INDIA: In another episode of Transcontinental Times 360° live, the co-founder & CFO of TCT Sahra Ardah interviewed an international author, journalist & popular columnist Vani Kaushal.
Vani began her career as a business journalist in 2002.
According to her, 300 or 400 words of writing space in a newspaper were insufficient for the writer within her. Besides, being a business journalist required much less of her creativity. “It was all based on facts and numbers, so it wasn’t competing,” she added.
“Around 2004, I started ‘experimenting’ with writing a full-length novel, which didn’t work out. I didn’t realize I needed to let go of my old business reporting rules,” Vani said of her early career.
Vani believes that it isn’t possible to write a novel the way a news story is written.
“Initially, things were not in my favour. I went to London & that is where the writing bug bit me again & I started my journey from there. I wrote my first novel in London & subsequently two more! I have dabbled across both, fiction & non-fiction. But it has been an exciting journey so far!” she added.
“I started writing it (Seconds Later) in 2017, and the story came to me partly from my own experiences,” Vani said of her new third novel.
“I aspired to be famous, as everyone does when they are young. But the person never realizes that fame has a negative side effect.”
“Because after my first book was published, people began tagging me in their obscene social media posts. It was difficult for me to accept that change,” she added.
“I think the birth of the story happened from there. In this novel, I have explored the theme of fame through the eyes of a young, TV talk show host. It’s a romantic thriller or you can classify it as crime fiction, whatever suits you.”
The genre doesn’t matter
On asking about a preferred genre of writing, Vani stated, “I don’t look at the genre of the thing. If there’s a good idea, I would write about it. But it has to challenge me enough. I think, whatever we have are just mere classifications for us. My first book was a romantic comedy, this, ‘Seconds Later, is a romantic thriller, the other one was a non-fiction & my next one is non-fiction as well.”
She believes that choosing a genre is determined by the type of impulse she is experiencing at the time.
“I get equally excited by everything, as long as the idea keeps me going; the idea has to be strong enough. Moreover, I don’t get into specifics. When I sit on my writing desk every day, I just let the energy flow and I let it guide me, whatever direction it is.”
You have to keep going
“There are some writers who like to have every detail in front of their eyes,” Vani said of her writing struggles.
“That seems a little too constricting to me. I don’t think I’ll ever do that; I’m not sure. I struggle a lot of the time. Sometimes I just sit and stare at it, thinking, I have no idea what I want to write!” I’ve sometimes struggled for a month and a half to two months on a single paragraph.”
Furthermore, she stated that sometimes you have so many insecurities and fears and you doubt yourself, but you have to keep going, you push yourself, and one day, the entire book is finished in front of you and you’re like, “I did it!”
“You can’t predict what’s going to happen next as an artist; you just have to go with the flow. You want to be in control of the whole process, but it’s so difficult.”
On asking whether she has ever changed an ending after writing it, Vani said “Yes, I have!”
It’s your voice
When asked who she goes to for advice, she said, “I work with two people,” Vani explained, “One is my literary agent and the head of my literary agency Book Bakers, Suhail Mathur, who gives me suggestions and advice. The editor of the publishing house and one or two of my friends are the ones who make suggestions to me. But I don’t listen to everyone, because it’s your voice that needs to be heard.”
How about a cup of coffee with Harry Potter?
When asked about her favourite book character, Vani replied, “I love reading books.”
“Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors; I adore her works. Jane Austen has certainly influenced me; my favourite of her books is ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ In addition, I read a lot of books on the mind-body-spirit connection. I keep returning to Tosha Silver’s book, ‘Change Me Prayers.’ Every day, I write during the day and read for an hour or two hours in the evening,” she added.
“Also, I would like to sit and chat with Harry Potter or one of the characters from Lord of the Rings Bilbo Baggins, or Frodo Baggins. Fantasy characters are amazing,” she
Getting your work published
When asked how she gets her work published, Vani stated, “The market is very conducive right now. It is not difficult to get a book published. However, I believe that authors begin to worry about these issues at a young age. I work with a literary agency in India called Book Bakers, which represents about 400 to 500 authors.”
“Once they take your manuscript, they work through it, they suggest you & give you advice. They connect your work to a publisher. The market is open and there are a lot of opportunities. I think we get very impatient. We have one or two chapters ready and we immediately start thinking that who is going to publish it. The book takes a lot of time, so first, you should finish the project, and then you should start looking at submission. If nobody takes it, you can publish it on Amazon. Self-publishing is another way too,” she added.
Vani advised new writers that having a positive attitude is essential for a writer.
“Writing is as tough as easy as you make it. Writing is a lonely profession, so you have to mentally prepare yourself for that. Writing demands a lot of patience, perseverance, hard work & integrity. Many are afraid of language or plot or characters but you need to just get down to it, you need to just write it and have a certain amount of confidence in your writing. Besides, be original & have your voice,” she added.
Watch the whole interview here: