
Your latest novel ‘Rescued by Love’ has an army man as the hero. Do you have one such person in your life?
I have several lovely men in my life, both from the civilian and armed forces world who have touched my life in special ways. My father who tops that list, my brother, my husband, my father-in-law, the list is as varied as it is long. I’m blessed to have had such wonderful men who’ve always loved and supported me in every way possible.
Both your novels have been published by Harlequin. How was the experience working with them?
I had a great experience working with Harlequin. They were very professional, encouraging and wonderfully supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better debut in my writing career.
Do your stories emerge from random experiences in your own life or do they come to you and haunt you till you put them on paper?
My stories emerge from my imagination pretty much all the time. Life and all the myriad experiences it offers are like the spice to the mix. Once I have a story in my head, it does haunt and hound me until I put it down and that’s usually when you’ll find me tapping away on my laptop late into the night.
Do you get affected by writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Yes, of course. There are many times when I hit a slump while writing. What usually works for me is to take a break from writing and to go do something fun. It helps clear my mind and gives me perspective on whatever little twist or tangle in the story is refusing to unravel for me.
What is your favorite time for writing? Do you have any particular habits or needs when you sit down to write? Coffee, chocolates, wine?
All three sound great to me. But to be honest, when I’m writing and the mood is right nothing truly penetrates my focus. I usually have music playing in the background, but I tune even that out when I’m completely immersed in the story.
I write mostly at night. Sometimes well into the night. It’s the most peaceful time in my otherwise chaotic life.
Share a quote or snippet from ‘Rescued by Love’?
“Miss Ahuja? Naina?” The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision.
“I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”
Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp.
Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?” Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini-arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.
Both of your books are love stories. Do you plan to write in any other genre?
Most of the stories running through my head are love stories. Even when my stories have other plots to them like the thriller I’m currently writing, they always have a strong love story at its core.
To whom would you dedicate your success as a writer?
My parents for sure. They never once doubted that I would be a success and I might never have had the courage to send my work out into the world without the faith they had in me.
What are the three tips you have for readers of this interview who are aspiring writers?
1) Tell the story you are dying to tell. If you don’t love your story no one else will.
2) Don’t get discouraged and stop writing. It’s a tough road sometimes but nothing worth having comes easy. So, keep at it.
3) There’s no harm in asking for help. If you’re stuck, reach out to people who can and are willing to instruct and guide you. And when they do help, don’t react badly to feedback that you don’t agree with or don’t like. Maintaining perspective is everything!
Thank You, Shilpa, for that wonderful chat. I wish you all success in all your future endeavors.
The Girl he Left Behind:
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Can he win her back?
Romantic fiction editor Sia Sharma knows that life is not about happily ever after. The only guy she had loved had left her six years back. Suddenly Ryan Mathur is back in town as a hot shot entrepreneur. His advertising firm has been hired to create the marketing campaign for Sia's publishing company, but Ryan has only one thing on his mind: to win back the only woman he ever loved. But feisty Sia has other plans and is determined to make him pay. The harder Ryan tries to win her over, the further Sia strays. Ryan seems to be everywhere she goes and her bestselling romance author, the sultry Nisha Malik, joins the fray to pursue Ryan. It's not long before Sia realizes she still has feeling for him. Will Sia let Ryan back into her life again? And will Ryan ever win back the girl he left behind?
Rescued by Love:
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He rescued her, only to become her hostage!
When Naina Ahuja is kidnapped as hostage days before her father, a Supreme Court Chief Justice must sentence a terrorist, the stakes are very high. Lt. Colonel Arjun Rathore and his team are the only ones who can be trusted with the mission of saving her.
During their arduous trek back through the hostile terrain of Ladakh, Arjun and Naina spend days in danger of losing their lives and their hearts.
Back in safety, the real world and its very real problems threaten - as do their own perceptions of the differences between them. They must separate but will life rescue their love?