To the Rescue of Busy Professionals
Take your visual communication to the next level
Chillibreeze Interview with Shweta Ganesh Kumar
Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a bestselling author, travel columnist and new mother. A former television correspondent, today she is finding her bliss as she dabbles in the world of words through works of fiction, travel journalism and baby talk.
1. Tell us about your career path – a correspondent with CNN-IBN to a full time novelist and writer.
I’ve always wanted to reach out to others with stories and real life narratives of real life incidents. I guess my decision to become a TV journalist stemmed from this need. I had always wanted to work in the field of developmental journalism, but two years into the field I realized that I wasn’t able to tell the stories I wanted to. This is when I decided to move to an NGO – to work on communications.
In 2009, I quit my job as a Communications Officer and moved to the Philippines to join my husband. It was the peak of the recession and in the absence of a job, any job, I had taken to ranting in my trusty old blog. I had also written a couple of travellogues, for a newspaper back home. An offer to contribute for a ‘Chicken soup for the Indian Soul’ edition and many positive responses later, I seriously started to consider writing as a full-time profession. Many edits and rejection slips later, today I am proud to call myself a full-time writer.
2. Is your novel Coming up on the Show… The Travails of a News Trainee based on your personal experience? Any tips that wannabe journalists and reporters can glean from the book?
Both of my books have a part of me in them. The incidents that I write about are based on my friends as well as my experiences in the television news industry, but there is also a huge chunk of imagination that has gone into it. However, the descriptions of how news is made, both behind the scenes and on the field are factual. It is these very factual elements that I believe will be of interest to aspiring reporters and journalists. The books talk about the amount of work that goes into the 90-second story that viewers see on TV. It is about the grime behind the glamour and the pain behind the camera smile. It tells them that what you see on-air as news is governed by a whole other set of aspects than just the newsworthiness of a certain piece.
3. Is your second novel Between The Headlines – The Travails of a TV Reporter, a sequel to the first novel? What is it about? Have you planned a series in this genre?
Yes, Between the Headlines is a sequel to Coming up on the Show in the sense that it does follow the journey of Satyabhama Menon, the protagonist.
In the first book, Satyabhama is a news trainee learning the ropes at the headquarters - yet another tiny cog in the news machine. In Between the Headlines she is a bureau reporter. The book is about the life of a young reporter and the realities of working on the field and the clash between her idealism and the truths of a media career.
While tied to each other because of the theme and the character, both books also stand-alone in terms of the story. I am also planning to write a third and final book with Satyabhama as the protagonist. However, this will be set in the background of Indian NGOs and it will also take a look at the world of media relations.
As a freelance travel writer, my travelogues have been featured in The New Indian Express, One Philippines, Geo (Indian edition) and Harrier Magazine. I’ve written travel columns for children in Robin Age, a leading children’s newspaper. I have also been featured in Chillibreeze’s own - CBW’s India’s Top 42 Weekend Getaways eBook in association with India Today – Travel Plus.
According to me, the most essential skill for any travel writer is to be stricken with wanderlust. The best travel stories are those that are written with passion. We need to remember that we are trying to get the reader to travel with us. And so it is very important to pay attention to the little details and also to write to express and not impress your readers. I would also say that it is essential for aspiring travel writers to blog. Not every article is accepted by publications and it is always good to continue writing to hone one’s skills. While not essential, it is also an added bonus if you can take good photographs as well.
5. Your stories have been published in the Chicken Soup series. How did it feel to be a part of a book that is a household name? Now that you are a Mom, would you consider sending in some stories for a next edition of CS for the New Mom’s soul?
My first publishing credit was in ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Spiritual Soul’. It was a great feeling to see my name in print in a series that I have grown up reading and also overwhelming to share space in a book that had pieces from personalities like Shashi Tharoor, William Dalrymple, Anita Nair and other such greats.
As a new Mom and also a mommy blogger, I’d love to send in stories for the next edition of CS for the mother’s soul.
6. You are a part of the Ramayana project, Kiski Kahani. What is the aim of this project? How has it been received?
Kiski Kahani is a project initiated by Open Space. It is a project that celebrates the many variations of the Ramayana and the similarities. It also aims to document the myths and legends associated with the epic that can be found not only in India but also across South East Asia. As Open Space puts it, the aim of the project is also “to foster critical enquiry, and to support the questioning of dogmatic and apparently monolithic narratives”.
With essays both written and pictographic and even theatre shows and much more, the interest in the project is quite high and it has been well received.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have my work featured in many publications. My short stories have been published in literary journals like Australian Women Online, Single Solitary Thought, Pothiz, Damazine and the Asia Writes Project. I have also had a short story featured in Indian Voices – an anthology. Recently, Oxford Bookstore selected my poem ‘Adrift’ as one of the three best poems to be featured on their site, for the month of May.
My first novel Coming up on the Show was listed on several bestseller lists within the first three months of its release in May 2011. One of my proudest moments was when many friends sent me photographs they had clicked of the book enjoying a position of pride, next to other bestsellers, in bookstores across the country.
8. Can you tell us about any other work that you are passionate about?
I am currently working on an urban fiction novel on the life of a career woman who leaves everything behind and moves abroad to be with her husband. It deals with the issues of unemployment and readjustment and is also a modern day interpretation of ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I will also start working on my third and final novel with Satyabhama Menon – the journalist, as its protagonist in a couple of months.
However when I am not writing or travelling, I am a full-time mother who is passionate about trying out new recipes and also creating a few original ones.
Question for readers:
Which book would you read when your soul needs some chicken soup?
Check the results of the writing contest for the First Quarter, 2012
Read more interviews
>> Read more articles written by Chillibreeze writers:
Urgent 24 Hour Editing