Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Interview with Author Roma Dutia

Recently, I interacted with Roma Dutia, a debut author who wrote the book 7 To The Other Side. The book is about the life an individual who departs from the world, one fine day without knowing that his moment of departure was approaching him. It's a story of goodness!. To read the complete review of the book, visit Book Review : 7 To The Other Side - Roma Dutia.

-- Interview with author Roma Dutia --

Q: How does it feel to be a published author?
A: It feels amazing; there are honestly no words to describe what it feels like to see your name printed on the cover and every other second page. Until last year, if someone told me that I would write my own book, I would tell them to check themselves. I started writing between my Masters program and the plan was to graduate and be a PR professional but I’m so happy that it wasn’t the case. To call myself an author is the greatest privilege I have. And it would be so wrong to not mention a few people that have made this happen; my parents, in a world where everyone is fighting for a place in the corporate world, they just let me be and told me to follow my dreams. My friend, Aditi, who was the first person to tell me that this distant dream I’ve had all my life would be reality if I worked hard enough and finally my literary agent, Suhail Mathur, for giving me this honour to call myself an author and making sure my manuscript got a deal to be published. So yeah, in short, it’s the best and I couldn’t have asked for a better ‘job’ so to speak.

Q: What was your first reaction, holding a copy of your book “7 To The Other Side” ?
A: This is embarrassing, my first reaction to holding a copy of my book was honestly just pride, I flipped every single page and I couldn’t believe all those words now printed were the ones I had scribbled in my notebook when I thought 7 To The Other Side could possibly be something. But I did cry, when I got the deal, I got an email from Locksley Hall Publishing telling me that my manuscript was going to be a book along with the contract for it and all I managed was going to my room and I sobbed like a child. It was finally going to happen.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Or you think that you were destined to write a book?
A: I wouldn’t say I was destined to write a book, but I would say that I think I was always destined to be a story teller. Even in school, I was always someone who just loved going on and on about my own take on everything. Creating stories and writing them based on just anything, though very few people have actually read what I wrote back then, the only time I actually wrote for people to read was in the exam papers and it would be safe to say my teachers loved it. That was honestly the first validation I got, my teachers all throughout every school I had studied in always told me I had a way with my words. I never took them seriously, I just thought it was because I read a lot that it was just somehow a little easier for me to write. But now I know what they mean, the feedback I have gotten from everyone who’s read 7 To The Other Side has been phenomenal, everyone has loved it. Even though a lot of them are my friends and they are probably being too kind, but still its amazing. Deciding to be a writer was not a decision I made honestly, it was the story itself, because while I was writing I was still in the middle of my Masters and would go on to getting a job, but then 7 To The Other Side happened and now to think of it maybe I always did want to be a story teller.

Q: How was your experience of getting “7 To The Other Side” published?
A: My experience of getting published initially was a little nerve wracking, like everybody else I did a couple of google searches and read so many blogs about how people got published and how long it took and so many times people did not get published at all. I was honestly a little scared, would my story make it, was it good enough, because for me a book is something magical. Unless it’s not amazing, it wouldn’t be a book in the first place. Luckily, I had the privilege to talk to Mr. Ashwin Sanghi about my aspiration, and he told me to start approaching literary agents rather than publishing houses which I had been so confidently doing. I went on all the publishing websites and submitted my manuscript but I got no response. Almost all of them had a 2-6 months response time, and so I stopped emailing them and started sending out my proposal to literary agents. I’m not embarrassed to say I got rejected a few times as well, but then luckily almost in no time after I sent out my proposal to Mr. Suhail Mathur at the Book Bakers, he replied telling me he was interested. And then it just snowballed from there, the complete manuscript, the editing process and finally the publishing deal. It was amazing, the only thing I remember from this whole ordeal is whatever you do, do not look online for these answers. Just keep trying, it could happen anytime.

