Author Talk – Ruchi Singh

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Today, at ‘Author Talk’, we have an interesting and equally enlightening column on the writing process of one of my favourite authors – Ruchi Singh. Ruchi Singh is the author of multiple books, the Winner of TOI Write India Contest, who writes in two genres – romance and romantic thrillers. Her latest book, a short story collection, titled ‘Hearts and Hots’ released few months back and has been gathering rave reviews. If you haven’t read the book, you should be reading the same today, for the book is a heart-warming, nerve soothing collection of stories, which is sure to transform your Sunday for the best. 

Ruchi Singh

Read my review of Hearts and Hots – Here

Read on to know what the author has to say :

 

            My Writing Process vis-a-vis Published Works

                                          – Ruchi Singh

Thank you Maliny for having me on your blog and giving me the choice to choose the subject for this post. Having published two books, I thought it would be interesting to introspect on the writing process for each of them.

In my twenty years of experience in the corporate world and three years in the creative field I have realized that nothing remains same. No two moments are the same. No two projects are similar. Life, people, habits, keep evolving and become better over time. The same have been reiterated during the writing of my two books; the novel ‘Take 2’ and the short story collection ‘Hearts & Hots’

While Take 2 has been my debut effort published in 2015, and I panstered (wrote without an outline, keeping only the characters in mind). As the story took shape I wanted a nice twist at the end which would entertain the readers. But, since it was not a planned endeavor it took me awhile to come up with a scenario which would tie up all the loose ends. It was then I decided that the next one I will outline to the last scene and then write.

To an extent, I followed my resolution with novel-2, but fate always has something else planned. My next wasn’t getting anywhere near my satisfaction level, and the year 2016 was just drifting by. I was desperate to release at least one book in 2016.

Along with the novel, I was also working leisurely on a short story collection and had planned to release at least ten short stories in the collection. I had thought each of them would be around 2k to 2.5k word count, bringing the collection to a decent 25k. These stories too were planned well in advance but somehow I wasn’t able to finish writing them because each of them was hell-bent on expanding themselves.

So, in order to have at least one release in 2016, I switched my attention to this collection. I selected five stories from the ten, which concentrated on issues faced by women in our society. I tried to give them different flavors by focusing on different stages of love, varying age of the protagonists, changing the locational setting and even varying the writing voice. Thus ‘Hearts & Hots’ came into existence.

Now as I have released the two, my writing process can be broadly classified into five phases:

  • inception,
  • planning,
  • execution or writing,
  • editing.

 The sequence of stages of working on short stories is iterative. For a novel, all the phases are sequential while for a collection each of the stories will span the first four stages and then publishing can be together. The short stories are written in a standalone mode unrelated to each other, which is easier in execution. But the difficult part is to come up with different plots and stick to short story format without losing the essence of the story, hence the inception phase becomes long drawn.

Having said that my current WIP has been outlined as planned, but I am not able to write the scenes sequentially. The creative juices are scene-hopping.

All in all I have understood that there are no rules in this field. Every project has to be treated as a unique miracle and should be nurtured along with its own whims and fancies. I have learnt to respect the blessings of Creative God or Goddess, as the faith may be. 🙂

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THE BLURB OF HEARTS AND HOTS :

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Love, what is it?
A casual glance, and the heart skips a beat…
Or A chance meet and that tug of an inexplicable connection…

Love… a baffling attraction so potent that one becomes blind to entire world, or is it that unbridled passion which threatens to drown every time you see the one, or a protective urge which forces you to realize that life is not worth living without that special someone…

‘Hearts and Hots’ a collection of five short stories riding on first love, passion, and romance.

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Buy the book from : AMAZON

Contact the author at : Facebook Page

Tweet to her at : Twitter Handle

The author’s official website : Here

Buy her books from : Amazon Author Page

Know more about her books at : Goodreads

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I Am Not Done, I will never be – Bits From Life

 

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03-03-2017:

Be happy. Be smiling. Nothing can go wrong if you stay so. There is nothing for which you can’t find a solution. Whatever happens, you will definitely rise to the occasion then. So why worry unnecessarily now? Go out and have a fabulous day today.

08-03-2017:

Human beings are bound to be uninspired once in a while. I have been going through such a phase for a few weeks now. I have been seeking modes too to scrub free the irksome moss from my mind, but have failed miserably. Today, whether I liked it or not, even if I wanted it or not, I decided to start reading a book on kindle and was absorbed in it to the length that I wasn’t willing to pull myself up from the bed to turn on the lights when it grew dark. Well, that is a good sign, I believe.

