Anamika Mishra – Author Profile

Namasté! Today I’m delighted to welcome the first guest to my blog from India. Anamika Mishra is a young writer who has just published her first novel. She lives in Kanpur City which she tells me was once known as the Manchester of North India. She has a degree of Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. Welcome Anamika!

8770594_origTell me a little bit about yourself as a person?
Well, as a person I am very lively and down-to-earth. I talk a lot. Small little things can make my day. I love flowers and greeting cards. And yes, I am very bad in remembering birthdays (I have to suffer a lot because of this bad habit of mine). Writing is a passion to me. I can write whole night. apart from that, I love keeping myself busy in traveling, photography and blogging. I am a person with the positive outlook in life and I also try to inspire others for positive thinking.

Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
I can say that my journey as a writer has just begun, although I have been an independent and amateur writer for many years. I started working as a writer at a very early age. Contributed many articles, essays and stories to the school magazine. Then continued doing the same for my college and university portals and magazines. I also established my blog in 2008. I have developed in many ways. My strength of writing has increased, quality of writing has also been improved and I am sure there’s a lot more scope and room for improvement still. I am trying my level best to achieve that epitome of perfection and will surely achieve it one day.

How would you describe your work – it‘s themes and the important things about it?
The title of my novel is Too Hard To Handle. We all come across certain situations in life which make our life too hard to handle and this only is the theme of my novel. People in today’s era often misunderstood girls. So, Too Hard To Handle is about what a common girl faces during her college and school life, a series of misunderstandings, betrayal from friends, innocent crushes, stupid decisions etc. till she finds the love of her life. It is also about how fate turns up out of the blue and changes one’s life forever. A ‘Diary’ plays a very important role in the novel. I wanted people to know how it feels when a girl is blamed and ditched at every step and what is the real meaning of love.
Apart from this novel, I am currently working on my next novel. I also have a category called ‘one minute reading’ in my blog, where I post a small write-up about something positive and philosophical about life.

2727214Tell me about your current book – what is it about and what makes it a great read?
Current book is Too Hard To Handle. It has been published a month back. As I have already told it is about a girl, her journey through hard times and difficult situations in life where she has to make her way all alone by herself. There is a story inside this story. This are surprise elements of the novel which make it a great read. Also, it has been enhanced by an essence of philosophy with small little wow moments in it which make it completely different from other novels of the same genre.

Where can I buy a copy of your book?
It is available in all the leading Indian Online Websites & stores. As it is new, for international readers it is only available here. I’m hoping it will arrive on amazon very soon.

How can people find you online?
People can easily find me online on Twitter ( @anamikawrites ) OR they can directly write to mail@anamikamishra.com . I will be happy to connect with them through other social media channels too. People can find links on my official website – www.anamikamishra.com

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Do you do your research?

Back when I started writing and was working on short stories the idea of research didn’t loom very large. Mostly I was writing from my own experience, things I either knew first hand or had already read. I didn’t really have to gather knowledge in order to get the story down on the page.

Once you start writing novels I think that changes a little. firstly because you have so much more of a canvas to fill – you need to create whatever world you are writing in more depth than you do over the two or three thousand words of a story.

800px-Encyclopedia_Britannica_seriesWhat that inevitably means is that you have to know more about the world you are striving to inhabit. That’s fine if it’s your world, if it’s someone else’s then it’s probably time to do some research.

I find I read around a subject almost before I know I’m interested in writing about it. What we write springs from our interests and passions in the end after all. Once I am hooked on a subject though I will pursue information on it through the usual channels. I will visit the library, I will get online and I will look out for articles in the newspapers and magazines I read.

I will even gather cuttings and printouts from articles on the net and keep them folded in the back of my notebook – because there is specific information in them which I think I need, or just the idea of something, just the feel or spirit of something which I think might help me later on.

While I was researching for Song of the Sea God I was interested of course in information about all kinds of ancient religions and beliefs and the ritual which went with them. But I also needed to research psychological magicians’ tricks such as cold reading, and I needed to know more about how cults worked and the dynamics of the relationship between a leader and his followers.

For parts of the book I needed to know about people who managed to live on rubbish tips, people who believed they had been healed by miracles. I looked at outsider art and the huge, incredible structures built by people from found materials.

All manner of things which I did not know from my general knowledge.

I think the more research you can do for a book the better – but you really don’t want to see it all on the page. There’s nothing worse for the reader than having to plough through a big heap of undigested facts – they want a story not an encyclopaedia entry. The research you do should inform what you write rather than be what you write.

Having a body of knowledge and understanding behind what appears on the page can make your work richer and more complete without you having to prove you have done the reading by displaying it. So, for example, your background knowledge can inform the way a character reacts to a situation.

GoldenBough(373x545)In Sea God my reading took me to all kinds of places I had never been before – it was an extra little pleasure in the writing of the book. I read widely but I suppose if I had one key text it was The Golden Bough, which is a huge collection of religious beliefs and traditions published in 1890 by James Frazer. He took a dispassionate view of religion and looked at it as a cultural phenomenon – which got him into all sorts of trouble at the time but seems a very modern way of looking at it now.

His world of fertility rites, human sacrifices, the dying god and the scapegoat informed the world of Song of the Sea God. And indeed, the central character in the book, John Love, carries a battered copy of The Golden Bough with him which he uses as a kind of text-book.

