Interviews & Features

Interview on The Notorious Reader

Note: This interview was originally posted on The Notorious Reader website

Short stories have a way of staying with us. Even though it takes less time to read them, they leave a lasting impression on our minds. When we heard about the recently released collection of short stories by Manali Desai, we at thenotoriousreader knew that we have to talk to her about her writing style and her books.

Having tried her stints in marketing and teaching, Manali finally answered her life’s calling through content writing. She plunged into being a full-time freelance writer and editor. Apart from her ad hoc assignments, she also runs her blog A Rustic Mind on which she shares her travel experiences, life anecdotes, and inspiring women stories. Her penchant for writing led her to publish three solo books and two anthology books, alongside also editing a book for another author. Manali has been two times bestselling author on Amazon via her books The Untold Stories and the recently released The Art of Being Grateful & Other Stories. These little achievements alongside the reviews and feedback she receives on her writing, help her stay motivated to continue her writing journey. You can know more about her or follow her works through her social media handles, all under her pen name A Rustic Mind.

What inspires you to pick up your pen and write?

Honestly, there’s hardly anything else I can do professionally (and I’m saying this out of experience because I have tried doing all kinds of odd jobs) so earning my daily bread by writing is a huge motivation. Besides that, my biggest inspiration is life itself; the everyday experiences of each person are so varied, that it intrigues my curious mind to explore as many stories out there as possible.

Can you please give us some more information about your latest book?

My latest book The Art of Being Grateful & Other Stories, released on 15th July. This book has been a result of my creative writing, for which I got time after a long time during this lockdown. Most of the stories in this book are a result of my imagination which found new wings because of staying home and getting a fair bit of free time than usual. These are flash fiction stories that range across all genres like romance, mystery, thriller, coming of age, and much more.

Can you please tell us more about the main characters of the book?

In all the eight stories, the lead characters are mostly female. There’s Ria, a newlywed young woman who finds herself adjusting to a new household and the way they like their food, which is completely different from how she likes it. There’s Prerna, who is about to take a solo trip after overcoming many hurdles, first with her own self and then with society. There’s Maanvi who has been bogged down all her life living under the pressure of ‘Log Kya kahenge’. There’s Sakshi, who is struggling to find a way to look at the positive side of things, despite having everything going her way. And my most favorite is Tanvi, who struggles to make the world understand that her male best friend, Mayank, is not her love interest.

Why did you choose to write about these particular topics?

Well, that’s because they’re all connected to me somehow. They have a bit of me and all those women who I have had the good fortune to meet and know. Each of these stories will be relatable for most women out there (especially Indian women) The only stories that would not fall under the ‘slice of life’ category from this book are ‘Warned in Love’, ‘A Fairy Tale Christmas’ and ‘No Witnesses’ because these belong to the, horror, fantasy and thriller genres respectively. I wanted to explore these because I had never written in any of these genres before and felt like challenging myself to write something new.

Why did you choose this particular genre? Will you be trying your hand at any other genre?

Most of these genres are something I explored for the first time as a writer. I’m thinking about and looking forward to trying out magical realism next.

When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?

I’m in talks with a few publishers about a non-fiction book based on the lives of inspiring women. That’s all I’m allowed to reveal at this point, sorry. Let’s hope things get finalized soon!!

If not a writer, what would have been the career of your choice?

The retirement plan is to run/own a bookstore or library, so I guess you can call that a second career choice.

Can you tell us about your favorite author/ authors?

Other than the biggies like JK Rowling, Enid Blyton, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy, which I grew up reading and then read in my early 20s, these days I’m reading quite a lot of books by new and upcoming Indian as well UK and US authors.

What do you like to do when you are not busy writing?

90% of the time if I’m not writing, you can be sure that I’m reading. Besides that, I enjoy traveling, painting/crafting, or binge-watching any series I might be currently hooked to.

Are there any words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?

Focus on the little things that bring you happiness, that’s where your calling and purpose lies.

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Links to Manali’s latest book The Art of Being Grateful & Other Short Stories

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