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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Editor Interview : Pooja Dadwal, Associate Commissioning Editor, Fingerprint! Publishing - Part 2

Pooja Dadwal
This is the continuing part of the exciting Pooja Dadwal's Interview. Here, she tells us what you would need to be a good editor, the challenging aspects of her work, and the exciting books that are expected to come through from Fingerprint! Publishing. 

Plus, there is a bit about the best books she has ever read. So, what are you waiting for? Read up, Folks...

What are the main skills an editor would need to do their job well?

You have to be a nurturer, first and foremost. To be able to take someone else’s baby as your own and then give it back, and then do it all over again with another book, requires magnanimity of heart and spirit. I have come to believe that editing is akin to motherhood. 

It requires patience. Being a voracious reader also helps.  And I take it as a given, that they are grammar nerds and Nazis.
    What sorts of project(s) are most likely to get an okay from you?

All work can be broadly divided into two parts: exceptional stories and exceptionally told stories. There is a third zone where the two merge and you get magic, but that’s to be found seldom.

I am always on the lookout for the third one, but that, as I mentioned, is a tough nut to crack. So, besides that, anything that falls in the first two categories, works.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Since I am always working on multiple projects, it becomes a bit of a challenge to take myself out of one project and then immerse in the other. 

In the sense that it takes some time to reorient myself with the aesthetics and the mood of the various stories, I am working on.

Like shifting from a hard core murder mystery to a romance title and then to a political thriller to a bunch of essays... I am constantly juggling.

What are you editing now?

A book of essays on pop culture by a noted film critic, a tale of love, romance, and growing-up by an advertising professional, a couple of crime thrillers, to name a few.

Majid Rafizadeh
Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles? 

Sure. In the coming months, we will be bringing out an anthology of essays titled ‘Name Place Animal Thing’ by Mayank Shekhar, a non-fiction title, ‘Why God Hates Women’ by Majid Rafizadeh, a political scientist and Harvard scholar. This one’s a real-life account of the hardships the author and his mother faced, and the situation of women in Islamic countries, while they lived in Syria.

And then we have a sublime love story, which will enchant anyone who reads it.

What are your top three favourite books?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review : ‘Anyone but Ivy Pocket' by Caleb Krisp

This turns out to be the oddest review I’ve ever written. Caleb Krisp’s ‘Anyone but Ivy Pocket’ is an unusual book and you would have the funniest expression if you tried to read this one, with a straight face. 

It all starts with a self-important girl of about 12 years, who finds herself in Paris, with Countess Carbunkle. Serving as her maid, this little child, who obviously has grown up too fast is a fascinating character. She tells this story in an almost puffing way. You almost want to tell her to relax, but she is onto the next chapter, anyways. 

So, this little maid finds herself, jobless in no time, thanks to her over the top attitude and her way with words. I don’t mean that in a good fashion but, considering that she uses ‘monstrously’, like she was born saying it.

She is orphaned and poor, but she has cooked up a fascinating tale of how and where she is born and then, grew up. This tale changes with time, place and circumstances, she has to go through.

Ivy, who is left behind in Paris, thanks to her behaviour, soon finds herself in front of fat and sickly, Duchess of Trinity’s bed. Here she has to deliver, a clock diamond to Lady Elizabeth’s granddaughter, Matilda. The clock is an odd mechanism, which has little trickery and some magic, by which it runs. And the Duchess wants Ivy to deliver the diamond on Matilda’s 12th birthday, along with a letter for her grandmother. The night before, Ivy has to leave, she is face to face with another incident, which involves the death of the duchess.

Yet, she sets off, firstly by ship, where she meets Miss Always. Then on,
reaching London, she meets with a Mr Horatio Banks, lawyer to the dead duchess. In London, she is put up at the home of the duchess, where she has quite the adventures to get to, before and after and even during the delivery. Managing to escape though, she heads off to Butterfield Park in Suffolk, the next morning.
At the station, she meets Rebecca, cousin to Matilda. The two reach Suffolk, and then the real adventure begins. Shrouded in mystery, was the diamond and the characters surrounding it. Miss Always was an odd character, but you soon meet, Miss Frost, where you wonder if the oddness would end. Rude Matilda, her grandmother, her mother make up the entire set. But notwithstanding, is the Duchess, who has returned as a ghost.

