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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Sonia Rao - Author interview

  1. Hearty congratulations for the rave reviews which initial chapters of the Magician are receiving. How does it feel?

    Thank you for the kind words, Mahesh. Yes, the response to the initial chapters has been overwhelmingly positive. This definitely thrills me. And also encourages me because I now know my readers are eager to read the forthcoming chapters. The feedback and insights I have been receiving have been so valuable, I feel such a sense of gratitude. On another note, every Friday evening feels like my exams just got over. (Note: The succeeding chapter of the novel is sent out every Friday).

  2. Please tell us how did the concept of the Magician come to you? Do you believe or read tarot?

    The Magician is what is called a Major Arcana card in a traditional Tarot deck. It generally refers to the creativity and energy within a person to transform their life. The persons whose birth card is The Magician have the power to manifest their desires. They are inspired to apply skill and initiative to accomplish all their goals.
    I’ve been interested in Tarot and other methods of divination for quite some time now, not so much for predictive purposes as much as to understand myself (yeah, some might call me self-absorbed) 

    In fiction, even though the storyworlds may differ, the development of the character(s) is constant and an important part of the narrative. The character arc often shows them overcoming an irredeemable situation using their talents/skills with immense courage, to emerge triumphant. Just like The Magician.

    This concept had been swirling in my mind since quite some time and when it was ready I wrote down the story. 
  3. Your novel is being circulated one chapter a week that too by email to its subscribers. What is the thought behind using this method ?

    I consider this to be an experiment, of sorts, Mahesh. I wish I could say it was a well-planned out strategy or something, but it really was an impulsive decision. I’d been pondering the current state of publishing-affairs. Also, I’d become a bit less reticent about putting out my writing in front of my readers. I think both these factors coalesced into that one impulsive decision, but with a caveat. No posting it on Facebook or on my blog.

    It would only be by subscription through email because I reasoned that those who subscribed would be the real readers, the interested ones. And I’m really glad I did this. 
  4. Do you think printed books are going to disappear soon and it is all going to be about e-books?

    I consider an e-reader to be a ‘device of ease.’ Once it becomes the default device (which books are at this point in time) then perhaps we’d only read e-books. I’d say the statistics currently stand at 50-50. But every single day I’m grateful for the internet and the e-readers for enabling me to access e-books, especially those related to the craft of writing.

  5. Please tell us something about your childhood.

    Whenever I think of my childhood I remember this quote by Chris Patten: Those of us who had a perfectly happy childhood should be able to sue for deprivation of literary royalties.

    That said, I remember my voracious appetite for reading. Even at meal times. If I didn’t have a book to read (which was rare), I’d be reading the newspaper and, in desperate cases, the labels on the bottles and jars of pickles and jams. Come to think of it, it was almost like feeding your soul at the same time as your body. But I was equally interested in sporting activities so when I was not reading I could be found playing football or seven tiles or even kho-kho with the girls and boys of the housing society we lived in.

  6. What kind of books do you read? Who are your favourite authors?

    When I look back at what I used to read, I can see phases. Once upon a time I was a fiction-freak. This was followed by the non-fiction phase: books on personal development, marketing, business management, spirituality, the works. Now, it is a mix of both. 
    It’s quite difficult to say who my favourite author is. I love to read any book by Michael Lutin. He’s an astrologer. But in fiction, I adore Salman Rushdie and Hilary Mantel, for the style of their writing. Well, this really is a very tough question.

  7. How much time do you devote for writing? Give us some tips as to how working professionals should take out time for writing?

    I try to do the Morning pages (as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way) and if I’ve been lazy or neglectful, say for more than three days at a stretch, I get excruciating headaches. 

    As for formal writing, I prefer to do that immediately after the morning pages. Two hours. The best way to approach the discipline of writing, in my view, is to do it unemotionally. Fix up a time and at the dot of that minute, sit down (or stand up, it that’s the way you’re oriented) and write. Use whatever time you get; during lunch hour, during your transit times. Ideally, you’d be doing an hour or two of writing, early in the morning or then late at night. 

     The timings again depend on whether you’re an early worm or a night bird. When I say unemotionally, I am pointing at any inner critic and self-doubt issues that might arise when it is time to sit down and write. Ergo, all emotions are best kept for the narrative rather than for the process.

  8. What would be your advice to budding writers?

    Read a lot! Write a lot! Rinse! Repeat! And once you’ve written a lot, study the craft of writing to make it even better. In fact, I’m also offering a NaNo Note a week, along with the chapter, as a guide for those who want to write a novel during NaNoWriMo.

  9. Have you tried finding a traditional publisher? How was your experience of finding a publisher?

    No, not yet. The publishing industry “lives in interesting times” currently. Perhaps when my next book is ready I’ll have some fascinating experiences to recount.

  10. These are the days of aggressive book marketing. Books have to be promoted. Your take on this?

    Marketing guru, Al Ries’ quote from Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind says it much better than I could: “In our overcommunicated society, the paradox is that nothing is more important than communication.” 
  11. Tell us about your future projects.

    On the personal front, a couple of novels and a book of short fiction are on the anvil. The professional agenda includes The Wrimo Anthology which is getting ready and should be published soon. I’m also editing a friend-client’s first novel.

  12. Your interview cannot be complete without asking about wrimo. Please tell us how did you become liaison for wrimo India and share with our readers your experience of holding that post for all these years?

    I became the NaNoWriMo ML for Asia:India region in 2011. In 2009 and ‘10 I was thrilled and excited to win the NaNoWriMo by writing the 50K words of my novel. But since 2011, nothing has given me greater pleasure than to motivate other writers to fulfill their authorial aspirations. This is a voluntary service and the sense of satisfaction is incomparable. 

    I’ve created a community of wrimos on Facebook. In November we meet in the NaNo forums but in other months, this group is the adda of the wrimos. Here, wrimos encourage each other to write more as well as hone their craft. I organize online workshops in the different elements of novel writing and marketing which are conducted by experts. Published authors join us for chats about their authorial journeys. The awareness and interest in writing and through that, NaNoWriMo, and vice -versa, has grown rapidly in the last few years. It is one of the best times to be a writer in India.


  1. Replies
    1. I am happy that you liked it. Stay tuned we have more interviews and other interesting stuff coming up. Thanks for commenting.

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    1. Thanks for stopping and writing those kind words. Keep visiting and we will not disappoint you.