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Friday, February 13, 2015

Author Interview: Chhimi Tenduf-La, author of 'The Amazing Racist' Part II

Here is the second part to the very interesting Interview with Chhimi Tenduf-La. In this one, he stresses on the importance of editing and the necessity for any writer, today to take advice.

He also tells us about the next books he has planned, and also his favourite authors. So, read on because it gets all the more interesting, Folks...

So, here goes the Interview : Part II. His Interview Part I is right here.  The Review is right here and also, you can Buy the Book, right here, as well.

What is the most fulfilling part, now that you have written your book?

Actually seeing people buy it, and then telling me that they laughed out loud reading it and that they cried; that they finished it in one sitting. Getting requests from the likes of you is very fulfilling.  

Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published?

Kanishka’s team gave me editorial suggestions and then he did all the work. It was easier than I expected, but I think that is because I listened to everything they said, and did what they wanted me to do to make my book more marketable. So, my main bit of advice would be to take advice. 

I have spoken to people, who didn’t like my book before it was
Chhimi Tenduf-La
published and, rather than be offended, I took in what they had to say and tried to improve it. I have seen aspiring writers take criticism, very personally. If someone doesn’t like my book, either there is something wrong with it, which of course there must be (it’s not perfect) or they are the wrong audience. That’s all.
 
I know I have to improve as a writer anyway; there’s no secret there. If I wasn’t willing to improve there would be no point of writing more.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

Lots of my friends, over the years, have expected me to get published, but without trying it themselves, they didn’t know how difficult it is.

When I was about 21, I wrote some short trash and sent it in to a publisher in England and got back a nice letter saying, ‘this is all
over the place, poorly planned, confused and trying to do too many things so, I will have to pass on it. Yet, I am absolutely convinced you will be published one day as there is something about your writing which, stands out.’ (I have paraphrased that from memory, but that did give me a spur).

What is the next book that you have planned?

‘Panther’ is being published by HarperCollins India in July. It is YA / crossover and is about a former child soldier who gains a scholarship to an international school. He has to deal with all the usual problems; first love, rivalry, bullying as well as abusive schoolmasters. Underlying it all is his attempt to control his anger by trying to forget his horrible past in the war.

I have started on two other novels and am going back and forth between them. One is about a gym instructor who stalks one of his clients without her ever knowing; one is about a girl who was adopted as a baby, and comes back to Sri Lanka to find her birth parents which uncovers some horrible secrets.

Which book are you currently reading?

Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver. I love courtroom dramas, thrillers and whodunnits. I just can’t write them.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Chuck Palahniuk
I have been influenced most recently by Chuck Palahniuk and Mohsin Hamid. I like their writing styles and their novels are short and to the point.

Island of a Thousand Mirrors
The authors, whose next books I am most looking forward to are Sri Lankan, young and fresh: Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman) and Nayomi Munaweera (Island of a Thousand Mirrors). Their first books were remarkable, and I love reading books based in Sri Lanka. I know them both, and have learnt a lot from them.

Shehan gave me some fantastic feedback on my first book, too late to incorporate, but just speaking to him was like a master-class in writing.

What else do you do on a daily basis?

Much of my free time is taken up by my daughter now. I get so excited coming home from work to see her. I work at a school, where I used to teach economics, but now just focus on management.

I love a bit of exercise here and there, and sport is a big thing for me – more watching than playing these days, sadly. I don’t find enough time for my friends, but probably should now that they are buying my book!

What advice do you have for the young writers of today?

Be prepared to ‘kill your darlings’. I don’t think writers should be too precious about what they have written. If it doesn’t work, cut it.

Editing is great fun if you approach it with the right attitude. The greatest thing about writing is that if you just write and write, even if you can never use what you have written, you are improving through the process.

I know I am not as accomplished a writer as I would hope to be, but at the age of 40, I still think I have time to become much better if I still maintain my 
enthusiasm. 

Also, rejection can be a good thing. It is better to be rejected than to get something published, for everyone to see, that is not as good as it could be.

I would advise writers to use a literary consultancy to help improve their writing. They give you an honest appraisal of your work that your friends and family can’t. I never show my writing to friends and family. It is a no win situation; they will tell you what you want to hear and if they don’t it’s a little awkward. www.writersside.com is an example of someone to approach.
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