What sort of research do you do as a writer? And, as a reader, how important do you think it is that a novel rests on a bedrock of research?

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

 

What’s your writing routine?

Do you have a routine for writing? A way of doing it which has become habit and which you know will get the best out of you? I was thinking about this having read a recent article on the subject.

Many famous writers seem to have these habits. I think the reason is that, to write a novel you need to get your backside on the chair and your fingers on the keyboard – regularly and for long periods of time, just to get the work done. I know only too well that novels don’t write themselves.

Murakami_Haruki_(2009)Here’s what the brilliant Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami had to say on the subject in an interview:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

The idea that the routine almost hypnotises you, puts you in a changed state of mind, is interesting isn’t it?

That kind of focus and dedication perhaps isn’t an option for us writers who also have to do a day job – but I suppose when I am in the midst of writing a novel I do something similar in my own small way. I make myself sit down in front of the computer each evening and work for an hour, an hour and a half, without distraction. If you do that every day then pretty soon the words start adding up.

I’d say that for me the formal side of it – sitting in front of the screen, goes hand in hand with a more freeform, casual, approach, where I carry a notebook around with me on my journey to work, or at the weekends, and jot down scenes and ideas, chunks of prose, to be typed up later on. I find both approaches get me where I need to be. But I really do need the discipline of sitting at the desk for a set ‘work’ period in order to make real progress.

427px-Ernest_Hemingway_1950_cropHere’s Ernest Hemingway talking about his writing routine:

“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.

You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.”

So the same idea of a definite routine, a time for working, a focused period of hours in which you get the words down on the page.

Personally, I don’t think it matters very much whether you think those words fabulous or so-so at the time you write them, you will come back and rewrite them later anyway. The point is to make progress, and to do so in a structured way. When you think about it, a novel is a large undertaking which takes place over a period of months. It’s like building a house. And, though you might not see much difference in the construction of your house from one day to the next, if you keep at it methodically you know that after a certain amount of time it will be done.

Sometimes full-time writers have a separate place – an office say, which they visit to work, even though it might not be far from where they live. I suppose the idea is that you need to be in a work place, a work frame of mind. The painter Magritte apparently used to dress in his suit and tie, as if for the office, then ‘commute’ on foot a mile or so round the block before returning to his house to work in his studio.

Maya_Angelou_speech_for_Barack_Obama_campaign_2008Here’s a surprising quote from an interview with Maya Angelou about where she works:

“I keep a hotel room in my hometown and pay for it by the month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible…

I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room. I ask the management and housekeeping not to enter the room, just in case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door: “Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be moldy!”

But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to edit then. Clean it up.”

Do you have a particular routine for writing? Let me know in the comments.

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

Fun with short stories

800px-Skrifmaskin,_Smith_Premier-maskin,_Nordisk_familjebokI’ve been writing short stories again recently – it’s something I come back to every now and again and always with pleasure and surprise. I thought I’d share a little of what I get out of it, as opposed to writing a novel.

One thing I suppose is that it brings as near as you can get in writing to instant gratification. A story is short enough so that you can pretty much do a first draft of the thing in one, or perhaps two sittings. After which you have the whole story ready, admittedly in a very rough form.

They are also compact enough so you can physically see the whole thing in front of you – spread the pages out on the kitchen table if you want – the start through to the ending.

I tend to get to the point of having this first draft printed out in front of me, then scribble rewrites all over it so you can hardly see the original type. If you are learning to write then short stories are a great way to practice rewriting which is a key and crucial element in the writing process.

A story for me captures a moment in time and place, it also has to tell you something about the person or people in the story – and it has to take the reader on a journey from the start to the finish. Often the characters in the story change or grow too during its course, though the business of character development is obviously less of an issue in a story a couple of thousand words long than it is an 80,000 word novel.

800px-Nile_blue_05Another thing I like about short stories is that they can be a laboratory in which to experiment. It’s perhaps not something I am using them for right now, as my aim is to add to a cohesive collection of stories with a similar theme and feel which I would eventually hope to see published. But in the past I have used them a lot for that. While you are growing and developing as a writer (and I sincerely hope I am still doing this) you need to try out various types of work.

You might want to write a little science-fiction say or try a ghost story. These genres may not turn out to be your life’s work but with short stories that doesn’t matter – you can give them a go.

Jorge_Luis_Borges_1951,_by_Grete_SternIn the past I’ve also used the story form to explore my interest in different writing styles. I remember doing a story in the style of Jorge Louis Borges for example, as I was very taken with his work at the time. In fact it won a competition for surrealist style writing. It’s not something I’ve pursued since but it was great to give I a go, and to get it out of my system if you like.

I would compare experimenting in this way to the way fine art students can be found sitting in front of old masters in galleries copying the brush strokes.

A more recent interest I’ve had with my short stories is exploring how they might sit together in a collection. When you go about this you start just compiling a list and you finish wondering how you can make them work together so they become more than the sum of their parts – so the work as a whole takes on a character.

That’s one reason I’ve come back to writing more stories, to try to develop and enhance this collection.

But I would have come back to them eventually anyway because sooner or later I always do. And, in just the same way, I know that the time will come when I will feel the urge to be writing something longer and more complex – something I can’t turn round in just a day or two. Then I’ll start on another novel.

Do you write short stories and what draws to the form? Let me know in the comments!

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.