BLW: Let’s welcome the successful Indian author Preethi Venugopala to Book Lover’s World. Preethi is a Civil Engineer by education and an avid blogger, artist by passion. After working as a Civil Engineer for more than a decade, she quit her job to become a full time mother and writer. Meanwhile, she took a Masters Degree in English Literature to complete her dream of studying English literature.
Her debut novel ‘Without You’ published by Write India Publishers, is getting rave reviews and is among the top selling romance books on Amazon and Flipkart.
She has also been published in two anthologies, 'The Second Life' and 'Blank Space'. Another anthology 'Á Little Chorus of Love' will be out in August and another anthology by Readomania will be coming out in October. She is also part of a triple header novella book by Blogadda, that has three novellas in one book and will be published by Leadstart publishers.
Her article on womensweb.in, ‘Love, Rotis and a pinch of wisdom from a mother’, which is a heartfelt letter from a mother to her son about why he should not laugh at the shapeless rotis that his wife makes, went viral online and was shared widely on Facebook and Whatsapp. She is a regular contributor to many online magazines and websites.
Preethi Venugopala: Thank you BLW for the warm welcome. It is a pleasure to be on BLW.
BLW: Firstly, congratulations on the grand success of your debut book "Without You". Tell us a little about yourself.
Preethi Venugopala: Thank you. I am a Civil Engineer turned author, a stay at home mom, an avid blogger and also an artist. My blog http://tulipsandme.blogspot.in is my happy world. You can find me musing about all things that I love, if you step in there.
BLW: We know that you are one awesome writer. Tell us about your book Without You, what it means to you, and how did you conceive the idea of writing on the most trending genre? How long did it take to write this book?
Preethi Venugopala: Thank you for that compliment. You just won my heart.
‘Without You’ is my first novel. Like any first born, it is very close to my heart. I have grown possessive about the characters I created in it to the extent that I hate people who talks bad about my characters. Silly, right?
I am a romance junkie and I read romances mostly. This story came to me in a dream and of course it was in my favorite genre. So I decided to pen it down.
It took me about six months to finish writing this book. I spent another six months to edit and polish it further.
BLW: Without You runs on a realistic line with well developed characters. We would like to know the homework you did to write this book.
Preethi Venugopala: Thank you again for such a compliment. It is very satisfying to an author when a reader says that the characters are realistic and well developed. To say the truth, there was no homework as such. I am a pantser, I write what comes to mind at the moment. But I usually go back and polish what I have written. I take the feedbacks from my beta readers seriously too and make necessary changes if I find their suggestions valid.
BLW: Ananya, the protagonist of the story is the most loved character among the readers. Is it a character from your real life or just a piece of imagination?
Preethi Venugopala: Ananya is a totally fictional character. Ananya has many of my shades though. I portrayed her that way because then I could understand how she would have reacted in a particular situation. I am very glad that the readers loved her quirkiness and impulsiveness.
BLW: What were your biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
Preethi Venugopala: Writing is the easiest and satisfying part in the whole publishing process. The editing, proofreading, the many queries, the rejections, the long wait, the acceptance letter, the contract, the cover design, and the launch; every single thing, other than writing, that brings a book to life is boring. I wish I could skip all that.
BLW: What inspired you to write this book?
Preethi Venugopala: I believe that every story has its writer predestined. ‘Without You’ was supposed to be written by me. I guess that is the reason why I saw snippets from the story as a dream. The story continued to haunt me till I wrote it down.
BLW: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Preethi Venugopala: The biggest lesson was that I started to believe that I could write. I had never in my wildest dreams imagined myself as an author. So the whole process convinced me that I could be an intriguing story teller. After I sent the story to my first beta reader (it was just a few chapters) I was literally shivering. But the feedback I got was ‘So what happens now to Ananya? Write it or I will kill you.”
Preethi Venugopala: Only time can tell. As of now, I plan to stick to the genre.
BLW: When do you write the most? Is there a favorite place at your home or office where you write the most? Any props that you feel lucky to keep with you when writing?
Preethi Venugopala: Nothing! I don’t have any favorite place where I prefer to write. But I believe, if I could just vanish to a beautiful, romantic spot for a few months, I might produce a better novel soon. (*wink, wink*) All I need is a calm corner at home where no one would disturb me.
BLW: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Preethi Venugopala: At one point of time I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, I was an expert in biology in school. But, both my siblings are doctors. Their thick text books with horrible pictures about diseases put me off medicine forever. So I joined engineering without knowing that it had thicker books with math problems that ran for pages, waiting to pounce on me. *Sigh*
BLW: What are your inspirations in life?
Preethi Venugopala: Compassion when found at the unlikeliest of places inspires me the most. For example, today I found a picture on Facebook where a Turkish couple was feeding food to 4000 Syrian refugees instead of their well off, invited wedding guests. Isn’t that wonderful?
Love is another inspiration. True love always touches my heart.
Friendship is another.
BLW: What books have inspired or influenced you as a writer?
Preethi Venugopala: Many! I think the books that we read leave within us a treasure house of memories, words and pictures. We are forever tapping into them to create new characters, new stories and new memories. It is like we are playing a game of permutations and combinations with the words that have been imprinted in our mind by virtue of the books we have read.
BLW: We would be happy to know about any future projects that you are currently working on?
Preethi Venugopala: I am working on another love story that will be based in Sreepuram, the picturesque sleepy village where ‘Without You’ begins. Some of the characters from ‘Without You’ will play a more important role in this next book.
I am also working upon a historical romance simultaneously.
BLW: What other secret skills do you have?
Preethi Venugopala: No secret skills. I am an open book. But as a writer I wish I had some special, secret skills which would help me research my characters. I would be happy if I could apparate and disapparate to any place like Harry Potter. I covet his invisibility cloak and also the extendable ears invented by Fred and George that will help me eavesdrop stealthily.
BLW: To be a good writer, one should be a good reader. We know you enjoy reading books. What are the best books you have ever read? Name any five.
Preethi Venugopala: 1. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen (because it is the most loved classic romance ever)
2. Eat Pray Love: Elizabeth Gilbert (Best Memoir ever)
3. Until You: Judith Mc Naught ( I loved the protagonists so much)
4. Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte ( I can re-read it umpteen times, it is so beautiful)
5. Love in the time of Cholera: Gabriela Garcia Marquez (it teaches how language can be used beautifully to narrate a story)
BLW: What advice would you give to all those aspiring authors who consider you as an ideal?
Preethi Venugopala: I am a newbie; don’t consider me as your ideal. I am nowhere capable of advising as of now. I am still learning the craft.
But yes, if your aim is to become an author, the only thing I feel is important is the dedication towards the craft of writing. Be focused on nurturing the craft.
BLW: Message for the book lovers in this world!
Preethi Venugopala: Every book you read, allows you to live a life, a life that is lived by the characters in the book, a world that is created by the author of the book. So if you ask me, I would encourage you to lead a loving and blissful life in a happy world. Choose such books that will make you feel happy and safe while you are living inside it.
Thank you so much for your time. It's our pleasure to chat with you...