Blogging, writing, poetry, painting- Preeti Shenoy does it all with equal ease. We catch up with the ‘mother of two’ whose books have topped the national bestselling charts.
Your first book 34 Bubblegums and Candies was a collection of narratives based on real life incidents. What was the inspiration to start penning down these incidents?
I started blogging to get over the grief of losing my father. Initially when I wrote it was for myself – as an outlet to express my grief and thoughts. I found that a lot of people were moved by what I had written and wrote back to me saying they were positively impacted by what I had written. My fan base grew over a period of time and a lot of my diehard fans asked me write a book. That is how 34 B&C was born. It is a book of 34 real life incidents that have taken place in my friends and my lives which are equally applicable in everyone’s day to day lives. I was very pleased with the response to the book. I had also thought it would appeal only to a very young audience, but was pleasantly surprised to find it appealed to every age group of people.
You started off with a blog called “Just a Mother of Two” . How big an influence are your kids in your writing?
The blog name was started off as a joke, as I very obviously do so much more than being a mother. But not too many got the joke. So I changed it later. Mine is not a ‘mummy blog’. My kids influence my writing only to a very small extent. I do not write specifically on child care or such kind of topics but some of my blog posts do contain some ‘Mama’ moments.
From blogs to books- how smooth was the transition?
I continue to be very active on my blog and it plays a very important part of my life. I take time off every day to respond to comments on blog and mails I receive from my readers. I have always written and therefore did not have too much of a problem transitioning to books. However I find the effort in writing and all the allied activities associated with publishing a book takes up so much more time, than writing a blog post. The returns in terms of mails from readers, indicating how much they liked the book and how they felt the book was so similar to their lives, makes the intense effort of writing worth it. I get so many mails every day about each of my books and it still continues to move me.
What, in your opinion, makes a successful blog?
A successful blog in my view has to have content which appeals to the reader, and give them some takeaways .There should also be consistency and regularity of posting. Only that will succeed. You have to be who you are and it has to be natural. I also believe that writing skills are important. If you write badly or if grammar is wrong then it will have an impact on readership. There are of course other ways of defining success e.g. page views per day, offers for monetizing the blog etc. However in my view if you are able to attract people to visit your blog everyday, not because they are your friends/ fans but because what you say impacts them then your blog is successful. It is a tough challenge to maintain the interest day after day and year after year. But if you are good and perceive, you will succeed.
What kind of books do you like to read? Any particular writers who have inspired your writing?
I love reading. In fact thankfully everyone in my family loves reading. My house is full of books. I have to read every day before I sleep. I read all kinds of books and sometimes read two to three books at a time. I have a lot of favorite writers and topping the list would be Roald Dahl, Mitch Albom and Audrey Niffeneger. However, I would not say that they have inspired my writing. I believe each person has his own unique style. I enjoy reading them but will always maintain my unique style as Preeti Shenoy.
Blogger, writer, poet, artist and a mother- that definitely must be quite a lot of work. How do you manage all of this?
Yes it’s a lot of work. A lot of people ask me this question, especially working mothers who have kids. I do not have a magic wand or a readymade solution. Its pure hard work and you have to be perseverant. If I do not get time during the day due to the children’s studies or for whatever reason, then I sit late in to the night and work. I also carry a journal with me all the time. If any thoughts come to me then I capture them in that journal even if I am doing something else. I do not try and force myself to do something. For e.g. my blog and writing is not a business for me- it is my passion. So if I am not feeling like writing on a particular day then I would do some quilting or paint or read a book all of which energizes me and enables me to come back with renewed energy.
From the first book inspired from simple incidents of everyday life, you moved on to a book about a girl suffering from a mental illness. What brought about this change of gears?
I was very happy with the success and feedback received for 34 B&C. And then I chanced upon the real life Ankita’s story. When I heard it I was moved and completely blown away. I felt it had to be written. Also it is a very taboo subject in India and I felt the stigma associated behind mental illness had to be removed. The book involved a lot of research and at the end of it left me absolutely drained out. I have received so many mails of appreciation. Majority of my readers tell me that a number of parts of the story and characters resemble them. A lot of them wrote to me opening their hearts and life and telling me their stories of undergoing bipolar and how my book had changed their life. I even had a Doctor who read the book and wrote to me saying the book was so well researched that if he had a choice he would make it part of the compulsory medical curriculum. Readers also say it is so well written that it has to be my story. All this really makes me feel happy and tells me that I have done a good job in writing. I am very happy that this has positively impacted so many people and that it is worth all the effort I have put in while writing this book.
Now that you have established yourself as a writer, do you consciously think about what topic or issue to write about in your next book or is it just as natural as writing about simple, everyday incidents for your blog?
I guess it is a sub-conscious process. I get story ideas all the time. A conversation overheard, a news item I found interesting or even something that a friend says sparks off ideas. Once I have a story idea in my head, I then plan the entire plot out. I find that after doing that the writing flows naturally. I also research a lot before I begin to write. My blog on the other hand is very different. It is spontaneous and less time consuming.
What next for Preeti Shenoy? When do we expect your next book?
15th December is when ‘The Secret Wishlist’ will be out in the market. Pre-order links are already up and all the details are available on my blog justamotheroftwo.blogspot.com, website http://preetishenoy.com and FB page https://www.facebook.com/TheSecretWishlist. Fingers crossed, I hope my readers like this book as much as all my other books. I am currently also working on book 5 and 6.
We would like to thank Mrs Shenoy for taking time out from her busy schedule for this interview with Indiabookstore. We wish her all the best for her future endeavors.