Kev’s Author Interviews Presents:
Dr Shinde Sweety
A Short Biography
‘The heart can be dissected, the brain can be spliced open, but I love to unravel the mind and emotions.’
I hold a Doctorate in Medicine.
Yoga enthusiast, Student of Spanish and yearn to learn Sanskrit.
Skilled at pencil sketch.
Content to be cocooned in a dream world.
Kev: What is your latest book about?
Genre: History/ Indian Mythology
Premise: Mahabharata – India’s most complex epic.
Synopsis: “I knew there was nothing poetic about death. I knew not that the most horrific battles are fought off the battlefield.”
Arjun: The idealist in a non-ideal world; the warrior whose deadliest opponent was his conscience.
The peerless archer; the seductive monk; the epitome of masculinity; the danseur eunuch; the warrior extraordinaire; the compassionate thinker – all in one roller coaster Life.
History forgot his voice, but misquoted his silence. Come, discover Arjun’s angst, dilemma and passions.
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
Admiration: for my 3 protagonists
Intuition: that I was the chosen one to explore their mind & emotions.
Incredulous anger: at the tendency to vilify heroes and deify villains.
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?:
Ved Vyas was the originator of this epic masterpiece. I read critical editions compiled and translated across centuries by Bhandakar, Bibek Debroy, KM Ganguli etc.
My work is founded on logic, based on research and laced with imagination.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
- Time – which had to be snatched post work.
- Formatting – Arjun and Draupadi were my dual narrators taking forward the story in succession.
I finally used *** symbol for Draupadi’s speech and no symbol for Arjun’s. Hopefully, this will help the readers recognize the narrator without breaking the smooth flow of events.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
Arjun – the ace archer & warrior of Mahabharata. The questioner who stimulated Krishn’s Bhagwad Gita.
Also his 2 soulmates – feisty Draupadi, the wife he had to share with 4 brothers and Krishn – the eternal enigma. Shrewd, eloquent, farsighted.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
He was emotional, compassionate and trusting – in a world which misuses all three virtues.
Kev: Who is the main Antagonist?
His toughest competition is himself.
To quote him, “I will not apologize for my expertise. I demand perfection of myself and that cannot come from an external source. Best is always a flux, a constant endeavour.”
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
I lay sprawled by the lake, my fingers floated lazily along its edge. I ruffled the surface once in a while and gazed at the ripples – perfectly symmetrical ripples emanating from an epicenter … this is how arrows should leap. My other hand reached up to trace the reassuring curves of my bow.
Last night, a bunch of wandering bards had setup camp with us. They regaled us with stories related to the grand swayamwar tomorrow … today.
A princess fragrant as the blue lotus and born from fire, indeed! Considering that we had just escaped the murderous fire at Varanavat …well, we had had enough of fire for a lifetime.
“Arjun does not believe in miracles … unless they occur at Vrindavan or Dwarka,” Bheem had needled me.
“Your Krishn will be attending. You will finally meet your soul-mate tomorrow,” Nakul sneaked in slyly.
“Nakul, if Govind is attending, he will compete. If he competes, he will win. He will be too busy ferrying the blue lotus to Dwarka. I doubt he will have time for us,” I reasoned.
“He never has time for us. Our cousin did not bother to seek us out even after Varanavat.”
“He owes us nothing, Nakul. Blood ties are not chains of a dungeon. Besides, he did not seek our help when he created Dwarka, did he?” I asked, partly in admiration and partly with regret at the fact that he was so autonomous, so complete on his own. He never seemed to need us. Did he even know I existed?
“You could woo and impress him at Drupad’s court. I wonder what insurmountable contest King Drupad has planned. Nothing is impossible for Dronacharya’s students,” Sahdev said.
“The contest is for Kshatriyas, which is what we are trying not to reveal ourselves to be,” I reminded him. Avenging angel … Kshatriya purger … yet every Kshatriya would flock to her contest, like moths to a flame.
“We can be there as Brahmins to get alms,” said Yudhisthir.
“Who knows, Drupad may be waiting for you to win his daughter.” Sahdev winked.
“For me? His enemy’s disciple, the reason his Panchal Kingdom got split halfway, the person who led him chained to Acharya? Dream on.” I scooped up a handful of water and watched as it trickled out between my fingers.
