Interview with Amrita Valan

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

What genre/s do you write in?

I am the perennial crow, bear omnivore of genres. I write literary

speculative fiction, suspense, romance, and darker supernatural

poems and stories. Sometimes frankly it is interstitial, between

genres so to speak. I have not done science fiction.


How long have you been writing?

I have been writing as a hobby from age 7 till the end of my college

years. Then I took a fifteen-year hiatus to raise a family to pursue

avenues of earning an income. I never thought of writing as a

profession. In 2013, armed with my first cell phone, I started writing

notes on Facebook, got added to a few groups, and graduated to

being an unpublished social media poetess for the next 7 years. Last

October, I decided to try getting my work in print. I have been

sending out my poems and stories, micro stories, flash fictions, and

dribbles to online journals, e-zines, and anthologies fairly regularly

for the last eight months.


Do you have any published books or articles? Tell me a bit about

these and what publishing route you took.

I have had an essay out in a medical journal, and eight or nine stories

and micro-stories published in various online journals, other than my

poetry. This May my debut collection of fifty poems on grief, loss,

love, recollections, and hopes of reunions were published through

independent publishing on Amazon. It is titled Arrivederci.


Did you use an editor? If so who?

Yes my editor is a fine and upstanding Welsh gentleman by the name

of Rhys Hughes. I wouldn’t have had the courage or know-how if he

hadn’t offered to publish my poetry, since I knew nothing about

publishing in March when he approached me. I have learned a lot

about publishing independently since then, but it would definitely

have been impossible to do it alone, as there are so many

technicalities that would daunt a technophobe like me. With Mr.

Hughes all I had to do was burn the midnight oil and write and

prepare a manuscript with an integral mix of poems on

interconnected or related themes. Once the book came to live My job

was to promote it.


Did you use a book formatter and cover designer?

No. My editor did everything, I just chose the cover picture, and

supplied him with a photograph for the back jacket.


Did you self-publish or get traditionally published? How did this go

for you?

I went through a small independent publisher who liked my poetry.

He owns two small presses. Since I couldn’t bear the costs of self-

publishing, we went via Amazon’s Print on demand route so neither

my editor nor I had to bear the publishing costs. If a book is ordered,

Amazon prints it at its own cost and subtracts royalties and printing

costs from the book price. Which is kept low, so that the book gets

sold.


How do you market your work and promote your brand?(Include

links)

I learned it as I went along. Book link for Arrivederci on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09484PMQF

I promoted this on around 10-15 groups on social media, Twitter and

my pages.

I claimed author profile on Good reads where a senior editor of a

publishing house Candice Louisa Daquin was kind enough to write

me a fantastic review which she has also put on Amazon, as well as

giving me five stars rating. Two established authors Steven Lester

Carr proprietor of Sweetycat Press and PC Darkcliff, author of Celts

and the Mad Goddess has also written me extremely generous

reviews on either Amazon itself or both Amazon and Goodreads. I

have also shared the reviews on my page and my Facebook timeline

and to a few groups to promote the book.

Another route I took was requesting friends who have purchased a

copy of my book to share the link on their social media accounts.


I have also been interviewed by Dustin Pickering of New York Parrot

Literary Corner fame, editor of Transcendental Zero and this is out on

YouTube as well as my wall. The link to it is

https://youtu.be/nUn_BSZybwM


I have been interviewed by an online journal Fairfield Scribes

recently and they too posted an interview where I have touched

upon Arrivederci. Link to my Interview by Dustin Pickering of New York Parrot Literary Corner

https://youtu.be/nUn_BSZybwM


I have recited poems from Arrivederci on several forums including

Farenheit Link to FArenheit Open Mic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf8yV_E31So


What social media and writing platforms would you recommend?

Facebook for certain. I am afraid my knowledge ends there. I am

neither on Pinterest, Instagram or on WhatsApp poetry groups.

Link to Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/amritavalan


Do you use an agent?

No I haven’t.


Do you use paid advertising? If so what?

No I cannot afford it.


