author of My So-Called Bollywood Life
Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I try to mix it up a little and ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Nisha, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
First and foremost, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog! I’m really excited for the opportunity. To answer your question, I don’t think there was a defining moment in which I knew that I wanted to be a writer. It was an inevitability for me. Writing was just something I always wanted to do.
You are so very welcome! Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
I think so many authors don’t enjoy the moments when they achieve success. For a while, I was like that. Every time something amazing happened that furthered my career, I would appreciate it, and ask ‘what’s next?’
No matter what, there will always be something that’s ‘next,’ so I’ve tried to celebrate every success as exciting. I’ve tried to be proud of every advancement that I’ve made. When I got an agent, when I sold movie rights, and when I sold my book. It was all a blessing for me.
Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
This goes back to the question about the proudest and most exciting moment. I think the idea of “I’ve made it” comes from comparison, and although comparisons are healthy sometimes to foster drive and ambition, a writer’s journey is a long and arduous one. Constant comparison can cause a writer to lose focus on the individual journey. So to me, I’ve made it as a writer just because I believe I’m a writer. Yeay!
I LOVE that! Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
SO MANY MENTORS. Talk about the amazing support and feedback I’ve received in my life! When I was nineteen and starting out as a professional writer, I met author Caridad Piniero who writes adult romance. She’s been with me every step of the way while I navigate through publication. I also met Jonathan Maberry, author of Rot and Ruin. Over the years, Jonathan has given me some fantastic advice like ‘trust your readers,’ an adage I tell myself every time I sit down to draft.
Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Never. This was what I was meant to do.
Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
Driving. I know a lot of people say that their ideas come to them when they’re in the shower, but for me, I have a really long commute to and from my day job. I always end up stuck on the freeway with an idea I’m dying to write down. I’ve tried to do voice to text while driving but Siri doesn’t really understand Hindi words. Boo.
Psst: I use the voice memos app on iPhone and transcribe it later. I've written entire chapters this way. End psst. Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "Easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?
So there a scene in my book that was inspired by the Bollywood movie ‘Main Hoon Na.’ The scene involves the color red. If anyone realizes what the scene is, please let me know!
I don't now, but I'm going to look for it ;)
ALTERNATE QUESTIONS IF YOU PREFER:
Where do you look for inspiration?
I think inspiration comes from other inspired works. From poetry, from real life storytelling experiences, from music, from human emotion. As writers, it’s our job to filter through the noise and find the perfect note.
Who is your writing hero?
Jane Austen. She’s not exactly a living hero, but she had spunk in a time when spunk wasn’t acceptable. If that’s not hero-worthy, I don’t know what is.
What do you love most about your most recent book?
My book ‘My So-Called Bollywood Life’ that comes out next year in May, is about a Bollywood loving Jersey girl who finds herself at odds with destiny. She has to choose between who she’s meant to love, and who she wants to love, both of which result in a significant amount of Bollywood movie comparisons.
I’m excited about the fact that my publisher was super supportive about having a Bollywood movie checklist at the end of the novel. Every movie that’s referenced in the book is found in the checklist so readers can go through and watch the films that they may not have seen yet.
How did you go about picking your agent?
I’m repped by Joy Tutela at David Black Literary, and honestly, Joy picked me. I was with another agent at the agency who was phenomenal, but Antonella decided to retire. Before I knew it, Joy and I were on the phone and her enthusiasm about my writing won me over. I’ve stayed with Joy because she gives me perspective, and acts as my partner in all business dealings. She helps me keep my focus, and reminds me of what’s important when I need it the most.
I Never Round
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
Honestly? This one is true. I’ve never made up a word. Haha.
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
This one is also true. I’ve been so tired before that I’d hoped my great idea would be there in the morning. Biggest mistake ever. Great ideas are NEVER there in the morning.
I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Okay, I’ve done the whole character looking in the mirror thing. But it worked for the story! (I will stand by this until my dying day).
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
ALL. THE. TIME.
I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I break this ‘rule’ on purpose. It’s important to have mental health breaks, at least for me, so that I don’t burn out on a project. Some distance also gives me better perspective.
Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
My So-Called Bollywood Life doesn’t have pre-order options yet, but check out my website at www.nisha-sharma.com and I’ll be posting news, and information about my upcoming newsletter. They’ll be opportunities to win prizes and such. To follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you can find me @nishawrites.
Update: MSCBL is currently a #1 new release in Teen and Young Adult Film Fiction on Amazon, available to preorder.
Bonus question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
DJ Spotify was unable to locate Jugni...but Nisha brought her own copy! Seriously, DJ.