Ivy seems to be already surrounded by ghosts and attempted murders and mysteries, around them. But there are also prophecies and alternate worlds to complete the circle. The Clock Diamond itself is cursed!

Hilarious, though one wonders, why and how, throughout the book. Not just about the cake flinging character, that Ivy is, but also, about the weird antics she gets up to. Do not be surprised at how plucky and clever, she could be in certain situations. 

Funny, though I do wonder if you would recommend it to your kids, considering how rude and manner less, Ivy could be, in this extremely comical book.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A day of Story Telling @ 'Easy Library, Hyderabad'

It all happened one fine day, when I wanted a library near my home. And surprisingly for me, there it was! And so, ‘Easy Library, Hyderabad’ made its way into my life. And with it, came a few options. 

Firstly, I realised that if I ever tire of my writing job; which requires me to receive books and write reviews or interviews and just about stretch the creative writing bone in my body, I would now have an extra option.

I can just read, as casually as I can. And in this library for kids and grown-ups, I do not have to write reviews or do any of the other stuff, either. 

So, ‘Easy Library, Hyderabad’ has made my life easier. So, one fine day, when I visited the library, the centre head, Richa C Srivastava even offered me another way to push my creative bone, a little further. I asked her if I could read to the kids, who came to her library.
The Very Busy Spider

And she said yes, I could. (Many ‘Yiippeeess’ and ‘Yaayyss’, later) I got to read my first two stories. Nervous days led to the day, 12th April, 2015. And there I was, a little nervous, to hold my first ever ‘Story Telling Session’. It was going to be all about Bugs and Farm animals!
What the Ladybird Heard

The stories were Eric Carle’s ‘The Very Busy Spider’ and Julia Donaldson’s ‘What the Ladybird Heard’. 

Ooh boy, this would be fun! So, with tips from a school teacher, my ex-boss and Richa, there I was all set to read out the stories to the little ones.

I do not know how many of the tips I remembered, but I do recall the busy and naughty kids, who were all set to listen in. So, together we all found out about the spider’s busyness and the ladybird’s plans. We also got to find out if the spider managed to finish her web and the ladybird managed to uncover the mysterious plot, amidst all the oinks on that Sunday morning at ‘Bug-gy Morning at EasyLib’. 

We all sat down and had fun with the stories, thanks to the help of a cow, a horse, a pig, even a duck and a goose and an oinking pigs and a maaaing goat, among all the others at the farm.

The kids seemed to enjoy it, if I am allowed to say that. Best of luck for another day’s set of stories, both for me and the kids, who sit around me. Not quietly, though, so 'Much clucking, quaking, woof - woofing and meowing to all of us'. And then, I made my way out, clucking all the way home…

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Editor Interview : Pooja Dadwal, Associate Commissioning Editor, Fingerprint! Publishing

Pooja Dadwal
There  are editors and there are still, other editors. But this particular editor does have a way with words. A true writing editor, is this one. Someone, who believes that an ideal writer cannot exist, actually should not exist.  So, in her words, 'The mould of the ‘ideal’ in the creative space shouldn’t exist', she says among the other relevant points, she makes. 

But, this space does not contain it all. So, this is only Part 1 of this Editor Interview. So, Read up, Folks and wait for more...

What are you looking for in a book, when it comes to you?

Nothing. There is nothing that I am looking for in a book. I approach it as a blank slate. What I look for—rather wait for—as I begin reading, is my reaction to it. The idea is to let the writer take me on a ride, and to not have certain pre-formed notions and expectations from it. 

Once I am done reading, I let my mind stew in the experience and form its opinion (What aids me in the process is all the reading, I have done till now). Mostly, my decision is instinctive and instantaneous—I know if I want a particular book, and my publisher and I push hard to make an offer—but sometimes, it’s not.

What according to you are the qualities of an ideal writer?

There is no such being as an ‘ideal writer’, especially in the times we live in. Where a diligent writing schedule works for one person, a manic writing spree can work for the other. How do you typecast, and, more importantly, why would you even want to typecast?

