"Write Only If You Feel the Urge, Not Because It’s Fashionable." - Sundari Venkatraman

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1. Tell us more about your background and journey. 

I was born in a town called Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. I grew up in Madras (now Chennai), got married, and settled in Bombay (now Mumbai). I was a housewife and mother until my kids reached middle school. 

After that, I worked for some years at their school in the administration department. Later, I also held jobs as a copy editor in Mumbai Mirror and later with Web18 (the web arm of Network 18). While I had already written three full-fledged novels during this time, I wasn’t published until much later. I live with my husband and two children (both adults with careers of their own) in Mumbai.

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I wouldn’t call ‘being a writer’ was a conscious decision on my part. I have been a voracious reader from childhood. My earliest memory of reading is when I was barely five. While my imagination raged rampant as I visualized the scenes from these books, I never thought of writing my own. In fact, I was bad at writing essays at both school and college.

I was almost forty and I was between two jobs. I had quit the one at the school and without another in hand, was completely frustrated. I was out for an evening walk when this story suddenly sprung forth within me and had to be put on paper. 

I rushed back home to write fourteen foolscap pages and that’s how my very first book, The Malhotra Bride, was born. I need to mention here that to date, it’s my highest selling book. And that’s how my writing career was born. It was happenstance.

3. Is it a financially stable career?

‘Stable’ isn’t a word I would use here although there’s really good money in self-publishing one’s book, better than traditional publishing actually; in the long run, that is. I know, since I have done both.

Other than that, it’s a career, definitely, as it keeps me occupied. Again, that’s because I write and promote all seven days of the week. It’s worth financially, only if one keeps writing more and more. The increasing number of titles brings forth more and more readers—the audience increasing in concentric circles or that’s how it appears to me. 

With each new book, I get some more readers who get back to the older titles. And then, you can say that it’s financially viable. It takes a lot of effort, but is truly worth it, especially because I am self-published.

4. Who is your favourite writer and why?

JK Rowling. I am truly amazed at the kind of imagination that could bring forth the Harry Potter series; the way every single thread has been brought together at the end to make a complete whole. I would be blessed if I could write a hundredth as well as she does.

5. Where does your inspiration lie?

I love the ‘happily ever after’ syndrome; in the concept that every cloud has a silver lining; that every problem brings with it a solution. And that’s what my stories are about. I predominantly write romances that deal with issues people face in their lives. And yes, they need to be solved to bring forth a ‘happily ever after’ by the time the story ends.

6. What does your typical day look like? 

I wake up not before nine and my day starts with meditation. I don’t believe in religion but in spirituality. I open my laptop after breakfast and it’s usually noon by then. I write and promote on social media. This takes up to a few hours. 

I make my own posters for promoting and love doing that. Post lunch, I play online games as I feel sleepy otherwise. Nowadays, I have started doing mandala art. I find it way more interesting than the games I used to play. 

On most days, I work or read late into the night, sometimes as late as 2 am. I love movies. With the lockdown, my son and daughter work from home. So, the chances are high that we watch movies on at least four days in a week.

7. What piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring writers?

Write only if you feel the urge, not because it’s fashionable. If you are serious about it, write every day. That’s the only way to keep the story flowing.

8. Which is your favourite book and why?

The whole of the Harry Potter series. It’s pure magic and makes me believe in magic as well.

- Sundari Venkatraman , Writer

- Interviewed by Kedar Lalwani

- Edited by Shilpy Sharan

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