I am in conversation with Smita Shetty, the multitalented and vibrant author of Untruly Yours. Smita has been in the creative field for over seven years, and is also a keen participant in community work. She is originally from Mumbai, India.
Smita currently resides in the United Kingdom with her family. Untruly Yours is her first novel.
To read my review of Untruly Yours, click here.
Congratulations on your novel Smita. It was indeed a pleasure reading it, and I hope to read more from you in the near future. Do provide us with the opportunity to know more about you and your book.
Before we start discussing about the book, tell us about yourself. We would love to know about your educational background, family and hobbies.
Thank you for the fabulous introduction Amrit. I am well and ‘truly’ humbled and so glad you enjoyed reading Untruly Yours.
After graduating in Science, I studied Advertising. However a career in Advertising went down faster than a lead balloon. My plans are not always foolproof and thought through. Long hours at work equates to disapproving looks from conservative parents. I eventually ended up with a post-graduation qualification in Systems Management.
I do enjoy some weekend baking. I love travelling and taking arty shots with my SLR. By ‘arty’ my family might say – “She means ‘uncomplimentary’!” That’s family for you (!)
How did Untruly Yours happen? How was the entire process of thinking of an idea and finally converting it into a published book?
If I am being perfectly honest, a friend cajoled me into writing. I was going through a rough time in my life and thought this would be a pleasant distraction. My first chapter was shockingly awful. I gave myself a break and started over, this time it was an earnest effort. I shared a couple of chapters with friends who thought they were great. And that’s where the journey began.
The final manuscript was shared with an established author who also happens to be a good friend (that helped). When you’ve invested so much time and effort into something, you invariably make things happen. Rejections from publishers for an aspiring writer should come with a statutory warning. Having said that; after you’ve had your fair share of brutal rejections, you become resilient.
If you believe in your work, doors will eventually open.
Your book deals with the life of a female protagonist, Natasha. How did you create this character? Were you inspired from any real life person?
I think we all have a bit of Natasha in us. She has a demanding personal and professional life. Don’t we all?
My work is pure fiction. If I have created believable and relatable characters, I need to take myself more seriously as a writer.
How did you come up with the title? Was this your choice of title from the very beginning or did you also think of other alternatives before finally settling in with Untruly Yours?
Finding a title was so nerve wracking. The plot was devised as I was writing the book (not much of a planner, me). I thought a title will spring to mind when I have finished writing the book. There was a very questionable title that sprung to my mind, first. Untruly Yours was the second. It felt magic and decided to stick with this one. Although I didn’t want a negative title for my first book, I thought it was a fitting title as this book does have shades of grey.
What do you like the most/least about being an author?
I love being able to make people smile with my writing. I have had a few non-readers sending me requests to keep writing. That’s such an unimaginable high.
I don’t particularly enjoy reading bad reviews. Although to be fair, I have only received one. And it was harsh! It scarred me momentarily. My hard work blown into smithereens, it was soul destroying watching it go up in cyber smoke.
Who is your favorite character from the book? Which character did you find the most complex?
My favorite character has got to be Steve’s - his vulnerability caught up in the middle of our very distinctive Indian idiosyncrasies. I would love to have explored more but there is always a danger of sounding monotonous. Ricky’s character was a bit hard to explore, as he sadly turned out to be one dimensional. Pity!
How do you write? Do you plan out the whole plot in advance or do you let the story take a shape on its own?
Amrit, I am legendary at making things up. Why break the habit of a lifetime?
Who are your favorite authors?
I am a rom-com junkie. For me it’s Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinesella and Wendy Holden all the way.
Which book do you wish was written by you?
The Charming Man by Marian Keyes.
What were your first thoughts when you realized your book was going to be published?
I had a few professional and personal priorities at the time. It hadn’t hit me until the cover design was shared with me. And I thought; Gosh! There is no turning back from hereon. What if it’s rubbish and people hate me for wasting their time reading it? Now looking back, I am glad I took the advice from all my friends who believed in me.
How do you handle negative criticisms?
Unfortunately it comes with the territory and is a bitter pill to swallow. I’ve come to realize, you have got to take onboard all the comments. It’s the only way you’ll evolve in your writing.
How different is your book from other novels and stories?
Although it’s a book packed with humour, I have attempted to touch on grim social issues.
Are you currently writing anything?
Yes, I am making a start on the second one. I am sticking with what I know best…writing romantic comedies.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I am just one book old, not sure if I qualify to give advice. However here goes…keep it real and the rest will follow.
What would be your message to your readers?
Enjoy the ride!
Thanks Smita for taking out time for this interview. It was a pleasure talking to you. All the best for you future endeavors, and may you taste all successes in life.