Happy September, everyone!
Goodness me, where has the year gone?!
The writer I’m introducing to you today is Arpit Sharma. He’s one of the youngest authors in India, and when he’s not working on his book he writes poetry and music. Today he’s here to tell us a bit about his debut novel, Far From Pretension, which is set to be out later this year!
Hi Arpit, and welcome to Cookie Break! You’re so close now to publishing your debut novel Far from Pretension. This is such an exciting point to be at, and a huge achievement!
Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉
Hello readers! So about my book, Far from Pretension is a young adult novel with a realistic setting. The protagonist is a sixteen year old boy who’s trying hard to get his family out of poor financial conditions. He’s selling newspapers to support them. One day a long lost friend of his invites him for a competition to participate in. This seems as a real opportunity to turn his life around. Being a smart guy, he feels confident that he can make it. So he leaves his parents for the long period of three whole months. But while he is gone, something unfortunate happens at his home. He knows nothing about it, but when he does come to know, it’s already too late. He is betrayed in the end and there’s nothing he can do now. But he somehow makes a choice.
Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?
“…a tear rolled down his cheek, fell on the paper and smudged the last word of the letter.”
There’s something about this quote which draws people towards the plot. Of course the protagonist breaks down at some point in the novel, and this line paints a perfect picture of his condition.
Do you remember what sparked the idea for Far from Pretension?
It just popped up! But not really. I remember thinking about three story lines simultaneously. I was trying some way to combine the three of them, but it couldn’t work out that way. It was a big disappointment! However, the idea of putting atheprotagonist into absolute trouble, making him suffer and then giving him a surprise seemed to be a good one! (Cruel at the same time). And of course highly relatable to anyone who reads it. I then finalised my plan on going ahead with it, although major plot developments were thought upon much later. The theme of the novel was already decided. So I right away started working on it.
What are you working on right now?
I’m not working on any lengthy project right now! (I’ll be graduating high school in 2017…so consider me to be under a lot of work as a senior). However, I write poetry on a daily basis, I’m expanding my collection and also working in some small collaboration projects. You all can read my poems on Instagram.
What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?
Yes and No! I have always thought of writing fantasy and including supernatural elements to my work. A lot of novels which I read are fantasy based. However dealing with young adult has some of its own benefits, the greatest one being that it’s highly relatable. Once you absorb the words, it’s you and the book. The image of the protagonist declines at some point (which is good in this case!) since you imagine yourself in his/her place. This establishes an effective emotional connection. And that’s what makes a novel worth reading! ☺
Who/what is your writing inspiration?
Durjoy Datta for his phenomenal romance writing! And Paulo Coelho!
What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?
Listen to songs, calm myself down and think about what would I do if I were in the story. Forming a real picture in my mind helps a lot. I personally believe that it makes my writing so much more better. The details seem more appealing, the plot develops with a flow. The process is subconscious but extremely effective. I also like to go out, talk to people one on one and share their experiences. A lot of times I have been inspired this way, by direct conversations with strangers or friends.
Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?
The initial chapters are my favourite! (Beginner’s luck!). I’m filled with positivity, and have a clear picture what to write and how to develop the story and lay the groundwork. Words simply come out themselves. It’s an enjoyable process.
The parts of writing which I dread are the emotional ones and major cliff-hangers. They are the most difficult to execute, especially while writing about a character’s death. The way things should be; it’s hard to define it in words. You have to deal with the happening itself, the reaction of other characters and many events at the same time! That makes it all the more difficult, but not at all any less exciting.
What is your number one distraction?
There are many distractions for a writer like writer’s block. But for me I guess it would be the ‘new ideas’. When I was working on Far from Pretension I had many ideas for the story. I had a hard time dealing with them initially, but then I started writing short pieces of writing based on these ideas. These thousand word pieces would help me keep the idea for future reference and they also acted as a small break from my main project. This process helped me a lot in coming up with new plot lines and increased my creative thinking. I still have those pieces with me and surprisingly my friends have liked them a lot. I think maybe I’ll be able to develop one them into another novel.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter!
Tea or coffee?
Both! India is famous for tea, so I don’t back off from it. 😉
What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?
Well to keep it short I’d say.
For Writing being a kid helps. Originality is what sets you apart from others. It’s the key to be creative.
Editing: being like your high school English teacher(That helps!) and keep learning. It’s probably going to take more time than you think. I also advice NOT to edit while you are writing. Keep it for some other time. While going for traditional publishing, it’s important to get your work professionally edited!
For publishing, you have to come out of your comfort zone and have a lot of patience. Learning some sales techniques and knowing your strengths clearly helps. While writing author’s bio one should take extreme care and put all of your related achievements. Because most of the times it can make or break a deal. Also some contacts and previous achievements in the writing field help.
What’s your favourite quote on writing?
‘Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.’
– Alan Moore
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t hesitate to be yourself! Unique is what sells in the writing world!
Where else can we connect with you?
Thank you, Arpit, for stopping by, and all the best for the release! Don’t forget – Far from Pretension will be out this Winter, so keep an eye out for it!
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