Q: Tell us about, how writing is a part of your daily life?
A: Writing to me yet is not something that I have introduced into my life as a schedule, I never want it to be that way. I have completely dedicated my time to what I want to do, essentially to be a story teller. And I write when I’m inspired, while writing 7 To The Other Side, I’ve had the best of both, being inspired for a long period of time and days on end where I didn’t get a single word on paper. And I always want it to be like that, I do not want to conform to making writing my job. Because that is something that I don’t think I would be happy in doing in the first place, to make a schedule to write. You will find me scribbling into my notebook for days and nights and there will be times where you will think I don’t do anything at all and I am completely content with that.

Q: How did you finalize the cover of the book? Did you have more options?
A: The cover of the book was a little difficult for me, I knew what I wanted it to be like, though it turned out so much better than I had initially planned it to be. I am completely challenged where it comes to putting my idea on paper as a design, I could write it down if the need be but not draw to save my life. My friend, Dhanraj, he’s an excellent artist and he just understood everything that I tried and failed miserably to tell him. All I gave him was notes on a tissue paper about what I initially wanted the cover to be and he drew the cover for me. It looked amazing even as a sketch and then I went on to discussing this with my agent, Suhail and the team at Book Bakers and they did such a wonderful job on the final product. The cover is perfect, exactly what I wanted it to be.

Q: Other than writing, what else do you do professional?
A: I always want to be a writer. I have my Masters degree in Public Relations and I could pursue that if I wanted to, but I don’t think I would, at least for now. I know everyone thinks that writers don’t make enough money, and for a debut novel it is true as well. But it’s not about the money right now, writing gives me complete happiness and I wouldn’t want it any other way. If I want, I could always put my degree to use and get a job but for now this is it, being a writer is what I want to do professionally as well. Maybe eventually move on to screen writing, but basically stick to writing.
Interview with Author Roma Dutia author of the book 7 to the other side
Interview with Author Roma Dutia author of the book 7 to the other side
Q: Apart from “7 To The Other Side”, have you written anything else? What can we expect from you in the near future?
A: 7 To The Other Side is my debut, I haven’t written anything else, at least nothing that I want to publish but I am working on my second. I have a 2 stories that I am torn between at the moment, so I’m just going ahead and conceptualizing both at the same time. But I know which one I’m more inclined towards, and it’s probably going to be the one I end up writing first. Right now, it’s too soon to tell everybody what it is about, but I can say this, it’s going to be a real eye opener. It will bust a myth that we hold on to in our society and consider it taboo even, and no, it’s not a concept on gay marriage or the gay sphere in general though yeah, that taboo should be busted too. But it’s a phenomenon that so many people deal with on a daily basis and there are more and more people adding to the statistics almost everyday and yet our society chooses to believe that it’s not a problem.

Q: How did you develop the characters of the story?
A: I have no background knowledge or theoretical knowledge to write, as in I haven’t learnt the art of creative writing. It’s something that has always come naturally to me even as a child when I wrote stories or anything for that matter. The characters in my story developed as I wrote them, though I had their basics and main characteristics down even before I started writing but details started forming as I continued to write. But now, for the second one I’m definitely looking into this further and developing my main characters more deeply than I did with 7 To The Other Side. But in hind sight, that’s what made Joshua, George and Laurel so real, because they are a mixture of so many people I know that everyone that’s read the book has told me that they know each of these characters in their own lives in the form of their own friends.

Q: Is the story of “7 To The Other Side” inspired from real life events or is it completely fictional?
A: Apart from one chapter, the story is completely fictional. The chapter where he takes up a sport and the choice he makes between his sport and his education is inspired from my own experience of playing Table Tennis. I have played Table Tennis professionally for almost 9 years and achieved a lot while playing but eventually I too made a choice and continued to study leaving my career as a sportsperson aside. It was important for me to add that for Joshua as well, because I believe sports adds such a dimension to your life like nothing else can but even then to make a decision like Josh does tells one a little more about his personality. The whole journey of making it in your respective sport is amazing and cannot be replicated by any other feeling and I think that chapter was my way of doing it all over again. It was honestly one of the hardest chapter endings I wrote, I felt really bad for a couple of days and did not write for a while.

