Neharika Gupta lives in Delhi, and is a writer, poet, yogi and martial arts practitioner. She worked in publishing for a year before shifting to writing full-time. She holds a B.A. (H) in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College for Women and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, UK. Her inspiration comes from finding a sense of beauty in simple everyday life. She has recently come out with the book “Adulting”, a relatable book about youngsters dealing with issues of friendship, relationships, heartache and balancing a career.
Chirdeep Malhotra connected with her for an exclusive interview, in which she talks about her debut book, the inspiration behind it, and her recent creative writing workshop which encouraged her to explore creative writing ideas and prompts for wannabe writers in a video format.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in Delhi all my life, and went to school and DU. I love this city and I adore books, reading them, talking about them and writing them.
How did this book come about?
It started as my thesis at the end of my creative writing MA at Bath Spa University, England. It is an evolution of what I’ve seen in life. A lot of things like body image, identity crisis and writer’s block are things I wanted to engage with. I guess the book might be considered an outward expression of challenges I’ve gone through and seen peers going through.
Adulting is a relatively modern gerund that is increasingly being used by millennials. How did you decide on it being the title of your book? Were there other contenders?
It’s popularity is because it is something our generation is going through and I think it perfectly sums up the dilemma of the three characters – Aisha, Ruhi and Tejas. The other contender was Three of Hearts, but this was the one that clicked.
The book offers glimpses into the working of Book Publication Houses. You worked in the publishing industry before shifting to writing full-time. Any anecdotes from that time that you have incorporated into the book almost originally, and would like to share with our readers?
There were scenarios when certain authors had to be calmed down and readers can spot that in some of the pages! No names will be mentioned.
What was your writing process like for this book? Did you know from the start how the story would begin and end, or did you go with the flow?
I started with a different type of book, a straightforward romance, however, the challenges I wanted to personify were the same, especially the one of body-shaming. Eventually I came up with three characters to represent the three core conflicts of the novel.
What about your characters and how did they evolve?
I went with the flow but eventually the characters took on a life of their own. There came a point when I couldn’t have them do what I wanted to, they simply had feelings and fancies of their own, I had to go with what suited them!
The three protagonists of the novel are people intricately connected with the book publishing world – Ruhi is an editor, Tejas an author, and Aisha a blogger. With which character out of the three do you most identify with, and why?
At the moment, it’s probably Ruhi because she is somebody who is comfortable around books, loves her own space at home and is balancing her creative love for reading with working on an entrepreneurial project. For me, that basically means finding the space to write as well as work on my social media at the same time.
In the novel, the novelist Tejas faces writer’s block. Do you face writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Yes, of course. It’s all a matter of perspective. A block is trying to say something which you can’t receive in the frame of mind you’re in. You need to go out, do something else, take a walk and come back and attempt it. An example of this is when you just can’t write or post something and a few days later, you have a better idea about how to do the same things. My advice is to be easy on yourself. And to keep reading stuff you like to keep the creative clogs working. I also talk about this on my instagram IGTV channel @neharikagupta23.
You have also incorporated the theme of body-shaming in the narrative. How important was this to you?
It used to be, till like Aisha I got the clarity that my body is nobody’s business. If I know I’m treating it with respect and occasionally indulging it with treats, that’s okay. As long as I’m honest with myself, nothing anyone can say or do will make a difference. I think body shaming is to do with one’s internal perception of themselves, not what other people say. In which case, the harshest or slightest of comments will trigger them.
You recently conducted an online creative writing workshop on the topic “How To Write A Millennial Story” as a part of Juggernaut’s #ReadInstead LitFest. Can you talk to us a little bit about that and how was the experience like?
I’m more comfortable behind the page and being on video was a little awkward, not to mention challenging, as I had to condense my 2 hour interactive writing workshop into an under 20 minute session. However once I got the hang of it, I realized I had a lot to share! It was more spontaneous than blogging it out. And the way we talk is very different from the way we write, for example, we pause, sometimes repeat words and so on. Once I got over trying to make everything perfect, speaking on video came easier. It actually encouraged me to start my own IGTV channel with creative writing ideas and prompts for wannabe writers. This is a good instance of pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and I’m glad I did. Readers can watch the creative writing workshop on YouTube here.
Which books feature on your current reading list?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.
Would you like to see a silver-screen adaptation of the book? If yes, which actors would you like to be cast in it?
Yes. I would love it if the cast includes Sonam Kapoor as Aisha, Ranbir Kapoor as Tejas & Alia Bhatt as Ruhi.
Finally, on to quick literary word associations. Tell us the first book that pops into your mind for the following.
Love Triangle – On The Road by Jack Kerouac
Book Publishing – Ithaca by David Davidar
African Literature – Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Romance – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
‘Adulting’ by Neharika Gupta has been published by HarperCollins Publishers India. Read more about the book here and buy it here.
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