An interview on Booksfirst.in in which I speak about my journey as an author, reading influences, bookstores, and more.
“Based in Mumbai, Kiran is a well-established author; her first book was published in 2011 and more than a dozen others (both fiction and non-fiction) have been published since then. Her short stories have been published in leading magazines and bestselling anthologies, her articles and columns have been published in leading newspapers and her books have been long listed for various prestigious awards.
Kiran, who is a TEDx speaker, was awarded the Women Achievers Award by Young Environmentalists Association in 2013 and The Indian Council of UN Relations (ICUNR), supported by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, Government of India, awarded her the International Women’s Day Award 2018 for excellence in the field of writing. Her list of awards, nominations and achievements is pretty much endless – see here for all the details. We talk to her about her own journey as a writer, and her favourite books and authors.
You have worked as a journalist with leading magazines and newspapers, and then moved on to writing books, both fiction and non-fiction. Tell us about the journey?
Honestly, it’s been a long and meandering journey that has taken me through advertising, as a copy writer, a journalist, where I first did a bit of city reporting, then business news, moving onto gender and women’s issues, as well as entertainment and feature writing. From journalism I moved on to research, and became a trend spotter and India cultural lead for a US-based trendspotting firm, then a qualitative researcher. I was also an entrepreneur; I set up a content supply firm with a friend in the very first dotcom boom in the early 2000s.
I headed the creative department of an advertising agency I founded with my spouse, then got back into writing when we decided to shut the agency and my husband found his passion in the stock market and trading. I edited a couple of websites, curated festivals, and did backend content writing for corporates. It’s been a career that has been peripatetic to say the least, but most educative. I’ve learnt through my journey to write across different styles and subjects, to write through chaos in the newsroom, to be able to have my focus laser-sharp when I’m the midst of creating new work, which is why I have written most of my books in the midst of chaos, bread and butter work, and everyday domesticity.
What was it that encouraged you to start writing fiction? Which was the first book and how hard was it for you to find a publisher? In this context (finding a suitable literary agent and/or publisher), any tips that you’d like to give to new authors, who may be trying to get their first book published?
I was a blogger with a fair amount of popularity at the time, and an encouraging group of readers and friends thought I might have it in me to write a book. Of these, a couple of friends were very persistent, and one, Parul Sharma, who was a published author herself, even helped me connect with her editor. I sent in three chapters I had written after succumbing to their insistence, and the editor, Deepthi Talwar, then at Westland, liked it and asked to see the rest. I hurriedly wrote the rest and sent it off, first draft, spelling errors and all, and I now cringe in retrospect at how raw and confident I was back then. She liked it and the book, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2011. I had no takers for my next book for four years, and I had almost given up any hopes of being more than a one book horse, when Ashwin Sanghi, who is a dear friend, told me I must keep sending it out. And then Once Upon A Crush came out in 2014. I’ve had 14 books out since, across genres, and my next scheduled for a Jan 2023 release.
I would suggest first-time authors go through websites of publishing houses very carefully, see who is publishing the kind of books they have written, and submit to those publishing houses. Every publishing house has submission guidelines on their website. And if you want to find an agent, do your research before querying, see who is representing whom and reach out. Most do respond. Himalayan Writing Retreat has some good resources on agents, and publishing houses on their sites.
Something I would like to tell all first-time writers sending their manuscripts out is to not take rejection personally. I still get rejected after all these books. Many published authors do. It is no shame. It is no reflection on the quality of your writing (of course, you have to keep working towards improving it). Keep sending your manuscript out, keep reworking it.”
Do read the entire interview here