Thursday, April 8, 2010

Q & A with Parul Sharma

I'm always all excited when Parul Sharma comes up in any discussion about bloggers turned authors, because, what the hell, she's a friend, and she's a mommy blogger, and she's a genuine nice person. Yes, yes, I'm biased and this has nothing to do with her hilarious book, Bringing Up Vasu: That First Year, which you must buy to boost up sales and send into reprint.

Here's a Q&A with her:
1] When you began blogging, did you imagine that this would lead to a book someday? Or was there always a book at the back of your mind?

Sure, I dreamt that publishers all over would be flocking to my doorstep once they read my blog, except that they didn't.
Actually, I started my blog to get writing practice and it served me well to that end. I got some readers and loads of encouragement. Yes, I always wanted to be a writer but even I, in my infinite optimism did not start blogging thinking that it would lead to a book deal. I had to go about it the old-fashioned way and so I finished the manuscript and sent it to a commissioning editor and hoped and prayed like hell that she would like it. My publishers came to know of my blog much later when I asked them if I should mention the book on it. I think the exact response was on the enthusiastic lines of yes, whatever but then, mine is not a hugely popular blog.

2] How easy or difficult is it to make the transition from blogging short posts, to writing a full fledged book, what is the shift in mind set required?
Well, I don't think it is particularly difficult but you do need to be oriented differently. There are many things one needs to consider while writing a full-length novel, the storyline needs to be consistent, the characters need to be fleshed out, the level of engagement needs to be high and so on. The stakes are higher while writing a book. Blogging in that sense is more fun and it allows you a lot more flexibility. I write about anything that catches my fancy on my blog. In a book, I need to stick to the story, a singularly tough task. Another thing - because of the comments they leave and the blogs they themselves maintain, one more or less knows who the blog-reader is. There is no such luxury while writing novels.
Also, I get away with using adverbs in the blog, something I have been repeatedly told is absolutely unforgivable if you want to be a good writer.

3] How do you respond to the criticism that most bloggers turned authors recycle the same stuff from their blogs into their books?
I think we end up writing about things that we feel close to and some overlap is inevitable in the first published work and the blog. Debuts do tend to be semi-autobiographical. As the writer gains experience, one hopes she can develop the chops necessary to explore other territories.

4] Who are your favourite authors and which are your favourite books?
I love P G Wodehouse, Stephen King, Bill Bryson, Alexander McCall Smith and Shivani and have read most of their works. I like Murakami a lot too. Amongst the newer authors that I have read I have liked Daniyal Mueenuddin and Suketu Mehta a fair bit. Oh and I am a fervent admirer of Bill Watterson.
My favourite books are To Kill A Mockingbird, City of Djinns, The Lord Of The Rings, On Writing, all Calvin and Hobbes comics, Persepolis...this could go on.

5] Any advice you would give bloggers aspiring to be authors?
The same as I would give to anyone aspiring to be an author - just write. Don't wait for divine inspiration, don't seek the perfect words to come to you, don't await the perfect pitch for your voice. The only way to be a writer is to write. Boring I know, but true. It's like any other job. You get up in the morning and you show up at your writing desk.

6] What should readers watch out for, are you working on a next book?
My second book is due for release in September 2010. The working title is By The Watercooler.

Here are the links to some reviews on the blogosphere of Bringing Up Vasu
Mamma mia me a Mamma
Monika Manchanda
R's Mom
Aneela of Golkamra
Purple Homes
The Hungry Bookworm

(If I've missed out on any links to this book, do send them in, and links to blogs with reviews of other blogger turned author written books are also welcome! Help me out here folks, you know I am scatterbrained at the best of times.)

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