I take immense pleasure in introducing today’s author. She believes, she is perennially living in an alternate world. She’s pretty sure that Alice from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is her alter ego – ever curious and in the quest for the truth. An Alice who can put the mad hatter to shame for her ability of designing and donning multiple hats with panache; each hat adorned with colorful feathers. She is an author, a blogger, a professor, a dancer, and a dreamer.
Allow me to introduce… Tina Sequeira…
Tina Sequeira is an award-winning author and blogger. Tina is a published Goodreads author with two books to her credit, ´Soul Sojourn´ (2017) and ´Bhumi´ (2018). She is listed among the ´Top 35 writers of 2017´ by India´s leading online platform for youth, YouthKiAwaaz. She is the recipient of the Orange Flower Award 2017 by Women´s Web in the category of ´Writing on Work´ (2017). She was among the top 5 Finalists in the category of ´Parenting´ (2017), ´Humour´ (2017), ´Poetry´ (2017) and ´Personal Blogging´ (2016) for the Orange Flower Awards by Women´s Web. Her articles are regularly published on leading online platforms such as Youth Ki Awaaz, Momspresso. Women´s Web, Readomania to name a few.
She has earlier worked in elite IT companies such as NCR Corporation and Microsoft India, been an academic professor teaching management to graduates and postgraduates before turning to writing.
Q. Which story is closest to your heart in your anthology? Why?
A. To be honest, each and every story is close to my heart. I know it sounds like a classic cliche. A diplomatic answer. But, every story is indeed special to me and I look at each of them with great pride. They are my babies after all. Another ´done to death´ line..hahaha!
But, cliches are cliches for a very good reason. However annoyingly predictable or diplomatic they seem, they are in fact, closest to the real truth.
I must admit though that there are some stories that I spent more time on than the others. Some stories were a breeze to write. Some stories, the words had a longer birthing or labor time.
However, to still answer your question – If I had to pick only one story which is the closest to my heart, I will pick the very first fiction story that I wrote – ´Karma´. This is my foray into fiction writing.
Q.Where do you derive inspiration from?
A. Every writer is sitting on a gold mine as far as inspiration goes. It is all around us and within us. All you need to do is look and pay attention. From people within your four walls and outside to newspapers to books to art to music to personal stories to the wild imagination, there´s inspiration everywhere as far as writing goes. All one has to do is be a seeker.
Q. Did you intend to become an author as a child? How did you begin writing?
A. Yes, I always harbored a dream to become an author since childhood. My father is a voracious reader. He used to buy me books instead of dolls. Neither was I ever fascinated by dolls and toys. Books were my toys and imagination was my playground. Back then, I binged on classic literature. I loved the good old adventure stories by Mark Twain and Alexandre Dumas. Mystery books by Sir Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie thrilled the voyeur in me. I shed a tear while reading touching the tales of Little Women by Louise May Alcott and Black Beauty by Sewell. I loved the feminist protagonists of all Sidney Sheldon novels. I laughed uproariously at P.G.Wodehouse´s sense of humor. I marveled at Shakespearean literature which has a sparkling timeless quality to it. All these great minds triggered the desire to be an author someday.
Interestingly, I never saw it as an occupation back then. The dream was to become an author in my retirement post 60 years. You know, when I am done with all my responsibilities – career and home! As a child, I envisioned myself as a late entrant. A gloriously grey haired author with uncool soda bottle glasses (which are back in trend by the way). I saw myself as an author of a book or two at the max. Not anymore!
Today, with the onset of technology, it’s much easier to write. It´s much more convenient to write on a computer or laptop as opposed to pen and paper or longhand, as they call it.
Don´t get me wrong, writing is still a tiresome job and one needs oodles of passion and patience. But, it is simply nowhere as strenuous as it was in the olden days of the longhand form. Imagine writing a first draft on a piece of paper, editing it and then revising to write it all over again for the consequent drafts till you make it to the final one. Phew!
Becoming an author is an achievable dream today.
Let me give you a glimpse of my writing journey. I began writing in my adolescent years. I maintained a personal diary where I bared my heart and soul out in words and doodles. Around a decade back, I started blogging thanks to my younger brother who urged me to jump onto the bandwagon. For the longest time, blogging was a mere extension of my personal diary. The only difference was that in the past, I scribbled on the pages of my diary. While now, I was typing away to glory on blogspot.com. Also, I was an intermittent blogger for the longest time.
It was my return to India in mid 2016 (after a long stay in the US) that proved to be the turning point as far as my writing goes. Blogging had become a huge rage here unlike when I had just started in 2006. A lot had changed. There were so many new names, new sites, new platforms. I decided to resurrect my writing.
I started writing for an online platform called Women´s Web for the first time. It was a humble start as I wrote merely out of passion alongside a full-time job.
In 2017, I decided to work from home and that is when I took to writing seriously. I wrote for several other leading online platforms and participated in various writing challenges. This opened the door for me to various opportunities – such as becoming a self-published author, winning writing awards and recognition, gaining a diverse readership base, starting my new blog ´The Tina Edit´ and most importantly, being part of a vibrant writing community.
This is my writing journey till date.
Q. Give 3 reasons why people should buy your book?
A. I was very sure that my first book would be an ode to the Indian woman. The idea for´Bhumi´ germinated in 2017 and became a reality in 2018. Three reasons people should buy my book-
- It´s more than what anyone can ask for from an ebook. You get 26 short stories that are written from and with a lot of heart. And art!
- For its real and dignified portrayal of women characters – non-stereotypical, diverse and non-judgemental. Quite unlike the mass representation of women that we see through the male lens.
