No author can ever forget the emotions they have when holding the first copy of their first book. For years, they hold this dream of having their book in the market. They give up on many things to follow their passion and dream, even when there is a high probability of failure.
This week, I interviewed Alisha Nandeshwar, an emerging author from Nagpur who has been writing since the age of 14. She didn’t give up on her passion for writing and finally hit the market with her first book— No More No Less.
Read on as Alisha discusses the journey of her first book, her life as a writer, lessons she learnt after publishing the book, and more.
1. Let’s begin with a brief introduction of yours and an overview of your debut book— No More No Less.
I was born and raised in Nagpur. I have always been a studious person but somewhere at the age of 14, I started writing poems and songs. But then the scary board exams came, and I put my writing on the sidelines and buried myself back in the books, school books to be exact.
It was in the first year of my engineering that I started writing again. And I am grateful to have friends that actually encouraged me for my writing plans. So after I finished my engineering, I took a plunge and worked on my debut novel while working as a content writer.
No More No Less is the first book of this duology. The book is about a promise to be equal—No More No Less—in a relationship. The protagonist of the story, Pari takes you on a long journey full of love, fun, friendship, family and a whole lot of different emotions.
You get to see two different sides of her in the book. One is sweet and shy Pari, who is still in love with fairy tales and wishes for a happily ever after. The other side of her is a badass, brave and strong Pari, who can be one stubborn woman when she wants to. Then you get to meet Sameer, who is handsome and arrogant and why not. He’s got a sexy British accent, those killer looks and a dazzling smile that leaves every girl breathless with Pari being no exception. With those many qualities, Sameer has got this ‘tall, dark and handsome’ thing all covered. When these two people meet, they set everything on fire. Sometimes even their relationship.
But let’s not forget the fate either because the fate so loves to intervene in everyone’s life. Together, these two take us on a journey full of fights, sacrifice, and love and we get to see how they learn to be strong and equal in their relationship because that’s how it is supposed to be. Man and woman balance each other and keep this ride safe. If one stumbles down, the other is sure to fall as well.
To sum it up, No More No Less is a beautiful love story of Sameer and Pari, with a hint of sass, a pinch of fun, a caress of pain and a touch of feminism with a really great social message.
2. Where did you get the idea behind the story of No More No Less? Do the characters come from real-life incidents or from your own imaginations?
My mind is always spinning stories. It’s really a mess in there with different characters playing around in different worlds inside my brain. So, all of it came from my imagination. The funny thing is that I hadn’t even planned what I would be writing first. It’s really true when I say there are many different stories playing in my mind at once.
I actually had written a few chapters of some other story when the characters of No More No Less became so demanding that I had to put a stop to the project that I was working on and go ahead with this story instead. As soon as I finished writing three chapters of this story, I knew this was going to be my debut novel.
Related reading: Book Review: No More No Less by Alisha Nandeshwar
3. I really enjoyed reading your book and liked the character of Avinash. Can you tell us about your favourite character from the story?
That is really a difficult question, you know. It’s like choosing your favourite kid when all of them are your babies. Especially when you have plans for these characters! So it’s really essential to say I like all of them but if I have to choose any one from No More No Less then I would say I love Pari. I find a lot of similarities between her and me. And she rocks the combination of sassy and shy.
4. How long did you take to finish writing the book?
To be honest, I finished the two drafts of this book in just about five months. But it took me two years to bring this book to where it is now. The first draft wasn’t good enough for me, at all. I felt that I could do so much better than this. So I worked on the second draft, which was a much better version of the first one. Then came the dreading process of editing, copyediting, and proofreading, all of which was done by me.
Not many people know this, but I did the whole editing of this book. I just had the whole manuscript read by three of my friends – Shreyash, Nikita and Apurva. They suggested a few changes. I took some of their suggestions and sometimes I didn’t! But besides that, it was all me. I didn’t use any professional editor at all. It was a big risk so I couldn’t afford any mistakes. Maybe that is the reason why it took me so long to finally get it out there.
5. Really excited to know about the emotions that you felt when the first copy of your book hit the market. Can you please describe the emotions that you went through?
I definitely had fat, giant tears in my eyes when I held the first copy of the book in my hands. I had been dreaming about having my novel out in the market for years. I had freak-out sessions while working on my novel just thinking about that moment when it would finally happen. So, when that moment finally came, it was surreal.