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The first account was taken from my diary and was jotted down one morning before I went to the hospital. And the second account was written by me on my Facebook page on the 8th of March.

What does it mean to say that a doctor has had a fabulous day? It could be anything – like treating the patients well, operating a case to perfection would be the ones to fly off from the top of my head, if you had asked me this questions a few days back. When these still remain the best modes to achieve a fulfilling day for me, these days, for the same reason I have made it my word of the year, I concentrate on engaging in beautiful moments with my colleagues and friends too.  

Yet, somewhere, someday a few weeks back, I felt the dark claws of melancholy encroaching me, and that too for no particular reason. I consider despair and hollowness the utmost depressing pair. It hurts when one is devoid of the answer to one’s own heartache. You are left stranded in the dark, alone, lifeless and vapid, when the world moves around you, racy, unstoppable, passionate and most importantly with a purpose. 

I wrote down a few quarter year resolutions for this year in my previous post, which I thought would offer me a purpose. I believe that was the best decision I have made in this year. It did give me a purpose and I exercise whenever I find time and drink gallons of water during the working hours! I have started reading books back to back and right now, I am reading ‘His Bloody project: Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae’ by  Graeme Macrae Burnet,  which is a partly fictitious/ partly documented memoir of a killer which he writes from prison, but imaginatively penned by the novelist. I have only reached a mere 100 pages, but I would already recommend this book to any lover of words. 

Writing this blog post too has a purpose. To ease me out of the vacuum I feel myself trapped in. I am not entirely out of the quagmire, but I feel I could pull myself out of it anytime in the coming days with the effort I am putting into the situation. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that I am sober and alone for a considerable part of the week. Perhaps, I am someone who yearns for a good company most times of the day. Perhaps, I am someone who loves her few moments of solitude, but find it quintessential that I have few hands to clasp on to during the other times. Talking to my dear and near ones over phone does help to some extent, but that is not all. I desire dear ones to return back to at the end of the day, which being in hostel I am not entitled to. 

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Image Courtsey – Here

I have always considered myself an introvert and was proud of the same as long as I could remember. Would a human’s personality change during the course of his/her life? This whole post could merely be my alter ego talking even. Still one fact is bound to remain true. Whether I am with my favourite ones or not, being with other people, sharing talks with them, listening to their stories and telling mine sure lift my spirit and it is definitely something I am going to look forward to for the rest of my life.

Before you leave, help me out here, will you? Have you felt drained for a few days or weeks at a stretch? What do you do then?

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Book Review : Confessions On An Island

I wish to write down a review for every book I read, but the reality is far from that. I was a on a reading hiatus till last week and a gentle nudge from unknown quarters pushed me one day to resume my reading habit. I started with the Booker Prize Shortlisted masterpiece by  Ottessa Moshfegh, ‘Eileen’. The book came up on my Amazon recommendations and let me not deny the fact that I am quickly drawn to books that have something to do with Booker Prize. Thus I started reading the book and would rate it a 5/5. Any reader who loves literary fiction wouldn’t want to miss that book, trust me.

The second book I read this week was ‘CONFESSIONS ON AN ISLAND’ by Ayan Pal.  I wonder whether this book received the accolades and attention it deserve or I am ignorant of the same. Either way, I regret the fact that I was late in giving the book a try even though it had been idling away on my Kindle list for a while now. I thought I would write a review of this one and so here it goes. 

The Blurb:

An abducted woman trapped on an island is given a chance to escape, provided she tells stories emerging from the stories her intriguing abductor tells her. Clueless about why she is being forced to participate in this game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the woman, a bestselling author, decides to play along. And therein begins a thrilling tale narrated by an island. Of a man and woman consumed by the power of their imagination and truth, even as the stakes are gradually raised. Soon the only way out is in – into the past, heart and mind. The island is ready to confess. Are you ready for the truth?

My Review:

‘Confessions on a Island’ is in a few words a remarkable read. The concept is novel, the execution is almost flawless. I could barely point out any holes in the plot and for such factors the book turned out to be a few hours of time spent in the company of a satisfying, enthralling book.

Each chapter could be visualised as separate stories woven with brilliant craft and intuition, such that the culmination is cleverly revealed to us in the end at which we exclaim in awe. Certain scenes were powerful enough to instill shock in me and those are the scenes too which linger deep in my mind. This points to the strength of the author’s artful voice and how he was successful in putting across on a platter the raw realities of human life. But there might be readers who would cringe at the same, which I consider the only drawback of the story.  

