Smita Shetty – NRI, a full time mom, full time wife and most of all in a full time job and yet she managed to write a book and publish it that too with an Indian publisher – for me she is a wonder woman. They say the more effortless the book seems, the more effort the writer puts into the writing, Smita seems to have put a lot into her debut book because I loved Untruly Yours most of all for the simplicity of the narration, it was a no pressure effortless read. I got chatty with this debut writer whose first line to me was “I am a newbie in the world of writing”, you know that the simplicity in the narration is not a facade!
Presenting Smita Shetty completely unbridled, inKonversation:
Congratulations on the first published book Smita. Tell us, your book debuted into a much-explored genre – Chick Lit – what was the inspiration behind the book and choosing the particular genre?
Thank you Reshmy. To be perfectly honest, I’d like my readers to view my book as a romantic comedy novel. As far as inspiration for the book goes, I probably have the most unconventional story to share for someone who has just written a romantic comedy novel. I went through a dark phase in my life, nothing made sense anymore. I lost my father in very difficult circumstances which almost threw me over the edge. I guess as humans, we all have different ways of coping with grief. Mine was through humor.
Whilst penning Untruly Yours, I discovered writing was my escapism bubble. It allowed me to create my own little fantasy world and I was in control of waving that magic wand to give everyone a happy ending.
When was the first time your ever wrote/ discovered a writing streak?
Post marriage, I did a fair bit of globe-trotting (living in and out of boxes more like). My friends (like family) are an integral part of my life. I made a conscious effort to stay in touch with them through letters. I wasn’t working then and tried to glamorize my mundane life to my working friends through words. For a four thousand worded email (I clearly had a lot of time in my hands), I would get a five worded response – ‘Smita you are so funny!’ That was enough to launch myself on the keyboard to fire off a ten thousand worded email the next time! You can see, I am easily pleased!
There is a special friend in particular who twisted my arm to get me writing. I wouldn’t have come this far if it wasn’t for her and a few others.
Most debut writers have an interesting, often struggler’s tale about their manuscripts and publishers. Tell us yours?
We all have one, don’t we? Well, I have plenty. I found it particularly challenging as I wasn’t based in India. A leading Indian publishing house made me live in hope for three agonizingly long months. Encouraging emails were being exchanged and I began merrily dreaming of signing movie deals and all sorts! Then came the brutal rejection. The blow was so hard that I wondered if I had any fight left in me to pick myself up and go through the grueling process again.
You are an NRI, how did the decision to publish with Leadstart come around and how did it work especially with the long distance?
The cyber world has made the world so much smaller than it is. I started researching for publishing houses that encourage first time authors. Swarup Nanda (Chairman and CEO at Leadstart) and I met during one of my trips to Mumbai. He grasped my vision and assured me the project was in safe hands. True to his words, the delivery was seamless and faultless. We work well as a team and he is extremely supportive.
They say to write you HAVE to read. How much of an avid reader are you? Who are your favorites – Books/ Authors?
I was an avid reader but now I don’t read as much as I would love to. Juggling between a demanding full time job and a hectic family life doesn’t allow me the luxury of curling up with a good book. That’s my excuse anyway.
If you were to tackle me to the ground and ask me to pick a favorite, then – Princess by Jean Sasson, springs to mind. My guilty pleasure authors are Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella.
After chick lit that was a very effortless read which must have taken some hard work, what are the genres you want to write in?
I am going to stick with what I know best – writing romantic comedies but explore gender and social issues deeper this time.
What’s next on the literary front?
There have been requests to write a sequel as there is room for one, but I would love to explore new characters. Diversity in human kind is so fascinating. Sometimes you only need to scratch the surface and the mysteries unravel. It will definitely be another romantic comedy.
How does the balance between writing and professional commitments work out? Do you see yourself being full time writer?
At the moment, I am trying to enjoy the ride of my first release. I am still muddling my way through work which involves a lot of travelling and taking care of my family. I would love nothing more than to become a full time writer. Now, that would be sheer bliss!
Your words of wisdom for newbie writers.
I would say – Just go for it! Brace yourself for rejections because they do come fast and furious and annoyingly with no constructive feedback. Don’t keep putting it off, set some milestones for yourself. Go with the flow and enjoy the experience!