Please welcome author Amit Sharma on my blog. His book False Ceilings is out now. Let us get to know more about Amit and his work through a question and answer session.
How did you become a writer, by chance or by choice?
It was a conscious decision. I have been blogging for a few years and the success of my blog made me wonder if I should try writing a full-length novel. I wasn’t very confident but loved the process when I picked up the project. The reviews by friends were encouraging and that is when I realized that it might just be possible to get published.
Are you a genre writer? Why (or why not)? Which genre appeals to you the most?
I am not. While I was writing it, I had no idea what the genre of my first book was. I didn’t want to promote it as a Family saga because you won’t realize it’s about a family till you are halfway through. Till now, I have no idea what the genre of my second book is. But I guess, it’s important to categorize your book to sell it. That is how the world works.
The fact that I was able to finish it and get it published makes it special. I know I will not feel this way with my second or third book. It’s a special feeling that only your first book can provide. Secondly, the story is very close to my heart. It’s based on true events and a lot of my own angst and frustrations went into creating the characters and how they feel about the world in general. There is a lot of me in the characters.
The story begins with Shakuntala, who is born in the lush mountains of Dalhousie in 1930 to a wealthy builder. As India inches towards her independence, Shakuntala’s world starts crumbling. It is an enormous owl sitting on Shakuntala’s bed that brings evil news and changes her life. On her wedding night in 1946, she is gifted a secret to use wisely when the time comes.
The story moves non-linearly from the green valleys of Dalhousie to a village in Punjab reeling under the communal violence of 1947; from the Delhi of 1950s with its intoxicating smell of freedom to the Delhi of 1970s soaked in the hippie culture; from the Delhi of 1984 smelling of burnt tyres to the Delhi of 1990s raising the Frankenstein of urbanization.
The six protagonists – Shakuntala, Aaryan, Manohar, Vinod, Meena and Lipi – are bound by the cancerous secret for 130 years. It is accidentally passed down, hidden under insecurities and jealousies, locked in its meaninglessness and leaving a trail of ruin.
The story is based on true events. The relationships between the protagonists are real. A few events are fictional and the story is much more about the revelation of the secret in the end. For me it was about getting under the skin of this dysfunctional family, to present them as I saw them in real life, to make their actions and thoughts believable and human.
What are your writing fads or quirks?
Plotter or pantser?
Plotter definitely. I need the storyline including the beginning and end, the chapter outline and my research work completed before I can even think of writing the first page of my book.
Self-published or traditional?
Traditional. I am not comfortable with the idea of self-publishing but I am not completely averse to it.
Polished first draft or sloppy one?
Sloppy. First draft can never be a polished one for me. I have to go through multiple iterations for it to look acceptable.
Deadline or family/friends time?
No Deadlines for me. I can’t work with deadlines while writing. They are only a part of my day job.
Writing a certain target every day or in floods and droughts?
Floods and Droughts. I usually write over weekend as I am too busy throughout the weekdays. Again, setting a target puts me off writing.
Here’s more about the book. This post is a part of the blog tour hosted by The Book Club.