PenKonnect with Anupama Jain

About the Author:

Anupama Jain is the author of ‘When Padma Bani Paula‘, a breezy novel about second chances of life and the importance of staying true to one’s roots. (Published By Readomania

’When Padma Bani Paula’ has been listed as ‘One of the 5 best books of 2018 – Fiction’, by readwriteinspire.com 

She is the Founding Member, Admin of  SeniorSchoolMoms and blogs at akkaacerbic.wordpress.com (listed in the Best Indian Blogs Directory 2018, under Topical Matters and Current Affairs Category).

She has contributed to – Chronicles of Urban Nomads, Crossed & Knotted( India’s first Composite Novel, 2016 LIMCA book of Records Holder), When They Spoke, Mock Stalk & Quarrel – (all published by Readomania), ’When Women Speak Up’ an e-book by Women’s Web (2018).

She is the Winner, Popular Choice 2018, Humour, Orange Flower Award, the Runner-Up, Orange Flower 2017 Humour Award, the Finalist, Creative Writing Award.

Anupama, a top power-contributor, was listed as one of the 10 Indian women bloggers, a feminist must follow, by Women’s Web, July 2017.  

Her short tale of 27 words was one of the top 5 #100wordstory 2018, @momspresso.

Her story on marital morass was one of the top 14 blogs of 2017 out of the 18,000+ blogs published annually at momspresso.com

Anupama writes a satirical piece at readomania.com – ‘AJ Wants to Know’  taking on the quirky world around with its vagaries.  Her favorite genre is humour.

We talked to her about her book “When Padma Bani Paula” on December 18, 2019 on #PenKonnect@Penmancy.

Watch the video here: 

Penmancy: You are a classic example of a blogger turned author. Please share a bit about your journey.
Anupama: Writing in my case has been therapeutic and liberating. Writing gave wings to soaring dreams which fructified after a single-minded pursuit. It has given me a new direction, a brand new identity of my own and set me free from the gnawing angst of a floater.

My writing journey is barely five and a half years old. I am not formally trained in the nuances of the craft. I started writing little notes to overcome a particularly tough year – a year of loss and its attendant ugliness followed by a major illness.  Facebook is where I cut my writing teeth. I would write random posts on the daily humdrum, current events or on anything that caught my fancy. The ‘likes’ on my posts became my energy boosters, gave me the strength to cope with life by putting the smile back. One day, someone shared a story on infidelity. I shared my take on the same. (Mine dealt with the effect of infidelity on children, this story then became a part of my first anthology).

I was added to ‘Write and Beyond’ group where I saw Readomania’s post, asking for story contributions. I started contributing and participating in various competitions regularly. By winning the competitions, I became a part of 5 anthologies, ( one is a LIMCA 2016 record holder, India’s first Composite Novel) and penned my first novel, ‘When Padma Bani Paula’. Meanwhile, I blogged too. I was introduced to Mosmpresso where I blogged for multiple brands, won many awards. I then started writing regularly at Women’s Web. I won at Women’s Web too, for my flash-fiction stories, creative writing, and humor pieces. In July 2017, I was listed by them as one of the top 10 feminist bloggers, one must follow.

Penmancy: How did Paula come into being and what led you to write about her in your debut book?
Anupama:  I have done commissioned write-ups (Pop-Culture-Curator @Women’s Web). I have written a regular piece at readomania.com‘AJ Wants to Know’ a satirical take on the quirky world around. I also blog at akkaacerbic.wordpress.com which listed in the Best Indian Blogs Directory 2018 under Topical Matters and Current Affairs Category. (only 328 were listed). Through my writing, I found a release. One thing led to the other and now I have been celebrating my first solo novel, ‘When Padma Bani Paula’.

Penmancy: How much of you is in Padma, the protagonist of your novel? Or is she inspired from
someone you know?
Anupama: I’m a strong Padma within and a spiffy Paula on the outside. And I believe everyone has a Paula and a Padma within them in different ratios. Our Roots define us, hold us together while the second chances of acing the Karma propel us.

Penmancy: How difficult or easy was it for you to get your debut book published? Give us a few tips that can be of use to us.
Anupama: Five years back, if someone told me, that I would be a story-teller one day, I would have wryly remarked, ‘that’s a tall story’. After all, I didn’t harbor any dreams of getting published. Ever! Readomania ran a couple of story-contests where the requisite genre was humor. I wrote a small story based on the ladies around my condo. This story struck a chord with Readomania and became the concept for my debut novel. I stretched a 300-word story into a 70,000-word novel and a novel was born I have been luckier than most I could say but I worked very hard across multiple areas to find success.

Penmancy: How was blogging different from writing a full-length novel?
Anupama: Blogging, in my opinion, is like cooking for one’s own self whereas writing a novel is like cooking for a marriage party with thousands of guests with multiple tastes. A blog needs about 500 words and a novel needs 50K words. It is very easy for the novel to get scattered if one isn’t diligent.

Penmancy: Now humour can be very tricky to write because some of it can become repetitive and unoriginal. What is your trick to keep it fresh and valid?
Anupama: By being ‘current’ and ‘electrifying’ 😀 Read the works of all the giants and the ones currently trending. Try and analyse the daily cartoons, their core themes. Watch standup comedy shows, keep an eye for their quirks and killer lines. Learn from these sources, add your own unique touch by extrapolating the situations around.

Penmancy: Do you ever face writer’s fatigue or inertia, which most people call writer’s block? How do you overcome that?
Anupama: Oh yes, many many times. The key is not to get overwhelmed by it when the words dry up. Keep the faith, keep reading the greats of your chosen genre, go for walks, go on a holiday, binge watch, eat. Whatever works. Take a fifteen-day break and restart. The words would come slow initially and the work would be iffy, but the mojo will come back.

Penmancy: What 3 things would you suggest to the aspirants who wish to dive into writing a full- length novel?
Anupama:

  1. A creative process, surprisingly, is all about discipline. So writing 500 words a day is paramount.
  2. Learn newer techniques. During this process of my writing a book, I learned to add layers to a story, use the ‘show’ technique and look at a story dispassionately. I learned to be open-minded and patient as the process takes time. Read. Read. Read.
  3. And lastly, just as an expectant mom would trust the doctors to do the best for her baby, the author should have faith that the iterations and changes suggested by the Publisher & Editor team are for the overall benefit of the book.

Penmancy: What are you writing next? Please tell us a bit about it.
Anupama: I have just finished penning the sequel to ‘When Padma Bani Paula’. The editorial process is on. Keeping the faith and fingers crossed!

Penmancy: Since most of writers are well on the path you treaded, what would you like to advise them?
Anupama: The mantra is-

  • ‘Never give up’.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Write daily and put it out for consumption and critique.
  • Be open to experts’ suggestions.
  • Join writing groups and participate in competitions.
  • Most importantly, read voraciously.

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