Once in a while you come across a book that has the power to pierce through your heart. A Monster Calls is one such book. Written by Patrick Ness, it is a story about a young boy with an ailing mother at home. It covers a range of somewhat difficult topics ranging from death to guilt.
My life, my journey, my writing - Deepti Menon
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Deepti Menon is the author of the ‘Shadow’ trilogy of thrillers and her stories have been published in around 25 anthologies. She has shared her journey of writing with us.
“Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Ann Lamott – Bird by Bird
My inspiration for writing is all around..
Where do I find my inspiration? Being born under Sagittarius, everything in life fascinates me. I find wonder in all that I see… I can find my stories during a walk in the park, a glimpse of a bird on a tree, or a conversation between people. In fact, my friends and family are wary around me because they are never sure when I will put them into my writing. My husband, for one, dreads the very idea.
Why do I write?
I feel I was born to write. Words have always had a profound influence on me, ever since I was young. Since my grandparents and parents were avid readers, I was surrounded by books from a young age. I loved the smell and feel of books and my mother introduced me to the classics by telling me her favourite stories at bedtime. I recall those nights when my father was posted in Delhi and we would sleep outside under the stars, with a mosquito net around us and a small lamp that shone as brightly as the stars above us. Imagine hearing about The Count of Monte Cristo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame in such a setting?
My New Year resolution a couple of years ago was “Try and write something every day!” The word to guard against was ‘try’! However, I have been trying to keep the resolution going, even if I have to burn the midnight oil after a full day’s work. I am the Executive Director of a school in Kerala and believe me, that is also a full-time job. Keeping to deadlines is what is scary. As Douglas Adams put it succinctly. “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” Luckily, I have not had many whoosh by so far.
Brilliant literary minds that have inspired me
It was Enid Blyton’s mysteries that first got me intrigued. I could spend hours reading about the Five Find Outers, the Secret Seven and the Famous Five along with their equally fascinating dogs. On the other hand, I had my two grandmothers who told me the amazing stories of Krishna, Rama, the Pandavas and the Panchatantra, and my grandparents who slipped in stories and poetry from the Bible, Rabindranath Tagore and the classic poets.
The classics were the next rung on the ladder. Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Louisa M Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, JM Barrie, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll most of whose books had children as their protagonists. It was only a matter of time before I graduated to the next level – The Count of Monte Cristo, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Three Musketeers and the delightful short stories of Saki, Somerset Maugham, Maupassant and O Henry. It was at this time that I also got introduced to the lyrical writing of Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee, Ruskin Bond, Jaishree Misra, Kiran Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Shashi Tharoor and many more fine minds.
My two favourite writers, however, were the hilarious PG Wodehouse and the suspenseful Agatha Christie. I suspect that my penchant for thriller stories comes from having sipped from the repertoire of the latter, as also from Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer.
Tips and tricks on writing and publishing for aspiring authors
Giving advice to other writers has never been my cup of tea. Especially after having read Oscar Wilde’s oh-so-apt quote. “It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good advice is absolutely fatal.” However, if I do have to say something, it would be on these lines.
Write your heart out, but edit stringently. Love what you write for if you do not enjoy it, your readers will not do so either.
The whole world may not want to know every little thing about you. Make sure that whatever you write sparkles and leaves an impact for that is what you will be remembered for, in the long run.
Publishing is a significant part of writing. Imagine writing a brilliant book and not having the apt publisher to help spread the word around? The best thing is to keep an eye out for someone who knows the worth of your book and will work wonders to create a buzz around it. Traditional publishers are the known devils, and they are aware of what to do. Self-publishing is trickier unless you have the wherewithal and the know-how to do your own PR, something which most authors find a trifle unnerving.
Blogging has taken over my life..
It was when I got published by Readomania that I came in touch with many wonderful Indian authors who were also my contemporaries. Today, I have an eclectic group of writer friends with whom I get a chance to discuss all things writing, and beyond. There is a galaxy of stars right there.
Blogging has also taken over my life at the moment. I started my blog, titled Deep Ties for obvious reasons, in 2010 and I keep delving into it whenever I write something. I enjoy scouting for apt pictures from the web to make my posts visually delightful. The introduction to my blog reads thus. “Writing, imagining, laughing, joking, introspecting, travelling, reading, reviewing and of course, living. My blog has it all, I hope!”
I would like to end with another wonderful quote:
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
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They say that sometimes the journey is more interesting than the destination. This couldn’t have been truer for Buddha. The world today knows him as