Archana Sarat is the author of Birds of Prey, a psychological crime thriller that has gathered acclaim for being a gripping and riveting read. Her second book, Tit for Tat, is a collection of flash fiction stories. Her shorter works have been published in various popular newspapers, magazines and anthologies like The Times of India, The Economic Times and many more.

She is popular in the online world for her flash fiction that appears every Saturday, called Saturday Shots. Though she is a Chartered Accountant by qualification, she took up her childhood love for writing as her vocation. She can be approached at www.archanasarat.com

We will talk with Archana about her book ‘Tit for Tat’

Archana about her book 'Tit for Tat'

 

What is the story behind your book ‘Tit for Tat’ . Where did you get your idea for the book?

I can never pre-plan or plot the story before writing it. Usually, I have a vague idea of the characters and I discover the story as I write it down. It was same with ‘Birds of Prey’. In the beginning, I knew a little about Swarna and even lesser about Anton. After a lot of prodding, they went about revealing themselves bit by bit. After three college notebooks were filled up with my handwriting, I realized I had an interesting story. However, it was all over the place. I sat down to rewrite the whole thing and give it structure and a linear flow.

Challenges you faced while writing this book and in your life as an author?

The hardest thing about writing is writing. Finding the peace to do it. By peace, I mean both—inner and outer. Reducing the noise around you can be easier than reducing the noise within you. Anything can tip that balance—a fight with your husband, an upsetting post on Facebook, a bad review or a nasty dig from a fellow-writer—and you are floundering to get back to your feet and continue writing. Maintaining the inner peace within you and the outer peace around you is the biggest challenge about writing.

What is your life mantra?

‘Live and Let Live’

What is your writing process like?

Organic. The story, structure and characters reveal themselves in layers. I work with them and immerse myself in their lives. The first draft is the most enjoyable part of writing. I write my first draft by hand in college notebooks. Then, I work on the plot and structure. Next, I rewrite the second draft. This is by hand too. The third draft goes into the computer. Then, I take a printout and rework on it. In this way, the book goes through at least three rewrites and another four rounds of editing.

Anything special about your book that you want to share?

Since I did not have a clear story in mind, I didn’t research before beginning ‘Birds of Prey’. Most of my research happened after I completed the first draft and before I sat down to rewrite the entire book. Initially, a few readers had wondered how I could conjure up up such terrible forms of abuse. I did not conjure up anything. All the incidents mentioned are based on real life. I had gone through various medical examination reports and post-mortem reports before penning the story. The reality was gut-wrenching. I found it difficult to proceed with my writing many times. It took me a long time to calm down, assimilate my findings and get detached from my personal feelings before I could continue writing further. I got the idea for Birds of Prey in January 2014. The book released in December 2016. It has been a three-year long journey filled with hard work, emotional upheavals, love and hope.

According to you, what are the three qualities an author must have to achieve success?

Empathy, hard work, focus and patience. (Oh! That is four! 😊)

What are your plans for next book?

I have this disease called Talk-a-lot-itis and the more I talk about what I am working on, the less I feel inclined to write. So, I’m excited about what I’m working on and I’ll announce all about it soon.

What advice do you have for young writers?

Read a lot. Don’t restrict your reading to the genres you prefer. Diversify your reading. I read books on mathematics, history, geography, philosophy, physics, politics, medicine and psychology apart from fiction, classics and self-help. Non-fiction gives me the best ideas for fiction.

Share a quote or line that has been your inspiration.

I stumbled upon this poem by George Banks during my school years. From then, this has been my inspiration:

I live for those who love me,
For those who know me true,
For the heaven that lies above me
And awaits my spirit too;
For the cause that lacks assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance
And the good that I can do.

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