Maliny Mohan is a doctor who resorts to appeasing her passion to write during her leisure times. She has contributed to a short story anthology, titled ‘Love and other enchantments’, brought out by a group of five authors – The Fictitious Five and another titled ‘ Colours- Different shades of love’. An avid blogger and an ardent admirer of subtleties, her dream of becoming an author sprouted wings in the pages of her blog.
Her latest book ‘ The inimitable chaos of life’ was a hit. It deals with a very sensitive question that isn’t life chaotic? There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.
Thank you, Maliny didi for giving this interview. We wish her a great success ahead.
SAYAN: Tell us something about your first book. What was the inspiration or instinct that made you write the script?
Dr. MALINY: ‘The Inimitable Chaos of Life’ is my debut solo work of fiction. I had contributed stories to multiple anthologies before venturing into a book of my own. There was a phase in my life, around two years back, when I was constantly and frantically in search of new anthology announcements, so that I could contribute my short stories. As I started writing and submitting for the ones which caught my eyes, I realised that I was passionate about story telling. Moreover, I have been a huge admirer of Jhumpa Lahiri and whatever I wrote extracted inspiration from her works, albeit making it certain that I wasn’t imitating her body of work in any way. With the amount of influence she had on me, it was only natural that I wanted to write more and more short stories. I was writing so many stories during the aforesaid phase that the thought struck me one fine day that if I could write and contribute to so many stories for anthologies, why couldn’t I write a few stories and compile them to create an entirely independent book of my own. Thus was born the idea to come up with this short story collection. As to what made me choose the theme for my book, I shall answer the same on one of the following questions.
SAYAN: A lot of people these days argue about the fact that self publishing is just a waste of money. What is your approach to this motion as an author?
Dr. MALINY: I am someone who would never want to self publish my book. There are several reasons for the same. One being that I struggle when it comes to marketing. When the fact remains that you need to be up and about when it comes to marketing if you are self publishing your book, I am definite about my inefficiency in that area and hence would most likely fail at that aspect. Self publishing is different from vanity publishing where you pay to publish your book. I am against vanity publishing (which as you said, is a waste of money from my experience) but not so much against the idea of self publishing, even though I refrain from it due to the above mentioned reason. I believe that if done in the right way, self publishing could reap you rewards and would source you enough reach amongst the readers. So, if you are someone who is absolutely confident about your marketing skills and is adept in handling the A-Z aspects of your book, then go for it. It saves time too, which could be a drawback if you wait for a traditional publisher to pick your book and publish it. But then, it lacks the brand quality that comes along with traditional publishing. There are pros and cons for both. In the end, it is your choice, for you alone are aware of your strengths and weaknesses.
SAYAN: Your book ‘The Inimitable Chaos of Life’ was quite popular. Do you like to write on such sensitive and unique genres?
Dr. MALINY: Thank you, Sayan. I am a sensitive person and feels emotions strongly. More often than not, I end up thinking and deciding with my heart than my head. I have had my share of downfalls because of the same, but I have never ever regretted the choices I have made. Perhaps, there lies the reason why I would select this particular theme for my book. I believe that life is a beautiful set of chaos. It is inimitable. The ways of it are unique. Also, I have always been intrigued by human relationships. The way a meaningful bond nourishes an individual is amazing. For all these reasons my stories revolve around two major elements – Human emotions and relationships.
SAYAN: Tell us some common traps for aspiring writers.
Dr. MALINY: You should be wary of the publishing houses that demand money from you. You should also be cautious of those who ask you to buy back copies of your own book. You might be able to put your book up on the charts for a few days by doing so, but ask yourself whether the writer in your would be satisfied by the act.
SAYAN: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Dr. MALINY: Working on TICOL taught me the basics of editing. I am someone who writes from her heart. I don’t follow a particular method while writing. I outline my book and start writing right away. Even though I am proud of that aspect of mine, I should confess that I learnt while writing TICOL that you need to concentrate on certain points while you write a book. Authoring a book is different from writing a personal rant in your journal. One cannot risk making mistakes. You need to polish your work as much as you can, because at the end you are creating a work which has the ability to influence people. I wouldn’t say my first book changed my process of writing, but it definitely made me a better writer and a more disciplined and professional one at that regard. I have learnt to respect my characters more and these days I try my best to mould them so that they don’t stand out fictitious or fake.
SAYAN: Have you ever gone through a writer’s block? How do you cope up with it?
Dr. MALINY: I never went through writer’s block while I was writing TICOL. As each story thread took form in my mind, I would rush to my laptop and type away. But yes, I have suffered writer’s block in my life and at those times, I would read a book, listen to songs with intense lyrics or even take a break and hang out with my family or friends.
SAYAN: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Dr. MALINY: TICOL was based on characters close to life. They are raw and fresh and resemble each one of us. Hence, I didn’t have to research much before I started writing it. The story ‘ For A Reason’ was based on the earth quake that struck India and Nepal in 2015, to write on which I had to delve deep into the news reports. Barring that effort, I wrote mostly listening to the voices of my heart.
SAYAN: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Dr. MALINY: As I said before, I mostly write from my heart. I am not ready to write a genre according to the demands of the society. I don’t want to write books purely based on the theory that a particular concept would sell well. I want to write books that touch upon the lives of readers and satisfy the writer in me at the same time. I want to write books that affect people, like the many books that have affected me as I read them. I believe that if a book is planned, plotted and written in a decent language, it would be accepted by the reader. It needn’t belong to a particular genre nor should it be based on a particular theme.
SAYAN: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Dr. MALINY: I believe the emotions that course through humans are the same, whether they are males or females. A few of my stories have been written from male protagonists’ point of view. I don’t remember finding it difficult to write those. Perhaps, the fact that I have a habit of observing people around me helped me indirectly in penning those stories.
SAYAN: Lastly, a reflective one-if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a writer as an adult, what would you do?
Dr. MALINY: If I had known that I would be a writer when I grow up, I would have written more as a child. I started writing seriously when I was 22 years of age. Even though, I don’t regret the decision, I feel that I would have experienced the bliss that comes with writing well before. Also, I would have had a solid style and technique right from my childhood/ adolescent age, on which I could have worked later and that in turn would have helped me in writing my first book much earlier in my life.