She’s an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader and a GSD-lover.
Apart from writing and reading, she loves doing all sorts of creative stuff, like baking, painting, sketching, crocheting, gaming and photography.
She dropped out of her engineering college in the 2nd year and started perusing 3D Animation Film Making.
She worked as a content writer after that for two years before she started working on her first novel.
Presently, she lives in Pune with her beloved husband and spends most of her days surrounded by books and nature.
So, lets start off with a smile. What’s the funniest mistake you ever made writing?
It’s not actually a mistake, but still a funny thing. I wrote the first draft’s scenes of my first novel backward – End first and beginning at the end.
Have you done any projects that took you way out of your comfort zone?
Hell, yes! In my first book, I wrote random diary entries of my protagonist (who happens to be a psychopath.) For writing these entries I had to go way out of my comfort zone and do extensive research work on how psychopaths and serial killers think and function. Trust me when I say I used to get nightmares whenever I worked on Michael’s diary entries. And sometimes I still get those creepy nightmares.
Presently, I’m working on my second book and this one is about ritual killings with a sprinkling of horror. Imagine my dreadfulness when I have to research about stuff on real life paranormal incidents!
Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far and why?
Allison (the MC of my first book.) Her mother and brother are murdered when she is 15 years old and as a result, she’s a really vulnerable character full of complexities and tangled emotions.
It was a big challenge creating her character, more so because she is a lot like me and I know that I’m a really complex person. Writing her was like finding and discovering my own self.
What’s been the most memorable piece of research that you’ve turned up?
Stuff about psychopaths and sociopaths… I know it’s weird, but they really fascinate me.
What’s the craziest story idea you’ve ever had? And did you write it?
Actually, I’ve had quite a few crazy ideas over time, but the two that are still stuck in my mind are:
The first one is writing a collection of audio recordings of a clinically insane psychopath. Stuff about how he murders people and how he sees the entire process as an emotionally unattached person. (I’m still thinking about adding more things to it, so I’ll probably start writing it by the end of this year.)
The second one is about a female who gets stuck in a car in the woods, far away from her town, and how an apparition starts troubling her.
Hungry and thirsty she has no one to help her, but only the bone-chillingly-scary apparition. (I wrote a flash fiction piece on this one a few months back – Her. Apparently, it’s the first chapter. I’ll write this one, as more ideas will come to my mind.)
What about your upcoming work?
It’s written in multiple POVs (2 first person POVs, 1 third person POV and the 4th one is in diary entry format.)
Here’s the blurb:
A girl who’s trying to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist who is chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who murders her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.
A psychological thriller that weaves it’s way through the sadistic past of a traumatized child to the snare of dark mysteries of a beloved father.
What project are you looking forward to next?
– Sinister Town, my next book. It’s a crime and horror thriller novel about ritual killings.
Who are your writing heroes and why?
Stephen King – Because he is practically the GOD of horror fiction. His writing style is simply out of this world.
Sidney Sheldon – He knows how to captivate a reader’s imagination with simple writing.
Jeffery Archer – He’s the master of story telling.
Any basic writing philosophy or tips?
Yes, only one – WRITE. That’s it. If a person wants to be a writer, then he/she has to write.
I receive quite a few e-mails from my blog readers and friends asking me to tell them something useful that’ll help them in writing their novels, but when I ask them, “How many words do you write in a day, or in a week?” They almost always reply with vague answers saying they want to write but they don’t get enough time. So, you see, the main problem is that everyone wants to write, but only a few actually write. The ones who do get success, the ones who don’t always give excuses for not having enough time to write.
The thing is, you need to MAKE time to write. It’s an art; it needs time, patience and practice (a lot of all three!)
How do you develop your characters?
My process of characterization is quite unique (as I like to think.) I always start with a name. Sometimes it takes me months to find the right name. When I stumble upon the right name for my MCs I get an intuition (something inside me clicks – CLICK!)
