Preeti Shenoy, among the top five highest selling authors in India, is also on the Forbes longlist of the most influential celebrities in India. Her work has been translated to many languages.
India Today has named her as being unique for being the only woman in the best-selling league. She has been awarded the ‘Indian of the Year’ award for 2017 by Brands Academy for her contribution to Literature. She has also received the Academia award for Business Excellence by the New Delhi Institute of Management. She has given talks in many premier educational institutions such as IITs and IIMs and corporate organisations like KPMG, Infosys and Accenture an. She is also an artist specialising in portraiture and illustrated journalling.
Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines such as Conde Nast and Verve.
She has a very popular blog and also writes a weekly column in The Financial Chronicle. She has a massive online following. Her other interests are travel, photography and yoga. Her books include A Hundred Little Flames, It’s All In The Planets, Why We Love The Way We Do, The Secret Wish List, The One You Cannot Have and many others.
An Interview with Preeti Shenoy, Author
She is a Writer, an Artist, a poet, a blogger and a Mother. She is Preeti Shenoy, author of the book “34 Bubblegums and Candies”. We were fortunate enough to get in touch with her, and learn more about this mesmerizing personality. Her journey had begun with her blog “Just a mother of two”, and she got an overwhelming response from readers all over the world. She has taken time off her busy schedule to answer some questions for engage in conversation with the Viewspaper.
VP: Firstly, we would like to begin with the most basic question, how did your journey with the Pen begin?
PS: Ever since I remember I have written and painted. As a child I used to read a lot and also draw a lot of pictures. The margins of my text books were always filled with illustrations. I would also write my own mini-books, complete with illustrations, mostly adventure stories that I thought of. Writing and painting were as essential to me as food and air!
VP: How did you make the transition from being a blogger, to a published writer?
PS: Initially I began writing in the blog. I began getting a lot of positive feed back from my readers. Many appreciated the apparent simplicity of my writing style. Then I got an opportunity to write for a local newspaper which I grabbed. Around this time I also started writing for Times of India. I had also written a few pieces for an IT magazine. Then I got an offer to write for Readers digest. I went on to write several pieces for them. Around this time my poetry was also published in a book. A few of my writings were also chosen for ‘Chicken soup for the soul’ series. My writing suddenly started getting a lot of recognition. The natural transition from all this was to go on to author a book!
VP: You have a wonderful book to your credit now, how does it feel to be known as a writer?
PS: It feels wonderful to tell people that I am now a published author. For me it is like a dream come true. As a child I used to marvel at all the books I read and wonder how people could write so much. Now I know the answer and it sure feels very fulfilling.
VP: What inspired you to write this book?
PS: Only one powerful driving force—it was entirely my dad. He was a person who meant the world to me. I lost him all of a sudden very unexpectedly in September 2006. This book was entirely for my dad. He would have been so proud of me had he lived to see that his daughter is now an author.
VP: What was the most difficult phase that you faced while writing this book?
PS: Since it was a collection of real life incidents, I had to decide what to include and what not to include. The choice was hard as I wanted the book to have a balance between the emotional pieces and the humorous pieces.
VP: Which is your favourite story in the book, and why?
PS: Undoubtedly it is the first story—‘My special friend’ because it is the best tribute anyone can pay to a father.
VP: What is the significance of bubble gums and candies in the title of the book?
PS: I have explained this on the blurb of the book. This is what it says:
Life is a lot like bubblegums and candies. Sometimes you have to keep chewing over some incidents to extract whatever you can out of it. At times the bubble you blow bursts unexpectedly and you are left with a sticky mess. Sometimes you lick it slowly to relish it. When you greedily bite off more than you can chew or a hard boiled candy slips down inadvertently you bear the pain as it makes its way down the food pipe. At rare times when you manage to strike just the right balance a feeling of contentment reigns supreme.
Each of the incidents in the book is either a ‘candy’ or a ‘bubblegum’. There are many that make you think—just like chewing a bubblegum and some that leave you feeling good—just like eating a candy!
VP: What kind of audience do you cater to?
PS: Since the incidents are real life ordinary everyday incidents, almost everybody will be able to relate to the book. I get letters from a variety of people, all ages and from all walks of life who write and tell me they loved my book. More than that I am humbled and honoured when they write long letters sharing bits of their lives with me because it was very similar to incidents mentioned in the book. They connect with me as a friend and I try to respond to each and every mail I get.
VP: What are your main concerns as a writer?
PS: I would not call it a concern but my goal is to be honest to my readers and to my writing. Well really no concerns as I live to write and fortunately I do not have to write to live!
VP: Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
PS: My father, My children, My husband and a few close friends.
VP: How important a role does your family play?
PS: My family is really important. My husband is wonderfully supportive and ‘holds the fort down’ when I sit long hours tap –tapping away at my key board. My children do not interrupt when I tell them that I am working. If they weren’t so supportive and understanding about my need to have my own space and time, I doubt if I could have written or painted. Very supportive husband, two marvellous children, a few close friends who keep pushing me to write and long hours of staying up at nights.
VP: Who is your favourite contemporary Indian writer?
PS: I really like Anita Nair. I loved Arundhati Roy too. I love the poetry written by Kamala Das.
VP: What is your opinion about the future of Indians writing in English?
PS: It can only get brighter and brighter! Opportunities like never before have indeed opened up new worlds, new possibilities.
VP: There have been many theories that an Indian can never to justice to Indian flavours when he writes in English, and not his vernacular. Even great writers like Kamala Das, were condemned for the same. Do you think this is true?
PS: Not the least bit. Whatever medium a writer writes in, he or she has done justice if the book has managed to strike a chord with the reader. Everything else is secondary. It is a bit like saying that you cannot mix two media while painting! Writing is a lot like creating a work of art. The Artist decides whether to use oil or water colour or collage or gouache and whether to combine these elements. Indian flavour had been brought out marvellously in countless books. Sometimes these books do use a phrase or two from vernacular. It adds to the beauty of the book. It does not take away from it in anyway.
VP: Do you think that it is ethical of vernacular writers to write in English, for the sake of better remuneration?
PS: Like I said, the medium does not matter as long as the writing strikes a chord. I don’t think writing in English implies that you have been disloyal to your mother tongue. For many writing in English comes easily when compared to writing in vernacular. I don’t think that just because someone has written in English or someone has written in vernacular, they have to be condemned to write only in that language for the rest of their lives! So the question of ethics really does not rise.
VP: How good does the market look for future Indian writers?
PS: I guess it is good! I am really not in a position to comment as I really don’t write for commercial success. I am fortunate enough to be able to do that.
VP: Your next book, a complete fiction is in the pipeline; tell us some more about it.
PS: It is based on a true life story. It is set in the eighties and has a very unusual plot. It is a love story but also inspirational.
VP: You’re an artist, a writer and a mother. How do manage to strike the perfect balance?
PS: Very supportive husband, two marvellous children, a few close friends who keep pushing me to write and long hours of staying up at nights.
VP: According to you, which book is a must read for all aspiring writers?
PS: I cannot name any one book. I think one must read as much as one can and also the reading should be varied.
VP: What’s your advice for other upcoming/aspiring writers?
PS: Keep reading, keep writing. Keep reading, keep writing. Keep reading , keep writing. Thats is all!
N. Trikala Satya
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