Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Writing Mind

Writing is a lonely job. In fact, loneliness is a prerequisite of sorts, isn’t it? At least for me, it is. Unless I am alone in my own quiet space, I find it difficult to write. Actually, loneliness is not the right word because it has a negative slant to it. The word “emptiness” describes it better…a kind of vacant feeling which takes away the clutter and noise of the outside world. The mind is opened up to all sorts of possibilities. It’s vacant. It’s as if one is in an alternate universe where anything is possible and nothing is impossible. 

Physically, one can describe it as being in a vast desert with nothing in sight. Or being in a little boat in an endless ocean. 

Those who can get into their writing mind-space in a noisy, busy environment are lucky or I should say that they are super motivated. These are people who write anywhere and at anytime. They are super-productive and write novel after novel after novel…makes me feel so useless. 

I’ve written a lot – and I mean a LOT – in my life but just one novel, that too after struggling with it for a few years. And now I am in the midst of my second one but it hasn't gone as fast as it should have. The only satisfaction I have is that I wrote a damn good novel. I am proud of The Hawa Mahal Murders. There's nothing I want to change in it. In fact, if anything, I fear I may not be able to write a novel as good as my first one. 

I always believed that I was pretty self-motivated…after all, going at a novel for years without knowing whether a publisher will pick it up…that requires at least a little self-motivation. But perhaps I am not sufficiently motivated. I wasn’t able to get into the right frame of mind in these covid times. I don’t want to get into the mundane details of it…but suffice to say that the time has now passed and I’m getting back on track.

I always thought not writing = not working and time wasted. I don’t put that kind of pressure on myself anymore. I write because I love it and I because I know I want to write another damn good novel!

(Image by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Author Interview in Hindustan Times

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Hindustan Times, Pune, almost immediately after my book release (1st December 2019) but somehow I had neglected to put this up on my website. I had got so busy with a few book readings and travel that I completely forgot to post this.

Well, here it is:

Here is the text version:

1. The genre of thriller originates from the gothic which has a large rambling castle as its setting. Since Hawa Mahal is a typical Gothic building what importance does it hold to your murder mystery thriller? Answer: There’s a character in my book called Raja who comes from a poor family. He wants to make it big and even fancies himself to be a king. He has grandiose dreams of building a palace just like Hawa Mahal. He does become very rich, and when he does, he has a building made on the lines of the real Hawa Mahal. Of course, it’s an imitation and that is the whole point. It’s actually an ugly building from an architectural point of view. So, in the novel, this building in Mumbai, called Hawa Mahal, becomes a symbol of sorts. Hawa Mahal is known as the Palace of Winds, but it can also be interpreted as castles in the air. The idea that I am trying to convey is that Raja, isn’t a success, not really. There is another meaning to why the building is called Hawa Mahal. The original Hawa Mahal was built with hundreds of windows so that the royal ladies could look outside without being seen, as the purdah system was in place then. I am trying to convey that the main character, Smita, is trapped in the building. She can see the outside but cannot really participate in life.

 2. Thriller has seen quite a resurgence in India especially with the popularity of “Sacred Games”, which is itself an adaptation of the thriller novel of the same name. So, in your opinion why has thriller made such a comeback and why did you choose to write a thriller rather than a work of any other nature. Answer: Today’s generation likes fast-paced novels. We are in the age of cable tv, action movies and WhatsApp. But that is not the reason why I wrote a thriller. I wrote what I love to read. I love reading thrillers, always did, although of late I have been concentrating on writing. But my book is more than a thriller. I like to think that it tackles some underlying issues in this society.

3. Overcoming a bad marriage, as your character Smita does involve laying bare the vulnerability of being a woman. Why was it important for you that your character should have such an arc? Answer: I came from a liberal family, but I am not the norm. A vast majority of Indian women put aside their hopes and dreams and follow society’s dictates. The hold of the parents is very strong. Often, women do not even want to acknowledge that they are sacrificing something, they don’t want to face it, because if they do, then their life would become unbearable. So, I created a character with high self-awareness, someone who faced her fears and tried to make sense of her life.

4. How did you get the idea of the book? Walk us through your writing process. Answer: A part of the answer lies in the answer to question 3. I wanted to write about a middle-class Indian woman going through issues common to our society. I wanted a relatable character and relatable issues, in the Indian context. Even my other main character, Jai, goes through issues that people commonly face, a corrupt system for example. As for the story, it evolved by itself once I put my characters in difficult situations and in a particular setting.

5. How was your experience of publishing with Vishwakarma Publications? Answer: I consider myself very lucky to have got a publisher like Vishwakarma Publications. I found the VP team sincere, helpful and friendly. I am also proud to be associated with PILF.

 6. What is on your current reading list? Answer: I have read one of Margaret Atwood’s novels and plan to read the others too. I like her writing style.

Check out all of my author interviews on this website.

Author Interview at E-Author Resources

The E-Author Resources blog showcases books and authors and also is a goldmine for authors looking for book cover artists, editors, illustrators, publishers, and website designers.

They were kind enough to feature my interview on their website. Here is a small excerpt:

Did you learn anything from the project? 
I had read a lot of detective and mystery novels but when I actually started to write one, I realised how difficult it is to insert clues in the right places so as to keep up the suspense. There was a lot of painstaking detailing work required and constant going back and forth. It was a learning experience for me.

For the rest of the interview you can go here to the actual link: Interview with N.J Kulkarni Author of The Hawa Mahal Murders. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

At the Jaipur Lit Fest

I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival for the first time in January 2020. Not for all the five days, just for a day or so. It was exactly what I had been told it would be. Crowded, energising, exciting, festive...

I was there on a Sunday and the Diggi Palace venue was packed. The previous day I had been at JBM (Jaipur BookMark) at the same venue but hadn't attended any JLF sessions.

The discourses on politics like one where Rajdeep Sardesai and Sachin Pilot were spewing forth their contradictory opinions were the most crowded with deafening cheers for nothing in particular. The Front Lawn venue had

Friday, February 7, 2020

At the Jaipur BookMark Literary Festival

I spent a day at Jaipur BookMark (JBM) on the 25th of January. The organisers offered me a free delegate badge because I participated in the iwrite competition. I am not sure why they did because I had not been shortlisted. In any case, I had submitted a short story not a synopsis of a novel. Mostly the iwrite competitions are all about getting a book deal so I wasn't really expecting any response from them. Maybe from their point of view, offering a free delegate badge was nothing but for me, someone who was mulling over going to JLF for weeks, this was the nudge I needed. The free delegate badge I mean.

Festival Directors discussing literary trends

I had no idea what JBM was

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Hawa Mahal Murders at the Delhi Book Fair in January 2020

It had been years since I went to a book fair. I had heard that book fairs were packed with jostling crowds but I needed to narrow the gap between seeing and not seeing. After all, my crime thriller The Hawa Mahal Murders, was being exhibited at Vishwakarma Publications bookstall in Hall no.12. I had to be there! And I was, on the 12th of January, 2020. It was a Sunday and the grounds at Pragati Maidan were packed.

It was quite an exciting experience for me. Signing copies of my books, meeting strangers who were going to read my book and of course the general bookish atmosphere which I thrive in.

It was interesting to see so many young people there...students. Unfortunately, students don't have too much money in their pockets but it was good to see the eagerness to read even if most of them were looking for bargain books. There were families with children, lots and lots of them. It was middle-class India at its best and I loved it.

Related Reading: Sakal Times Coverage. and the Book Reading at Quill And Canvas or Meeting students at their MITWPU Book Club Launch