- For my writing style which I choose to believe is simple and beautiful in ´Bhumi´. I have made a deliberate effort to keep it so.
Q. What’s more important to you? Character or plot?
A. Both! It depends purely on your idea, the style of writing and the genre. For some of them, it makes more sense to have character driven stories. For some, plot-driven stories work best.
In a genre like mystery, a killer plot is a given. Not having one is criminal. In a genre like romance, the plot can take a backseat and let the characters take center stage and do all the ´show and tell´.
That is why I don´t write away books merely because they have a straightforward or unimaginative plot. There are several factors to be considered before writing it away for one mere reason. As long as the book engages me and delights me on other fronts, I am a happy reader.
Q. Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
A. All of them! Why not! I would love to meet each and every single character in my book. It would be so cool to enter into their world, say ´Hi´ and tell them how much I enjoyed writing them.
I can see myself chilling out with most characters in the book – be it Saira from ´Crazy courage´, Sofia from ´Dried roses´, Sahruda from Énding´, Dinaz from ´Lioness´shares´, Mira, Aisha and Diana from Ón the beach´, Ramona from ´Unbridled´to name a few.
I would give a big tight hug to Ira from ´Fat Chance´, Haima from ´Karma´, Meena from ´Mirror mirror on the wall´ and Rosie from ´Naked Illusions´.
I would most likely take the liberty to punch Sunil from ´Mirror mirror on the wall´ or Shami from ´Karma´. I would give an equally eloquent counterattack speech to Dr. Shikha Sharma on toxic femininity and would call her bluff.
I would spend the day with the kids, Shanaya from ´Instant gratification´ and Tanya from ´Switch´ and tell them how they represent hope for the next generation of women.
I would tell Chavvi and Anurag from ´Yours Ably´what an endearing couple they make and how brave their love story is!
Q. What do you think your favorite character thinks about you?
A. My favorite character in the book is Bhumi. The character is loosely inspired by my mother. She is my biggest role-model for her giving, forgiving and courageous nature. She is giving to the point of being sacrificial. Forgiving to the point of being bitten again. Courageous to the point of opening your heart and letting it be vulnerable and broken again. She gives you endless chances to change.
Like Christ says – ´Forgive your enemies seventy times seven’ or ´Love your enemies like you love yourself´. It is just too tall for any human to reach such an enlightened state. Mother Nature displays this magnanimity…this divine quality.
Hmm! What would Bhumi think of me? Bhumi, my favorite character would think that I am highly tolerant, non-judgemental and think differently than the rest. Most people would never see a passive character like Bhumi being strong, wise or courageous. But, I personally think she´s the strongest and bravest of all the characters in the book. She knows how the world including her own family members work. Yet, she doesn´t fall away from the right path to succumb to the ways of the world – selfishness, manipulation, opportunism, greed, lust. She stands tall and strong like the mighty earth herself, not getting swayed by easy provocation and temptation. She is extraordinarily mature, ethical and inspiring.
Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?
A. I know this one is another cliched. But true again as most cliches are, the only way to overcome the writer´s block is to write. You can only remove the block from the way if you get into the ring and get started. Face your block, look it in the eye and fight it. Once, you get going, the block miraculously gives way to more words and stories. Quite an irony isn´t it when the block suddenly becomes the impetus! But, that´s pretty much how it pans out at the end.
Q. Describe your process for research while writing.
A. Some writings call for a lot of research, given the topic or subject. For example, I recently submitted an article for Women´s Web. The topic was parenting an ADHD child. I googled to learn more about the ADHD condition, parenting challenges and also set up an interview with a parent of an ADHD child.
The writing process can vary depending on what you write. Let´s say for fiction, I try to steer away with some of the cliches in the storyline. So, I read lots of stories to pay close attention and catch those cliches. That forms the basis of my research as well. For character development, I try to recollect someone I know and visualize what they would most likely be doing in my plot. Would they fit in or stand like the odd one out? Do I want them in or out? There are no fixed rules or processes for writing. No ´one size fits all´ mantra!
There is no singular structure that I follow for my writing expect this: Freewriting – Revise – Proofread – Edit
I might repeat it again from the ´Revise´ stage based on the readers´feedback. I plan to revise ´Bhumi´ all over again before listing it on Amazon in a couple of days from now.
Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.
A. Self-Publishing is easy today. Anyone with a computer can self-publish. The trick is to market them and get people to notice and buy your book.
It depends on what your purpose is ultimately. For me, I decided to venture into self-publishing to test the waters before plunging right into it via traditional publishing.
It´s true that I have published two ebooks. But, I did not market my debut ‘Soul Sojourn’ at all. However, I do plan to foray into marketing both my books this year and learn a thing or two from the experience.
Book Blurb Content: A proud Indian citizen, Tina revels in being a woman. Voila! ‘Bhumi’, her debut fiction was born.´Bhumi´ is an ode to womanhood. In ‘Bhumi’, you will see real women come alive unlike their stereotypical counterparts on the celluloid. With ‘Bhumi’ in your hands, you can read 26 short stories at leisure at your comfortable pace. You can pick and begin from any chapter in the book because each chapter is a complete story by itself. Tina hopes that her readers will discover the simple joy of reading.
@tinajsequeira, do comment and let us know how this interview experience was for you. And do read, share and comment on your fellow author’s interviews as well. Here’s wishing you all the best for the eBook and all your future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!
Read Huma’s interview on Anshu’s blog. And Ashwini today is in conversation with Deepa. Check out other interviews in the series conducted jointly by @Ashwini_Menon, @anshuwrites, and Yours Truly – Paresh, Maheshwaran, Sitharaam, Kathakali, Mahak, Natasha,Lavanya, Jayanthi & Sayan.