Welcome to my Author Interview Blog Series!
This series allows me to interview some amazing and inspirational authors. In the interviews I glean some writing tips from them, find out how they have overcome their literary challenges and most importantly get some valuable insight into their creative life.
This week I am beyond excited as author Shuchi Singh Kalra is sat in my red interview chair. She is a ChickLit author from India, who loves Twitter and describes herself as a ‘free spirit, certified crazy, social awkward cat lady!’ My kind of author – sigh!
Hey, Shuchi! Welcome to my blog! Please take a seat in my red chair.
Tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written
I currently have two books out in the market – both romantic comedies. The first one is ‘Done With Men’, which sounds like a Man-Haters Guide To The Galaxy but isn’t. It’s just a story of a ditzy girl who runs into a series of unfortunate disasters before she finds Mr.Right.
The second one is ‘I am Big. So What?‘ – India’s first plus sized romance. It is a light read but at the same time, touches upon issues of body shaming and self-love.
I like to create strong, zesty female characters that are flawed and yet very endearing. They are ditzy enough to mess up their lives but have it in them to put things back in place.
When did you write your first book?
I started writing ‘Done With Men’ in Jan 2013.
How long did it take to write your first book?
I finished Done With Men in three months flat and I’m still quite smug about it.
‘I am Big. So what?’ took me over a year to write.
What was your motivation to write your first book?
I always had recurrent author dreams of seeing a book with my name on it in a bookstore but I guess I took too long to actually do it. But hell, it’s never too late for anything.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
Writing a book is actually the easiest part about being an author. The real battle begins when it is time to publish and market your work. I don’t know how it works in the west, but book publishing in India is a rather slow process and by the time a book comes out into the market, an author is very likely to have lost interest in it.
The market for romance is thriving – there are new authors coming in everyday and readers have too much to choose from. This also translates into stiff competition and the need for aggressive marketing and promotion, which can be quite exhausting for an author. Two books down, I am beginning to enjoy it a bit through.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
Oh yes. I run into roadblocks and dead ends more often than I’d like. It helps sometimes to change track. If the story isn’t turning out to be satisfactory, I just scrap it and begin all over again instead of wasting too much time trying to make it work.
It can be disheartening at times to trash all that you’ve written but I always keep my eyes on the larger goal.
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
I usually start off with a rough sketch of the story but I don’t plot very extensively. I begin with an idea and let the story take it’s course.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
With every book you write, you get to live so many lives and be so many people. When I write for a character, I have to “become” them in that moment to explore how their mind would work, how they’d respond to a situation and why they are what they are. I find that bit the most thrilling.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
That you live and work in an isolated bubble and you are the only person responsible to keep yourself driven. Procrastination is practically an epidemic among writers and some days it can be difficult to rap yourself on the knuckles and get some real work done.
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
I have had my periods of slumps and stagnation but quitting? Never! I love expressing myself through the written word but there are phases when motivation takes a nosedive. When that happens, I try my hand at something new (by new I obviously mean another form of writing). For example, if I’ve been stuck with a book chapter, I’ll write some poetry for a change. I have found that indulging in other creative activities like crafts etc. also helps considerably.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I run a writing firm so I am mostly juggling multiple projects at a time. Book writing is something I do when I can spare time from assignments, although I’d like to transition into full-time authoring eventually. I do most of my writing when my 5 year old daughter is in school or at night after everyone has gone to bed.
Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
I think procrastination suffers from me. I can be such a slacker at times and I hate myself for it. And that happens only with book writing because when you are writing for businesses, you can’t afford to wait for inspiration to strike you. I keep pushing myself to write SOMETHING every day, even if it just small passage.
A small way forward is still a way forward and always better than stagnation.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
I think both those things are equally important. Intricate character development lends credibility to your story and makes it more realistic. It also helps the reader to relate more to your characters. At the same time, you need to keep the reader riveted with an interesting plotline and adequate twists and turns. I think one can’t do without the other.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
- 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
How do you manage social media as a writer?
I manage it by being addicted to Twitter, which is the absolute wrong way to go about it. I am not a social animal but I’m definitely a social media animal. I love interacting with readers and interesting people online and I must say it has helped my book sales too.
Social media gives you a platform to express yourself as a person, which may motivate people to check out your other writings. I think it’s a great way to come across new opportunities and market your work.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
As pleasurable and satisfying as it can be, writing can be sometimes disheartening because the returns are not immediate and competition is high.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep trudging along.
Take it one step at a time and don’t jump the gun.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
When it comes to my professional assignments, I can’t afford writer’s block because there are deadlines to be met and clients to answer to.
However, when it comes to my books, I give myself more leeway to slack. Reading books from the same genre you are writing is the best way to break out of a block. It helps bring your mind into the same zone and you are much more likely to find a trigger for the words to flow.
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
Yes. I’m usually thinking of too many books at the same time. But I try to work on one or at the most, two at a time just for the sake of my sanity.
What do you wear to write?
I work from home so you’ll usually find me in an old tee and a pair of shorts/PJs with my hair pulled up in a bun.
If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
I am fairly (okay, insanely) active on Twitter and I connect with most of my readers there. You could also email me for any queries.
Wow – What a fab interview!
There were so many things that stuck out for me in this interview:
- I can really relate to ‘becoming’ a character in order to understand them and this can be exciting!
- I think this is a great quote with regards procrastination – ‘a small way forward is still a way forward and always better than stagnation’.
- I can relate to being a ‘social media animal’ – love this!
- Your learning about instant gratification is very true. You almost have to prepare yourself for years of small progress.
- The growing Indian romantic fiction market sounds interesting.
- Your strong, zesty characters with flaws and wobbly bits sound like my chicklit character Roxy Collins. Yay – to these fun characters!
For more great interviews click here!
If you are an author and would like to be interviewed in my blog please get in touch!
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>