Radhika Maira Tabrez is an author, writer, writing coach, freelance trainer, a motivational speaker and a hustling mother who likes to juggle it all. Before her foray into writing, Radhika was a Learning and Development professional with over twelve years of experience spanning ITeS, Travel, Telecom and BFSI sectors, during which she held many senior management positions. She’s an MBA in Human Resources from SIBM, Pune; where she went on to become the first and till-date the only female to be elected as President of the Students’ Council. She is an active member of the Kalam Library Project.
Radhika is the author of the recently released book ‘In The Light Of Darkness,’ a literary fiction that has opened up to a grand reception and has been receiving rave reviews and critical acclaim from fellow writers and readers alike. It has recently won her the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award (2016). Radhika has also won many other national writing contests and her stories have been published in UnBound; Sankarak, Defiant Dreams, When They Spoke and Mock, Stock and Quarrel.
Radhika lives a quiet life in a small town called Unchahar, with her husband, son and four birds. She is currently working on a novella series with two other phenomenal women writers and on her second novel. Let’s find out more about this very confident, poised, self-assured and interesting author.
Roopleen: While writing a novel, do you have it all figured out till the end or let your writing flow and take its course?
Radhika Tabrez: I let the writing take its course. More often than not, I start with a mere nebula of an idea. Once I start tapping on the laptop, the rest of the words start revealing themselves, to me. But oddly, I do always have a very precise idea of how the story would end. Down to the last words. I know what feeling I want the readers to walk away with, when they close the book. And from there I work backwards.
Roopleen: It is important for every author to have a unique voice. What according to you is the best way of finding an authentic writing voice?
Radhika Tabrez: Be yourself. We’ve got seven billion people on this planet and yet everyone has a unique mind, a unique personality based on their unique life experiences. Everyone’ voice is already distinctive and is going to stand out. But yes, as a newbie writer, it sometime becomes difficult to stay uninfluenced with the voices of the many authors you have read and admired throughout your life. Sometimes, one doesn’t even realise that they have been influenced. I think the best thing that worked for me when I was writing my book was that I didn’t think of any audience at all. Beta readers, publishers, anyone! I just wrote what I wanted to regardless of what people would think the story should be about or be like. I think that worked really well, because amongst other things the readers have found the book very honest and relatable.
Roopleen: How does ‘reading non-fiction makes you a better fiction writer?’
Radhika Tabrez: Oh it does! Tremendously. In fact as I have mentioned in many other interviews, I always read non-fiction while I am writing fiction. As writers, our job is to create stories out of thin air, but with our feet firmly planted on the ground. We need that dose of reality to keep the stories relatable. Also non-fiction is where the real meat of inspiration lies. Fact is after all, stranger than fiction.
Roopleen: How important is it for a writer to constantly practice the writing craft?
Radhika Tabrez: As important as practice is to any other profession. Practice does make one perfect, after all. The only thing is, in art, things work a little differently. You can’t rush or force art. A doctor may be able to treat his patients as efficiently, even on the days he doesn’t feel like working. But a writer or a musician won’t be able to create the same magic without their heart being focussed on it. So sometimes, as artists, you’ve got to be able to cut yourself some slack! But yes, long periods of inactivity do rust even the sharpest of axes.
Roopleen: For many authors, a negative book review can be disturbing. How seriously do you take readers feedback and book reviews?
Radhika Tabrez: Very seriously. But I am very selective about implementing it. I accept all their opinions. But the thing is, often people would tell you how they wanted the story to progress or end. Or how a particular character should behave. I don’t pay too much heed to it because after all one person’s story is their creative prerogative. A reader has a right to like or dislike a story but the same way only the artist has the right to decide how the story goes. And the end of it all, one thing all artists must remember is that no matter how good your work is; it is not meant for everyone. That really helps one get over the negative criticism, if any. Also, I noticed that some people get very personal while criticising. You need to learn to ignore those too.
But any and every feedback about the technical aspects of my craft is something I take very seriously and try and implement with utmost sincerity. A very good friend and an excellent writer once gave me a good talk about my comma usage and I have been second guessing my every single ‘comma’ since then. It still needs work, but I am on it.
Roopleen: How does it help a writer to have a fluid personality- one that is constantly evolving, morphing, from one state of mind to other?
Radhika Tabrez: I wouldn’t say personality, as much as a state of mind. You are constantly trying to be different people through your stories; trying to think like them, trying to pre-empt their actions. So that kind of fluidity is an essential pre-requisite to make your writing work. Personality is something much more permanent. It is a result of how the entire three decades of my life have shaped me and that is far more solid than my state of mind. However, having said that, I’d assume that over a longer period of time, all the experiences that you go through as a writer, all the lives that you vicariously live through your characters, is bound to have some sort of a cumulative effect on you as a person.
Roopleen: You are quite active on the social media. How powerful is social media for connecting with your readers and promoting your work of creativity?
Radhika Tabrez: Immensely! I’m not even half as good as I’d like to be in handling social media. But for anyone who can, it is a golden goose! A mother lode of networking – with your right audience, with peers and colleagues. Just about everyone. Social media has made the whole world your stage! And that is a terrific development, albeit a bit intimidating too, because it is evolving so fast. I find it very hard to keep up with social media. But, I’m learning.
Dr Roopleen is a Motivational Counselor, Speaker, Eye Surgeon, Life enthusiast, Vegan, Fitness freak, minimalist and Author of ‘Principles of Success Made Easy’ and ‘Words To Inspire The Winner In YOU.’
If you are a published author and would like to be interviewed, do write to her at- firstname.lastname@example.org