Writing for me is a means of communion and self-expression and also escapism…transporting me instantly into a different, magical world of make believe! — says Author, Sarita Varma.
Get a sneak peek into what all she has to share regarding her book – A Girl from Fatehpur, published by Indireads
BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background.
SV: Like all women, I wear many hats…but that of a writer is a fairly new one and very challenging and enjoyable! Family takes centre stage in my life and motherhood continues to be the most satisfying but meeting old friends over a cuppa makes me feel like a young girl again. My long association with the Pune Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India gives me a chance to give back to society some of the gifts I have received.
BNI: So, what all you have written / published till date?
SV: I have been freelancing for many years and have contributed short stories for the Chicken Soup series, articles for NGOs like Plan India and MSSI, travel magazines, and web sites on history, travel, health and a host of diverse topics. ‘Girl from Fatehpur’ is my first novella.
BNI: What inspired you to write your first book and or this book?
SV: All my life I have enjoyed telling stories, whether to my young siblings or my children. My friend and author, Anjana Appachana, and I would entertain each other by writing romances once we had exhausted whatever the libraries had to offer. A friend’s introduction to Naheed Hassan of Indireads (then Indirom) gave me the opportunity to try my hand at a novella.
BNI: A 30 word tagline for your book
SV: Sanjana’s encounter with Rajan at a Fatehpur family wedding revives her childhood crush on him. Will the unexpected arrival of Krish, her Mumbai colleague and persistent suitor, end her hopes?
BNI: How did you come up with the title?
SV: My publisher, Naheed Hassan, suggested the title.
BNI: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
SV: All those who love light romances should read my book! The e format makes it more accessible to the younger internet savvy gen but I hope with time that will change to include a wider audience.
BNI: Who is your favourite and least favourite character? What makes them so?
SV: Krish! Loved writing about him…like my daughter says, all of us love bad boys! Also enjoyed developing little vignettes on the side characters, Zoya, Devika and Dadi. I like most of my characters…children of my imagination after all!
BNI: Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
SV: Sanjana to me epitomises the young upwardly mobile girl from a small town who while adapting to big city life, yet retains the values of her upbringing.
BNI: What was the hardest and easiest thing about your latest release?
SV: The hardest thing was publicity and marketing and the easiest was finding a gem of an editor and publisher.
BNI: Share some interesting story about the book writing/cover development.
SV: The fantastic cover has been designed in Pakistan…how’s that for Indo-Pak collaboration?
BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?
SV: Follow your heart…isn’t that what all romances offer?
BNI: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions or similar events? Any plans in relation to this book?
SV: Haven’t yet but would love to.
BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
SV: Yes, I have got feedback and it’s mostly to do with the characters and the love triangle…essentially, why Sanjana chooses Rajan and not Krish.
BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part-time?
SV: I have dabbled in writing all my life and have always dreamt of being a full-time writer. The opportunity offered by Indireads was fantastic.
BNI: Which writers inspire you?
SV: I adore the light-hearted romances of Georgette Heyer, historical detective fiction by Ellis Peters and …at the other end of the spectrum…the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov and Robin Hobb’s fantasy books.
BNI: What draws you to this genre?
SV: I love historical romances partly because I’ve studied History. I also enjoy detective, science fiction and fantasy because I enjoy the unexpected.
BNI: According to you, what is the hardest thing about writing?
SV: Being disciplined about writing…staring at the keyboard, willing the words to come! It’s not easy to get quiet time to think when working from home. I yearn to be able to write at a stretch without any distractions.
BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
SV: To be read and appreciated as a writer! Hopefully to manage a novella a year.
BNI: What has been the toughest criticism and best compliment to you, as an author?
SV: The toughest has been that the romance is predictable. The best is that the writing flows well and that the characters are real and likeable.
BNI: What will be your one favourite tip to get through the writer’s block.
SV: Take a break, maybe even start something new. Your book is always simmering at the back of your mind and suddenly the words can come pouring in.
BNI: What are your thoughts on book series? Would you like to have one for your latest book?
SV: Book series are interesting because you can build up other characters, already familiar to the readers, in sequels. I have been actually toying with the idea for a sequel to Girl From Fatehpur.
BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?
SV: Budding writers need to persevere…never give up hope! For the established…please, please continue writing for your fans.
BNI: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
SV: I was extraordinarily lucky in finding Naheed and Indireads.
BNI: What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
SV: The second chapter of the book in which I explored the re-kindling of romance in Sanjana’s heart for Rajan and the tentative stirrings of his interest in her.
BNI: Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
SV: I learnt some things about myself! My values and things I feel strongly about!
BNI: How about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us?
“I love you Rajan,” she had blurted out, hands clenched tightly at her sides.
A long silence had followed in which she had prayed the earth would open and swallow her up!
“Sana, you are only a kid… you will soon forget all this. Besides, don’t you also love Shah Rukh Khan?”
BNI: What are your expectations for the book?
SV: I would love to be read as much as possible.
BNI: Do you think book cover an important role in sales?
SV: Oh yes. First impressions are important.
BNI: According to you, what is the top most advantage / disadvantage of self-publishing?
SV: Haven’t done it yet!
BNI: eBook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick?
SV: Printed hardcover book. I love the feel and look and smell of books. True eBooks are convenient and are the way forward but oh, the comfort of holding a book in my hands.