[Swayamwar= the contest by which a suitor wins the bride, Acharya = teacher, Kshatriya = warrior caste, Brahmin = sage caste]
Kev: Favourite author’s book… What lured you to it?
Ayn Rand’s ‘Fountainhead’ – Howard Roark is an idea, an ideal and an idol.
Ayn’s radical views, her gun-fire one liners, her utter confidence, her visual style of writing dazzled me.
Kev: When you write, do write off-the-cuff or do you use some kind of formula?
I write out entire chapters – or at least its high-points in my mind much before I pen (or keypad them). Later, I merely fill in the blanks.
Basically skeleton first, then add the flesh and blood.
Kev: How do you deal with writers-block?
I outwait it patiently. I go swimming, listen to songs, do yoga.
Creativity cannot be squeezed out at will.
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
Night, please. It ignites just the right atmosphere of soothing peace and solitude.
Kev: What is your process for editing your work?
- The 2 week rule. Ignore your own manuscript for 2 weeks, yup – try to not even think of it! Then read it all afresh – and all your blunders jump right off the pages at you.
Then proceed to brutally cut & hack them out.
- Let it bleed out – Permit the gush of words as they erupt. Leave the dreary grammar, editing and formatting for later.
Kev: How do you come up with your book covers?
Symbolism – My 3 protagonists Arjun, Draupadi and Krishn are symbolised by silver arrow, blue lotus and vivid multicolour peacock feather respectively.
Why these symbols? Why the specific color palette? The concept & thought behind the symbolism was worded here: https://sweetyshinde.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/book-cover-design-why-what-how/
Kev: Do you think the book cover is important?
Telescope effect – The cover should mirror the blurb, and the blurb should encapsulate the book.
I condensed my 96,000 word manuscript into a 132 word blurb, which in turn was moulded into a vivid visual statement.
The cover gives you a precious 5 seconds to echo your entire book and lure in the reader. So personalize it! Don’t leave the concept to a third party.
Kev: Which publishing platform do you prefer and why?
I’m still loyal to print version. I love to inhale a book’s smell, to feel the crisp paper, to underline ‘wow’ quotes and inscribe my jottings in the sacred book margins.
That said, I’m willing to doff my hat at newer technology, to de-learn and re-learn. If e-book is e-asy to read, e-asy to carry, e-conomical & e-co friendly …then why not?
Basically, give the reader a wide plethora of choices.
So my book is available both as paperback and e-book (Kindle).
Kev: Do you face any daunting obstacles during the publishing process?
Like Murphy’s Law, everything possible went wrong.
The editing was delayed for eons, the word –to-pdf and pdf-to-ebook conversion was a formatting nightmare.
The online portals jumbled up my 3 protagonist’s quotes into a messy mish-mash.
Keep calm, keep backups on hard disk, keep the faith. Make friends with your marketing team, even if you feel like punching them.
Kev: What methods do you use to promote your work?
1} Blog Impractical Dreamer for my literary journey, anecdotes, reviews and purchase links.
2} Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/ArjunTheNovel for quote memes, pics and videos.
3} Goodreads: for showing off reviews.
Kev: Do you have any advice for new authors?
- Dare to dream! Aim high. Keep the positive vibes coming.
- Craft your blurb alongside the manuscript. (Don’t leave it to Editor!)
- Create your blog much in advance of book’s birth.
- Personalise the book cover.
- Edit ruthlessly.
- Take a deep breath, because you are expected to be sales(wo)man, marketing personnel, designer, blogger, trade analyst, publicity agent – and much more.
Kev: Which social media platforms do you use the most?
Kev: Do you have a blog or dedicated website for your books?
I clubbed my book as a Page & Category under my blog. I thus capitalized on pre-existing blogger friends.
Impractical Dreamer: http://sweetyshinde.wordpress.com
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
1} Special offer: Free pdf version of first 6 chapters to the first 6 applicants who reblog this post. Please post a link to reblog in the comments section.
2} Youtube Video trailer:
3} Purchase links to Amazon, Kindle, Flipkart and Infibeam: Available on http://sweetyshinde.wordpress.com