A freelance journalist, a copywriter, a bookkeeper and a homemaker – Shobha Nihalani has played many roles in her life but one she really excels at is writing adventure and thriller novels. And this doesn’t mean she underperforms in the others. Writing thrillers come naturally to Shobha, proof of which are successful works like The Silent Monument, the NINE trilogy, Unresolved – a psychological thriller, Trikon – a medical sci-fi thriller and The Blue Jade. Recently, she wrote two non-fiction books – a biography of a humanitarian and spiritual leader, Dada Vaswani – A Life in Spirituality. And a memoir, A Gift from Above – Haresh and Harini’s Journey in Adoption. Her debut novel, Karmic Blues, was translated and published in Denmark. She now stays in Hong Kong.
www.lifeandmore.in had an email interaction with Shobha…
When was the first time that the urge to write strike you?
During my teens, I read many Indian and American novelists. After that, I felt the urge to write, but didn’t pursue my interest until much later.
Which was the first piece that you wrote and where was it published?
My very first piece was a short story, and it was published in the Hong Kong Writers’ Circle publication.
When did you plan to write The Blue Jade and how much time did it take you to send the novel for print?
The ideas for The Blue Jade started very early on, almost a decade ago. Fragments of the story were there, but it wasn’t exactly cohesive. I wrote the first draft about seven years ago. After rewriting it, I submitted it to a publisher last year, TreeShade Books, who accepted the manuscript. The publisher’s in-house editor helped to polish the script further and then it was published this year.
How different is The Blue Jade different from your earlier works?
It is not very different in terms of genre. It is still a thriller, but with a twist. The story is about a sought-after historical artefact, the blue jade pendant. It is believed to have been gifted to Mirabai, and has since been stolen multiple times. Neelam, the protagonist, makes it her life’s mission to travel from Hong Kong to India, to return the artefact to its place of origin.
When and what made you decide on writing adventure and thriller novels?
I enjoy reading fast-paced stories. During my teen years, I would spend most of my free time reading thriller suspense novels. It was quite inspiring, and I wanted to write these kinds of energetic plots too.
You have worked as a freelance journalist, copywriter, bookkeeper and are a homemaker. Which of these roles did you enjoy the most and why?
All of them are fulfilling in their own way. Each one feeds off the other in terms of inspiration and making life more enriching.
Do you feel the books today have become so expensive that they have gone out of reach of the common man and has resulted in the reading habit going down to some extent?
There are diehard readers who will read no matter what. In my opinion, the price of the book is not the reason why people are reading less. There is a lot of other reading material readily available on e-readers and mobile devices. Since electronic versions are cheaper, even more people are able to pick up the reading habit.
Any author who inspired you to write?
All authors inspire me to write.
In your opinion, what is that one thing which is the most important part of a book?
For me, it’s a unique way of handling the plot – how the author pulls the reader and hooks him/her into the story. The book also has to have characters that the reader can connect with emotionally.
Ever struggled with a writer’s block?
Yes. At those times, I don’t force it. I put aside the writing and focus my attention on something else.
The word “creative” to you is…
Any endeavour that touches my heart through my senses.
What does it take to be good storyteller?
I would say a vivid imagination, and the ability to create fictional stories and make them believable.
Favourite book now…
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
You are, at present, reading…
Inside by Alix Ohlin
What’s next from Shobha Nihalani?
A non-fiction book