'Indie authors have the opportunity to take control of the start of their careers!'

In the first part of the interview Ekta had told us about her journey as a writer and how hard it is to play the dual role of a homemaker and a writer.In this concluding part,she tells us about her favourite books,future plans and the prospects of indie publishing.Read on!

They say we are currently in the golden age of Indie Publishing.Madam,what is your take on that?

---I agree 100 percent! Now more than ever indie authors have the opportunity to take control of the start of their careers.Many people don’t realize that when a person gets published by a traditional publishing company, that new author doesn’t have much say in many things regarding his/her book. For example, if an author’s book becomes popular his/her editor may dictate that the next book be written in a particular way. The editor is trying to help the author capitalize on what made that person popular in the first place, but readers usually read a variety of things. They don’t mind if their favorite authors experiment a little bit. A traditional publishing company is often uncomfortable with experimentation, sometimes stifling a writer’s creativity in favor of a secure investment: what sold once will probably sell again.

In indie publishing authors have complete control. If a person wants to start his/her career with a YA novel and then try a romance next, no one will come in and say the author can’t do it.That doesn’t necessarily mean switching genres right away is a good idea, but at least the author can give it a try.The difference in control also applies to the amount of money the author gets paid—in other words, the traditional publishing company gets the majority of the money and the author gets a minimal cut. In indie publishing the author gets to keep most of the money. I say “most” because a smart indie author will hire a professional editor, a professional graphic designer for the cover and a professional formatter for the interior. A smart indie author will pay these professionals and then gets to keep the rest of the money.There are many things that complicate the pursuit of indie publishing, but it gives thousands of talented writers the opportunity to share their stories with readers. At the end of the day, that’s only a good thing.

 Yourfavourite author?genre?

---This is like asking a mother which child is her favorite! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed books by JhumpaLahiri, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, some Nicholas Sparks. As you can see I enjoy women’s fiction, mysteries, and even love stories (not romance novels; there’s definitely a difference!) I LOVE fiction about World War II and the bravery—and depravity—of that time period.

Recently I’ve started enjoying middle grade and YA novels—The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Mister Max books by Cynthia Voigt, among others.
Although I’m not an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan. A close friend introduced me to the series when I was in high school, and despite the fact that it’s a fantasy series I think anyone who loves to read would enjoy it. At its core the series is about a group of friends who are trying to find out who they are meant to become and how their relationships with one another change in the process. Anyone can relate to that.
These days there are quite a number of desi authors writing in English. What do you think is your biggest USP when compared to your contemporaries?

---Although I grew up bilingual, because I was born in the States English is my first language. If I compare myself to desi writers authors who were born and raised in India (and I say this with the utmost of humility and meaning no offense to those writers), I know I have an advantage because I’m writing in my native language. When I add to that my experience with spelling competitions, I feel like I have a deep knowledge of words that I can apply to my work.There are many desi writers like me who were born in this country and who have had a wide exposure to words like I did. While we can relate to one another in terms of culture and the immigrant experience, I like to think that my particular upbringing, personality quirks and ideas about the world make my stories stand out.

Which author would you say you really look up to?

---This is a tough question to answer. I think I like JhumpaLahiri’s approach to her work, in the sense that she doesn’t let a schedule or a contract dictate how often she writes. For her fans it’s agonizing waiting for every one of her books to come out, but when it does we realize why. In order to write the way she does, a writer has to expend effort and energy and—most importantly—take time. Despite all the advice to indie authors that they should publish frequently, I think it’s still important—crucial, even—to take that kind of care of your work.

What are your top five favourite novels that you would recommend to all bookworms?

--- (Again, it’s hard for me to pick my top favorites, but here are books I would recommend without a second thought.)

1. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (a sci-fi-cum-historical fiction tale set in the future in England as well as simultaneously in the fourteenth century during the time of the Black Plague; it’s brilliant!)
2. The Book of Answers by C.Y. Gopinath (a satire on the political situation of India that captures in the most subtle ways the country’s current state; again, brilliant!)
3.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (set in France during World War II, it tells the story of a blind girl and what kind of affect the war has on her family; this one will break your heart and take your breath away all at the same time.)
4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (I couldn’t stop laughing throughout this entire book. A widower decides he wants to commit suicide because he can’t live without his late wife anymore, but little things keep getting in his way and keep postponing the suicide. Anyone who enjoyed the Pixar movie Up will love this one.)
5. Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser; illustrated by Odessa Sawyer (The story is simplistic, because this is a YA book, but the illustrations are so lush readers will feel themselves sinking into the pictures.)

In India,bookworms still prefer paperbacks to e-books.Madam,when can we expect a paperback version of your books?

---Because I’m only releasing a pair of stories at a time, it isn’t cost effective to release two stories as a book; it would be too short. But I’ve strongly considered the possibility, when I’ve published enough stories, to put all of them in a collection and release that as a paperback. If I do decide to pursue that course, fans of the stories will know well in advance—I will definitely keep everyone up to date on the course that Prairie Sky Publishing will take!

---Thank you so much!

(As told to nikhimenon)

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