Q: Was there a specific reason that the story was not set in India except for the small tour in Mumbai by Joshua?
A: Honestly, No. There was no specific reason, like I said this story developed as I wrote it. I had no chapter outlines or no guidelines I followed for there to be a reason behind the events. The only thing I was absolutely sure about was that the book would be written only in 7 chapters, one for each minute that he would relive his life and no more. I started writing and it just so happened that the story was not set in India and I think that is why I got him to Mumbai, the city is beautiful. I would hate for it not to be in the book.

Q: How much time did you take to complete the book, did you ever face a writer’s block? How did you come out of it?
A: I was with the story almost for a year but at the time I was doing it between my course and finally I stopped for a couple of months because of my final thesis but if I actually take into account the actual time I took to write and finalize the entire manuscript, it would about 3-4 months. But then again, it wasn’t everyday that I would be equally productive as the last. I have no idea what writer’s block is, for me I think it’s a few days where you don’t feel like your story is working out the way you want it to. There was a chapter I started, I did write it but then I deleted the whole thing because it wasn’t fitting well. Is that writers block too? If you don’t like what you’ve written? I did use the term writer’s block but only to tell my friends because it sounded cool, yeah, I didn’t write today you know… writer’s block. But honestly I have no idea what that is.

Q: If “7 To The Other Side” is made into a short film, which actors/actresses would you want to be a part of it?
A: First of all, that would be totally awesome and let’s hope someone reading this decides to make a short film out of 7 To The Other Side. Keeping that in mind, I’m totally flexible, anyone you might think will suit the role well, I’m game!

Q: Do you read as much as you write? Which are your favorite books and authors?
A: I read more than I write. Writing has come to me very recently, in the professional sense. Before that it’s been for me and stuff no one has read apart from a few friends. My all time favourite books have to be without a doubt, the Harry Potter series. I live by the Harry Potter series, so much as so that I have a tattoo about the series as well. Considering that I need not mention my favorite author, but I love reading immensely and I don’t restrict myself to a particular genre. I love reading the works of Sidney Sheldon, Agatha Christie, James Ludlum, I love the sappy ones as well Cecelia Ahern, Danielle Steele, Nicolas Sparks, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, they are the reason I started reading at such a young age and I have completed literally all of their books.

Q: You prefer reading e-books or the traditional paper/hard back book?
A: Tradition paper or hard back book without a doubt, like any other reader, I love the smell of the paper and the way a book feels. I know it doesn’t make much sense to a lot of people, but to the ones that love it, they know exactly what I am talking about. E-books are cool as well, I know they’re so much easier to access and all of that specially for people who travel all the time. But I think I’m always going to be loyal to my paperbacks and hardbacks.

Q: Two things that you like and dislike about “Life”?
A: This might sound a little pretentious and Oh My God, she’s a writer she’s going to come with something that sounds like a tumblr quote but there isn’t anything I dislike about life. It’s amazing, I know it sucks at times and all of that, but there’s no fun if Life doesn’t get hard at times. What’s not to like? I have a great family, amazing friends that keep me sane through all the crazy, I’m blessed that I can call myself an author. Do I really have any reason to complain?

Q: If you have to give one reason to our readers to get hold of your book, “7 To The Other Side”, what would the reason be?
A: Because by the end of the book everyone’s going to want to be George’s friend.

Q: Any message you would want to share with our readers?
A: This is specially to anyone who’s thinking about writing their own book. The best advice I ever got was to just go for it. We just put so much thought into the process of getting published, that we miss out on the most important part, the story. If you don’t have a story to begin with, what’s there to publish? Worry about the publishing aspect later and just get to it! I know I wouldn’t have made it if I followed those extensive google searches I carried out. So yeah, you want to write? What’s stopping you?

Q: How can our readers connect with you?
A: I’m extremely active on all my social media accounts, hit me up anywhere and I assure you a good conversation. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email -

-- End of interview with author Roman Dutia --
You can order a copy of the book from Amazon.
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