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Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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Published in History & Culture, Author Interview

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Mahtab Narsimhan: “Writers are always fascinated by ideas.”

Mahtab Narsimhan is an award-winning author with numerous critically acclaimed books, nominated for several awards, including “The Third Eye” which won the Silver Birch Fiction Award. She is inspired by the desire to make sense of the world through stories and is deeply committed to representing diversity in her books. Please visit www.mahtabnarsimhan.com for more information. Her definition on bringing ...
Mahtab Narsimhan

Mahtab Narsimhan is an award-winning author with numerous critically acclaimed books, nominated for several awards, including “The Third Eye” which won the Silver Birch Fiction Award.

She is inspired by the desire to make sense of the world through stories and is deeply committed to representing diversity in her books. Please visit www.mahtabnarsimhan.com for more information.

Her definition on bringing perfection in writing is not different, however, common points which we commonly do not concentrate upon. She believes to practice writing every day. It is a process of continuous learning and for that matter, you have to keep your tools sharp and focus on the techniques of learning on your chosen genre. To help yourself is to read your favorite writers and write and rewrite.

Every author or writer's first draft is messy, you just have to come back to your draft again with freshly open eyes. Therefore, see your script new and get another better ideas about your book, plot and many other things. Moreover, don't try to make yourself fool by making you your critic. Mahtab well explained that why you should need a group of critic to get you an honest feedback on your authorship.

LU: What makes one a better writer

MN: Practise writing every day and honing your craft by always learning better techniques of writing. Furthermore, reading books on writing as well as taking relevant courses within your genre. Therefore, reading other writers and reading extensively. By this, I mean reading within and outside of your genre. Every book teaches you something: either how to write well, or how not to write. Polishing your work to the best of your ability, having a trusted critique group who will review your work and provide honest feedback. For this, I suggest that you do not approach family members or close friends. Their opinion might be biased based on the closeness of your relationship.

What you need is someone who will give you honest feedback to help make your manuscript stronger. Above all, keep an open mind towards improving your craft and taking constructive feedback in a positive manner. If you only want praise and not criticism, you may never get to the next level.

LU: What is your secret of writing

MN: I honestly do not have a secret to writing. I’ve always been an avid reader since childhood. I devoured books and was always thirsting for more. My favourite genre was (and still is) fantasy and science fiction. Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl and Kenneth Grahame were some of my favourite authors. 

I started writing late in life and without any prior knowledge of how stories worked. All I started with was a desire to include India’s rich culture and mythology in a fantasy story. 

My first book, THE THIRD EYE was four years in the making. It was rejected by over a hundred publishers and only one in all those said yes to publication. It went on to win a prestigious award in Ontario. 

Since then, I have published 14 books and contributed to many anthologies and articles. A common theme in the writing of these books is hard work, constant revising, and getting the first draft down as soon as possible, while you are inspired by a shiny new idea.

  • Hard work: I write early in the morning and try and put in at least 2 hours/about 1500 words on a new draft. I also have a day job which takes up most of the day. In the evenings I tend to take care of the business side of writing, answer emails, plan/research other stories or critique my friends’ work. 
  • Constant Revising: Writing is mostly rewriting. My first draft is usually a big mess. That is fine. It’s usually for my eyes only. I try and get the initial idea down on paper as soon as I can (while the passion for that idea is still strong — the longer you wait, the harder it is to complete the story). I put the draft away for about a month while I work on something else. Then I come back with fresh eyes and start revising. Usually, after about 2-3 revisions, I’m ready to share it with a critique partner. Then comes some more revising before I send the manuscript to my agent. 
  • Get the idea down asap: Writers are always fascinated by ideas. New ones are especially fun because research, creating a new world, characters, plot threads etc. is very exciting. Then comes the hard part of actually writing. This is where many wanna-be writers fail. It takes discipline to put this all down on paper, and you have to stick with it day after day. Or like so many millions, you will always want to write a book, but will never write one.

LU: What is your best timing of Shining (writing, developing your ideas)?

MN: I’m most productive early in the morning. I work from about 5.30 am to 7.30am. I also like to know that the “hardest” part of my day is behind me, and then I can focus on the other activities. On the days that I do not write, I get anxious and irritable. Writing every day is a habit which took years to form. I’m happy that it serves me very well now and provides the discipline I need to keep creating.

LU: What is your Message to aspiring writers along with your Opinion and why?

MN: Writing is hard. If there is anything else you’d rather do, do it. But if writing brings you joy, then that is what you must do. Read a lot. You cannot be equipped to write unless you have the ideas and vocabulary (the tools) to write. Even then, you have to practice writing as often as possible (ideally every day) to become a good writer.

LU: What is your favourite quote?

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

George Addair

LU: Why You have chosen only children niche, and what keeps you inspiring?

MN: At heart, I’m still a 12-year-old. I love writing for this age group because this is when children are becoming aware of the world, learning to be independent, and making friends. This age group is curious and excited to learn new things. I’ve found that you can deal with any topic (death, illness, abuse, loss, bullying among others), no matter how difficult, as long as age-appropriate terminology is used.

I love that writing for children forces me to write a tight plot with no meandering because kids, unlike adults, have short attention spans. If you do not hook them with your first line and pace the story well, you’ll lose them. Last, I love that stories for children have a hopeful (not always happy) ending. I’m not an advocate of lived-happily-ever-after stories. Kids need to know that the world is not always a kind place and bad things can happen. But that, with courage, ordinary people can rise to extraordinary challenges. I hope that my characters can inspire my readers to look within for strength and rise to the challenges life may throw at them.

Join us in celebrating the power of #storytelling