It’s time for another edition of #AuthorStories! Today our feature is Kamalini Natesan, who was kind enough to write a wonderful piece about her writing journey. She talks about her journey in writing, her life and how her book came about!
“Who wants to read happy stories”, I was told. “Get out of the way, and write a piece of fiction that has drama, intrigue, shades of grey, maybe even black, and perhaps only then, a happy ending.” That shook me and it hurt too. Would I have to make up a story? My true and wonderful narrative would have to stand on its head- non-fiction to fiction? Well, That’s what I was hearing. All right then, if I can create, so must I un-create.
Thus began my initiation into writing a novel. Would at least some truth eventually make it on to the pages? A Question that besieged me. If I wanted readers, I had to try, and try my utmost, to make a compelling tale of my travels, discoveries and experiences into one of trials and tribulations, and have my heroine ultimately triumph over it all. Oh, yea baby, I could do it!
‘Naked Beneath the Midnight Sun’ is my first long story. I was pressured into telling it, not by anyone else, but the heart. A year in Vestby, Norway, as a young college dropout, left an indelible impression – my entire being had been rocked and I was besotted. The whole country, one that I extensively navigated, in turn, steered me, on an inward journey that led me on a whole new trajectory, and there was no turning back. How could I not share that which tore at my insides repeatedly, in the most passionate and sinuous manner imaginable? So I wrote it, over a period of many years, but in my head alone.
But even after the advent of the computer, it took me a long time to put it all down. Thus began my journey as a novelist.
Nothing is achieved without discipline. I knew if I wanted to achieve, I would have to find the time, each day, to put something down. The editing might have to happen later. So I did take out an hour at a time, every new day, to make some progress. Some days I wrote for 2 to 3 hours, but never at a stretch. Creative fatigue would set in after an hour, and I would go for a walk, or cook a dish, or simply sit and listen to music and allow the mind to breathe free. Exercise, I discovered, was the best form of encouraging a bite and nip, at my creative gene. While the body was occupied with building muscle from fat, the mind roamed free- wherever it wished to. I found a very able and firm partner in the gym- the cross-trainer, believe it or not. The discipline of writing, also made me disciplined about physical exercise, and how does it get better than that! One for one free…a hoot, if I can call it that!
Once I had 30 chapters down, I approached one publisher. Then, I did write in to a few, who asked me basic yet banal marketing questions:
– Who is your reader- what is the age bracket you consider as a reader? Romcom, adventure, thriller, emotional? I was flummoxed. Did it have to be limited within an age bracket or fit into a box? Why won’t everyone want to read an interesting tale based in the most beautiful country of the world – Norway? There was no right response. I left it at that. One publisher, I ran into at a book launch, said he would be happy to publish it, but the story doesn’t end here.
The process of editing began – rewriting and adding and subtracting and multiplying. Much dedication and hours of editing later, I had a novel that no longer resembled the story I wanted to tell and then, ironically, the very publisher who had been willing to publish me earlier on, rejected my manuscript after much back and forth: the novel wasn’t dramatic enough!
Strangely, I was relieved to be let go, because it is only after that, that I sat myself down and asked myself some very important questions, which I should have perhaps asked myself far earlier in this process:
What do you want the reader to feel? How much of your Norway do you want to share? How much of yourself do you want to share? Is the passion still glowing or has the oil burnt out?
Even as I heard the answers to these self-doubting queries, I sat myself down, and with unabated zeal I went cold-calling- I shot off a bio-note, a short synopsis and 3 chapters of my novel to all sorts of publishers, within the country and abroad, that very night. I chose ten who, to my mind, appeared to the ‘right sort’. Whether I got accepted or not, seemed to matter less. I wanted to go ahead while the heart was still zealous and the fire, still hot. Am so glad I did.
The result came within two weeks, and Olympia, UK, accepted my M/S! Bam! It was to happen, and with a publisher with a reputation too. I was beside myself with joy and thanked the powers that be, quietly.
Here we are, at the threshold of a new beginning. I have my fingers crossed, because I pray and hope that Norway, the country at the core of my story, is loved and visited after one has read ‘Naked Beneath…’
It has been planted in the ‘Contemporary Fiction’ category.
Naked Beneath the Midnight Sun
The protagonist Suchareeta (Suchu) is a ballsy person, who undergoes rich experiences in the land she had to run to, from the confines of a safe home, and find what she did. It was fated, and her destiny was tied in with Norway, truly the most fascinating and stunning country in the world.
Norway is the country where it all happens as it even today remains etched in every crevice of my being, as one that is all love and raw beauty.
- May the reader discover what she did, too, and flow along, much like the Norwegian fjords.
- May Suchu’s tale intrigue and evoke emotions that resonate with each reader.
It is a short tale, in terms of time – barely a year of Suchu’s life, and while it moves along, the pace alters as the story weaves in and out of Suchu’s mind and heart. Friendships, heartbreak, love, travel, risk, adventure and growing up is all a part of this journey. Hail Norway!