Saturday, September 21, 2019

Interview with author Janhavi Samant

Janhavi Samant, author of the book Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks recently spoke with me and answered the interview questions. To read more about her book you can visit Book Review : Faaltugiri and other flashbacks - Janhavi Samant.

-- Interview with author Janhavi Samant --
Note: The questions are in Red.

Q: A published book is all the hard work coming to life, how does it feel to hold a copy of your book “Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks”?

A: To be honest, it feels really awesome. The feel and texture of the pages, the smell of the book, and to see all that effort and love poured into those 148 pages – it’s really something else. But it feels even better to see the book in someone else’s hands or bag, or social media feed or someone else’ posts or pics. The goal of writing that book was to reach out to as many people as possible and put a smile on their faces.

Q: How did you finalize the title, “Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks” and the cover photo, did you have options?

A: All the time I wrote the book, the working title was Life at 1 Loukik. At the time I wrote it, it was meant to be a diary of my childhood. The writer in me was quite happy with it. But as the book got written and re-written and then edited, it seemed to me that Life at 1 Loukik didn’t quite capture all that the book was about it. In fact it was quite a dull title. The marketing professional in me wasn’t so happy.

I was a relatively unknown, first-time writer with a rather strange subject – that of childhood in the 80's. According to me, the title had to convey four important things:

1. That the book was direct, fun, timepass and not meant to be taken seriously
2. That the book was also about nostalgia, about warm beautiful memories
3. The book was about Bombay and my childhood but it was also about growing up in general and so it had to have a universal appeal
4. Most importantly, the book had to sell itself but also me as an author.

There is an interesting chapter about how I learned the word ‘faaltugiri’ and the role language plays in the parent-child dynamics. I thought it best encapsulated everything about the book and what it had to offer to the reader.
Interview with author Janhavi Samant
Interview with author Janhavi Samant
Q: What can we expect from you in near future? Any books lined up to be published?

ARight now all my energy is consumed in promoting this book. I am playing with a few themes that I would like to write about in the near future. But I haven’t really sat down and started working on it yet.

Q: How did you plan for the book, “Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks”? Was there a process that you followed or it just came to you?

AIt really just came to me. I got married after my dad passed away and after my son was born, he kept asking questions about my dad’s photo. So I used to tell him stories about my dad and about me as a child. Then I just started documenting my own relationship with my parents and all our funny family episodes. In its first few drafts, the book was just a series of funny episodes. It had no central narrative or writing style. I kept working on it and kept revising it. Subsequent versions gave me an idea of what I actually wanted to say through this book. Then I just kept showing it to friends and working on it till I arrived at a version I was most satisfied with. So the answer is although the thought of writing just came to me, there was a certain process I followed that helped me improve the original thought.

Q: What was the reaction of your friends or family members when you first told them that you wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us something about the support that you received from them?

ATo be honest, the full credit of the book and whatever success it enjoys and will enjoy is fully due to the support of my family and friends. I am truly blessed to have a family – including my children – who have been so invested in this project. Not only as readers giving feedback but also in motivating me to keep working at it through numerous rejections by publishers and even bookstores who refuse to stock authors who have no background. I would have been disheartened and given up long ago if it were not for my loved ones who would keep asking, “So how is your book coming along? You must publish it ha.” That kept reminding me that people found the manuscript enjoyable and therefore it was a story that needed to be told.

Q: The book is about the people you grew up with or saw, do they know that they are a part of the book? How is their reaction?

AYes of course. All the people in the book are aware that they are in the book. Not only that, they are super-thrilled about it. Besides this, people in the gully I grew up in and my relatives, have been reading the book to find out which one of them has been covered in it and have been having a good laugh over it. Over and above that, people are sharing their own faaltugiri kissas from their lives with me. It would not be immodest to say that whoever has read the book has found it thoroughly enjoyable. The book has moved its readers to go back into their own childhoods and reach into their happy memories.

Q: You took up writing as an intentional move or multiple sequences of events led to writing?

AI am a former journalist and writing comes quite easily to me. However, writing a 500 word article on cinema is quite different than writing a 45000 word book. The process is completely different. Now that I have written something this long, the thought of another book is quite intimidating. But the journey of the book begins with a couple of words and I suppose it will happen soon enough.

Q: Being a published author is a different feeling altogether. How do you make sure that this feeling stays alive?

AThe purpose of the book is to remind people of the time we spent meeting each other, interacting with each other even if it were to argue and make people do the same again. The one sureshot way to keep this feeling alive is to do reading sessions that help me connect with people. I have come across so many interesting people who have read the book and shared so many special memories of their own childhoods. It makes me happy that Faaltugiri has made people happy and put a smile on their faces, even made them give a loud good hearty laugh. Trust me, that is enough to keep this feeling alive.

