Today on 'On Writing' we have Anupriya Gupta, who debuted as a novelist this month with 'Because I Promised.'
In her own words, Anupriya belongs to that generation of Idiots (the proud ones though), who did their engineering first and then decided on what they actually wanted to do. She completed her MBA in Human Resources and worked in the corporate world for 8 years, before taking a professional break. A mom by day and a reader/writer by night, Anupriya is a die-hard romantic. She can be found in the dot-com world at her blog www.mommytincture.com, which contains her ranting about her experiences in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife and foremost a human being, all churned together. It is also her outlet to the world where she doles out loads of gyaan on self-improvement and relationship management.
Welcome to 'On Writing', Anupriya.
Was becoming an author always your dream or was it a particular event or incident that gave birth to the author in you?
Well, there were two things that happened in two different points of time. A decade back, Mills&Boons published some dozen titles with Indian Authors. I was so thrilled at the prospect and wished that someday I will have the patience and talent to write a romance novel myself.
Around 7 years later, when I was expecting my second child and realised that soon I will have to leave my job, I frantically jumped into the world of blogging. The motive was to get into something that would help me keep sane once I would be almost homebound. And then one of my fellow bloggers (it would be more appropriate if I called her my mentor too) informed me about NaNoWriMo challenge. It was then, that I decided that I had to cater to my 7-year itch of writing a novel.
How important are the names of the characters in your books to you? Do you spend agonizing hours deciding on their names?
Oh yes! I want the names to be different and draw the reader’s attention. Also, it should suit the character sketch. But it has so happened almost everytime I have to decide the name, they occur to me in a flash, while in the bathroom, or driving my kid to school etc. And yes, I have a list of favourite names in my repository. I visit the same when I need names for my supporting characters.
What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a favourite place to write?
I try to write every day. That’s the only way I can keep in touch with the numerous ideas that keep swarming in my head. Past one year, I have really really been writing a lot. Around 100 blog posts, an ebook (around 26k words) and my latest release (60k words) all of it has been churned out in last one year. In this time, I have learnt a lot and I see that my relationship with words has improved a lot. So I am not complaining.
No, I don’t have a favourite place to write. Though I prefer a secluded room in my home with just me and my laptop. But when ideas strike, I just open Google Keep on my mobile and type my mind out.
What is different about ‘Because I Promised’?
A couple of things actually, though it is a romance saga at its core, it is more like a journey of a young girl from the time she is a teenager to her becoming a young adult who has set out to achieve something professionally too. There are contrasting shades to her personality that make her intriguing yet realistic. At some points in the plot, you might get so frustrated with her that you may want to put some sense into her head for acting unreasonably. While at others, you will appreciate her for being extremely level-headed and mature.
Another aspect of the story is that a significant plot point includes and throws light on the life of the transgender community in our country. I hope the readers find it interesting and appreciate it.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
It’s like asking a mother, who is your favourite child. It would be very unfair of me if I were to name one character. Instead, I would talk about the equations between various characters. There are some very strong connections of friendship, sibling love, parent conflict among the characters. The one I would like to mention here is the relationship between Varnika (my female protagonist) and her transgender friend Ulfat Bi. From the time they meet, they share a warmth between them and as the story progresses, Ulfat Bi turns out to be Varnika’s friend, philosopher and guide. It’s a very feel-good equation.
Which do you prefer as a reader? EBook or Paperback?
Oh! Now, this is a catch-22 question. Nothing can match the smell of a paperback and the feel of holding a book in my hands. But then I have two hyperactive kids loitering around the entire home. The idea of ebook sounds cool in my circumstance because I don’t have to be worried about a book being torn. And it’s a little less luggage while travelling with kids to my hometown Chandigarh. I can read a few pages whenever I can extract a couple of minutes to myself in the airport playroom, or during the flight when the kids doze off.
One thing that goes in the eBooks’ advantage is that there are so many nice eBooks by self-published authors. Many of these books are excellent reads and are extremely enjoyable. So yes eBooks have a plus there. But both paperback and eBook are now an integral part of the reader in me.
How long did it take to finish writing ‘Because I Promised’?
The first draft got completed in 30 days straight. Then I hibernated for almost 4 months, before getting back to editing it. It took me three months to get the manuscript to a level where it was fit for printing. Editing took a lot more time than the initial draft. But I have learnt quite a few lessons about writing and editing in the process. Hope they help me when I get to working on my next book.
How important do you think is marketing in today’s world for any book?
Very Important! One cannot stress enough on the significance of marketing. But the channels have changed over time. Social media plays a very significant role today in marketing the books. One can reach out to a lot more people through SM marketing initiatives. And once your book makes a mark, then it's like a chain reaction. Your book is sure to find an audience.
As they travelled back home in their car, Varnika looked straight ahead into nothingness. She felt a hand over hers and turned to look at a smiling Beena. Varnika took her arm and moved closer to her mother to place her head on her shoulder. With every experience in her life, she only came to the conclusion that nothing can supersede the love of your family. Yet, she felt a sudden pang in her heart; took her mobile out of her bag and dialled a number. She heard an automated reply that informed that the number is out of network coverage.
She wondered if Sushant was genuinely out of network coverage or if he had blocked her number. She shook her head and smiled for her mother’s sake who was clearly revelling in her daughter’s achievement.
What are the three tips you have for readers of this interview who are aspiring writers?
1. Never wait for the perfect idea to strike you. Sometimes what you set out to write turns out very differently when you actually put it out on the Word Document. So you never know how your final story will transpire until you type it out. You can edit an imperfect manuscript later.
2. Read a lot. Do not compromise on reading while you are writing. Reading is the only activity that will keep your writing cells active. I tend to read everything that crosses my eye- newspapers, magazines, interviews everything. You never know what you read today, might become a muse or a plot point for your story in future. Reading is basically research for your writing on the go.
3. Question each and every word you write. That’s in the editing stage. See if you can tighten your language. Use a more appropriate and simple word, instead of a jargon. And tell a tale that people will carry with them for long.
Thank you! I wish you the very best for your future endeavours.