Today’s author holds a variety of talents and interests just like the variety of stories she has written.
She can lift one eyebrow that can even give her namesake Priya Varrier a run for her money. She is shy but can talk nineteen to the dozen in the presence of the people she is comfortable with. She has hydrophobia, but learnt to swim to conquer her fear. She can now swim like a pro. She loves to take a stroll on the beach in the middle of the day.
When she is not reading or writing, she loves to play keyboard and can play Für Elise beautifully, one of the most popular compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven. When she retires for the night, her muse never sleeps and keeps on inspiring her even in her dreams.
Allow me to introduce … Priya U Bajpai
Priya is a short story author and poet and has been published in mainstream newspapers. This literature scholar is a versatile story-teller. She is adept at writing fast-paced and layered tales across genres. And yet writing her own bio would throw her off! This extremely modest writer would rather let her craft do the talking.
When she is not reading or writing, she daydreams about multiverses. Maybe it is her curiosity about the marvels of the universe that makes her so good at sci-fi.
Which story from your anthology ‘Murder in the palace and other short stories’ is the closest to your heart? And why?
I enjoyed writing ‘Murder in the palace’. However, ‘Neil’s shoe’ is closest to my heart. I never thought I would dabble in paranormal, so it was a surprise even for me. Crazy as it may sound, the story still haunts me. Many times at midnight when I’m typing away on my laptop all alone, a thought strikes ‘what if I am not alone’. This gives me heebie-jeebies. I often run to the other room, kicking myself and wondering ‘what have I done?’ Guess one can well imagine how close I have got to this story 🙂
I wrote a prequel and a sequel to the story too. They didn’t see the light of the day as I feared I couldn’t do justice to Neil or Neha. The stories weren’t as good as the original. That seems to be the universal problem with the sequels.
Did you enjoy writing mystery thriller? What aspect of it did you really enjoy?
Oh yes, absolutely. The most exciting part was to have a conversation with the characters. Each character had a story to tell with their truth and their lies. It was fun to see them come alive, having a conversation with me. The only problem, they don’t know when to stop. Would you believe if I tell you that some characters still demand to be heard?
I also enjoy writing the red-herring. It takes the reader and the characters in the wrong direction. It’s a super cool technique to distract the reader.
Which is the most difficult part of writing crime mysteries?
The most difficult part according to me is to keep the story fast-paced and engaging, which is achieved by the ‘twists and turns’ in crime mysteries. Also to reveal just enough information – not much, not less. In mystery writing, the plot is everything. Each plot point has to be connected, the dots to be joined. There shouldn’t be any loose ends left hanging. At the same time, the author shouldn’t go off the tangent or get stuck in the backstory.
How do you choose a character’s name?
Choosing a character’s name is almost as difficult as choosing a name for your baby. The only difference is that the characters don’t hold grudges for a poorly chosen name. It still demands hell lot of deliberations. If the name is for a short story, I don’t consider too many things. However, for a novel, one needs to understand the root, the origin, the era, the demography, the history. Inadvertently, once I chose a side-character’s name which reminded the readers of a side-kick from a movie.
Have you added more stories to your collection since publishing it on BlogChatter? If yes, can you tell about them in brief?
I have added 9 stories. ‘Blue shoes’ is my favourite of the new lot. It’s a story of how a photographer captures ‘the perfect shot’ and finds an almost ‘perfect love story’. Also, the word blue is used to depict the topography, the object and the photographer’s mood towards the end.
I also enjoyed writing ‘Sunset or Sunrise’. It’s a story about the dilemma of a painter when she tries to paint something but ends up painting something entirely different. We, the author, share this dilemma fairly often.
‘They hate my guts’ is a story about a girl and how a sentence triggers the psychopath in her. These are a few new stories from the collection.
Which 3 things do you keep in mind while writing short stories?
a. To grab the reader’s attention from the first sentence. In a short story, there is no scope to beat around the bush – everything should make some point and quickly too. Even if I am describing the nature – it should do something for the story.
b Vivid description, appealing to the five senses – helps the reader to indulge in the story.
c. End with a bang. Since short, the impact has to be more to captivate the readers- such that it leaves the reader thinking and visualizing the scene or the situation. I sometimes, leave the ending open. So that the reader is left hanging with the story a little longer.
Which 3 books or authors have influenced your writing style?
I am a literature scholar, so I have been influenced by the writing style of many authors – consciously and sub-consciously too. I absolutely adored Thomas Hardy. I often wrote poems after reading his books. He truly inspired me to find my inner voice.
I love detective stories by Agatha Christie. I absolutely adore Hercule Poirot. Jean-Paul Sartre was another influence. Not his writing style per se, but his ideas always intrigued and inspired me.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I read. That’s the best way for me to fight writer’s block. Maybe my muse gets jealous when I read others’ books/stories. And pops up just in time 😉
I also realise that the writer’s block hits when I’m stressed and under pressure. So I try to meditate. Which, of course, does not work for me 😉 So I listen to music.
Share tips on publishing and marketing your e-book.
Marketing is the most challenging aspect for self-published authors. Not many self-published books go on to become extremely popular, except for a few exceptions like Fifty Shades of Grey or the Shiva Trilogy.
I have learned that networking plays a big role. I believe that publishing in various formats and platforms is the key to come across as a professional author. Having your presence around the online community can be a step in the right direction.
Throw some light on how you research while writing.
These days, the information is available on our fingertips. The challenge is to pick the correct and relevant piece – to filter the reliable from the unreliable. Since fiction is my forte I can still take the creative liberty. For instance, Dan Brown wrote ‘Da Vinci Code’ – which is mostly conspiracy theory based, it cannot be challenged on the facts. However, one needs to pick the relevant data from the trustworthy sources, especially if writing a non-fiction. If I were to write a non-fiction I would trust a library more than google.
So, that was Priya for you, throwing light on how a short story writer’s mind works.
Find out more about her book “Murder In The Palace & Other Short Stories “
In the titular tale, a fun New Year’s Eve masquerade party turns into a crime scene with Mrs. Smith found lying in a pool of her own blood. Anna Roy, the detective has her work cut out for her when she finds out that each of her five suspects has a strong motive to kill Mrs. Smith. Death threats, affairs, and jealousy – the tale has it all. Join Anna as she unearths secrets about each suspect.
If you enjoy variety in your life, this collection of short-stories across diverse genres will fill you with awe and excitement. From murder mysteries, sci-fi, historical fiction, horror to even the paranormal, Priya shall take you on a thrilling roller coaster ride.
Go through these fabulous reviews of Priya’s book:
Priya, how was your interview experience. Do share your thoughts with us.
Fellow bloggers, hope you had as much fun reading this interview as I had compiling it.