27 April, 2018

#Interview with Vedashree Khambete-Sharma, #Author of Swear You Won't Tell?

About the Author:

Vedashree Khambete-Sharma is an award-winning ad-woman in her mid-thirties, which is okay because mid-thirties is the new mid-forties. Or something. For the past twelve years, she has peddled everything from moisturisers to magazines, like some kind of one-woman corner shop. Before that, she was a freelance reporter for several newspapers and wrote on a wide range of subjects from student suicides to types of boyfriends. Yes, that’s right. Throw in a middle class Maharashtrian upbringing, a convent education and an English lit degree, and you get, well, confused mostly. But also, inspired to tell the stories nobody else is telling.

She lives in Mumbai with her husband, daughter and the niggling feeling that she has forgotten something.

This is her second book.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have always written to express myself. At first through school essays, then through some very emo poems that shall never see light of day. I freelanced for a bunch of newspapers in college. When blogging wasn't the micro variety, I had a personal blog, then I blogged for Campaign India magazine. I started writing short stories at some point, which weren't half bad. And then I got a call a few years ago from a publisher asking if I wanted to write a book set in advertising, and it was like, 'Hmmm, now why didn't I think of that before?'

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
It started when a close friend of mine from school passed away of a chronic illness I never knew she had. That got me thinking, what else don't we know about the people we call our friends? And then, bit by bit, the story took shape.  

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Many. Short stories, discarded drafts, opening chapters that didn't lead to anything. And, full confession, one very amateurish Secret Seven type of a "novel" I wrote in the 7th standard where, surprise surprise, the butler did it.

Tell us about your writing process.
I try to write every day, usually for an hour in the morning before my daughter wakes up. I plot meticulously, write a first draft, trying to ignore the temptation to edit as I write (I don't always succeed, but that means my first draft generally doesn't read like a total mess). My husband and another close friend read the first draft. They point out any glaring plot holes and give feedback which I keep in mind. Then I distract myself for a month or two reading all kinds of books, to get my book out of my system. I go back after that, see the book with fresh eyes and notice all kinds of things that can be better. I fix it, then send it to publishers and cross my fingers. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Well, the protagonist Avantika Pandit is pretty sarcastic, which I tend to be. And she also isn't great at knowing when to shut up, another regrettable personal trait of mine.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read indiscriminately. I'm being literal - I read the backs of shampoo bottles. I'm a huge admirer of, in no particular order, Sir Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Ben Aaronovitch, Kiran Nagarkar, Chris Brookmyre, Jonas Jonasson, Fredrik Backman, Salman Rushdie, I could go on. The footnotes I write are an obvious tip of the hat to Sir Terry, who used them beautifully in his Discworld series. The other authors I mentioned too, have all in some way or other, influenced my work.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write. Write every day, without wondering if it's good, without wondering if it'll get published. Write because it's the most fun part of being an author.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Read. The more you read, the more comfortable you will be with the language and the more easily it will do your bidding when it's your turn to tell a story. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I don't have free time - that's for people who don't have a full-time job plus a 4-year-old daughter. But when something resembling free time does pop up, I usually catch up with a friend at Starbucks. Or watch a superhero movie with my husband, because that's what life is like when two nerds marry each other.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I'm left-handed. 
I once spent fifteen minutes in front of the mirror in the ladies common room of my college, trying to untangle a comb from my hair. 
And I'm a fount of useless information - did you know polar bears are left-handed?

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I'm working on a sequel to this one - if all goes well, I'll inflict that on the poor buggers soon. 

About the Book:

Dead body, check. Disillusioned reporter, check. Dark and sinister secrets, check.

When Mumbai Daily reporter Avantika Pandit is asked to interview her childhood nemesis Aisha Juneja, she hopes it'll be painful, but quick (like an express bikini wax). But then Laxmi, her former best friend shows up dead. And suddenly Avantika finds herself turning into the reporter she used to be - a nosy little newshound with the self-preservation instincts of a dodo.  
Now, she has to meet old acquaintances she'd hoped never to run into again, try to unravel the puzzle of Laxmi's death and ask the questions nobody seems to be asking: Who is the man Laxmi was in love with? Why hasn't anybody heard of him? What does he have to do with her death?
The answers could get her killed. But if the choice is between death and listicles, maybe dying isn't so bad after all. 
Featuring schoolyard rivalries, the Backstreet Boys and other throwbacks to the 1990s, Swear You Won't Tell is part thriller, part whodunit, all fun. 

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon * Flipkart