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If You Met Your Ideal Readers, What Would You Say to Them?

If you meet your ideal reader, what would you say to him/her? This is one of my curiosities with all fiction writers I meet — I ask that and other questions to Monideepa Sahu, one of my co-writers on the African-Asian short story anthology Behind The Shadows, with whom I’ve shared another anthology, and who has since been a writer friend.

What has your writing journey
been like?

started out rather late in life,
after tying myself in knots for years as a bank manager and mother. All
experiences came back to inspire me when I finally began writing.
Leaving a demanding career to care for my growing son, was the best
thing I ever did. Today he’s my best buddy and most constructive critic.

of magazine features and opinions columns happened in due course.
Honing the craft of fiction and getting stories published, was a greater
challenge. On-line
writing groups also broadened my horizons. Apart
from polishing one’s creative talents, they offered great intangible
rewards . In the course of critiquing, I grew friendly with fellow
writers from all over the planet, who make my special list of fabulous


Tell us about the genre you
write in, and what inspired you to choose it. What is a genre that you find
intriguing enough to try which is currently outside your comfort zone?

story needs to be told, and it chooses its own place. This often lies
in the perceptions of  readers and editors, rather than some conscious
design on the author’s part. I once wrote a speculative story based
around Surpanakaha from the Ramayana. When I posted it on a writers’
workshop, an US zine editor felt it ‘fitted in’ with her focus on a mix
of horror and erotica. Then it surprised me further by almost making it
to an antholgy of erotic fantasy.

ever willing to experimented with diverse approaches. Much of my
published work would be literary short fiction or children’s fiction.
But my stories have also been accepted into anthologies of paranormal
stories, mystery stories and love
stories for young adults.
take a sporting attempt at anything. But I’ll pass the challenges of
picture books, graphic novels and comics for the time being.

How important has your online
presence been in the publication and sales of your work?

The web has been my life-giving river. I’ve found writers workshops,
critiquing partners and ideas here. I found a classy and very supportive
publisher for my book, Riddle of the Seventh Stone on line, when my
proposal won the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (Mumbai) on-line open book pitch. 
my short stories in literary journals and anthologies have resulted
from calls for submissions posted on the Net.  My most recent story in
Behind the Shadows‘ is a great example. The editors Zukiswa Wanner and
Rohini Chowdhury selected our stories from hundreds submitted on line.
The writers are all of Asian or African origin, and hail from far
corners of the planet. But we are all connecting, and our book is out
because of the Internet.
net has also helped connect me with readers. A spontaneous note of
appreciation from a reader is the writer’s greatest reward.

What are your views on
self-publishing vs traditional publishing?
never attempted to self-publish. The idea seems quite daunting to me,
though I see it working wonderfully for some writers. I see
some excellent manuscripts being rejected through the traditional route.
Self-publishing is a boon in such cases, for bringing good books before

What is the last book you
loved reading? Why?
 I’m stumped. I read quite a bit, and love many books for various reasons. 

If you had the chance to speak
directly to your ideal reader, what would you say to them?
I could connect with this ideal reader, I would take the back seat and
allow her to speak instead.
My writing does much of the talking for me. I
would want to know her gut reactions and honest feedback. This would
help me become a better writer.

Tell us about the books you
have published, and anything you have forthcoming.

1. Riddle of the Seventh Stone, my fantasy adventure novel for children available on Amazon and Flipkart.  
My next book, a biography of Rabindranath Tagore for children, is due soon from Puffin, India.
Some anthologies where my short stories have been most recently been featured:
2. Behind the Shadows; contemporary stories from Africa and Asia
Sahu is a former banker. Tired of managing money for others and not
making pots of her own, she took to writing. She still doesn’t have
money, but she did have a whale of a time writing her fantasy adventure
for young readers, ‘Riddle of the Seventh Stone’. Her short fiction for
both adults and young people has been widely anthologised in India and
abroad. She enjoys concocting tall tales, and can also dash off opinion
columns on deathly serious subjects. She lives in Bangalore with her
extended family of people, a vintage PC, and countless arthropods, who
inspire her stories. Catch up with her at @monideepawrites 
Having heard Monideepa, and learned about her ideal reader and her writing, would you like to talk about yours? If you met your ideal reader, what would you say to him/her?
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

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