Monday, March 5, 2018

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Rupa Bhullar

Today, here on my blog, I am in conversation with Rupa Bhullar, author of The Indigo Sun (Published by Rupa Publications).

1. Hello. Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about yourself and your writing journey.

Thank you, Tarang. Pleasure to be a part of it.

I grew up in India and relocated to US in the year 2000. I currently live with my family in New Jersey. My field of education has extensively been business and finance and I serve as the director of finance at a technology corporation. 

Writing, for me, was a rather late discovery. At a certain stage in my life, I found myself on a similar quest to find true meaning, fulfillment and happiness as opposed to mere achievement of goals and superficial pleasures. At that point, for the very first time, I turned towards books that were insightful and sparked questions that enabled me to view the same things from a different perspective. As a result of what I read, my thinking expanded, I started to have thoughts that would come randomly drifting my way in the most bizarre situations - perfectly composed. 

As I stated to capture these, inspiration started flowing in from all directions – mundane life, ordinary people, exciting travel, vivid imagination. Pretty much everything became a medium for me to explore this story that started piecing itself together. Now the story was alive and beating in my heart so the next step - it wanted to be told. I often tried to quiet it down and even dismiss it, but it was relentless. Eventually, a trip to Jodhpur and Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha really prompted me into action.

2. Why do you write? Was it a dream you've nurtured always? 

Writing is like quenching a thirst, sort of a compelling urge that demands its fulfillment. 

When a thought or an idea comes to me, it starts to knock louder and louder until I pay attention and hear what its trying to say. For me, it is as much a journey of exploration as it is a process of gratification. 

I did not grow up reading books, so far from a dream I nurtured, this has been the most contrary and intriguing discovery of my life. But once I made that journey and discovered my love, I knew this would be something I would spend my life in company of.

3. What inspired you write The Indigo Sun?

The Indigo Sun is inspired from life in general and to a great degree my own journey. At some point in life many of us find ourselves at the place we have been walking towards, where we are told lies the promise of happiness. In reality however, very few end up finding meaning in what they see there. Most are left feeling disillusioned and empty, questioning where to from here? 

The Indigo Sun is a journey that starts at a similar place and backtracks to the source of happiness through the means of travel, relationships, experiences and reconnecting. It is life’s philosophy captured through Maya’s journey.

4. How did you choose this beautiful title for your book? Do you think title plays an important role to make a book catchy? 

One of the defining moments for this book was a trip to Jodhpur. This place left me greatly inspired and I could feel fragments of my story alive and thriving in all that surrounded me. It was this sense of belonging for the story that led me to borrow the title from Jodhpur- known as the Sun city and the Indigo city. I decided to call it ‘The Indigo Sun’. 

I believe a title carries the responsibility of containing the entire book in a few words. It has to be catchy for sure but when it is also relevant, it opens the right doors for the story to be told. It is certainly as important as the story if not more.

5. What’s your pattern of writing? Do you plan before writing or just go with the flow? 

My writings are very spontaneous. I never plan when I will write or what I will write about. It is an absolute surrender, whenever inspiration strikes, and wherever the story leads. It is a very exciting process when I open my laptop as I have no idea who I will end up meeting today or where I will end up going. Writing becomes quite an adventure and I look forward to it. 

What is also exciting is that the writer is not always in command of the story or the characters. They seem to have a mind of their own. The story then becomes a delightful dance where you suggest, and they accept, or they lead, and you follow. It’s fascinating. With the writing of a book though, I wrote whenever I found time which was mostly Fridays through Sundays. As a writer, I do feel that my writing needs to be rooted in some level of reality, an experience I have had, a place I have visited, a life incident I’ve heard. I certainly don’t belong in the space of writers who can spin fantasy worlds out of thin air. 

6. Interesting! Would you like to talk about your upcoming projects?

Absolutely. I’m planning to start my next book which would be a complex maze of human relationships and emotions. It should be a lighter and faster paced read. Set somewhere in US, Italy, Calcutta and Lucknow, this story will have flashbacks into 50s from now. Modern day relationships, present day commitments and everything that falls within the spectrum of love, life and marriage. It will be a love story at heart but not in a stereotypical sense. I am very excited about this one.

7. Sounds intriguing! Looking forward. Okay, as a writer, what you think ruins a story? 

Attachment to your own writing. Writing a book is always a learning curve but my most important takeaway from my first book is the ability to distance ‘your’ writing from ‘the’ story. It’s not what you think that’s important but what the story demands and as an author, the discipline to hit the delete key is as critical as the writing process.

8. Is there any particular genre you find difficult to write? If yes, which one?

I find myself challenged at writing about all else but what comes most naturally to me which is life, love, relationships and everything that makes us human. Writing in that sense is just an extension of who I am. I will experiment within this space, but I don ‘t see myself writing a mystery or a thriller for the life of me.

9. Getting traditionally published is every author’s dream. How was your journey of getting published by a big publishing house like Rupa? 

Certainly, it is. The journey for me was exceptionally smooth and I feel very fortunate. During a meeting with Mr. Kapish Mehra, I earnestly brought forward that while I could delegate my work skills to anyone. What I could not delegate was my experience of life and my perspective on it. Only I could tell this story the way it needed to be told. Being a visionary that he is, he encouraged me to write and the rest as they say is history. The entire team at Rupa from the editorial to design to marketing has collaborated to make this book what it is today. I’m a very small part of it and could not have done this alone.

10. Your favourite Book – Author – Genre? 

The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho. Philosophy

11. Any words of encouragement for aspiring writers who crave and struggle to get into the ‘published author world’?
When someone asks me how I did it, I say either I was too naive, very hopeful or completely deluded to think this could ever be. But it happened. All I would say is believe in yourself and in the power of stories that want to be told. Don’t overthink, don’t second guess, just keep writing. It need not be perfect, it need not be unique, it just needs to be yours and that makes all difference. 

It's a pleasure to have you here on my blog. Thank you for your time. I wish you all the very best!

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