Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rendezvous with Amrita Suresh :)

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a Hatha yoga teacher, who has also been a faculty handling business presentations for M. Tech students at IIIT, Hyderabad. As of now, I am a busy mom to a still more busy toddler who being two years old is more qualified to be a yoga teacher, since the tiny brat spontaneously teaches everyone the art of deep breathing!

2. Throw some light on your debut book ‘When the Lawyer Falls in Love’.

My first book ‘When a Lawyer falls in love…’ was written when I was fresh out of college and hence has that certain light hearted tone that every college student who has ever bunked class can identify with!

3. What inspired you to write your second book ‘When a Lawyer walks down the aisle’?

Would you believe it, that there is actually a nine year gap between the writing for my two books and there was just so much happening in these nine years that has been reflected in my writing. I went through the whole comical arranged marriage route, yet I was lucky to fall in love with the person I was arranged to meet! The story behind every marriage, I believe is worthy of a book and considering I married a lawyer, this is saying something, isn’t it?!! :P

4. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

My previous book had a male character as it’s protagonist, yet this time, it’s the female lead, Sonali Shah who steals the show. I love reading and have a personal collection of over 1500 books and the character of Sonali is also depicted as this erudite yet talkative lawyer, who would have been fun to hang out with, had she been a real person.

5. How much of the book is realistic?

Okay, so what I’m about to say is going to sound a bit freaky, so brace up. When I was 21 , I enrolled in this program called the ‘Eternity Process’ which is organized by the Art of Living Foundation, Bangalore. This is basically a past life regression therapy where under hypnosis you can experience flashes of your past life and the in between states after death. So in that sense, the idea of the novel came from this fascinatingly unique experience, I had, when I regressed back in time.

6. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Anyone who is remotely interested in the paranormal and wants to lose their fear of ‘ghost’s should read this book. I have to admit, that growing up, I was someone who could be scared easily, yet after reading more than two dozen books on the paranormal, I’ve come to have a fair understanding of this whole phenomena called ‘ghosts’. And as comical as this sounds, yet at some point of time, all of us have had the experience of casting away our physical body. We just don’t remember it, that’s all.

7. How did you come up with the titles of both the books?

I had always thought I would become a lawyer, hence this wish is somewhere reflected in my books.

8. What is the hardest and the easiest thing about writing?

I truly believe, that any art form derives it’s inspiration from something beyond the mind of man. I know, I sound like Sri Aurobindo here, yet it’s true. J.K. Rowling says that the whole concept of Harry Potter was downloaded into her mind like a fully formed idea. That’s what is called inspiration I guess. So getting inspiration to write something can be both the hardest and the easiest thing about writing. That apart , there is also the question of discipline.

9. How long, on average does it take you to write a book?

Like I said, sometimes it’s all about being inspired and then the ideas simply flow. A book can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how earnest one is.

10. Are your books self-published or traditional?

For every fellow writer out there, here is a humble request. If you have a great idea and fairly good writing skills, just do yourself a favour and self publish. I was quite hung up on the idea of having a traditional publishing house take up my work, only to realize that self publishing is a far more satisfying option, both creatively and financially.

11. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published the other way around?

You know, probably in the time of Jane Austen, one had to be at the mercy of a printer to publish and circulate one’s works, yet today the same idea is plain foolish. Firstly, from the conception to the writing and even the marketing everything is left for the author to do, yet when it comes to the share in profit, now that’s a different story. The lessons I learnt after having my first book published, will stay with me for a lifetime, so my earnest appeal to every gullible first time author is to self publish. Very few publishing houses have the bandwidth to do a whole publicity campaign so when a publisher hardly does any publicity for your book, trust me you are better off self publishing. At least whatever amount you make, after all the hard work, will be yours!

12. Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Enid Blyton, since it is said that she wrote almost 6000 to 8000 words a day, which is truly remarkable! Also, Sonam Kapoor the actress is someone whom I envisaged while scripting the character of the feisty lawyer Sonali. I like bubbly people who have an aura of intelligence and Sonam Kapoor is one such person, I feel.

13. Tell us something about your future projects.

My next book is a bit semi autobiographical and for anyone interested in the concept of past life regression, it will be quite a treat!  I did a google search on some of what I saw of rural Bengal during my regression and the results threw up some startling facts, I had absolutely no knowledge of earlier. It was quite eerie actually!

14. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Like I said, self publish, don’t get swayed with the idea of signing a ‘contract’ and as authors it’s important not to be gullible. Publishing is a big business after all!

15. What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favourite ways to unwind - whatever comes to mind.

I’m a professional tarot card reader, who has people coming for solutions regarding 160 crore property disputes. I had read over a 100 books during my rather rough pregnancy as a result of which my new born would thoughtfully stare even at the cover of a book as if he were reading it. My mom was diagnosed with fourth stage cancer when my son was 10 weeks old and she passed away 20 days before the release of this book. So in that sense, writing this book has truly been some journey… Yet if you stubbornly hold onto hope even during the roughest weather, the night will give way to dawn. It does.

And now, before we end this session, how about a snippet from the book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
This appears as part of the book blurb, so that the reader is tempted to get a copy of the 125 rupee book...
“There is someone in the car...!!” Ankur said, his voice thick with terror. Vyas, who would normally scare easily, seemed surprisingly calm. Perhaps, due to his stint abroad, Vyas was somehow familiar with car hijackers. “Listen Ank’s... don’t panic, I’ll just check...” Vyas said.  They were standing a few feet from the car and Vyas a bit hesitantly strode up and peeked into the black Honda city . And sure as day, there was an elderly lady seated inside. For a few seconds, even Vyas was a bit confused and even as he turned to confirm to Ankur the possibility of them being kidnapped by a frail octogenarian, he noticed a rather strange thing. The elderly being seemed to have left the car.

Even as the doors were securely shut. A chill ran down Vyas’s spine. Meanwhile a lot worse things, were happening to Ankur’s spine as the elderly ‘ghost’ made an appearance before him.
“Ankur… Run!!” Vyas almost yelped as he saw the ghostly figure inching towards his best friend from college. Without further encouragement, Ankur simply took to his heels and his pudgy frame ran as fast as his feet could carry him. And even as he ran, Ankur realized that this was by far the best advice ever given to him.
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  1. Thank you Ila! And have I told you that you have a truly lovely name! I think your parents did a very fine job in picking the name 'ila'. God bless!

    1. Thank you so much ma'am :) It was lovely to interact with you. Wish you all good with the coming new year :)