Do you have a blog or website?

Unfortunately not one I am willing to share at this moment I am

afraid, as it is yet to be designed properly. I find myself stymied in my

attempts to launch my website. I am mired in technicalities which

are like Latin and Greek to me. I am perhaps ill-equipped in today’s

world to promote myself, but I am trying hard now to learn and

apply the knowledge.


What inspires you most to write?

Love of the written and spoken word, the values, and ideas I have

imbibed in my life from my parents, and my own life experiences.

The world around me is a constant source of interest, inspiration

curiosity, and wonder. The people I have providentially come across,

sometimes act as a muse or infuse me with awe or compassion, and

then the writers happen. I have a spiritual inclination towards

mysticism, and origins and destinations, the consequences of our

actions on a much deeper level fascinate me, compelling me to

ponder over these issues, repeatedly in my ink.


What do you do to help with writers block?

I was once rightly advised you don’t “deal” with writer’s block.

Burning out is a natural cyclical process. You regenerate by going out

and recharging outdoors, mingle with friends, read a book. Ok if you

want to write and the block persists, write about the block, and

sometimes it lifts. I do not allow myself to worry if I am uninspired.

I write whenever I want to, whatever I want to, just for myself. Till

my higher s-elf gives a nod. This could be good enough to post.


How do you plan your writing and start?

I have written impromptu for the joy of it for the last seven years.

Now I write to meet themes and specifications which are frankly

stifling. I try to drum up my own interests and inculcate gratitude

to be allowed to pen something out of my area of interest. If a topic

needs research I read voraciously, google it, search Wikipedia. But

finally, when I write I need to be quiet and in harmony with my feelings

tuned to my own emotions, and in touch with my instinct. I have

seen in my experience effort and preparation acts as a launching pad

for inspiration.


Is writing your full-time job? If not what else do you do?

At the moment I am a stay-at-home Mom, so I teach my boys and

perform household duties. I try to garner income by paid writing but

it is not of course serious money. I am writing a manuscript of 17

short stories. I hope they sell and justify me calling writing my full-time job, but I seriously work harder on my sons and household than my writing.


What are you working on at the moment?

Love poems and dark poems. Along with building up a manuscript of

Seventeen Short Stories. That is the tentative title of my next book.


What is your target audience?

My target audience is any age group above eighteen, from any

country, provided they are fluent in English to understand subtle

nuances of humor irony, and introspection. But some of my short

stories and poems are meant for children below twelve as well.


How long does it take you to write a book?

I have not written a complete novel et. A short story happens in one

write, but over a few weeks, I re-read and refine and polish it. A

poem can take fifteen minutes or a day, but I have a few poems

which I am rewriting for the last seven years. One such was finally,

finished and is in print in Harbinger’s Asylum by Transcendental Zero

Press.


When did you first discover you enjoyed writing?

I was seven years old, and my mother to keep my big brother and me

occupied, suggested we write a poem, in Bengali, my mother tongue,

and chose the theme of “Chess.” After that, I moved on to write

poems on the motherland, nature, and natural phenomena but in English.


What is your writing schedule look like?

I am a habitual late-night owl. I start writing after putting my children

to sleep by 11 am, till 3 am at times. I also have that odd day once in

two weeks when I get up at 5 am and start writing till the sunsets.

Those are days when lunch and dinner can be managed on leftovers

in the fridge.


What does your family think about you writing?

They love my gradually increasing recognition as a writer. They are so

proud of me it acts as stimuli.


What do you do when you are not writing?

Listen to music, dance and exercise, play with my boys. We sing

ridiculous songs together. Create strange snacks from whatever is in

the kitchen. Go out for a walk.


Where do you get information and ideas for your writing?

It is a random occurrence, what I am meant to write comes my way,

or rises from my subconscious world of associative ideas.


What do you think makes a good story?

A good story makes you forget distractions, and you willingly shut out

the outside world to get to the end. Which even if it is satisfying

leaves you wanting more of the same. You want to follow the

characters, a bit longer in their journey.



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