'Seeing world from character’s eyes drained me'

Writer of best-selling pop fiction, whose latest book hit the stands in Bengaluru last week, says her earlier book on mental health was the most difficult to write.

Preeti Shenoy has authored 12 books so far.

One of the top-selling Indian authors Preeti Shenoy launched her new book ‘Wake Up, Life is Calling’ in the city on May 4 at Sapna Bookhouse, Residency Road. The new book is a sequel to her best-selling novel on mental health ‘Life is What You Make it’.

Having 12 published works to her credit, the Bengaluru-based author is also an artist, specialising in portraiture and illustrated journaling, blogger and also writes a weekly column for a well-known newspaper.

Preeti talks about her latest book, criticism, Indian literature and more, in a chat with Metrolife.

The reason why you decided to write a sequel for ‘Life’s What You Make It’.

I had never thought that I would come back and write a sequel. ‘Life is What You Make It’ was an extremely difficult book to write, and it took a lot out of me. I had done two years of academic research, and have so much material.
I had to then simplify it in order for it to be relatable. I began seeing everything through Ankita’s eyes; it would leave me feeling drained and depressed. So, I had decided that I would never again write about mental health as it took a toll on me. But, it looks like Ankita wasn’t done with me yet! It took eight years (and nine more books in those eight years) for her to emerge — and emerge she did! This book was also equally hard to write. But once the story came to me, it took over me, and I just had to write it. I was like a woman possessed. Now that it is finally out, I feel at peace. 

Eight years and many books later, ‘Life...’ remains the most favourite for many of your fans. Do you think the sequel will be able to create or retain that magic?

If you go by the reviews, it looks like it has surpassed the expectations. I have grown as a writer; that clearly shows in the writing. The reviews have been extremely positive, and people love the sequel.

Your works are women-centric and have a coming-of-age element to it, which is enjoyed by women readers of all ages. Why do you think that is? Would you consider the topic your forte?

It is not true that my work is largely women-centric; I have novels written from a male point of view (The One You Cannot Have) and which have men as central characters (A Hundred Little Flames).

I have an equal number of male and female readers. People tell me that my novels have an emotional depth and they are also philosophical and reflective.

Any plans to explore other genres?

I think ‘genres’ are terms given by booksellers and publishers so they know where to keep the books in bookstores. As far as I am concerned I just write stories.

How do you conceive ideas?

I can get ideas from anywhere! I work on the plot, characters, story and then turn it into a novel.

Your literature and take on feminism have garnered criticism. What do you have to say to that?

I would love to know what the criticism is, and who has criticised it.

What do you think about the literary scene in India?

I think there are some fabulous writers in India, and sadly, there is also mediocre writing out there. If you are a writer looking to get published, this is a great time.
I was in Abu Dhabi recently for the launch of my new book.

It was launched by the Indian Ambassador at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, where India was the guest of honour. I felt proud to see Indian literature being showcased there. I was happy to see the variety and richness.

Your future projects...

More novels!

About the book

Preeti’s ‘Life is What You Make It’ was published in 2011. The book on mental health garnered positive responses and became one of the best-selling Indian works. 

The sequel ‘Wake Up, Life is Calling’ delves into the troubles the lead character faces during her recovery. 

Says Preeti, “‘Life...’ ends with Ankita dropping out of the MBA course, and completing her treatment successfully at the mental hospital, and joining a new course – something she wanted to do, but never had the courage for. The sequel takes us through the first year of that journey. Everything is fine on the surface, however, there is trouble brewing, deep within.”

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