1. What does the title ‘Unfettered Wings’ mean to you?
Unfettered Wings symbolize every woman who has a surging desire for emancipation. Wings, are meant to aid flight, be it intellectual, emotional or spiritual. Such symbolic wings are given to both genders by Divinity but sadly, it’s the females who face discrimination in every socio-cultural environment.
2. What prompted you to write this book?
For any writer, the urge to write is inconsolable by anything else. The stories in a writer’s mind are like jumping magic beans: uncontrollable and robust. So was it in my case. I had to put the magic beans out there, for the world to handle.
3. How long did you take to write this book?
The stories were written in six months. The editing and publishing process is lengthier.
4. What do you do to de-stress yourself while writing?
Writing de-stresses me! Writing is therapeutic to me. Even reading, my second favorite thing, isn’t as cathartic.
5. How did you come up with the idea of writing short stories?
Referring to the magic beans again, the characters that had started speaking to me were diverse and distant from one another. They were all women, but one happened to be a girl from the mountains, another from the city, one from a hospice waiting to die and another from a university for whom life had just got exciting at 70. They all had threads connecting to one another but no strands to knot them together. Thus, the stories, which represent women protagonists, became the face of different qualities and characteristics of every woman: the secretive, the meek, the verbal, the stoic, the expressive, the introvert, the heartbreaker and so on.
6. Were these short stories taken from the people around you?
Well, these stories are pure fiction. Having said that, I am quite a staunch believer in the subconscious having an affluent hold over the conscious mind in every decision we make. It’s not just the writer, but the reader too, who can feel an association, a connection with these characters and their situations because the issues discussed in the book are contemporary, realistic and timeless.
7. Which is your favorite story in your book?
Haha. I have asked that question to every person who has given me a feedback on the book. Most of them said it is hard to pick one! I do not prompt them since I feel the same way about these stories. The characters had been and still are, inside my head, very alive, very real.
8. What were the Challenges you faced while writing this book?
Writing is a passion, so despite having little time on my hands, nothing seemed to come in between myself and writing during the compilation. The publishing process is emotionally testing. Patience and persistence is the key.
9. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would read more books. I would write more.
10. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Finding the time to write.
11. How many hours a day do you write?
I do not enjoy that kind of liberty! I am a fulltime mother whose household depends on her time. I have developed a habit to ferociously type away into my phone if it is my blog that I am maintaining or take notes on the handy post-its in my handbag while I run errands. There are times, like ones right now, when it is just I and my loyal laptop, and I write. Nothing matters then, for I could stare at the screen for hours and not come up with a word, or write thousands of them in a row without even lifting my head up.
12. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I would always choose a woman to represent me.
13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
14. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It has made me more conscious of the quality of work I am producing from here onwards. I cannot descend!
15. What are your favorite literary journals?
I am into CommonWealth Writers and Granta. The NewYorker prints extraordinary fiction too.
16. Do you Google yourself?
Haha. I have begun to! The reviews matter and googling is one way to find them out!
17. What was your hardest scene to write?
This will seem strange but the hardest story for me to write was Beena: Love me like Shahrukh Khan. It was hard to present Beena, a woman who has everything, yet she feels incomplete!
18. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
So far I have read good ones. Some have been really good ones. The bad ones, well, I shall accept them, and try my best to learn from them.
19. Did the thought to give up writing this book ever occur to you?
Never! That is the thought one has to fight and keep at bay. Passion is what writers claim to be their best friend for years and the trying times are the ones when we have to stay loyal to that passion.
20. What is your motivation for writing more?
This book, Unfettered Wings, is my motivation. I was full of doubts, like any new writer, when I first sent my manuscript to different literary agencies, before being signed up by The Book Bakers. When Rupa signed me up, I felt encouraged, but the kind acceptance the book has received from the readers, has motivated me to new heights and I never want to stop!
21. What is your special nook or writing place where you prefer writing?
Funny you should ask, I have a desk on which I have put up a pen holder, a lamp, a copy of my book and my laptop (fuss-free to avoid distraction). So that is the nook. However, the truth is, I end up curling on the divan in my room, with the loyal laptop and type away.
22. Any plans on writing the second novel?
I am already on it! Before my second novel, the readers shall get to see the book already in the pipeline, however, is a non-fiction, research-based compilation of photography that shall entice and interest every Indian and Pakistani. It is with Suhail Mathur of the Book Bakers literary agency and we are keeping our fingers crossed.
23. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I keep my writing schedule at the time I unwind. That is usually after midnight.
24. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing the book?
Well, not particularly this book, but any time I sit down to write, I feel amazed by the fact, how a story actually unfolds and writes itself. The most impromptu ideas are the best parts of a well thought out tale.
25. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to write. (And become a doctor, like every good subcontinental daughter!)
26. How often do you write?
I write every day. Like Lord Byron said,
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go crazy.”
29. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love to read! It is the second best thing I love to do. My favorite authors would be the lots but the top ones are the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Khaled Hosseini.
30. What is the first book that made you cry?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was in grade 4 and chanced upon the novel through my elder sister. I related a lot with Jo March and wept every time the four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy cried in the story.
31. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
SELF-PUBLISHING. Steer away from it!
32. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
No, not really.
33. What would you like to say to your readers?
Thank you very much for investing your time, money and emotions while reading my book. I hope I do not disappoint you ever in the future. You people rock!
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