Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview with me on Chillibreeze

"We introduce you to Kiran Manral, who began her career as a copywriter and then moved to journalism. Presently, she is a freelance writer. She started blogging in 2005 - her blogs are part of Labnol's list of India's top blogs. She also founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11. She has worked on longterm rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, amongst others. She was also a part of core team that initiated and ran the very well- received Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month April 2011 and Violence Against Women Awareness Month.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Mumbai. As a literature honours student, I began my career as a copywriter, moved into journalism, advertising and currently freelancing on various assignments.
2. How would you describe “The Reluctant Detective”? What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
The Reluctant Detective is primarily a humour book. There is no inspiration as such; the aim was to provide a glimpse into the life within the urban gated community. There is a lot of writing on the grittier situations in the metropolises and not so much on this segment.
3. You have been a journalist and a freelance writer – would you like to share some insights about your career with our readers & writers?
I began my career as a copywriter, moved into journalism and now I freelance. I blundered into the profession so to speak, with no prior training. I was freelance writing for various publications through college, so by the time I was in post graduation I already had a base of contacts in the field and applied for positions in publications. I went from features on business to womens’ issues, which in retrospect did train me to write on every topic possible, but not a good strategy if you want to specialise in a beat. My advice, would be not to make the mistakes I made, but to train professionally in journalism, choose a beat to specialise in and to network, network, and just network.
I started freelance writing after I had my son. It involved writing on topics that might not always excite me, but something one needs to do for bread and butter. Therefore, what I think has stood me in good stead, has been my willingness to accept any assignment regardless of deadline and meeting them.
4. You are a famous blogger - as a blogger, do you try to maintain a particular style while writing and how do you think blogging helps to build your writer’s platform?
Actually I don’t. I think of blogging as a very different discipline from writing a book. But yes, it is the best form of writing practice and people are familiar with one’s style of writing. So that works in your favour.
5. What do you find the toughest part of writing? What are your recommendations to the new and upcoming writers?
Toughest part of writing? Carving out time to write. My advice to new writers would be - just sit down and write. Don’t wait for the perfect mood, moment, inspiration.
6. What kind of resources do you think are lacking for young writers in India today? What are young writers looking for?
I think there isn't anything that is lacking at any point. People have been writing with quill and ink, with manual typewriters down the ages and now with computers and the internet. Today, we have online and offline writing groups where aspiring writers can interact with other likeminded souls, get feedback on their writing etc.
There are enough and more resources for young writers serious about writing to get down to writing. The best resource according to me for a writer is to read as much as they can. It’s simple, but the most effective. Read. Study the market. Figure out where the niche is and target it.
7. Did you face any challenges while publishing your book?
I have been lucky. I’d sent across three chapters to the first publisher who found it interesting enough to ask for the rest of the book and decided to publish it.
I feel the key is to believe in your story, to have the persistence to keep pursuing publishers and if necessary to find an agent who will do the selling to publishing houses for you and help you edit the first draft to something which is presentable to a publishing house. Every publishing house has a manuscript submission format available on their websites; it would be good if aspiring writers stuck to that.
8. What are you reading right now? Are there any authors you would like to mention, who influenced you?
I read anything and everything that comes my way, and to cleanse my palate I read P G Wodehouse and Dave Barry and Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson. Right now, I am reading A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake.
9. What’s next after “The reluctant Detective”?
I am working on a sequel to this book and a couple of other books - one humour and one dark."

The link to the interview here.

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