She is one of India's known names when it comes to freelancing, and I personally had been following her blog for tips, as well as good reading material since ages now. Recently, Shuchi Singh Kalra has turned author with her debut romance, Done With Men. In conversation with Shuchi:
Congratulations on Done With Men being published. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I like to think of myself as a thinker and a dreamer. I live in my own idealistic little world and am cruelly jolted back to reality every once in a while when earthly responsibilities beckon. I am a proud military wife and mother to a beautiful two-year old girl. I have been writing professionally for over seven years now as a freelance writer and editor, and I also run a small firm that goes by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’. While I have contributed to some anthologies in the past, Done With Men is my first solo offering.
Did you frame the characters based on your friends and yourself, or built them on a fresh mould?
Not in an obvious way, but I have certainly borrowed personality traits and quirks from people I know and I kept building upon the characters at every stage of the story. Though the characters are completely fictitious they are 100% relatable. There is a good chance that you have someone like Kanjoos Kapil or Bindass Baani in your friend circle.
Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?
My path to becoming an author wasn’t a conventional one. You could say that I made a backdoor entry into the world of publishing. Naheed Hassan, the founder of Indireads had approached me sometime in late 2011 to work for them as an editor. We got talking and then she suggested that I write a book, a chick lit to be precise, because she believed I had the voice for it. Before I could make sense of things, the contract was signed and I was on my way to becoming an author. The interesting part was that I had signed the book contract even before I had a synopsis of the story! I really have to thank Naheed for having so much faith in me. I always wanted to become an author but I never thought my journey would begin this.
So many romance novels out there, staying different yet on similar lines is important. Was that difficult?
To be honest, I didn’t make any conscious effort to be different, or for that matter, to stick to the typical elements of the genre. I just went with the flow and wrote whatever felt right.
Any brickbats which really hurt, yet?
Thankfully, the reviews so far have all been very positive and encouraging – no harsh criticism (yet!). But some reviewers have mentioned that they would have preferred it if the book was a full-length novel instead of a novella, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.
My head is full of plots and my hard drive is full of incomplete manuscripts and roughly sketched storylines. I have had that author itch for as long as I can remember and my first attempt at writing a novel was when I was ten years old. Every time I would go to a bookstore, I would imagine a book with my name on the cover sitting on the shelves.
What next? New genre; or you would want to stick to romance?
I had tremendous fun writing a romantic comedy and that is a genre I enjoy a lot. My next book, too, will be on similar lines. However, that does not mean I will not experiment with other genres in the future.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
There are just too many! I have been a voracious reader since childhood and I never missed a chance to bury myself in a book. From the Bronte Sisters to Enid Blyton, and Shakespeare to Sophie Kinsella, I’ve lapped them all up.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?
Read the kind of books you want to write. Most importantly, chart out a schedule and stick to it. Write a little every day.