COVER STORY | DE MODE JUNE 2020 'AUTHOR OF THE MONTH'
Anuradha Prasad is a featured writer, columnist, artist and fitness buff. Her passion is writing! She had the privilege of working with the best publications in the country. She has published thousands of articles with the top Newspapers and Magazines. She has a PhD in English Literature from Mumbai University and was featured on the cover of Times West-Side Plus. She writes on invitation regularly. Blogging, observing nature, travelling, listening to music and watching Bollywood movies are her many passions. She lives in Mumbai. DE MODE had an opportunity to interview the author of 3 amazing books, 'RAIN DROPS AND CATERPILLARS', 'COMING BACK HOME', 'TWO WINTERS & 365 DAYS' and know interesting facts about her journey in the literary world.
Her earliest memories of writing were at the age of 6 or 7 when she wrote poetry after school hours. The verses were lost to time as life happened. Studies, marriage, work, home, a child happened.
The writer in her raised its creative head now and then. An inspiring note here or there, an article that provoked thoughts, a revolutionary out-pour for a leading magazine found its way through her pen. She never experienced a struggling writers pit falling woes. Her work found its way to publishing easily.
Teaching English in a prestigious college, to a crowd of inquisitive teenagers took all her vigour that youth could churn. She loved her job, loved her life, loved her paradise. At that point everything was perfect. Only she did not know that paradise came with a price.
To cut the long story short- She lost her father, was passing through a personal crisis. She had to leave her well-paying job to embark on a journey to the U.S. It was the year 2003.
She had travelled into a black hole. The only familiar asset from her old life were some two hundred and odd pages of reference material, she had collected from the American Center Library in Mumbai for her thesis. Those were the testing times. But then women have it tougher. Spaced out with what life could give, she started putting together the material to finish her thesis. Under the trees of fall, in a wooden house and the quietude of Californian winter, she came alive. The pages she wrote created kaleidoscopic images of black people, their history, African American struggle along with the assumptions she wanted to make, conclusions she wanted to draw, fell spot on effortlessly. As she put the finishing touch to her book, she knew her calling.
Writing gave her peace, it made her whole, it felt right. Then why was she not doing it?
After a year she submitted her doctorate which was then nominated for a Gold medal. She always believes that the universe conspires to bring what you deserve to the fore.
One day she landed in the Times Westside office at the behest of a journalist friend. She had carried her previously published work. Then she came to know that the chief editor was looking for writers for his segment. Times had some of the best feature writers in the country. She had just embarked on a journey she knew nothing about. Her literary background sure, put her above the rest but the editor did not want to take chances. She was given a beat that was the flavour for the next edition. If her article got picked for publication that weekend then, she had the chances of being hired. It was a tough competition. At any given time, even minutes before going to the press at least 100 journalists fought to publish their work. The stories changed at the last minute so did the beat. In the uncertain world of press, anything was possible. She was a nobody!
She wrote her first feature with absolute honesty. She posted and waited. Her article was accepted as a second lead story. She was hired. She went on to write for Times West Side for the next two and a half years. Since she was not a trained journalist had to work trying to exceed anyone in the game. Hard work paid off.
A separate line in the office was entrusted for her to take the reader calls. Her writing had an edge they said. They called it universality. Some said the flow was flawless. When she quit, she was put on the cover as a farewell gift.
In the subsequent years, she wrote for several leading magazines and newspapers on the invitation. She also has thousands of published works. Edited lifestyle magazines.
Time to time she was persuaded by fans to write a book, to which she wrote 3 books.
1. TWO WINTERS AND 365 DAYS
After much thought, trial and error, her first book - "Two Winters and 365 Days" was born. The catchy title grabbed the eyeballs instantly. She was very sure that she did not want to write a self-help book, or a ‘preachy experiences put together anecdotal classic. She wanted to write an inspirational journey in a story. That is what "Two winters..." is all about. With her first book, she experienced power about what she can create. She could do what she wanted with characters, situations and dialogues. The experience was cathartic. Critics and reviewers loved it.
