Nivedita is a marketing consultant turned full-time mom who dreams up a lot more stories than she writes. She is currently trying to keep it all together – a house that cannot run itself, a toddler that runs everywhere by herself, and fragments of an erstwhile life. She lives in Bangalore. You can read her blog here.
Here is my conversation with her:
Hi Anna, it was so inspiring to go through your blog and read about your books! You have shown that it is possible to make something about the stories that are constantly jumping around in my head. I have so many questions for you! Here are some:
Q1. Why did you choose the self-publishing route?
I had many stories bubbling inside me, and I wanted to share them. Self-publishing gives me a lot of freedom with what stories I can tell. I write historical fiction loosely based on medieval India. If I had gone the traditional publishing route, these stories might have never seen the light of day.
Depending on your goals, you have to decide whether traditional publishing or self-publishing is the best option for you. Self-publishing is like a small business. The author is responsible for editing, cover, marketing, and more. This work might be daunting for some.
Some authors are interested in awards and recognition. For them, traditional publishing might be worth the wait.
Q2. How do you balance a career / paid work / full-time job with writing? As a related question, how do you manage your daily life – parenting, housekeeping, time to relax and unwind, and writing?
It is a struggle on some days 😂. I began writing only when my kids were older and more independent. At each stage in our life, we have to ask ourselves what is important to us right now. And find time to do it. It also means saying no to things that are not important. Time is a great equalizer. Every day, we all get the same 24 hours, nothing more or less. I write almost daily, even if only for a few minutes. It allows me to unwind from the stress of my everyday life.
Q3. Why did you choose to write historical fiction? What was your inspiration behind choosing medieval time?
I loved the stories I read about ancient Indian kingdoms, especially Chola and Pallava kingdoms in the south. A Tamil Author, Kalki’s books were a significant inspiration. I found it fascinating to think of someone born to rule. What their struggles and challenges would be. I also find it easier to explore themes like duty vs. self or women’s rights in this setting, far removed from today’s world.
Q4. What are the resources that were helpful for you while researching your novels?
I read several books on the craft of writing. I also read several historical fiction books. I studied the culture, food, and laws of the medieval period. Since my protagonists are royal siblings, I created a fictional land rather than set my story in a real kingdom. Though this is a work of fiction, I researched weapons, clothing, and spices to make sure they were in use during that time. For flowers and trees, I used old Tamil literature. For medicine, I used Ayurvedic text and several published articles for guidelines. Museum websites are a great place to research jewels and weapons. Internet is a treasure trove of information. From battle wounds to poisons, I have searched for some weird details.
Q5. Can you take me through your writing journey? Did the story pan out as three books from the start? Did you make an outline and flesh out the characters before writing the novel?
I wanted to write a series from the start. In my first story, I started writing without an outline. I stumbled and made a few mistakes along the way. For my next novels, I created a rough chapter by chapter outline. Though I deviated from the storyline in my final story, having this synopsis helped me.
Q6. This question is very specific to novel writing, mostly because of its length. How do you edit it? I struggle to remember details and edit a 2000 word short story.
I wish I had a photographic memory. I keep a glossary of all the characters and their physical features, relationships, etc. Plus, I have an outline of the book where I tracked how many days have passed, seasons, moon phases, etc. I have two beta readers who read my chapters and provided valuable feedback. All of this helps, plus I re-read the book a few times before sending it to my editor.
Q7. Having successfully self-published three books (and with more on the way, undoubtedly), what pointers would you offer unpublished authors like me who have novel-length stories that they want to publish? What are the things to look out for while self-publishing?
Writing, like any art form, is not an easy way to make a living. So first make sure there is a passion to write. Then determine what stories you want to tell. Pick one of them and write a two-page summary of this. Read a craft book on fiction writing. I have a few in my Goodreads profile. These help with creating engaging characters. Become friends with fellow writers to form a support group.
Then write consistently, whether it is every day or every week.
For publishing, I recommend finding an editor to edit the novel. And getting a good cover for the book. There are many Facebook groups (SPF Community, 20booksto50K) dedicated to self-published authors where you can ask for advice or just read past posts. I highly recommend joining a couple of these.
Most important of all, every author’s journey is going to be unique. Set your goals and march towards them.