Today I have the honor of hosting a very prolific author and effervescent personality, Deepti Menon who began to write at the age of ten, and was lucky enough to have travelled around the country, being an Army kid. Her first book, 'Arms and the Woman', published in 2002, takes a light-hearted look at the life of an Army wife. 2013 and 2014 were lucky for her, as many of her short stories were chosen for anthologies - 21 Tales to Tell, Upper Cut, Chronicles of Urban Nomads, Mango Chutney, Crossed and Knotted, Rudraksha, Love - an Anthology, The Second Life, A Little Chorus of Love and Tonight’s the Night. The latest anthology, Mock, Stalk and Quarrel has a story by her as well. She also has a book of poems, titled 'Deeparadhana of Poems', lovingly compiled by her mother, herself a talented writer. ‘Shadow in the Mirror’, a psychological thriller published by Readomania in 2016, is her latest offering.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I started writing at the age of ten. However, my whimsical Sagittarius streak has never allowed me to stick to a fixed work schedule. There are days when I wake up with the lark, and start writing, followed by days when I want to do anything but write, but these are luckily rare. On certain nights, when I burn the midnight oil and keep writing, my husband wakes up around the witching hour, and blearily asks me if I am crazy!
2. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think it is my ability to convert anything I see or hear into words. My friends and family are petrified of me, as most of the time, they can recognize themselves in what I write.
3. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part came after I wrote my latest book ‘Shadow in the Mirror’. I had written it twelve years back, and I needed to edit it quite a bit to make it relevant in today’s context. Plus, my almost - prophetic publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee of Readomania fame, and my astute editor, Vaijyanti Ghosh, offered me a huge pair of scissors and asked me to cut chunks off my story! That was heartrending, but I know that those cuts helped immensely to streamline my story and make it slick.
4. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed being able to write a tale that came from straight off my imagination, a story that I could embellish the way I wanted to. I could juggle facts, add autobiographical bits and manipulate my characters with ease. That doesn’t work in real life, does it? And thank God it doesn’t!
5. What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I have been a teacher for the better part of my life, and it is a profession that is on par with my love of writing. I don’t know if my students learnt from me, but I certainly reaped rich rewards from just being with them, listening to their quick minds, and in being myself with them.
The first time I walked into a class (Standard 3), I was twenty-two, and totally at sea, because all I could see before me was a sea of children running helter-skelter. I quit the next day. The next time I walked into a more senior class (Standard 8), I was more prepared. I put in all my skills into getting to know them, cracking a joke or two to break the ice, and we soon had this amazing rapport going. It is these very skills that I use with my readers as well.
6. Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
I love letting my imagination run riot! So I work mainly on intuition, getting my story out there. Once that is done, I run a logic check to ensure that it does not sound too far-fetched, but I do enjoy stretching my imagination right up to that boundary between genius and insanity! J
7. What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
Social media helps tremendously in promoting one’s work. I have learnt this from personal experience. When my first book ‘Arms and the Woman’ came out, its sales flagged because I was a newbie writer who didn’t know anyone.
Today, I know, for a certainty, that my latest book ‘Shadow in the Mirror’ is selling, as much through my Facebook and Twitter contacts, as from other sources.
8. What do your plans for future projects include?
I did take part in the last two NaNoWriMos, and have two manuscripts with me at the moment, which need to be honed and edited. I would love to get another book out there by next year. Plus, I have this urge to put all my short stories together and bring out an anthology sometime in the future. Let’s see where my heart takes me! J
Thank you so much, Varsha, for these interesting questions! I had a lark answering them. God bless! J
You can find and follow Deepti here:
Twitter handle: @deepsmenon_71