Briefing the book, when Ananya's life fell apart and crumpled at a young age she was helpless with the sole intention of supporting her family... she takes up editing an equally crumbling lifestyle magazine AFTER-TEA not knowing what lay ahead thus Ananya's journey into the mad mad world of the media begins. Through her journey as a professional is replete with adventure, thrill and risks she starts enjoying it ...as fate could not steal away her innate talent and an eye for perfection... But as they say in the beautiful Bollywood city of Mumbai anything is possible! A die-hard professional and a 'construction magnate' Vicky Arora falls hopelessly in love with simple Ananya...Though Vicky feels most happy and himself with her does she feel the same? Was she ready to look at love again in the eye? Or was life playing a double game with her? Will she fall this time never to get up? TWO WINTERS AND 365 DAYS is a thrilling story of a journey replete with adventure, hope, romance, and self-discovery.
BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON: CLICK HERE
2. COMING BACK HOME
Her second book 'Coming Back Home' released the very next year. She took hundreds of interviews of struggling actors for this book. It has the backdrop of the big bad world of films.
Briefing the book, "Arpita is on top of the world! After all, she was the fresh face of Ponds India and had snubbed the casting couch of Bollywood to land a Leading Role in the small screen's most popular channel. Life never looked more beautiful! Riku is a small-town man with handsome looks and big-time Bollywood dreams. He has no ethics and is raring to make it at any cost! Unable to bag big movies as the main lead he ends up accepting a romantic role opposite Arpita on the small screen. Betrayed by her own innocence, she finds herself abandoned by her dream man and cannot fathom which is more painful? Whether she failed relationship or her vanishing career! Riku makes it to the dizzying heights of stardom after leaving her. Beaten and broken Arpita has to make it again to even exist in a ruthless industry that only celebrates success. It is a savage ordeal even to have a roof over her head and two square meals! What will happen to her now? Will god punish her forever for making one wrong choice? Will she die in poverty alone? Or fulfil the dreams that she had set out for? One person must trust her to give her a chance. One opportunity must appear to raise her again! Coming Back Home - will carry you through a roller - coaster ride, yet keep you well-grounded for inspiration."
BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON: CLICK HERE
3. RAIN DROPS AND CATERPILLARS
Last year. in 2019, she published a collection of short stories - 'Rain Drops and Caterpillars'. Her fourth book is on the threshold of publication.
Briefing the book, dealing with first-time lessons is no easy task, as they can bring tears, joy, inspiration, in proportions unthinkable to human mind and heart! Still! We learn and move on like those caterpillars who have been subservient for a whole season but were able to transform into beautiful butterflies come tropical rains. Both representing changes -HUGE and PERMANENT! Sometimes we get inspiration from nowhere. Sometimes from the least expected person or someone, we might have despised all our life! Still! We learn and move on..... Our everyday heroes, those people who have their names etched in golden words in the history pages? Or like you and me, who have just set an example by their random acts of kindness? Or those who just by surrendering to a mighty force called destiny? Or by just WALKING OUT of a difficult situation that they no more could put up with? Who are they? Six human emotions and six stories to make you sit up and think if you were that HERO!
BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON: CLICK HERE
Her books are on the shelves of the best bookstores in the country today. The leading newspapers carry her interviews. She is available on google search as an author who had the maximum kindle downloads of her second book. She has a dedicated Facebook page to publish her writings which has an impressive following.
Her days after the release was never normal. She travelled to sign copies and talk to readers, gave interviews. The world of books fascinates her. Nothing came to her easy. Burning the midnight oil, a hunger for truth and perfection has led her to where she is today. She doesn’t write to live but because she wants to live.
ANURADHA PRASAD ON DE MODE COVER
Author Anuradha Prasad answered our questions about her heartfelt books and her explorations of morality, justice, abandonment, oppression and, ultimately, hope.
Q: What was your first thought when you started writing and when?
I remember I was a bundle of greedy energy to put my thoughts into perfect sentences and words. Pinning a single thought would be difficult. Long before writing books, I was a feature writer with Times of India. Writing for Times took tremendous ambition to excel in the craft, better than any other writer on the block. After all, it was the number one newspaper. Before the stories went to print the chief editor exercised his discretionary powers of rejection.
One ‘Feature Space’ was dedicated to several beats. Only the best ran to the printing machine; to see the daylight the next morning. I would go giddy re-writing the scripts before submissions. I put myself in the shoes of a reader, to draft an honest pouring of truth for a gainful engagement. I believed that one thought of a writer expands to a humongous form if understood by millions. My self-punishment with the pen paid off. I had very few rejections. It was 16 years back in the year 2004.
Q: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None. I write from the spaces and the places I visited in the past. I did not particularly take a journey to write a book.
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Asking to be paid to publish a book.
