I’m really pleased to welcome Anuradha Gupta to the blog today. The Indoor Writer first met Anu at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer school in 2012 and again this August. This year Anu was selling her
Over to Anu:
A little bit about my writing career....
I began my writing career as a copywriter in India. After very exciting two years the manic pace of the advertising scene in India got to me and as I looking for a change an opportunity came up for a trainee writer at Voyage, India's foremost travel magazine. It was a dream come true. Ever since I was little there were only two things I wanted to do. Write and travel!
Since then I have been a travel writer. Although we moved away from India some years ago and I had to give up my job at Voyage I continued to freelance as one. My articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers and travel websites.
New Moon Rising was my first attempt at poetry, art and publishing.
Q. Anu, can you tell me more about the inspiration behind New Moon Rising?
The inspiration to create New moon Rising came from an unexpected series of events.
This year had started off as it were on the wrong foot. I witnessed a fatal accident near my house. The shock of seeing a life wiped out in a flash shook me considerably. And then, as if on cue bad news started to stream in from everywhere. Illness, death loss and grief it seemed were all around me.
Yet, one morning I woke up to a glorious day. I remember looking out of my window and being awestruck. Yes, life was transient but it was also incredibly beautiful.
I wanted to capture that moment, that day and all my life and put it away in a little box. As a keepsake.
That led me to think of other moments captured in small verses that lay hidden somewhere.
I dug them out and decided to create a little mosaic of images and words.
I have always wanted to publish a book but had never really imagined I would. I was a travel writer you see and not a ‘real writer.’
I had found my idea for a book. I wanted to make something beautiful to remember my life by and leave something back for my daughters.
Perhaps I realised that day that I was alive now and now was the time to live and make my dreams come true.
Q. How much time did it take to create the book? I believe you created all the artwork and images too - why did you choose to do this?
I had a vision of what I wanted my book to look like but I had no idea on how to go about creating the book. So I worked with my friend Toni Marshall who is a graphic designer and photographer. Toni understood exactly what I was trying to create and was able to translate my ideas into a reality. She took my art and poems with her photographs of some of my favourite things and put them together in this rather lovely coffee table bookIt took just under six months from the moment I conceived the book to get the printed copies in my hand. But I worked on it with 24/7. There was a certain urgency because I guess I could not put my trust in the future.
Q. I particularly loved the section Shadows. Do you have any favourites within the book? And why?
I very fond of the Shadows sections as well. I have always felt a certain affinity to moon and those were my very first poems. But I don’t have a favourite section just some favourite verses scattered across sections.
Q. Creating a whole book from scratch is an inspiring concept. Were there any significant problems you encountered in producing the book, and how did you overcome them?
When I first thought of creating the book all I had was vague sense of what the book would feel like. I had no experience in publishing or printing. I spent days googling the pros and cons of digital and offset printing. Eventually it became clear it the kind of book I had in mind needed offset printing.
Then started the hunt for a printer. I had to find it making the book was even viable before I started working on it. I visited quite a few printing houses in London but could not afford the cost they quoted.
So I started searching online for printers in India, China and Italy. After many frustrating calls and communications I was ready to give up when I found out about Pragati Printers in India from a friend. They were supposedly the best.
I sent them an email without expecting to hear back. The smaller printers had not given me any time or attention so there was no way such a big company was going to give my small job any priority.
But within an hour the manager of their Mumbai office wrote back asking for details. When I told him what I was hoping to do he guided me through the whole process, suggested ways to do it and supported me from start to finish.
As luck would have it I found an art teacher near me who was willing to help me on the project. I had never done any art before. She taught me how to use different mediums and express my self. For four months my kitchen had turned into studio and I painted endlessly.
A print designer friend then helped me put it all together into print friendly PDFs and sent it off to the printers. Within 10 days the books were in my hallway!
I was so nervous when I opened the first carton. Not sure if it would live up to my expectations. I was stunned.
The printers had done a brilliant job. I couldn’t thank them enough.
But it was the service that gave me the confidence to go ahead in the first place and of course they much cheaper than anyone in London.
I was lucky. I had a great team.
Q. Can you tell us about your next writing project, Anu?
Two years ago I was shortlisted in a Disney India competition for Indian writers. We had to pitch an idea for a series of books with a first chapter. Mine was a story based on an ancient myth but set in the future. It didn’t win but being amongst the top three out of 700 plus entries makes me think I ought to pursue.
Except I have never written a book before. The word count scares me. As does every other aspect of it.
So to break in gently I have just started plotting my very first Mills and Boons book for Mills and Boons India. It’s a smaller word count to start with!
You can find copies of Anu’s beautiful book at Amazon and they are also available at Waterstones in Putney and the Barnes Book Shop.
Anu also has an interesting and informative website on Hinduism here (she's in process of moving the site from here).
Thank you, Anu, for popping by today. Good luck with ‘New Moon Rising’ and with the Mills and Boon book, please let us know how you get on! Maybe you should also revisit the children's book too.