Author Interview with meha sharma

Author Interview with meha sharma

interviewed on Oct 20, 2020 Bengaluru, India
Q. How would you describe yourself?
I would call myself dreamy, passionate and an admirer of art in its varied forms. I have been smitten with stories as long as I can remember and nothing gives me more joy than seeing my thoughts turn into a story.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
My debut book released in February 2020. It is an anthology of short stories called, 'Rainbow Housing Society'. It is a collection of short stories revolving around the lives of people staying in the ‘Rainbow Housing Society’. Just like the name of the society, the lives of the inhabitants are full of different colors. It has an unusual but endearing narrator, who silently witnesses human beings in their sheer human glory and goes about pondering on the complexities of human nature. Each story is not connected to the other, yet in the end, forms a wholesome story. The idea of this book came to me when I moved to a housing society sometime in 2017. I was fascinated by the whole milieu and the way life moves on in a housing society with an array of people staying on common grounds. And so I let my imagination take wings and the book was born.
Other than this, my short-stories have featured in various anthologies like , 'Sharing Lipstick'(Womensweb), 'No Apologies'(Womensweb), Route 13: Highway to Hell.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing means the world to me. It is a cathartic experience, something which gives me unbridled joy. There are times when my mind is brimming with muddled up thoughts. Pouring them out to my heart's content makes me feel alive. Writing helps me connect to my inner self and it also gives me a purpose. I am opinionated and I have a unique voice like each one of us. Writing helps me to put across my voice out in the universe. I feel heard and in the process I also find like minded souls to share my life's journey. I began writing for public forums in 2015. Since then I have grown immensely as a writer, I would like to believe. I have been fortunate enough to be recognized in the writing world. The laurels I have received over the years bear testimony to this. I am a recipient of two prestigious writing awards- Orange Flower Award ( Social Impact) 2017, and Orange Flower Award for Short Fiction 2020. My first book got released in February 2020 and is receiving wonderful reviews from one and all.
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
Honestly, I do not have a writing process. When an idea strikes, I jot it down in my notebook so that I do not lose it and can come back to it later. Then there are times when the urge as well as the idea is so strong that I immediately put my thoughts on paper without further ado. But, having said that, I believe one ought to have a routine as writing is hard. If someone wants to pursue writing seriously, being disciplined is important. If you are penning a novel it is all the more crucial to set a writing routine otherwise it is quite easy to fall off the wagon and you would be staring at an incomplete manuscript. Moreover, the more you write, the better you become. This is only possible if you write everyday while following a strict writing routine.
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am not very good at networking. But, I have active accounts on Facebook and Instagram with like-minded writer friends. So, talking about my work on my social media handles is primarily how I have marketed my book. Apart from that I feel book giveaways on writing platforms is a good idea too. I have done that as well. It enabled my book to reach the right kind of readers. But, book marketing is a whole new world now and one can definitely work wonders by the right kind of approach.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
Good reviews and visibility on social media plays a vital role. But, in the end if the book is good then nothing can deter it from reaching far and wide. I think it works in a writer's favour if he/she has a reader base- a set of people who know and enjoy his/her voice.
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
A reader once messaged me saying that she would never be able to forget my story. It was an emotional story and it had a deep impact on her. Such messages overwhelm you and make you write more and improve your craft.
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
This is a tough question. There are so many books to choose from. Since I have grown up reading classics, 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen has to be in the list as I loved the opinionated heroine who wasn't afraid to be herself. Recently, I also loved 'Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine' by Gail Honeyman. It is a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story of Eleanor and is sure to touch your heart. It delves into the overarching themes of trauma and loneliness and is bound to leave an impact on you. Lastly, I loved 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khalid Hosseni. It is a beautiful book which takes you into the Taliban run Afghanistan. Sisterhood forms an integral part of the book and you are transported to the Afghanistan as you read.
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favourite authors and I like her for her evocative writing. The way she delves into the lives of expatriates through her simple stories with her exquisite writing is wonderful. I also like Freidrick Backman's prose as it is heart warming and real. I also like Manju Kapur's writing as it has feminist undertones and also because I can relate to it a lot.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
I am not working on a manuscript currently. But, one of my short stories was recently chosen to be part of a wonderful anthology which is going to be released soon.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
Writing is a solitary job and so a writer needs a solid support system so as to write consistently. A writer has to grapple self-doubt each day and still continue writing. Then, getting published by a good publishing house is not easy. There are so many writers out there and one needs to stand out in the sea of writers with one's unique voice.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
I used to work in the corporate sector and was into academics. I intend to get back to academics and am looking into studying further so as to get back into teaching university students. Writing will definitely continue though!
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
This is a wonderful initiative and I cannot begin to emphasize the importance of networking and communicating with like minded people when it comes to writing and reading. We can support each other and grow together as writers.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
Keep writing. Yes, be consistent. Even if you feel you are not up to writing on a certain day, still write. Your words will get chiseled as you write day after day, trust me. And read. Reading will expose you to various genres and writing styles and without you knowing make you a better writer. Last but not the least, have fun while you write.

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