A small conversation with Suravi Sharma, the author of ‘VOICES IN THE VALLEY’ with thousand Miles Team.
TM: What was the inspiration behind writing your debut novel
‘VOICES IN THE VALLEY ‘?
Suravi: I always wanted to write fiction as I’ve been an avid fiction reader since school times. I also kept writing articles in newspapers -The Hindu, and New Indian Express (where I wrote a regular column). In 2009 I just could manage enough time to look inward and start writing a full length novel.
TM: Tell us briefly about your debut novel. Is this a complete
fiction or a collection of short stories?
Suravi: Its novel and not short story collection. The book is a Literary fiction – a collective biography of the main character Millie and a few others connected to her life.
TM: Did you ever get any rejections for your novel? If yes how did you react to them?
Suravi: Within a few months of starting to write the book, I experimented with the literary world, very unknown to me after pursueing a decade long medical career.
I started sending it to various reputed Literary agents mostly in UK and US and two agencies in India to see where I stood in the world of words. But, I was careful not to send it to any Publisher as I knew it was a crude draft.
From Literary agents I did get rejections, but that was only expected at that stage. But there was this agent in Mumbai who accepted the book even at that stage and that gave me encouragement. The rest of the rejections I just brushed off and went ahead with my work.
Once the final draft was ready and after I got it edited in 2011, I directly sent it to Rupa publications first and it was accepted even without help from that agent who was later only happy to know about my success.
TM: How did you come up with the title?
Suravi: It just occurred to me and the editors at Rupa liked it.
TM: How do you usually find your ideas?
Suravi: Spontaneously. And then I work on it. At times from stories of real life and incidents in the political and media circles.
TM: What are the major challenges that you have faced in writing this book?
Suravi: As I said, I had no idea where I was in the literary word, though I invested all my time writing a book without anyone to guide me.
There was no one even remotely connected to the world of fiction writing in my family or social circle. So, it was all spontaneous writing down of a flow of thoughts.
TM: How has been the response and does it fulfill your
expectations as a writer?
Suravi: Response till now is okay though I expect much more than this. I find the book promotion work and marketing too hard to handle. Launches, reviews… For me writing is easier and simpler.
TM: Do you see writing as a career?
Suravi: Its my passion. But certainly not my bread and butter, at least not at this stage.
TM: Is there any message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?
Suravi: Yes, of course!
Please make Kazironga, Diphu, Shillong, Arunachal, Nomgpu… in NE India your next holiday destination, see and feel its beauty, also listen to their stories and enjoy the simple people, interact with them as the people from NE have not been understood even after 65 years of independence.
TM: What are your hobbies besides writing? Your other interests and passions.
Suravi: Hobbies are reading, cinema, plays, meaningful music, traveling.
TM: Any particular genre you would like to write about more?
Suravi: Yes. I plan to write fantasy fiction and currently reading and researching on a theme. It will take a few years I guess.
TM: Any new book you are preparing to launch or writing for your fans?
Suravi: Yes, I’ve finished writing a short novel and getting it edited now. Its a light read- a mix of Chick lit + campus fun + a few serious issues like domestic violence and mental sickness.
TM: Do you have to travel much concerning your book?
Suravi: To promote the book, I should. I will try to do so in the coming days.
TM: Who designed the covers and helped you in publishing the book?
Suravi: The publisher did it for me once I suggested them how I think the cover page should be like. The cover page has a water colour painting of a Fox tail Orchid (Kopou flower) on it with a background of the Brahmaputra valley.
TM: Which is your favourite book and favourite author of all times?
Suravi: Midnight Children by Salman Rushdie and The Grass is Singing by Dorris Lessing.
Dorris Lessing and Jhumpa Lahiri are my all time favourite. I seem to connect more to the female authors than male, though Salman Rushdie in Midnight children is an exception.
TM: Any message you want to deliver to your fans and modern Indian
Suravi: Do I have fans???
I would request my fans to propagate my message for the NE India.
About the writing trend I would say there are too many Campus stories floating in the market these days. Please write some other experiences of your lives too, stories of social evils and corrupt governance.
TM: Your thoughts on being featured in the AUTUMN ISSUE of our magazine Thousand Miles.
Suravi: I am happy and humbled. I am sure you liked my book enough to feature it in Thousand Miles and that’s the best compliment for me -reward to my hard work of three years.