Then I fill out a basic character sheet (the most basic one that consists of only the basic details like First name, last name, occupation, basic physical descriptions, and basic nature.) After filling this up I spend a month or two thinking about this particular character, placing him/her in different situations and imagining their responses. This helps in building a personality.
Then when my MCs are ready this way (in my mind) I start writing the book. And as I proceed to write each chapter, the characters reveal themselves more clearly to me. Because by that time I feel like I already know them through and through.
This always works for me.
Where do you come up with ideas for new characters or stories?
They simply pop into my head. No kidding. Around two years ago, I watched an interview by Stephen King. He said don’t act on all your ideas. Most of them are junk. Work on the one that sticks in your mind even after a year without noting it down anywhere. That’s what a good idea is like. So, I followed his advice for both my novels ☺
How do you come up with character names?
It’s a random process. I generally never force myself to think about them, but if I need names for secondary characters, then I Google search list of common/popular names in different countries. It always helps.
After my first novel, when I learned that I might need more than the planned number of names in a particular novel, I started making a list of names that I come across in everyday life (esp. while reading books and interacting with my readers.) So, now I have a long list with loads of good names and last names – names that I like.
How do you decide where to set a story?
Again, it’s a random process. I generally create a fictional world, which compliments my story and not the other way around. It’s as they say, whatever floats your boat.
How much do you structure your stories before you write them?
I plan ahead the chapters to make the flow of the story better. Most of the time it’s enough to see me through 60K words.
Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
First draft (definitely!)
Do you have any revision tips to share?
Only one tip – revise all you want, but NEVER DELETE ANYTHING! Make a separate folder named “Trash (book name)” and put all the junk there, but never delete any scene or plot twist. It might come in handy some other time.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Write – a LOT. Make a habit of writing everyday (if you can’t then at least 4 times a week.)
Read – a LOT. Read books in the genre you like and want to write. And also, read books on writing. It’ll help you understand writing better.
Excellent advice. What’s the best part about being a writer?
I can read and write all day!
Do you have a writing routine?
Yes, I try to write every day in the morning once, and in the evening again. This way even if I write 500 words in one sitting I manage to get at least 1000 words in one day.
What do you do when you get stuck writing your story?
I take a break from it and start reading a book or watch Friends (2-3 seasons) and if I still feel stuck, then I start knitting and take a long break from writing (say, a month.)
How did you decide on your genre?
Well, my genre chose me. It’s a funny story – I started out with an idea of a contemporary romance, but it turned into a serial killer psychological thriller.
How do you decide on a title for your book?
It automatically comes to me – boring, but true.
Do you have a favorite line you’d like to share?
This one is from my first book:
“You’re not alone, Allison, and I’ll make sure that you’ll never be.”
If you could instantaneously master one writing skill, what would you choose and why?
Storytelling ability like Stephen King and Jeffrey Archer.
What author’s style do you admire the most?
Stephen King. Have you read On Writing by SK? He is the best.
What is the next big thing you want to write about?
Zombies!!! Always, zombies!
Do you have any writing rituals?
Oh yes, I do. I have a rather elaborate and specific ritual – I take a cold/hot shower (as per weather,) then I wear my writing clothes (a particular pair of clothes in which I can write my best!) Then I light a scented candle on my table and then I practice gratitude (any one practice from The Magic by Rhonda Byrne.) Then I meditate for 5 minutes and only then I start writing. ☺
What is the single most important quality in a novel–what must an author do to win you over?
Story. A good story, irrespective of the genre, and good storytelling can win me over in a second.
What’s something most readers would never guess about you?
That I suffered from severe depression from ages 10 to 20.
Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
Reading books, watching movies, cooking, playing games on PS3, knitting, sketching and painting.
If you have a blog, how did that start?
I first started a food blog, and then started a book blog and after one year of reviewing books, I started my author/writing blog.
Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
– Sylvia Plath.
You can find out more about Heena at her blog: https://www.heenarathorep.com.