What is your favorite food? Chocolate! I love dark, rich, organic chocolate. Truffles best of all.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My education in Bombay, India began very early in life so that I was already writing by the time I was 3. My first clear memory of school was getting to write, “The cat sat on the mat.” I loved the feel of pencil on paper and perfecting my letters. Both my parents were big readers, and I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. My Dad and his brother told lots of stories. My mother’s side loved poetry, and Dad’s mother would sit me on her lap to tell me fairy tales over and over with no end of patience with my unceasing demands to hear them again. All this reading and story-telling fueled my imagination.
My research skills — the ones I use for my non-fiction writing especially — I learnt in high school and university. But my Dad also taught me about the realities of research and got me started in using the university library when I was still in high school. My fiction too profits from these skills, for I try to ensure I get factual details right … unless I deliberately want to skew them to suit my story.
When and why did you begin writing? I wrote stories and poems from the time I was in grade school and into university. I wrote them because I daydreamed a lot and wanted to write some of the stories I told myself. Writing was just unadulterated fun.
When did you first know you could be a writer? I didn’t consider writing a career for me until I was in my 20s. And even then it seemed optional; I felt that I wasn’t a writer anyway. But I continued to write short stories and articles. And in the 1990s, I began the background research for Lifeliner yet still didn’t think I could be a writer. I didn’t consider myself a writer until after my brain injury in 2000. That turned writing into a must-do for me else I would go crazy even though I had to relearn how to write. I write differently now than I did before the injury. After I published Lifeliner in 2007 and saw the way people responded to not just the story but the way I wrote it, I finally believed that I could be a writer and was one.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I’m rather eclectic. Every book of mine is different. The one I most enjoyed writing was a time travel novel that I hope to publish this year.
What inspired you to write your first book? I was at the memorial for Judy Taylor, the person Lifeliner is about, when a former boss of mine and fellow Total Parenteral Nutrition patient of Judy’s turned to me and said someone should write her story. I had one of those lightbulb moments. I began working on Lifeliner immediately.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I read several biographies and autobiographies, most health related but some by respected writers, to prepare me. I liked the narrative non-fiction style more than straight facts and figures and decided to go with the former. But I also felt that any dialogue had to come straight from the interviews I taped, not from me making it up.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? I’m reading The Antipodes of the Mind by Benny Shanon. It’s a very big book, written in a slightly dry style — except when he relates his actual experiences with Ayahuasca, a plant-based Amazonian psychotropic brew. This brew creates some really interesting experiences, I must say. I bought the ebook version, which is only available in the Kindle format unfortunately. I find reading the ebook on a Kindle Paperwhite much easier than reading the print book, not to mention lighter in the hands too. I’ve become interested in Philosophy of Mind, and this book is about exploring the mind through experiences with Ayahuasca.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? So many people are creating great tools for writers these days that it’s empowering authors. National Novel Writing Month is probably the most well known. It may seem insane, but it pushes you, advises you, perks you up, and keeps you writing alone yet surrounded by people all writing and rooting for each other until you finish that novel. Or non-fiction book.
Wattpad.com is a new place for writers to find readers for feedback. And since Wattpad requires readers to give helpful feedback, you’re not likely to get just a “good book” or “that sucks,” both useless to a writer trying to improve a story. I have just begun using this website, but I hear it works well, for those who work hard at it, as a way to develop a fan base that will purchase your published books.
BiblioCrunch.com connects writers with the professional help they need to self-publish. The owners are super helpful and run #indiechat on Twitter Tuesday nights.
And for getting your website up and running, nothing beats WordPress.org. Buy your own domain name and use WordPress to create its front end.
Genre – Christian Fantasy
Rating – PG13