Sunday, January 14, 2018

Giving youngsters their time under the sun, with a bit of sunscreen (Interview with Preeti Shenoy)

Preeti Shenoy
She was “just a mother of two” (her blog’s name) when she started her blog in 2006 shortly after losing her dad all of a sudden. And in 2008 came her first book. There has been no looking back since then for PREETI SHENOY. She features among the top five bestselling authors in India and finds a place on the Forbes list of the most influential celebrities in the country.

Here, she opens up about her latest book, growing as an author, bridging the generation gap and of course about blogging to DIVYA NAMBIAR. Down to earth, pleasant and downright honest, here’s Preeti at her candid best. We share the tidbits of the interview here:

 A Hundred Little Flames (AHLF) seems to have generated brightness and cheer, yet again. With it topping charts and the signing spree over, how are you spending your time now?
Thanks so much. Haha—I am writing my next book!

9 books since 2008. You are unstoppable, aren’t you?  Tell us how you would define ‘writing’.
For me, writing is life itself. It is as natural to me as breathing. I was writing even when I was unknown and nobody was reading me. I continue to write, even when thousands of people are reading me.

 In one line, explain your journey as an author.
I write, I grow.

Preeti – the author and Preeti – ‘author’-kept-aside. Does it ever happen? Or are you constantly on the lookout for something that serves as fodder for your next book?
I think it is only when others look at me, they look at me as ‘an author’. I don’t define myself that way, nor am I constantly ‘looking for material.’ My mind is a busy place. Ideas are always running through my head. That’s how it has always been. If something has happened to me, which has left an impression, it might find its way into my writing. (Or it may not too)


Cover of A Hundred Little Flames
How much, according to you, does the cover page impact the sales of a book? With that said, are you satisfied with the cover of AHLF?
It is important for the cover to catch the eye of the reader. With AHLF, we wanted to send a clear message that it was very different from my other work; it was my first foray into literary fiction. The illustration on the cover was a commissioned piece of art, and was a deliberate choice. Yes, I am satisfied. It was launched at Birmingham, UK, at Birmingham Literature Festival. The cover itself speaks volumes.

Author, painter, motivator, relationship expert – you don many hats at a time. Is there an untapped potential you look forward to cultivate in the near future?
Yes, Yoga teacher and organic vegetable farmer, also a tutor to underprivileged children.

Your writing career took off thanks to a blog that you actively maintained (and still do). Any tips for new bloggers?
Do be very regular with your content. Be honest, and do not invent an online persona. Most of all, have fun!

Paperback and kindle. Pick one and tell us why.
Paperback. I am old fashioned that way. Also, I love beautiful bookmarks, also the touch and feel of a ‘real book’. Curling up under the blanket with a kindle isn’t the same as curling up with a paperback.

AHLF very minutely traces the journey of a human being and his troubles as he approaches the evening of his life. How does the other side of 50 look like, to you?
I know a lot of people in their sixties, seventies and eighties who lead such inspiring lives. I think it is wonderful if you have managed to keep yourself healthy and fit.

Loneliness is real for many elderly people today and so is their struggle with technology. How can youngsters make things a bit easier for them?
By spending time with them, helping them understand technology and communication with them, sincerely and genuinely.
   
       You speak about casual love in today’s time and love during the olden times that could survive without even a sense of touch in AHLF. Love as it looked in the olden times now looks dreamlike and seemingly dead. But can we totally deny today’s youngsters their time under the sun? (i.e.  Have we trivialized present love stories in the process of appreciating the past?)
I don’t think we have trivialized love stories of present nor have I denied youngsters their ‘time under the sun’. I have only pointed out that wearing sunscreen helps.

Platonic relationships do very much exist these days. It is indeed possible for a man and a woman to be friends, and to love each other, without jumping into bed. The debate of whether a man and a woman can be ‘just friends’ is very old and eternal. Movies like When Harry Met Sally and our own Bollywood films have explored this theme over and over.

I see so many guys and girls who are good friends, and nothing more. I do not see it as ‘rare’.


   Name one of the recent books you’ve read and liked.
I have read 40 books this year. The ones I loved were Benyamin’s Goat Days, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath becomes Air and Marjane Satrapi’s Perspolis are a few that immediately come to my mind.

You have been an author for about a decade now. How would you describe the reading habits of today’s teenagers? (Is it rising or declining? Is there a pattern you’ve observed?)
I guess I would have an observational bias, as I am surrounded by teens who read. Two days back, when I was doing my Christmas shopping (at a bookstore of course) a group of girls from a local school, ran into me. After they clicked photos (and I signed books for them) they asked me for book recommendations. I was delighted to give them a list.

What is next on your to-do list?
To write my next book!

Describe Preeti Shenoy as an author, wife, mother, an artist and an individual.
Have no clue. People can describe me however they see fit. I don’t think so much about myself. I would rather think about my characters!

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