Waking up with Preeti Shenoy

Focus on the positive It will change your life, says Preeti Shenoy

Focus on the positive It will change your life, says Preeti Shenoy   | Photo Credit: S SIVA SARAVANAN

At 5.00pm on Saturday evening, the Odyssey store in Brookefields Mall was buzzing. People were gathered in groups, waiting to take their seats, and the staff was flying around for the launch of Preeti Shenoy's latest book, Wake Up, Life Is Calling.

Listening to a group of girls having an animated discussion about Ankita, the protagonist of this book as well as Preeti's debut, Life Is What You Make It, I wondered why they find these books interesting. The answer comes as a chorus: We relate to her; she is just like us.

Once the chairs were laid out, schoolgoers, teenagers, young parents, and older folk scuttled to grab one. Those who got the front row seats looked thrilled. When the speakers crackled into life, there was an excited stir. But it was only the check on the mics.

Finally Preeti swept in, accompanied by her publisher, Arup Bose of Srishti. Once they unveiled the book, the two plunged into conversation. Explaining the title, Preeti said, “I wanted something inspiring and positive with the word ‘Life’ in it. But it had to be distinct from Life Is What You Make It. We had about 30-40 titles and, when I heard Wake Up Life Is Calling, I knew it was the one. How many of you follow me on Instagram?” A forest of hands waved, “Then you know that every morning, I post saying ‘Wake up, Life is Calling’. My husband follows me around teasing me about it,” she laughed.

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  • She does not have a specific routine, she said except for having her dog as armrest and lots of black coffee. “I keep shoving the cups under the bed and my husband messaged saying I was drinking too much coffee,” she giggled. He had found six cups, accumulated over a couple of days, and assumed she’d gone through the lot in a single day.
  • Writing is like building a house, Preeti explained. If you have the blueprint and all the material, it is just a matter of putting one brick over another. Develop your plot and characters and keep writing, was her advice to wannabe writers. Give it time and, when the story is ready, it will flow.

Arup asked why she stresses so much on positivity, to which Preeti replied, “I don’t have control over what happens to me but I do have control over what I choose to focus on. That’s the core message of my books. If you focus on the positive, it changes your life.”

She spoke about her research on mental health — Ankita suffers from bipolar disorder — initially at Norwich, the UK, and later at NIMHANS, Bengaluru. “I have enough material for 15 books,” she exclaimed, adding that writing the first book left her drained and tired. Though she decided not to write about mental illness anymore, “Ankita was not finished with me,” she smiled.

Arup asked if she had a favourite character among all those she has created. “It’s like asking a parent to choose between the kids,” Preeti declared, before confessing a slight partiality for Gopal Shankar (from A Hundred Little Flames), who is “partly my grandfather, partly my father-in-law, partly my father’s best friend.”

Preeti elaborated on how she built her characters; “I know everything about them, right from the toothpaste they use to the TV serial they watch. They have their own personalities.” Sometimes, she said, her characters developed a will of their own and had to be cajoled to tell the story she wanted them to tell. “Humans are like that, after all. In each one of us, there is a little switch. When it flips, you do something unexpected.”

Waking up with Preeti Shenoy

Cover Deconstructed
  • Preeti also broke down the jacket of Wake Up Life Is Calling for her readers. The flower symbolises life; both are beautiful. Then something terrible happens and scatters the petals, destroying the flower.
  • However, the end of something is always the beginning of another journey. That’s what the key symbolises. Apart from opening doors, a key gives you a sense of control, of safety. You have the key, so you have the power.

Since Preeti is very active on social media, Arup spoke about how relationships and communication have changed in the digital age. Preeti agreed with him, saying, “Today, we are very impatient. We want instant gratification, an instant response,” she said, adding “We have lost touch with patience. The real test of a relationship is time.”

She also stressed the need to be real on social media. “There is a lot of fakery out there. Don’t get taken in by that.” Everyone laughed when she said, “Thanks to Bengaluru’s traffic, I have enough time to reply to all my fans.”

During a lively Q&A session, Preeti encouraged girls not to fall into the trap of “balancing family and careers. How come male authors are not asked that?” she demanded and emphasised that a girl’s job was as important as a boy.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 7:28:28 AM |

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