Here are some of the questions I have been asked in the past and my answers to them. Feel free to send me any questions you may have pertaining to either my books or writing in general.
Q. What influences your book topics?
A. History definitely influences what I chose to write about, but also, the places I love factor in as well. When researching for ideas for a new novel, oftentimes the topic chooses me. What I mean by this is, I find that my research starts out in, for instance, a search for more information on a sports incident that happened in England. The next thing I know, I’m researching medical procedures which took place during that same time period, which brings me to alternative medicines, which takes me to a whole different intriguing subject that I never heard of before.
For history buffs, such as myself, the historical details are not altered in my novels. The stories are written around the facts. My goal in writing in this manner, is so that something can be learned without it being an history lesson per se. The same goes with the subjects or place I choose to cover in the novels. This way the readers can enjoy the fiction but hopefully learn something new at the same time.
Q. Where did you get the idea for Postcards from Goa?
A. It began as a screenplay eighteen years ago. After watching many Indian cinema (Bollywood) films, my friend and I gave it a go to see what we could come up with along the same lines. It didn’t go anywhere with the movie moguls, rather, it sat in a draw for some years collecting dust. Deciding it may work better as a novel I dusted it off and began some serious researching sessions.
It began to take a more definitive shape as the details for the characters, locales, and historical facts started filling up several notebooks. Scouring the Internet for anything Goan I could find, books, photos, music, videos, etc., really contributed to fleshing out the story line. Once the characters became real to me, telling me their stories, the novel became easier to write.
Q. How do you get inspired to write?
A. Writing has always been a passion of mine. It came first from my mother’s example, and the love of writing which she had instilled in me. She wrote such beautiful and descriptive poetry and short stories. From the very early age of eight, I knew I wanted to be a writer. At that time, I actually wrote a story about my family, complete with stick figure drawings of all of us. I remember my mom was so proud of that first story, that she took the cardboard sheets from the back of the yellow legal pads that I wrote it on and made the book cover for it using decorative material and sewing it all together.
The passionate ignited further, and the desire enhanced, when I began to relate to fictitious writers like Jo March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and John Boy Walton played by Richard Thomas on the television show The Waltons. I even had my parents buy me the Big Chief notepads that he used for his stories. He was such an inspiration and prob-ably my first real actor crush.
Having a journal, notepad, pencil, sharpener (as I prefer lead to ink) and a pen (just in case) with me at all times are very beneficial, indispensible really. If ever in a harried moment, I absentmindedly forgot to bring them with me, and the muse awakened, I would frantically search for any-thing resembling a writing implement (crayons will suffice), and any type of paper. Yes, I have scribbled extensive notes on paper napkins, place-mats and empty tissue boxes (thankfully not too often though).
Some of the things that inspire me to write are people-watching and imagining their stories. When I research something I am interested in learning more about or when experience a special event, theses too have inspiration written on them. Having a song evoke deep emotions within me, going for a walk on the beach or a hike through the woods colored with autumn leaves, sitting and watching a bonfire or the rain falling on my window are my favorite inspirations. Waking up from a vivid dream, prompts me to write it down and then used at some point for a story idea or a scene in a story.
Q. What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
A. Read, read, and read other author’s books. Get a sense of various styles of writing. Experiment with the styles as you come to discover your own. Always carry some sort of a notepad and pen, or tablet if you prefer to keep notes that way, as your muse sometimes enjoys turning up at your door when you least expect it, and you want to be prepared.
When you are writing, just write whatever comes to mind. Edit later; it is much easier, and you will be able to concentrate on your thoughts as they race through your mind and onto the page, so you will not miss any important details or ideas.
Research is crucial, even for fiction writers. You do not want your readers getting exasperated at your unrealistic or outlandish situations, or worse, incorrect explanations of known diseases, places, or events. Science-fiction writers can get away with much more in this area of writing. However, you want to be careful not to lose your readership over something simply avoided in the first place by taking a little time to research the subject in question. If you are a non-fiction writer, thorough research is definitely necessary!
Be in tune to the things that can inspire you. I mentioned several of the stimuli, which rouse my muse from her unconscious, and yes, sometimes, tenacious frame of mind. Explore various methods of inspiration. The remedy for evoking creativity usually does not lie within one standard formula. Nor is there one for the inevitable and untimely occurrences of writer’s block.
Lastly, write for the love of writing! It is best not to sit down with all the necessary implements and become fixated on the idea that you are going to write the next novel that will be #1 on the New York bestseller list. You may in fact accomplish that feat; however, if you do not you will be sorely disappointed. Let writing be a passion, not a chore. It may be-come your bread and butter someday, but never let it become something you loathe. Keep it fresh and alive. Write from within. Write passionately. Write consistently, and write constantly!
Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer?
A. The best thing for me as a writer is to be able to use this medium to express my thoughts, and have it serve as a release for my emotions. When you have something that you are so passionate about, you naturally want to share it with others. Hearing how my words touch them, especially when they relate to the story, is an amazing feeling. Navin Kundra, a singer, songwriter friend of mine expressed this concept beautifully. He said, “When you can translate your emotions or thoughts from one soul to another through your art, it is truly an incredible experience!”
Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?
A. As with finding inspiration by various means, so it is with trying to discover techniques to break the writer’s block. At times, I will assess the issue from contrasting angles. Other times I will put aside that which is creating the block, and work on another section of the story, article, etc., or something completely different. When I go back to the problem with a fresh look, it tends to resolve more easily.
Listening to music is a great way to relax and soothe my mind, so I am not stressing over the temporary obstacle. Going for an energetic walk or doing some intense stretching exercises gets the blood pumping and the creativity flowing again.
Keeping in mind the words of Ernest Hemingway when he described what writers truly are, definitely keeps things in perspective. He said we are “Apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”