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Interview with Nupur Chowdhury

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I’m an avid reader (and watcher) of fantasy fiction and a die-hard fanfic addict. I’m also a sucker for angsty stories featuring charming and mysterious characters. These guilty (and some not-so-guilty) pleasures blended seamlessly in what became “A Flight of Broken Wings”, my latest novel. If anybody’s got any recommendations, please do send them my way.

Q.2 How many unpublished and half-finished book do you have?
A. Exactly three. One I started when I was about eight years old. I nurtured hopes of getting it published until I turned twelve, and learned what the word ‘typo’ meant. The second one I started in college and abandoned midway when I realized that I wrote really cringy romance. The third and final one simply had to be abandoned because I was stupid enough to think that I could write a novel without an outline. Plot twist – I really can’t! I just realized that fifty thousand words too late.

Q.3 Where do you get your ideas?
A. Where don’t I? That’s the real question. Songs, movies, TV shows, snippets of conversation overheard on public transportation, the hilariously terrible life decisions of me and my friends…all of it is just waiting to be turned into stories. If only I had the time to execute half of my ideas.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. Honestly, don’t worry too much about writing well. Just write. Do your worst work. Everybody writes a terrible first draft. And that’s totally fine. You have to write a hundred thousand words of crap before you can produce a masterpiece. It’s all part of the process.

If you get too stuck on quality from the beginning, you’ll put yourself under too much unnecessary pressure and stop writing altogether. It’s a mistake I made initially, and have since seen a lot of brilliant writers fall into the same quagmire. And it’s something that new writers should avoid at all costs.

Q.5 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. Initially, with my first novel, I tried to give readers what I thought they wanted. I wrote a campus romance, which was very popular at the time and while I loved writing it at the time. I soon realized that the secret to long-term happiness was to write the story that you really want to read. This way, you’ll have one die-hard fan from the very beginning.

I’ve never really gone out of my way to be original. All ideas worth having have already been had. I truly believe that it’s the execution that matters. Harry Potter wasn’t the first book ever written about a magic school. It probably wasn’t even one of the first ten. It was simply one of the most entertaining and memorable and, that’s the important part.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. Don’t get obsessed with trying to write a flawless novel. Just write the bloody novel.

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. I cannot speak for writers in general, but I can say that I personally learned the most from storyfix.com. Also, follow the AuthorTube community on YouTube. They’re awesome and offer a lot of useful tips.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. I think writing characters from any sex only becomes difficult when we become too invested in stereotypes. When we think that ‘men should talk like this’ or ‘women should act like that’, it becomes hard to write those characters because we are essentially trying to mimic a personality type that is alien to us and, it comes out as stilted and awkward.

The key here is to realize that an individual is not a walking representation of his or her gender. I have met men in my life with whom I have quite a lot in common and women with whom I may have almost nothing in common and vice versa.

Writing different genders becomes easier when we realize that there is no one way in which a man or a woman should act. Then, you’re free to play with the stereotypes and make them work for you, instead of against you.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. I think of the names of the people I know in real life and then tweak them. Or sometimes I combine two names to make a new one. Since I write fantasy, this works quite well for me.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. Of course! Book reviews are everything.
Dealing with the good ones is easy enough. They make me smile and brighten my day.

As for the bad ones, I deal with them by drinking hot chocolate, crying into my pillow, and then re-read them to see if there’s anything that I can learn from it and writing a heartfelt thank you to the reviewer if there is.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. Yes, absolutely! It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I’ve had to sit them down and explain to them in detail what it is that I’m doing, what my plans are and what I’ll do if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to. But in the end, they’ve always come around and supported me wholeheartedly in all my decisions.

Q.12 What do your fans mean to you?
A. Anybody who likes and supports my work means the world to me. It’s the most awesome thing in the world to create a whole new universe and then to be able to share it with other people. And if those people share your love for the characters and the story, it’s like finding your tribe on this big and confusing planet.

Q.13 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. I’ve published two books so far, and written almost three. My favorite right now is definitely “A Flight of Broken Wings”, the book that was published just last month.
I’m so in love with that world and those characters that it’s almost hard for me to believe they aren’t real. I’m definitely looking forward to writing the sequel once I’m done with my current project.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I drink copious amounts of coffee and have a mini panic attack before every writing session. I don’t know if that’s unique, but it’s definitely a health hazard. I recommend YouTube cat videos as a remedy.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. I think the most awesome thing I’ve done in my life is to gather the courage to write the book I’ve always wanted to read. It’s easy to get bogged down by other people’s expectations and all the advice and market analysis that you find on the Internet.

But at the end of the day, you can’t write well if you don’t believe in your own story. Finding the courage to write a story that I really believed in, I would definitely consider it to be my best accomplishment.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. I don’t know about unethical, but I’d say one of the most annoying things about the publishing industry is that publishers will often ask for your completed manuscript and then never get back to you about it or answer your emails. I mean, I get that they’re busy. But I think they should make it a matter of policy to at least send out form emails, so as to keep writers posted about what’s happening. That wouldn’t take up a lot of their time, and allow writers to have some peace of mind as well.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. My book was edited by one of my closest friends and college classmates, Ritarekha. She’s recently completed her Masters in Literature and is currently pursuing her MPhil. She’s one of the most passionate readers and literary critics I have ever met. When I finished writing my book, there was really never any question about who was going to be my first editor and beta reader. I couldn’t imagine anyone who’d be more suited to the job than her.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Jane Austen. Simply because I think she is hilarious, and her social commentary is absolutely spot on! I’d love to hear her talk in real life.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. Currently, my favorite book is “The Black Prism” by Brent Weeks. It’s the first book in the Lightbringer series, and I never get tired of recommending it to people. It features a really unique magic system based on colors and has one of the most intelligent protagonists I have seen in any fantasy story.

Q.20 How can readers discover more about you and your work?
A. Anybody who wants to know more about me should definitely take a look at my blog - nupurink.blogspot.com. It’s the place where I dump all the crazy ideas and insights that I can’t put in my books. I can also be found lurking in the shadows of Facebook - @NupurRhymes, Twitter - @nupurC94, and of course, Goodreads

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