This month, we had an opportunity to have conversations with some of the wonderful authors. Among them, Shravya Bhinder, author of ‘To You, With Love‘ shares her wonderful journey as an author, the books she has written and how does it feel like an author!

About the Author –

Shravya loves to keep an eye out for stories she feels are hidden all around her and then write them down. Formerly a corporate employee, she managed to flee the corporate madness after a few years of boredom, to become a full-time writer. She is a sucker for romance and strives to pen down exciting stories. When she is not reading and writing, she is out enjoying nature, playing with her dogs, or cooking for her family.

She lives in Melbourne with her family, in a house with a barren backyard and a lifetime’s collection of books. She is the bestselling author of Something I Never Told You.

Read the full interview below.

1. Firstly, tell us about the beautiful cover design of your new book ‘To You, With Love
A book’s cover is like the soul of the book. It should capture the essence of the book and should narrate the story without revealing much. The cover designed by the talented team at Penguin Random House for To You, With Love, does exactly that. It summarises the book, seizing its essence. After all, half of the time do pick books based on their covers!

2. Your first book, Something I never told you also happens to be romantic fiction. I really liked the character of Ronak. Why did you choose the same genre for your second book also?

My last book Something I Never Told You is a story of Love and so is To You, With Love. Even though both the books are unrelated the base of both the stories is the emotion -love because for me it is the essence of life. Every story has love in it, maybe in a different context but love is omnipresent. Some stories are centered around sibling’s love others revolve around the love for parents, some talk about love for the country or family, and some are based on self-love. So, writing a story without this basic human emotion is impossible as per me. You will find Love in each of my writings.

3. In the book ‘To You, With Love’, the characters of Sahir and Ayra are very realistic and relatable. Are those characters inspired by someone you know?

I draw inspiration for not just the story but all my characters from life around me. I believe that God is an amazing storyteller and all of his stories deserve a lot of attention. So yes, not just these two characters but all the characters in the book are inspired by real people around me.

4. There are poems, letters, quotes, etc. in the book. How difficult was it to incorporate all these elements to showcase the emotions?

When I started writing To You, With Love I had a diary full of my notes and scribbles. It took me years to write to them and these writings are very close to my heart. I knew that it was time to share them with my readers. Much before the book was conceptualized, the notes, quotes, etc were already there in my life and I knew that they had to be a part of this book. So, it is more of a case where I incorporated the story around my notes rather than it being the other way round.

Also Read: A Rational Book: Love Jihadis

5. What is Love to you? Or What makes Love special?

Love is a very basic emotion that is not limited to just humans. So for me, love is what life is made of. It is the most natural thing to happen to anyone. It is the essence of life, love is what makes the world go around and keeps us alive. Our love for ourselves makes us grow, our love for others makes us better individuals. Love is what life is made up of.

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6. ‘To You, With Love‘ is all about understanding each other who have different priorities and aims towards life. How far is it feasible for two different personalities to stay together sharing an emotion called ‘Love’?

When two people are in love with their differences do not impact their feelings for each other, that is when the couple reaches the point of real understanding. Mostly, we try and love a person for the qualities that we like thinking that the ones we do not like enough will either vanish over time or we would mold the other person our way. That is not loving but manipulation. When you love a person for all the good and bad in them, when you love every bit of them as they are- that is true love and it is very easy to strike any sort of understanding when such is the case.

I draw inspiration for not just the story but all my characters from life around me.

Shravya Bhinder

7. What kind of story writing techniques do you use?  Do you make a plot in your mind or is it instinct-based?

I always put the plot together before I begin writing chapters. Having said that, not every time the story goes as per the plot you originally decide for it. Most stories write themselves and they take their course. Still, I feel more in control when I write down the plot first and then start working on ‘the beginning’ of the novel. Choosing the right point to begin my story is what takes most of my time. Once that is decided, I go on a mad writing spree.

8. What changes as a writer did you see in yourself from your first book till now?

I am more organized is all that I can say because my base writing style stays the same. I did do a course in writing post Something I Never Told You. It has made me a better critic of my work.

When two people are in love with their differences do not impact their feelings for each other, that is when the couple reaches the point of real understanding.

Shravya Bhinder

9. Which was the most difficult character for you to develop in ‘ To You, With Love ‘?

The characters of Bhanu and Pathak were tricky for me as I wanted to do justice to the same-sex couple while also ensuring that I do not get sucked into it. I wanted to bring out the challenges gay couples face without seeking pity for them. They had to come out as the winners.

10. Do you have any writing rituals?

I am a lazy writer per se. I can keep the plot in my head for months at a stretch and wait for inspiration to strike me. When it does, I write all awake hours until I have poured all the months of thoughts on the paper. 

11. What is that one question you find very interesting during your interviews?

Because my characters are very relatable- I am asked if they are based on someone in real life. It is interesting because most of the time they are based on people around me. Sometimes one character is a blend of two or three different people I know and it is very amusing to explain.

12. How do you deal with your critics? Who is our best critic?

Critics have a job and they try and do it to their best abilities. I try and not overthink about criticism. It does more harm than good. I write in my happy place and let my readers decide. I think my editor, Vaishali Mathur is my best critic. She has been in the business for long and she knows exactly what she is talking about. She gives me my creative space while also ensuring that I do not sidetrack. She makes my books a lot better.

13. Which author or book has the maximum influence on your personality?

Jane Austen- because I read her books in college and was inspired to write like her and Amrita Pritam because reading her shaped my childhood. 

14. Which is the latest book you read? If you liked it, can you explain to us why did you like it?

I have been re-reading ikigai. It is a lovely book that talks about the simple things in life that matter. I recommend the book to everyone.

15. Any suggestions to the budding authors.

To write, take time out and pick the hours in a day that suits you. I write only at night as night gives me the much-needed calm. Read well to write well and do not over-think.

One liners/One word-based answer questions

Please respond to these questions in one line or one word wherever possible –

  1. Your all-time favorite author/writer? Amrita Pritam
  2. Do you believe in writer’s block? Did you have it anytime or not? I sleep over it, if it stays for more than a few days then I read. Reading helps unlock my potential as a writer.
  3. Your favorite place to write your book(s)? At my desk, after midnight.
  4. Research and then write or research while writing? Which one do you prefer? The second one, research while writing.
  5. What do you do in your free time? I read, travel, and cook.
  6. How many hours a day do you write? When I am writing, I write up to 14 hours a day.
  7. Do you Google yourself? Yes! Nothing major comes up though.
  8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? That is a perk of being a writer.
  9. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I would have my own food blog.

Click here to read Storizen Magazine September 2020 featuring Amish Tripathi here.