Shuchi Singh Kalra is the author, freelance writer, editor and blogger with bylines in major Indian and international publications.
She is the owner of Pixie Dust Writing Studio, a writing and editing firm that services a global clientele, and the Indian Freelance Writers Blog. She has started dabbling in fiction only recently and her first book, Done With Men (published by Indireads), has received rave reviews from readers and reviewers alike. Her short stories have appeared in Love Across Borders, Stories For Your Valentine and NAW Anthology 2013. 'I'm Big. So What!?' is her second book.
Interview with the Author:
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by the entire world around me – people, their dreams, battles, quirks, passions fears and scars. Basically, the human condition in its entirely. Sometimes, inspiration comes at a bolt from the blue and other times, I have to go scrounging for it.
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The idea for ‘I am Big, So What?!’ stemmed from general annoyance at people bullying and shaming others for the way they look. They think nothing of unsolicited advice on losing weight, getting fairer skin and what not, not realizing that maybe, just maybe, the person isn’t looking for it and is perfectly happy with the way he/she looks.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scenes are the ‘Buddha Moments’, and they occur twice in the course of Roli’s journey. These are profound moments of self-realization or turning points, so to speak. You lose yourself and then you find yourself – sometimes that happens over a course of time, and sometimes it hits you in a single flashing, throbbing moment. Both of Roli’s Buddha Moments are of the latter kind.
Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes, all my characters inherit bits and pieces of me, some more than the others. This question reminds me of a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” The more characters I create, the more I realize how true this is!
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a quirk but most of the time I have no clue where my characters are going to take me. I just begin with a core theme, and the protagonist takes charge thereon. The characters develop almost on their own as the story progresses and any plotline I may have thought of may go for a complete toss because the steering wheel ultimately belongs to the one whose story I am trying to tell.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write honestly and fearlessly. Don’t be a slave to formulas or what is trending in the market. Write from the heart, tell every story brewing inside you and tell it the way you want.
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
3. Pot brownies
How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
My favorite way to spend my free time is to be alone, away from everyone and everything. Preferably somewhere up in the mountains. I might wander around, hike in the jungles, read or lose myself in soulful music.
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
1. Training in kathak professionally
2. Swimming with sharks
3. Getting my first book published by the age of 30
4. Making my own wine
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1. I can’t stand tube-lights/white light. Only ambient lighting for me.
2. When I feel low, I make sock bunnies
3. I love snakes
What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am working on another woman-centric fiction which explores the theme of emotional abuse. There’s also a half-written sequel to Done With Men, waiting to be worked upon.
About the Book:
Is it only in India where people don’t realize that starting a conversation with, “Oh, you’ve put on weight!” is incredibly rude? Perhaps I should respond with “Oh, you’ve become uglier!” so they get the point.
From stores that do not stock clothes my size to unsolicited advice from neighbourhood aunties, my life—quite annoyingly—is ruled by the numbers on the scale.
What’s the big deal about being big? You may wonder. Well, quite a lot, actually. For starters, you get dumped by the only man you’ve ever loved, social situations go from awkward to embarrassing within seconds, and don’t even get me started on the family’s never-ending search for a suitable groom. They just don’t make men my size these days!
Nevertheless, here I am, about to meet Suitor No. 7. Begrudgingly, of course. Ride along as I navigate the crazy arranged marriage market. And trust me, it’s crazier when you’re more than a little curvy.