According to Wikipedia (Yes, she has one), Shweta Taneja is an Indian novelist, graphic novelist, and journalist. Shweta Taneja wrote Cult of Chaos: An Anantya Tantrist Mystery, a detective, fantasy novel set in Delhi, India (published by HarperCollins) and The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong, a children’s detective novel set in Kurseong, India (published by Hachette).
I interviewed her and gathered few inspiring answers which can be helpful for upcoming writers and aspiring authors.
1. This isn’t your first interview and you are a celeb author. How does it feel?
Thank you for the lovely compliment. I still feel me (well most of the times anyway), a girl who likes to walk in farms, hang out on street corners in a darshini or dhaba, have a conversation on life over a cup of coffee, watch the world go by. It’s fantastic to get love from readers, in emails, messages and reviews and recognition from the industry and media, be it in kind or in pay, especially in pay. It feels great, however, I try to keep a distance from it. You see success is not like a plateau where you can stand for a long time. It’s more like balancing on top of a rope, dangling between two flimsy poles, on one leg. So it’s best to enjoy the dance when it happens and then go back to your study and write some more.
2. Tell us about your struggle encounters that didn’t let you move ahead in your journey
There were definitely struggles and more importantly, many failures. I won’t say they stopped me completely from moving in a direction, rather they changed my direction somewhat. Beginning of my career I had a tough time getting a full time job as a journalist and editor, something I wanted to do. At that time, jobs weren’t listed online, so you had to contact a magazine or newspaper you wanted to work for or have a friend who worked there. I knew no one in the writing industry so I had to make a lot of cold calls, email people, make new contacts and just apply and be patient. I did almost 150 calls and it took a few months. Eventually, I landed up with a job in Femina after writing for them as a freelancer for a few months.
Fiction writing was the same. I had no contacts and wasn’t sure if publishers would come back to me if I wrote to them directly. However, I did finish my book and send my manuscript across to all top publishers in the country without an agent. Most of them didn’t reply but after waiting for months, I got a yay from Hachette India for my first novel. That was a lucky break!
My learning has always been, again and again, to never, ever, ever give up. Pursue the path, no matter what kind of hurdles you find and you’re bound to reach somewhere. Also, another important aspect is to not always keep looking at a distant future. Enjoy the present, love the people who are supporting you now and take energy from them. The journey is important, even if it feels horrendous at the moment.
3. People read your books and columns. What do you wish they get from it?
A good story makes you enjoy the tale and leaves you with a little atom in your head, a thought, an idea, or maybe just an essence to make you think differently, help you in your journey, or just take you to a spot or a feeling that has been alien to you. This is what I aim with all my stories, be it short stories or novels, columns or writings for kids. I want people to sit back and get entertained by the story and to take away a little kernel, save it in their hearts and look at it later with wonder. If that happens, my purpose of writing stories is fulfilled.