The mould of the ‘ideal’ in the creative space shouldn’t exist. Hence, everything works—a sloppy working schedule, erratic behaviour, genteel manners, a wordbank that would rival a dictionary, a simple writing style ala Hemingway, anything—till the time there is magic on the paper.

What you write should resonate with your reader. For me, in this case, the end justifies the means.

Could you explain the process, from commissioning to editing, and finally, printing and marketing?

Sure. Let’s begin with commissioning: Once a manuscript reaches the commissioning editor, sent either through an agent or mailed organically (we are one of the few remaining publishing houses who are open to reviewing manuscripts sent directly from the writer), I review it (or send it to someone who is in our pool of readers) and decide if it’s something we want to publish.

Having made the decision of publishing a title, a contract is signed with the author. Post that, in some time (it could be months; heck, it mostly is) the manuscript is assigned to an editor and work begins.

Editing: This is one of the most important stages. A manuscript is read in detail, notes are made, and any substantive change, if needed, is discussed with the author. In case there are developmental changes needed to tighten the story (which need to be done primarily by the author) they are taken care of now.

Once this gets done, the line editing begins (minor developmental edits are also done at this stage). Once done, we approach the second stage of editing, where the editor reviews the problem areas and stitches together the entire ms (we send the edited ms to the author in batches, so that work happens in tandem). The file is then ready to be sent to the proof-reader.

Proof Reading: At Fingerprint! we have a ready pool of proofreaders who mark corrections which still remain in the ms. The file is then sent back to the editor, who makes changes as and where needed. After that, the file is sent for layout.

Layout: This is where the ms takes the shape we all are familiar with. The book, literally, comes together now. Right from the title page to the copyright page to dedication and acknowledgments (if any) to any other additional section which needs to be inserted, they all are inserted now. The layout designer picks the font, the style, etc, for the book and prepares various options to choose from.

Proof reading (second round): Once the layout is complete, the file is sent to the author and the editor for a final review. At this stage, we encourage both the author and the editor to take out prints of the final version and mark for any remaining errors. In case there are any, the editor sits with the layout designer and gets the changes incorporated. After this, the ms is sent to the press.

Cover designing: Sometime after the editing is done, work starts on the cover design. Various options are prepared and the same sent to the author and editor for their inputs. Once finalized, the back cover matter and blurbs are added.

Marketing: Depending on the book and the budget, marketing is handled majorly by the author and the in-house marketing team. As publishers, we help the author as much as we can in arranging interviews, reviews, book signings, book reading events, promotional material.

What is the one thing you would tell an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many tips as you would like)

Read. Be a shameless reader. Read everything you can and everywhere you can. (I even managed to read during my wedding, just before I was called for the pheras. In case you are interested, I was rereading 'The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern.)

Bleed. Just bleed. All over your laptop, over your notebook, in noisy caf├ęs, in quiet hotel rooms, make notes in your cell phone, write on tissue papers. While writing your first draft, don’t bother about anything. Don’t let the compunction of not knowing the best aesthetics or grammar stop you.

Once you are done with the first draft, set it aside and let it breathe. In this way, books are like wine. Go back to it after a few weeks have elapsed and then reread and begin tightening your work. Chances are you will hate what you have written (maybe not in entirety, but in places), which is a good sign. It shows you know what you want. With that serving as a guideline, get back on the table and start editing (yes, you are the first editor of your work). Read-write-edit. Repeat. Till the time you are passably proud of your work.

What do you think an editor can add to the writer’s work?

Everything and nothing. Nothing and everything.

What is your favourite thing about being an editor? And your least favourite thing?

Favourite: Well, everything! If you mange to find a calling in something you are really passionate about, it’s like going from one party to the next; the fun never stops. For me there’s nothing I don’t love or am not excited about when it comes to being an editor, but the one thing that gets my juices flowing is the scope of improving a manuscript—it could be a line, it could be a chapter, it could be half the book.

The responsibility and the ability to be able to gauge that and make a book reach its utmost potential is something that excites me and always keeps me on my toes (as this requires a lot of reading and researching on my part). Good thing is I am always trying to better my craft. I am always at school, learning.