The opening scene itself offers the reader a glimpse into the enviable mode by which the author has sculptured the story, with seamless, fluent prose and good vocabulary. The author has taken arduous efforts in detailing the nuances, bringing out the subtle beauty of story telling in more places than one. The book is racy, intriguing and absolutely catchy. I would recommend this book to any lover of books, although the theme being mature, it might not be appropriate for children to read.

This book deserves to be read by more bibliophiles out there, who ought to be spreading word about it too in the process. To lend my awfully small effort on similar lines, I have written this review in the utmost honest manner possible. Read the book and you will agree with me. 

Buy the book here – Amazon

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This book was purchased by me and the opinions raised in this review are unbiased and are entirely mine.

Hey Hello! – Bits From Life

 

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I have been missing from this space for sometime now. It took a short and concerned message from Maniparna at Scattered Thoughts to provide me that firm, definite nudge to return to my blog. I usually end up writing long posts. But this time, I have decided to keep it short. The reasons are many – lack of time being the one that should matter the least. I have plenty of time today to sit down and conjure that perfect blog post. But when the fact remains that I have been avoiding this place, I thought I will mark the much needed come back in a precise manner.

I have had a mixed February. There was one exam, more like a class test, which was due in February last week, for which I have been preparing for around two weeks. I can’t believe I would still make a big deal out of class tests at this age when I am far from being 15 or 20. I love studying when someone puts forward a challenge and whether I am utilising the time for studies or not, my mind would be steered clear of almost anything else during the period. Hence blogging too took a back seat and that affected the flow which I had been carefully maintaining for sometime. 

There are few things I need to tell you with this blog post. One is that I am fighting my anxieties appreciably well these days. I still fret, but I have managed to do productive things too amidst that, which is how I gauge the aberration these days. I am a terribly impatient person by nature and now I have started focussing more on this facet which is something that need to be put to reigns at the earliest because it has started taking a toll on me. Any extra load of work more than what I have anticipated, turns me all grumpy and irked, which inturn affects the quality of my work and taps awake the redundant anxiety otherwise diligently put to sleep. I remember one of my teachers stating during one of those invocations meetings at the start of my house surgeoncy that “no amount of work done would be useless. You will learn something or the other from the extra hour you put into your job.” I have been trying to make myself believe this since then and I find that even though I suceed sometimes, I end failing miserably at other times too. It is natural, I know, but it is time I made a pact with my impatient self.

I discovered recently that such extended moments could even make for great stories – both for my creative self and for my personal being, where I could strike good conversations with my colleagues because of the incident which caught me off guard stealing a few hours from my otherwise well planned life. It would feel irritating in the beginning, but the effort nevertheless would leave you fulfilled and happy in the end. 

‘To engage’ was my word of the year, on which I am working tirelessly. I am adding a few resolutions to this year starting from March. Let these be termed ‘Quarter year Resolutions’, something which simply cannot wait for the year end to be resolved. 

  1. To drink more water
  2. To excercise more
  3. To be more patient
  4. To make each day count
  5. To not be terrified of taking chances
  6. To wake up before 7a.m everyday
  7. To try to begin the day with a smile, no matter what.

So how has been your life all these days? Any new stories to share? Have you added more resolutions to your list too?

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Author Talk – Radhika Tabrez

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There is a confession to make before I present to you this week’s ‘Author Talk’ column. I don’t know how many of you noticed, but I missed this session last week. The reasons are many – when I visiting my parents after long, couple with one best friend visiting me, the weekend is surely guaranteed to be hectic, isn’t it? I deliberately let the session be missed, for life is not all about the presence one is bound to make on the social media, if at all it is of any gauge of the way life is to be lived anytime. Hence, with no tinge of guilt, I decided to let my hair down, be freed from all shackles and enjoy the days to the fullest with my friends and family. I am happy if you did notice my absence, but otherwise also, it is fine. I uphold the habit of disappearing from this space far too many times over a period of few months. 

Moving on to this week’s ‘Author Talk’ column, we have an extremely well-versed and iconic writer, who took the literary arena by storm with her debut novel, which deservingly won her the ‘Muse India- Satish Verma young writer award’ for the year 2016. She has been part of numerous short story anthologies and has proven her craft and talent through multifarious channels. I am talking about Author Radhika Maira Tabrez, the author of ‘In the light of Darkness’ published by Readomania in 2016. 