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing must exhaust me to energize me. It has to be one exhausting focal point of intense concentration and cerebral activity. The outcome is energy.
Q: What are the common traps for aspiring writers?
Most aspiring writers should be ready to struggle. They should have a realistic expectation of themselves and the publishing industry. They trap themselves in thinking that they will earn a lot of money and fame, which is not possible always. They are trapped with a glamorous picture that disappoints them mostly.
Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Depends. Ego is like spice. It can be increased or decreased situation wise. Each to his own. For me, humility helps so far as it can. On hindsight, the big ego can be an ornament or an obstruction. Famous writers do suffer from big ego hassles. If used constructively, the ego can be an asset. Ego should not mature into arrogance. The balloon of ego can deflate, while arrogance turns into harmful personality trait that needs harder work to overcome. Ego is good as far it helps but harmful if it turns into arrogance.
Q: What is your writing kryptonite?
I am naturally gifted, and writing gives me the adrenaline rush that I so thrive on. I can say my weakness in writing works as a strong point. So, I don’t think I have drawbacks.
Q: Have you ever gotten readers block?
Yes. Several times. A bad book does it to me.
Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I am proud of my craft and so never thought of hiding behind a fake identity. Besides I want to pass on a legacy reflecting the original name given to me by my parents. I never considered using a different writing name and do not understand why others do it.
Q: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I wind around delivering what the readers want in my characteristic style. My honest endeavour always is to go to the readers’ level and bring them to mine. According to me, writing is all about delivering the original in the most demanded package. I swing both.
Q: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
To be a writer and to be a well-read writer are diametrical connotations. Anybody can be a writer but to be a successful writer one must have that extra strong punch. Writing experiences universality when it is deeper. Penmanship to dive deeper requires a friendship of language with experience.
That extra is churned from originality. Originality has to come from the heart. The heart is all emotions. I ask budding writers. “Will you read what you have written if it is published? If the answer is no then you have not felt strong enough.” You cannot be a successful writer if your words don’t emote. You need to feel strongly to be read widely. Strongest emotions illumine profundity. Language, profundity, experience and emotions are siblings of this talent. So, my answer is big-NO.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
The first book is like a virgin. Everything is new. Everything is a learning experience. But then it is also the most exhilarating experience. I cried when I held my first published copy. I still do. Coming to the question I did not struggle to frame the theme of the book or to place and write dialogues later on. I did incorporate the market demands though. I used a simpler writing style at places or exaggerated certain parts according to the demands. My process of putting together was much easier compared to the first book.
Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
My fourth book is on the threshold of publication. No half-finished ones.
Q: What does a literary success look like to you?
Do I feel arrived? Am I successful? Every day gives me a reason to soar higher. Still learning to fathom the depths of literature. Right now, the horizon is full of opportunities that I am ever greedy to grab. I am a long way from success. Still, miles to go before I stop. When you are still dreaming you never think about the milestones that you cross to reach there. Arrogance, a sense of success is far from my mind. Yes, I can say I feel at home and content in delivering a good book; to bask in the limelight.
Q: What’s the best way to market your books?
In all earnest, I have placed very less importance in marketing my books. Great writers are born. The flow, talent, spirit of a writer finds its place eventually where it should. There are writers who became well known by just writing a single book. The universality of their expressions reached where they never anticipated they would. While putting the stories together they never concentrated on fame but on genuine flow to thoughts on paper.
Coming to the point, as an honest wordsmith, I have always concentrated on honing my creative skills rather than on marketing gimmicks. In all earnest, I feel one must concentrate on the work rather than the result. Your work needs to be appreciated. No amount of marketing is going to catapult it if it lacks universality.
Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The beauty of writing is – Writer is the master of the script. In spite of prima-facie research, I surprise myself. Most times characters, situations take life and the story flows on its own. In such a flow, a lot of situations demand deeper insight. I research along to double-check scientific terms. Primarily as a writer, you cannot make a single mistake. Scientific facts, real terms, peoples’ experiences all add on to the drama. Real anecdotal portrayal happens to a good book often.
I have taken hundreds of interviews, spoken to people from all walks of life, burnt the midnight oil reading, re-reading facts to weave realistic, mistake-free drafting.
Preliminary preparation, research and writing go hand in hand for me.
Q: How do you feel about being featured under “AUTHOR OF THE MONTH” by DE’MODE?
To know more about her, please log on to www.anuradha-prasad.com
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