The author I’m interviewing today is ‘Ms. read-a-lot’. She is the creator of the characters, Maya and Hari whom I fondly call ‘Matahari’. I often wondered if there are any characteristics that she has in common with Maya or Hari. And she admits that Hari shares her sense of humor. Having penned 3 books, she also knows how to use a pencil to sketch beautiful portraits. If she could paint the world with one color, it would be turquoise blue.
Allow me to welcome… Lavanya Srinivasan!
Lavanya is a CA working for an international bank. She is passionate about mythology and fantasy. She would love to spend time with her character, Hari.
Q. Which story you found the toughest to write and why?
A. My first published novella “Maya and the Mind Mystics” was definitely the toughest as my writing career was rather fresh at that point of time. Writing, the plot, the character cast, and the narrative came naturally but I was dumbfounded when I realized the editing, the typesetting, and the formatting are almost as difficult as writing the novella itself. Fortunately, I had great fellow writers to help me out.
Kanika of the “Tania” tales fame gave me a lot of pointers. Needless to say, we both connected so well that we are now involved in quite a few writing projects together
one of which is the twice-weekly Nina & Nana cartoons!
Q. What personality traits and qualities are most important for anyone who wishes to be a writer? Any advice for the novice starting out?
A. I know that there is plenty of advice on the web about how to write especially the one
about having a solid writing time every day. I have always felt that writing shouldn’t be a chore like cooking or washing that you do every day. Most of my writing has been the product of short bursts of creativity that usually is far more productive than if I sit at the prescribed time daily to write 500 words every day. However, each person has their own style and what works for me may not work for others. There are plenty of writers out there trying to break out big but I would caution against haste. Don’t follow the popular cliche or rush into finishing that book if it’s not your thing. Follow your instincts and like I always say the hand knows what’s it’s writing before the brain does. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I follow my own advice. I only write stuff that I enjoy.
Q. What would a fly on the wall see if he watched you while you are writing?
A. Probably the fly would see me curled up on my windowsill with a notebook typing furiously. The views outside of my apartment in Hong Kong is fantastic and I love looking at the gently rolling hills on one side and the glittery glitzy buildings in the distance. The fly would probably find it extremely difficult to break me out of my concentration as I have a one-track mind (which is probably not a cool thing to say in these days of multitasking) but this trait has served me well in my professional career as well as writing.
Q. Tell us about your journey as an author?
A. Writing came to me as a corollary of all the reading that I have been doing right from my school days. I have been a bibliophile since primary school when I started out with Enid Blyton. I devoured Perry Mason, Agatha Christie, and Wodehouse in quick succession and was always on the lookout for the next fictional character I could vicariously live through. Needless to say, Harry Potter arrived. My writing career as an adult received a big morale booster when my opinion piece was published in “The Hindu” open page. There was no looking back after that.
Q. What’s the hardest thing for you about writing?
A. The hardest thing for me is making time to write. I have a full-fledged finance career
that I am proud of, looking back at all the hard work I have done to reach the point where I am in right now. Writing poses a stiff competition to my musical interests when both of them vie for my time. I play the veena and gave my first public performance earlier this year. But at this point, writing is definitely winning the game!
Q.Which one is your favorite character? And do you plan to write another book/story
about his/her journey?
A. My favorite character of all time is Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. It’s probably uncool to say this of a prudish Victorian character in these days of women empowerment but Elizabeth was actually ahead of her time when Jane Austen wrote about her. Stripping aside the social norms of her era. What I really admire about her is her wit and the determination to live her life in her own terms. Of course, Lord Emsworth in the Blandings’ Castle (PG Wodehouse), Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Nynaeve in the Wheel of time by Robert Jordan and Hermoine Granger of Harry Potter fame all jostle for the second spot not to mention Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables!
My favorite character from my books is, of course, Maya as I envision her boldness and strength in wading past through all the obstacles that the world throws at her. Another Maya book is definitely on the way (She featured in “The God, The Girl and The Gem” that was published in April this year) but it needs to wait a while until I finish a completely different book that I am writing now. Elizabeth Bennet would probably make an appearance on my blog. Watch out for her!
Q. If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would it be? What would you do?
A: Definitely Hari who appears in both “Maya & the Mind Mystics” and “The God, The Girl and The Gem”! He is witty, fun to hang around with and is sure to keep my spirits up no matter how dreary the situation is. But I would watch out for his tricks though!
Q: What is your favorite part of the book?
A: I am going to choose from my third ebook – “The Cockatiel complains and collected works” – there are two parts of the book that I really like, if I may say so myself. Wribulizer that appears in the Blue Moon story seems like such a cool tech to have today but I can only dream on! I had two pet cockatiel birds, Scooby & Luna before I left India, so I know first hand how adorable those birds are. Luna was especially affectionate and would stay on my shoulder for a ride while I cleaned house. Scooby used to love using my feet as a trapeze, so I used to swing my feet up and down while he sat on in apparent enjoyment. I always wondered what Scooby and Luna would tell me if they could talk – that’s how the cockatiel complains story came into being!
Q. How do you overcome Writer’s Block?
A. To be honest, I haven’t encountered it so far. Like I said, the harder part for me is to
devote sufficient time to write all I want. My hand knows what I want to write before
the brain does!
Q. Describe your process for research while writing.
A. I am a huge fan of collecting stories around world mythology so needless to say I know
lots of arcane stuff about Indian epics Mahabharat and Ramayan apart from Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies. For my first two books, I draw heavily on elements of these for which, of course, I did a lot more of research and reading while developing the characters. The beauty of Indian epics, of course, is that I learn something profound every time I read them. While that may be also due to my evolution as I grow older and life’s experiences change me, I am awed at how much of valuable life
lessons relating to psychology and society at large is hidden in these epics. The fact that these were written many thousand years ago before the advent of modern society stuns me even more. More to the point about research, I sometimes spend a week trying a learn a single fact before I use it in the book. The authenticity of the back tales is really important to me.
Q. Share some valuable tips for publishing and marketing your e-book.
A. Like I said earlier while the writing part itself is important, it’s really the editing, formatting, typesetting and all those “boring” tasks that really add a finesse to the book. Don’t skip those!
Writing is a hot field these days and competition is heavy, so marketing depends a lot on what form of the book you come out with. I prefer to Indie publish as I cannot spend the time that’s required for traditional publishing but then again to each person his own! For Indie publishing, you require a lot of discipline as you own the publishing process from start to finish. Sending review copies to book reviewers, spreading Sending review copies to book reviewers, spreading the word out on twitter/ FB/blog are all a part of the process. Knowing your target audience and making sure that the word reaches them is important!
Book Blurb Content: An interesting collection of short stories with tales ranging from why the moon is blue to the complaints of a cockatiel, the story of a girl who gambles way her life credits to the tale of a tribal warrior, a celestial journey to a missing damsel and many more! Read Jai’s review & here is My review of the book. Here is a link to the book & Good reads page. Here’s wishing Lavanya all the best for the eBook and her future endeavors. Wishing you lots of success!!
@Lavmuses, 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.
Fellow authors, I hope you enjoyed the interview. We would love to know your views. Do comment and share your thoughts.
Read Pragun’s interview on Anshu’s blog. And head to Ashwini’s blog to read Neha‘s interview. This interview is a part of a series of interviews conducted jointly by @anshuwrites, @ashwiniand me. You can read previous interviews with Paresh, Maheshwaran, Sitharaam, Kathakali, Mahak, Natasha.