Maya Sharma Sriram is a full time writer. She writes mostly short stories and some poetry. She has published both. Her poem was short listed for the all India poetry completion that used to be run by the British Council and The All India Poetry Society. It appeared in the anthology, Voices in Time.
Her first book ‘Bitch Goddess for Dummies’ was published by Rupa, India. This is the transcript of her chat with NAW.
NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I think Jo March of little women was my inspiration!
Very young. I wanted to become a writer when I was seven or eight. I wrote for my school and college magazine. I published my first story when I was about 21 or so.
NAW- Tell us about your book Bitch Goddess for Dummies, how did you get the idea for the book? What research did you carry out?
I was meeting a lot of young women then, women in their late twenties and often when things would not go their way, I would hear them say, “I need to stop being so nice!”
And I found myself thinking that too. That made me think about a what if- what if there was a congenital nice girl who had this crazy idea in her head that she could succeed only if she stopped being nice? I found the idea interesting. And I found myself thinking about it too. That made me think about a what if- what if there was a congenital nice girl who had this crazy idea in her head that she could succeed only if she stopped being nice? I found the idea interesting.
Research? I had to do a lot of research for Sanya’s clothes and for Mira’s makeover as I was a bit clueless about fashion. I watched shows and read books on that!
NAW- Are there any similarities between the protagonist Mira Iyer and yourself? Is the book a tad bit autobiographical?
Not at all. There is nothing autobiographical about the book. We are very dissimilar people.
NAW- Who decided the title? Weren’t you apprehensive people wouldn’t recommend it as a read because of the title which comes across as a bit rude?
I decided the title. I was a bit naive. That was something that hit me after the book came out. To me it was just funny and quirky at that time. Even now, in fact.
NAW- Did you face any difficulties in finding a publisher? Did you hire an agency for representation?
No to both.
NAW- How did you go about editing your books? Do you take feedback from friends and family for the first draft?
Yes. I have some writer friends who are my beta readers. Then I have some reader friends too. They gave me my first feedback. I also got an excellent editorial support from my publisher.
NAW- What drew you to this genre? Weren’t you apprehensive that the market was already flooded with such books? How was the response to your first work?
I don’t think I was conscious of the genre. Strangely, this is not a genre I read much. I wrote out of instinct. The publishers labelled the book. Then I got curious and looked up the other books in the genre. I was not apprehensive because I thought my book was original in theme and I had faith in my writing. As to the response- pretty good, really. I had many readers writing in and telling me how much they identified with Mira. Some college kids told me how my book was different from the ones they had read. So, naturally, I was very happy.
NAW- Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I do have a structure to my writing. I treat it like a job. I turn up at my desk at ten or a little before and keep at it till three. I stop for lunch of course. I don’t have a daily word or page target though.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
I have to start the final editing of my second book, which I will in June. I am researching my third book idea. So let’s see.
NAW- Your favourite book and why?
That is so tough because I have a long list! However I will name the one that is my oldest favourite. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love the narrative, the plotting, the characters, the drama in the interaction between them, the commentary on society, on the wit – so many reasons.
NAW- Any advice for upcoming authors?
Read. Write. Everyday. Rewrite. Don’t think about publishing when you write.
NAW- How can your readers connect to you? Do you use social networking sites or twitter maybe?
They can email me. I am on face book and twitter. There is also a face book page for my book.
Bitch Goddess for Dummies is available at flipkart and other leading stores. Do pick up a copy. It’s a nice read and highly recommended.
Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)