Saturday, January 28, 2012

20 Questions With Amrita Suresh

This edition of 20 Questions brings you insights from Amrita Suresh, author of 'When A Lawyer Falls In Love', a witty well-paced and funny love story that is receiving favourable reviews from all over. Read on to find out more about the creator of this work herself.

When did you take to writing?
As a twelve year old, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to be a novelist and I’ve been working towards this dream, since then.

Where do you usually write? What is your favourite setting to write in?
I’ve come to believe that writing ought to be like meditation, you should be able to practice it anywhere. Hence, I’m not too particular about any setting.

Do you have any rituals/superstitions as a writer? Something you like to do before you start writing? A favourite pen?
I read somewhere that Chetan Bhagat likes to read 20 books before he starts writing his next novel. Personally, I’m not superstitious about anything that concerns my writing. 

Typing or writing on paper? What do you prefer and why?
Jeffery Archer says that he is most comfortable writing rather than typing and the same goes for me.

What was your first piece of work ever? Do you still have it?
I used to write these poems as a ten year old and some of those poems are still with me. They make me feel nostalgic…

Who are your inspirations as far as writing is concerned? Any writers you would highly recommend to readers?
Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard based professor has written this book ‘Stumbling on Happiness’. It is both informative and hilarious. Basically, I am partial to humour writers and so I like Dave Barry, Bill Cosby, Martha Beck and Eric Weiner. Among Indian writers, Chitra Divakurni Banerjee and Advaita Kala are pretty good.

What inspired ‘When a Lawyer Falls in Love’?
Being in college, I remember thinking that I ought to pen down the magic there is during an inter collegiate festival. So attending college festivals like Saarang and Mood Indigo of IIT Madras and Mumbai respectively, made me sure that I wanted to write this book.

We all know that while the author is solely responsible for an idea, the execution of the idea is impossible without the support of people who believe in the idea and the author. So who are the people behind ‘When a Lawyer falls in love’, other than yourself?
I would like to specifically thank three people. Firstly Archana Suresh, my sister and the true force behind getting this book on to the national platform.  Shobit Arya, my publisher from Offshoots, (an imprint of Wisdom Tree) for making this miracle happen and my husband Raj Konduru for being the wind beneath my wings.

Did the story of ‘When a Lawyer falls in Love’ come to you easily or did you find yourself stuck with writer’s block sometimes?
I’ve come to believe that writing a novel is like a tight rope walk from one tall building to another. As long as you are looking ahead and walking that’s good, but the moment you look at the ground below, you are petrified. I think it’s very important not to take long breaks of weeks and months while writing a novel, the flow gets lost. That worked for me. Fortunately, I didn’t go through any phases of writer’s block.

What is your personal most effective way of getting over writer’s block, if it ever strikes you?
If writer’s block ever strikes me, I usually read something that I am interested in. Taking a break and then getting started on one’s writing has worked for me. The important thing is to keep those creative juices flowing.

Do you agree that there are always autobiographical portions in any writing? Are there any in ‘When a Lawyer falls in love’?
I don’t necessarily agree with that although I have read works of many authors who base their writing on that premise. Having studied in a convent school and college all my life, the co-education kind of life described in the book is purely a figment of my imagination. 

Can you describe the journey of ‘When a Lawyer falls in love’ in short? How do you feel now when you look back on the entire creative process?
When I wrote the book, I went with the flow. I think that when there’s a certain innocence in the writing, it strikes a chord with the reader. That and the humour in the book are the book’s biggest USPs. The creative process was enjoyable more because the writing came from the heart! 

How easy or difficult was it to get the book published?
Let’s just say that the team at Offshoots (an imprint of Wisdom Tree), has been God sent. There is no denying that it is difficult for a first time writer to come onto the national platform and I hope that this book serves as an inspiration to many young writers out there to come forward with their work.

Do you agree that any author also has to be a good marketer? Or are there mechanisms that can take care of the marketing bit, allowing the author to concentrate solely on content?
It is absolutely imperative to market one’s book. I am fortunate to have an elder sister and husband who are taking care of that aspect. Courtesy them, I have the liberty of just concentrating on my craft. In this day and age of social media and news at the click of a button, it is very important that different channels of the media be targeted to let the world know of one’s work.

What is your advice to writers out there who might be looking at getting published? Any helpful pointers?
In my experience there are no short-cuts. Young writers need to do their research on publishers out there – be it by joining their groups on Facebook or just reaching out to their editorial teams through mails. I remember sending the first few chapters of the book to potential publishers to give them a preview of my work. The effort boils down to two words- discipline and perseverance. I’d advise writers to keep polishing their craft and hang in there. They must not give up!

What is your message to anyone who is considering picking up the book for a read? What can he/she expect?
If you are in the mood for a few laughs and want to refresh memories of your college life again, this book is for you. It is definitely an easy read and one or more characters in this book will remind you of people you’ve met in your life.

Who is ‘When a Lawyer falls in love’ dedicated to?
This book is dedicated to my mother, Mrs. Renu Merani Suresh, my sister, Archana Suresh and AR Rahman. My mom and sis have put up with my writer mood swings for many years now (laughs) and Rahman’s soulful music played a big role in driving away the blues when I was looking out for a publisher : )

Do you have more stories to tell us already that we can expect in the form of books soon? Are you working on something?
I have some ideas that I am working on. As and when they crystallize, you will hear from me again in the form of a book : )

Apart from writing, what else keeps you busy? What are your passions/interests?
I have been an ardent dog lover for as long as I can remember. As an active member of Blue Cross, I try and take time out to pitch in with any help for stray. I was so glad when Mrs. Amala Akkineni, founder, Blue Cross Hyderabad agreed to launch my book in October 2011. Apart from that, I love reading, cooking and indulging my little niece.

What is the one thought you would like to leave people with when they think of Amrita Suresh, the writer?
I would like to be remembered as a writer who was entertaining at the same time who created characters that lingered on in one’s mind, long after the book was read. 

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So that was Amrita Suresh and her book  'When A Lawyer Falls In Love' can be ordered here.


I hope you enjoyed getting to know Amrita as much as I did. Until the next edition of 20 Questions, keep reading...

1 Thinkers Pondered:

banti said...

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