Q: Your book, Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks, as you mentioned is real, however is there anything fictional in it? If yes, to what level?

AThere is nothing fictional in the book at all. Like the disclaimer I put at the start of the book: This book is a work of fact. Any resemblance to characters and incidences in real life is purely deliberate. Everything that I have mentioned in the book has actually happened – after the book is out, I realise that these incidents have happened in other people’s lives also! Although there are some small bits of exaggeration and observation that add masala to the stories to make them more entertaining.

Q: The book, Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks, has received many good reviews, any particular review that made you go wow?

A: Many.  Mainly authors I love reading.

“An engaging memoir set in the vibrant diversity of 1980s’ Bombay.” – Moni Mohsin.

“Hilarious and heartwarming memoir of Bombay childhood in the 80s. An netire generation that grew up on Doordarshan and Jeetendra movies will relate to Janhavi’s rib-tickling life story.” – Vir Sanghavi.

“The book made me really nostalgic. It took me back to my childhood when life was so simple.” – Filmmaker Rohit Shetty.

“What a lovely read!!! How beautifully you integrated and told into your story the stories of those who are always left on the fringes of our core stories.” – Cinematographer Malini Dasari.

Q: Tell us about, how writing is a part of your daily life?

AWriting and content is my profession and passion both. So in that sense, writing is a part of my daily life in some form or another. After journalism, which is mostly deadline-based writing, I write more about subjects that interest me a lot.

Q: Apart from being a published author, what do you do?

AI am a content marketing strategist for Adfactors PR and work on very culture-centric and nuance-led communications for interesting projects for our clients. The good thing about writing at will is that when the urge to write strikes, I do manage to find the time to do it right.

Q: How do you manage between your day job and writing? Is it easy, manageable or difficult?

AIt’s neither too easy nor extremely difficult. Finding time to write is that exact sweet spot between. Fortunately I manage to get things done.

Q: Tell us something about your experience of getting the books published?

AAn exercise in rejection and disappointment. Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks has been rejected by more than 9-10 publishers – some rejected it outright without a read, some asked me to mail the manuscript and never read it or responded to my follow-up mails, one agreed to publish it but ghosted me for year and half while one self-publishing option gave me a quote to self-publish but strangely refused to read it at all. Till I put the idea across to Preeti Vyas of Fun Ok Please, which is now part of the Amar Chitra Katha family, and she took pity on me and asked to read the manuscript before taking a call. After she agreed to get on board, things were more manageable.

Q: Do you read as much as you write? Which are your favourite books?

AYes I do read a lot – thrillers, culture, mythology, feminism, religion. Kiran Nagarkar, Mario Vargos Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Wendy Doniger, Geraldine Brooks, Karen Armstrong, Jeanette Winterson, and so on. So many authors have enriched my imagination with their words.

Q: You prefer reading e-books or the traditional paper back/hard cover? Why?

APaperback. I have not yet gotten used to reading on Kindle.

Q: What would your reaction be if you are told that your book, “Faaltugiri And Other Flashbacks”, will be made into a web series? Any preferences for directors, actors, leads?

AI would be thrilled of course. In fact at the launch of the book filmmaker Rohit Shetty did mention that this could very easily be made into a web series. But these things take a lot of time and the book has to reach a certain critical level of popularity in order to get to that level. The Bhartiya Digital Party team could do a smashing job of directing and producing the show; they have the style and sensibility to understand the genre and humour. As for the actors, I think my dear friend Sonali Kulkarni who has so unstintingly and generously supported and launched my debut novel would be most suitable to play the part of my mum. While someone like Nana Patekar or Upendra Limaye could play the part of my dad very well.

Q: Two things that you like and dislike about being an author?

AI like everything about it. Even if there was something to dislike, I am sure it’s too early for me to tell.

Q: If you have to give one reason to our readers to pick up your book, what would that be?

AIt is a sureshot formule to de-stress. It will put a smile on your face and warmth in your veins. Not to mention, Faaltugiri and Other Flashbacks will make you remember your childhood with a fond smile.

Q: Any message you would want to share with our readers?

A: Read the book. Gift the book. And always keep smiling….

Q: How can our readers connect with you?

AOn social media, one can contact me on Facebook @Faaltugiriandotherflashbacks,  On Twitter @Faaltugiri_ and on Instagram @faaltugiri. Your readers can also email me on janhavi77 @ gmail . com.

-- End of Interview with author Janhave Samant --

You can order a copy of the book from Amazon and FunOkPlease.

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