Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Debeshi Gooptu

Debeshi Gooptu, author of Gurgaon Diaries & Dragon Aunty Returns, is a wonderful storyteller. I am yet to read her novels, but I have read her short stories recently on Juggernaut Books, and loved them!  

The Girl at the Yellow Door, A Strange Connection, Don't Stand So Close To Me, A Chance Encounter --- these are some of my favourites. I have saved her other stories on my app and looking forward to reading them. 

Her stories, writing style, her characters and their situations are so relatable. Stories are very engaging, mostly open-ended with interesting twists. And, guess what? She has published 20 short stories! 

So, if you like quick, light, well crafted, relatable and engaging stories, you can read her stories HERE. 

But, don't go now. Today, I am having a candid chat with her.

1. Tell us about your writing journey. How easy or difficult it was to be chosen by two big, traditional publishing houses?

Even though I’ve been a journalist all my life (from the time I was 21), the realisation that I wanted to be an author came to me rather late. My first pitch for a book was rejected by all the leading publishers in 2012. I was really disheartened. My husband told me not to take the rejection personally and to begin a blog instead. Blogs were becoming popular those days. So I started a blog, Gurgaon Diaries, and maintained it for nearly five years. The blog was about my experiences of living in Gurgaon.

My first book was a collection of short stories from the blog that I self published on Amazon. The book did so well that I got an offer from Rupa who wanted to publish my blogposts in print. At the same time, I had sent a proposal for a novella, Dragon Aunty Returns, to Juggernaut Books who had just launched. They loved it. Things sort of fell into place after that. Getting there was not easy, but it was worth it.

2. You have published two full-length books and twenty short stories. Where do you get your ideas from? 

My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas. Mostly, they just come to me, in the middle of something I’m busy with. I may be at the bus stop waiting for my daughter to get home from school or even at the neighbourhood supermarket buying groceries. A face, a smile or the tring of the rickshaw puller’s bell sets me off. My mind is always wandering. But that’s a good thing, in my case! There’s a little bit of me in all my stories. I guess you can say that I’m really old and have lived through a lot of things. Good and bad.

3. Can you please share some time management tips for writers. How to be more productive?

Writing is like any exercise. You need to practise every day to build up stamina. Just a little will do. I think one should set aside time every day to write. Some people write at the crack of dawn, others at night. Some work in coffee shops, some in their homes. Whatever works for you. But you must write every day or you will literally lose the plot!

4. Tell me about your writing process. Do you plan and plot before writing or just go with the flow? Do you follow any writing schedule?

I’m not a terribly disciplined person when it comes to writing. I have a noisy mind, random thoughts running parallel to one another at any given point of time. Most of them have nothing to do with writing – mundane, routine stuff such as buying groceries, planning meals, running errands or even the washing. 

But there are sparks of inspiration in between. I do have a rough plot in mind before I get started. For instance, the short stories were commissioned by Juggernaut and I wrote them during the summer vacations. So I got up really early to do my writing every day. Normally, I write during the day, between 9 am and 2 pm. But there are a lot of distractions! 

5. Your stories are intriguing and engaging. What do you keep in mind while writing a short story? How to create intrigue and keep your readers engaged?

I enjoy writing short stories. I find them really challenging as one has very little time and space (words) to grab the reader’s attention. I have to have the entire story mapped out before I write it. Plot, characters, story arc. There’s a piece ---  
Writing Short Stories: The Long and the Short of it --- I wrote on the Juggernaut blog.

6. What kinds of books/stories do you like to read? Is there any book or author who inspired you as a writer?

Detective/crime fiction/regular fiction/drama/humour/short stories. 
Little Women which I read in school. Wanted to be like Jo who became a writer

6. Would you like to tell us something about your next book/short stories?

I’m excited about my next book. It’s with the publishers now. Don’t want to talk about it till it comes out. All I can say is that it’s something I’ve never done before. I’m terribly superstitious!

7. What would be your advice to new/aspiring writers?

Never take rejection personally. Just be focused, disciplined and keep writing. If you are a good story teller, someone is bound to notice you.

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