After having read her book, I realised that her characters failed to leave me for a few days. They lingered like the after taste of a delicacy, which keeps reminding you of that first bite of it you took, with each smack of your lips. Hence I decided to put forward a few questions to her, out of which, incidentally, she happened to answer the very question, to hear the answer of which I was hoping for the most. Read on to know more : 

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An article revolving around the characters in the book.

By Radhika Tabrez

As a debut novelist, a question I get asked often, at various events is – how autobiographical is your book? Considering that ‘In The Light Of Darkness’ (ITLOD) is predominantly a story of a mother and son; and usually while someone in the audience is asking me that question, they can see my four year old son raising a tornado nearby – it seems like a pretty obvious question. The fact is that the story is not autobiographical. But that brings us to the next question. Are any of the characters in the story inspired by people in real life? And the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes. Even if as a writer, I had been consciously unaware of the fact sometimes. Let me elaborate.

A lot of the characters in ITLOD mirror people I know in real life. Some were by design, but quite a few dawned on me as a revelation as I read the first finished draft with an editor’s eye. In fact, the biggest one was broken to me by a beta reader; I didn’t quite figure it myself!

Susan Pereira – It warms my heart to know how much people have loved Susan’s character. Because the truth is, she was the most hypothetical character in the story. I have seen parents who are devoted to their child the way she is, but I don’t think I have come across anyone yet who is able to withstand pain and rejection from their child with as much dignity and understanding as she does. Susan was, according to me, the epitome of love and forgiveness. A kind of parent, I wish I can be to my son.

Matthew Pereira  – Now this was a shocker! I wrote Matthew the way the story demanded him to be. And it was much later and that too through a beta reader’s eyes, that I could see how much he was modeled on my husband. Matthew is as sincere in his compunction and his atonement as my husband can be, once he realizes he has done something wrong. Of course, just like Matthew it is very difficult to convince my husband that he is wrong, in the first place; but I guess that holds true for all husbands! 🙂

Meera Vashisht  – Meera was initially written as a hypothetical character with a fictional back story. But while editing the first finished draft, and seeing the story from an objective distance, I realized that Meera did have some shades of me. I too, like Meera, can confuse self-preservation with self-destruction. I have sometimes in life shown a tendency to be closed to ‘anything new and good’ because of my experiences with the ‘bad’. I take a long time to forgive myself, just like Meera does. In that sense we’re both too harsh on ourselves. But thankfully, just like Meera I too am surrounded with people who help me by constantly keep correcting that disposition of mine.   

Deena/Suhana/Maanav/Vidushi – These, perhaps, are the characters closest to the people in my life. The whole phrase ‘A family of friends’ which finds a mention in the book holds true for our life. Both me and my husband are surrounded with friends, who have often proved to be a steady anchor for us; even more than our families. Hence writing these characters was almost like offering a ‘thanks’ to them. And readers have loved all these characters.

Col. Rakesh Bindra – Another character like the ‘friends’ mentioned above, whom I replicated from real life. He is modeled on a senior colleague of my husband’s. But over the years he has come to be a life-guide and a mentor to the two of us. I don’t know anyone more grounded in reality and yet optimistic, spiritual and yet pragmatic, kind and yet incisive in showing you your follies.  I was so much influenced with his personality that I chose to even keep his first name as the name of the character. And it dawned on me only just now, while writing this piece, that I may never have explicitly told him this yet. He has read the book though, so I wonder if he figured it out!

To sum up, I’d like to say, as a novelist, especially as a debut novelist, it is a huge comfort to write the characters that you know so well in real life. It lends great strength and veracity to your narrative. Of course, an important precondition is that they should organically fit into and be able to flow and morph according to the story.

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The Blurb of ‘In the light of Darkness’:

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Twenty years ago, Susan Pereira had to send her only child Matthew, to a faraway boarding school. That one decision brought their relationship to a cul de sac, which she still hasn’t been able to break out of. Matthew is too distant and too angry to relent. Meera Vashisht’s misguided love left her bruised, shattered and abandoned, only to be found and healed by Susan. Set on a fictional Indian island paradise called Bydore, In The Light of Darkness is a journey of broken souls looking for closures and new beginnings. Does Susan manage to win back her son? Does Matthew find the future his mother hoped he would? Does Meera finally get away from her past?

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Buy the book here : Amazon

Know more about the writer here : Facebook Page

Know more about her books here : Goodreads page

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