Let us continue with knowing more about her.
BNI: Dear Neelima, our readers would like to know something about you.
Neelima: I write poetry and fiction and read all day.
BNI: What have you written till date?
Neelima: You can read a lot of what I write at my blog. Some of my poems have come out in anthologies. My debut novella ’Unsettled’ was published at Indireads.
BNI: I have read your novella, it requires an in-depth research about the topic and the story line. What inspired you to write Unsettled?
Neelima: A story I overheard in my village. It was fascinating to hear about a possible manuscript generated by the love a poet once had. I loved that idea and ‘Unsettled’ germinated from that fascination. My grandmother has told me quite a few stories…Yakshi lore is something I listened to a great deal and was fascinated by.
BNI: Who is your favourite character and why?
Neelima: I don’t know if it’s fair to have two favourite characters. But when I was talking to a friend and she asked me the very same question I realized that though I loved Shankara Shastry because he is the poet whose voice propelled the story forward, I also loved the vampire seductress or the Yakshi.
All the ideas I had about the femme fatale being misrepresented in literature as angry young sirens who only wanted orgasms were contradicted by this character of mine. Thathri – the Yakshi was programmed by default to kill a young man like Shankara Shastry– that is what she as a vampire seductress was expected to do.
But she fell in love instead.
BNI: Can you cite an interesting message in the story in order to entice your readers?
Neelima: Actually, there are a few:
The story begins with the search for love in a broken marriage. In that context the message would be that there is always a way out from a sad situation.
The story is also about how a young woman has bottled up her desire for five centuries- women in the subcontinent have been bottling up their unspoken voices for such a long time. Shouldn’t that change?
Another message is about how hard it is to write. Shankara Shastry, the court poet, loses his words- it is a terrible price to pay for love.
It is a novella, but many ideas such as these crept in.
BNI: This is your debut novella, so what was hardest part of writing that you faced while writing the manuscript?
Neelima: In ‘Unsettled’, Shankara Shastry suffers because he loses his words to the Yakshi’s whims. Being unable to write is the hardest thing to bear.
BNI: Indimyth is a difficult genre to delve into. What draws you to this genre?
Neelima: The oral story telling tradition probably. I’ve heard quite a few ghost stories. A closer look would reveal this story to be closer to the mythical.
BNI: It must have been an interesting journey. What did you learn from writing this book?
Neelima: I learnt that a story tells itself if you allow it. Once it is written it evolves- a story has a life of its own. Patience is an essential part of writing and publication and post-publication.
BNI: What do you think – the protagonist of your novella think about you?
Neelima: Thathri, the Yakshi thinks I read too much. Get writing!, she tells me.
BNI: How about a snippet from book to tantalize the inquisitive readers?
Neelima: I wanted to write a book that infused fiction with poetry so here’s a poem from the book:
“Do you know what loneliness is?
It’s the cracking of the bone and the hungry fire burning you from within—for what
else can fire do but burn?
The fire begins with a glance or a brush of the fingers.
You cease to know who you are unless experienced by the other.
A new center that catapults you to a universe you believed could not exist, a universe
And then that fire is temple-like; a thousand diyas in your heart, organized rows of
The mornings are for him as are the evenings.
Love is simple—it is lying down in the altar and sacrificing your blood for the light.
What happens then, when the fire begins to spread and the man you love cannot
quench, will not quench it?
What happens, when the moon becomes a threat and reminds you of the woman you
are, the shadow you will remain, the unsatisfied breath that is your destiny? Forests are burnt and then all men.
Beauty disappears in a moment. All that remains is charred blood.”
BNI: Nice piece of poetry, I admit. Moving on a lighter note, Ebook, pdf,mobi, kindle or printed hardcover, what’s your pick?
Neelima: I like books in any format. Kindle is fantastic. Hardcovers smell good and I’m inseparable from paperbacks.
BNI: Usually, authors find it difficult while handling the book marketing issues. How was your experience? An Amusing story about marketing, if any, will be good.
Neelima: (Scratching her hair out) Many of the things I do now are marketing-oriented. As a result I’ve become a social media addict- I’m on twitter , I have a blog, I’m on Facebook and have a writing group there. I’ve become absent-minded and distracted, much to my family’s dismay.
The amusing thing is that more than the writing, the marketing has turned me into an even more absent minded sort. So let this be a warning to all aspiring writers out there!
Thanks Neelima, Books News India blog and on behalf of its readers, I am grateful to you that you took out time from a hectic schedule. Wish you luck for your future projects.