It’s really incredible to have your dream come true like that. It is not easy to follow your passion and give up things for that, the fear of failure had always been there. And I am nowhere near success yet, but that moment when my novel finally hit the market – that was the first step towards my end goal. And it was so amazing that I can’t even describe the feeling.
6. Three lessons that you learnt after publishing your first book?
The first lesson is that unless you start writing today, there is no way you will be publishing anything tomorrow. I would have published my novel a long time ago if only had I started writing it far earlier than I did. But then again, everything happens for a reason. So though I entered this industry a bit later than I had planned, it all turned out to be great and now I know that rather than simply spinning stories, I would just grab my laptop and start writing.
The second lesson I would say is the realization that writing the book and publishing it is not enough. This is the digital age and so you have to do a lot more things to be visible out there.
The third lesson, which I would say I learnt during the process of publishing, is that I can’t keep everyone happy with my work. I am so grateful that I haven’t really received any bad reviews so far, but I also know that everyone has a different opinion. So I have kind of prepared myself to face both criticism and appreciation because both are the different sides of the same coin.
7. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that my friends realized it even before me. I am blessed with really great friends. I had written so many songs and poems by the time I was 19 but not for once did I think that I will be a writer one day. I actually used to hide my diaries so no one could read them. But when I finally shared my work with my friends, they started encouraging me to write more.
A teensy-tiny dream started growing inside me then that maybe I could become a writer. But that ‘maybe’ was a big hurdle to cross. I still started writing a story though but was still uncertain about it. Then, my friend, Shreyash started preparing this whole list of publishers and my other friends, Nikita and Apurva were there, feeding me encouragement all through the process of writing, being my beta readers and my support system.
I realized then that they are really counting on me. So why not just do what I am good at and turn that ‘maybe’ into a ‘definitely.’ And now here I am – an author! Wow, I am still getting used to that word defining me.
8. What do you love to do when you are not writing?
Oh, I am such a bookworm that you will most likely find me reading when I am not writing. I still don’t know which one I love more – reading or writing. If I am not doing either of them then I am listening to songs or watching some good TV series. But that happens very rarely.
9. You also share your feelings and emotions in the form of short write-ups on Instagram. Would you like to share three of your favourite write-ups with our readers?
Yeah, sure! I love writing those quotes and short write-ups. Some of my favourite ones are:
The world is full of liars,
So you better get used to it.
Because many will say they are with you,
But the number of people by your side will always be few.”
I don’t need a weapon, my dear.
I wear midnight blue in my eyes,
Fire red on my lips,
Mountains for heels under my feet,
And all the wild sass wrapped around me.”
3. “In the race of life, my dear,
Death always wins.
So stop running and start living.
Who knows if reincarnation is even a real thing?”
10. A quick-fire round: (Answer in less than 50 words):
- Which book has influenced you the most?
That is really difficult to answer. I’d had read hundreds of books by the time I realized that I wanted to be a writer. And every book I read has been leading me to my dream. But ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes certainly made a lasting impression. I want my readers to connect with my story the way I connected with this one and shed gallons of tears.
- If your book were to be turned into a movie, who are the celebrities that you would love to star in it?
Wow, I never really thought much about that. But I think I would like to have fresh faces if the book were to be turned into a movie. I guess I would like to have people with similarities with the characters to make these fictional characters seem more real.
- Whose advice do you seek when in a dilemma?
My friend, Shreyash! He is the one I go to every time I find myself in trouble or when I am feeling uncertain or in dilemma. He’s an artist too. So he gets it and definitely gives me the solution. Every time!
- One song that you always hum?
Zara Zara from RHTDM. That song is my all-time favourite.
11. Will there be a sequel to No More No Less?
Yes! That would be definitely a yes. I actually finished the whole story at once. Which means the sequel – ‘No More No Less 2’ is all done and right now sitting in my laptop. I just need to make a quick work of edits and some changes here and there and it will be ready for the readers.
Buy No More No Less book (Alisha Nandeshwar)
Virendra is a passionate reader and writer. He is currently working for two leading IT media portals. This blog is where he shares everything, whether it is a book review, technical article, author interviews, things he has learnt (and still learning). He also writes about his take on this world through unique, helpful and odd stories.