SHRUTI UPAD­HYAYA in­tro­duces her de­but novel, WHITE NOISE, and her sec­ond ef­fort, THE CHO­SEN MANY

In a free­wheel­ing chat with Ci­tadel, SHRUTI UPAD­HYAYA in­tro­duces read­ers to her de­but novel, WHITE NOISE, and also sheds light on her sec­ond tome, THE CHO­SEN MANY.


Tell us a lit­tle about your­self...

I have a vivid imag­i­na­tion and a flair for writ­ing, so much so that I have al­ways sur­rounded my­self with lit­er­a­ture. Also, I am a dreamer by na­ture, so I live in my own lit­tle world. At any given point, my head is brim­ming with mul­ti­ple sto­ries; for which one life­time may not be enough to tell them all. (laughs)

What made you take up writ­ing as a ca­reer?

I was al­ways fond of writ­ing; I used to write es­says and po­ems in schools for com­pe­ti­tions. As for the love of the English lan­guage, I was al­ways in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing lit­er­a­ture classes. Dur­ing my college days, I started a blog wherein I used to write po­ems, and also wrote for The Times of In­dia (Cal­cutta and Pune). How­ever, I never thought I could write fic­tion un­til the year 2015, when I started to write short sto­ries. Con­se­quently, I wrote three short sto­ries; each story was meant to ex­plore the var­i­ous re­la­tion­ships that women could share with each other. As re­gards my de­but novel, White Noise, the story idea came to my mind in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

What are the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges you had to face in the be­gin­ning of your ca­reer?

A ca­reer in writ­ing isn’t all that easy, be­cause there isn’t any dearth of cre­ativ­ity around us. How­ever, if you truly be­lieve that your writ­ing has something unique to of­fer and your sto­ries have the power to en­gage read­ers till the very end, then you must go for it, and that’s ex­actly how I didn’t suc­cumb to the chal­lenges that came my way.

Out of all the books that you have had read so far, which book is clos­est to your heart? Why?

It’s dif­fi­cult to pick one book, be­cause there are so many! But, if I had to choose one book that I’ve read in the last five years, and that con­tin­ues to stay with me even to­day, is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yel­low Sun. It is a story set against the back­drop of the Nige­rian Civil War. It is so in­trigu­ing that I still go back and read cer­tain parts of the story. On a whole, it is an ab­so­lutely bril­liant tome.

What drew your at­ten­tion to write on the cho­sen sub­ject? I wanted to pri­mar­ily write about a woman who is so con­sumed by her man that she re­fuses to see be­yond him. I wanted to write a love story, but I also wanted to write a thriller, and so I wrote a ro­man­tic thriller. If you ask me why I chose to write something like this, I hon­estly wouldn’t know; be­cause my ideas come from a mys­te­ri­ous place and I never know the source of where my sto­ries orig­i­nate. What mes­sage does the book con­vey to the read­ers?

The book is a trib­ute t o writ­ers like Haruki Mu­rakami and Sylvia Plath. There is no mes­sage per se. How­ever, the idea is to give the read­ers a fast paced story that they will rel­ish till the very end. Tell us about your en­coun­ters/ chal­lenges while writ­ing the book.

The big­gest chal­lenge is to stay in the cre­ative space, to not lose mo­men­tum. There were days I didn’t want to so­cial­ize or go out, be­cause I wanted to stay in my story. Also there is a risk of get­ting too at­tached to your char­ac­ters and when the story ends, you find it dif­fi­cult to de­tach. How in­ter­est­ing was it to work on this project?

It was ex­tremely ex­cit­ing to work on White Noise. I started the novel by de­vel­op­ing my plot and defin­ing my char­ac­ters. Then, I thought of my end­ing. While writ­ing the story, I didn’t have sec­ond thoughts, which is why I could write it quite ef­fort­lessly. All in all, I just fol­lowed my line of thought and the rest hap­pened quite or­gan­i­cally. Any mem­o­rable in­ci­dent that you re­call while in the process of work­ing on the book? I wanted to write a chap­ter against the back­drop of rain. But some­how, I couldn’t start the chap­ter. I re­mem­ber one night I woke up in the mid­dle of the night and re­al­ized it was rain­ing out­side. That’s when I sat and wrote the en­tire chap­ter. I felt ex­tremely in­spired. I can’t for­get that night! Tell us about the up­com­ing projects you are cur­rently work­ing on.

Cur­rently, I am work­ing on my sec­ond book; it is go­ing to be ti­tled ‘ The Cho­sen Many’. The story re­volves around a girl who finds it dif­fi­cult to choose. In fact, she doesn’t want to choose, be­cause she be­lieves in mul­ti­ple re­al­i­ties. She doesn’t be­lieve in a per­ma­nent for­ever; she be­lieves in sev­eral lit­tle fore­vers. What is the unique sell­ing point of and why do you think read­ers should pick up your book? White Noise Any­one who is look­ing to read a fast-paced thriller em­bed­ded within a unique, dark ro­mance should pick up White Noise. I am cer­tain they won’t regret it. Nar­rate any mem­o­rable feed­back that you got from your read­ers... My read­ers have been ex­tremely kind and they keep post­ing won­der­ful things about my writ­ing all across so­cial me­dia. I re­mem­ber some­one called me af­ter read­ing my book and said that the ex­pe­ri­ence of read­ing White Noise was like watch­ing an opera that made them feel like ev­ery­thing in the book was ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing to them. How easy or dif­fi­cult is it to be­come a pub­lished au­thor?

I can only speak for my­self when I say this - it wasn’t so dif­fi­cult. Thank­fully, I found a pub­lisher who not only wanted to pub­lish my book but also shared the same wave­length as me. I be­lieve the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a pub­lisher and a writer is im­per­a­tive. If you share a great pro­fes­sional rap­port with them, it’ll make the process much eas­ier and quite en­joy­able. Con­clud­ing, what writ­ing tips would you give to first-time writ­ers?

The most im­por­tant thing is to write what you want to write, what you be­lieve in and what comes nat­u­rally to you. Also, it’s im­per­a­tive to keep go­ing. If you be­lieve in your work, you will even­tu­ally find a pub­lisher and your read­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate what you put out there.

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