Today, the blog features Preethi Venugopala whose romance novel, ‘Without You’ set in places such as Sreepuram, Bengalaru and Dubai has hit the market. In the conversation, Preethi tells about her novel, what makes writing and painting exciting for her as well as new projects in the offing. The civil engineer also blogs on Tulips and Me
A strong believer that story tellers are healers in the present world as they can change people outlook’s through the stories told, Preethi has been published in two anthologies, ‘The Second Life’ and ‘Blank Space’. Another anthology ‘A Little Chorus of Love’ is to be published soon. She is a regular contributor to many online magazines and websites.
In her own words:
Preethi Venugopala is a Civil Engineer by education and an avid blogger, artist by passion. After working in many prestigious civil engineering projects for more than a decade, she quit her job to become a full time mother. Meanwhile, she took a Masters Degree in English literature to complete her dream of studying English literature. She tried her hand successfully at crafts, crocheting, portraiture and painting before venturing into writing.
Hope you enjoy reading the interview.
‘Without You’ is the story of love that transform Ananya into a winner: Preethi Venugopal
1. What is your book, ‘Without You’, a romance that is played out in different places; Sreepuram, Bengaluru and Dubai, all about?
‘Without You’, is a contemporary fantasy romance. The story begins in Kerala, progresses in Bengaluru and attains denouement in Dubai.
When Ananya Shankar, an engineering student, reaches her grandmother’s house in Kerala on a month long vacation, romance is the last thing that she expects to find. But on the very day that she reaches Sreepuram, she meets Dr Arjun, their new neighbour and the heir to the multimillion dollar super market chain, SHINE. A romance ensues but circumstances force them apart.
All in all, it is a story where love transforms the naive girl that Ananya is, into a winner in life. It talks about the power of journaling, of friends and love in its myriad forms.
2. Why did you choose Bengalaru and Dubai, two cosmopolitan places yet vastly different in appeal, as the backdrop in your novel?
Bengaluru and Dubai are two of my favourite places. I have lived in Dubai for a while and I am currently settled in Bengaluru. It is easy to write a story based in a place you know. That is the reason why I selected Dubai and Bengaluru.
Even Sreepuram, the illusionary village, where the story begins is actually an exact portrayal of my village in Kerala which is picturesque and magical.
3. In your blog, Tulips and Me, it is described as the sphere where positive stories and art is crafted. Can you tell the readers what the blog is about and what guides you in weaving positive stories about life and, of course, your paintings describing vivid expression?
I am a huge believer in positivity. I strongly believe that a positive thought is a thousand times stronger than a negative thought. My blog, hence, focuses on stories with happy endings. I also write articles/musings that are filled with inspiration. I also post my art.
If my writings have succeeded in bringing a smile on the face of my reader, I feel I have accomplished what I had aimed to.
4. You are Civil Engineer by profession. When did you start blogging and what was the reason you started penning words on an online platform?
There comes a time in the life of every writer when he/she gets bitten by the writing bug. I got attacked by it in July 2013 while I was on a sabbatical from work and I haven’t recovered yet. It started as a platform to polish my writing skills. Luckily, I have been able to get some sincere readers and also, during the process got in touch with some great writers.
5. You have got rave reviews for your story, ‘The Arabian Dream’ in The Second Life, ‘The Eternal Love’ in the anthology Blank Space, and was a member of the winning team of ‘Game of Blogs’ conducted by Blogadda. What drives or inspire your stories?
Inspiration mostly comes in the form of prompts. For ‘The Second Life’, the prompt was to write a story that inspired you, something that you had heard or was part of your life. ‘The Arabian dream’ was inspired by a story told by my manager in Dubai, and is partly based on true events from his life.
I had written ‘Eternal Love’ for a prompt which wanted me to talk about esoteric possibilities in love.
In ‘Game of Blogs’ we wrote sci-fi fiction, a story where the protagonist was an alien who was trying to save earth, belonging to the peacekeeper Aliens clan who were in charge of protecting life on earth. I, being a fantasy lover, had suggested the idea and the whole team liked it. We went on to win the competition and our story will be published by Leadstart publishers soon.
For another anthology that is about to be published the prompt was “Love through ages”. So, I wrote a historical romance.
So you can see, imagination roams in various aisles when it is directed that way.
6. Tell us when ‘A little Chorus of Love’ is coming and how different your story in this one is from your novel, ‘Without You’?
A little Chorus of Love is an anthology that is in the offing and my story in that “My Red Knight” is a historical inter-racial romance based in the 1720s Calcutta.
“Without You” is very modern and happens in a time period between 2009 and 2011.
Both have the common theme of love, though.
7. You are also an editor. How difficult it is for an editor to cut and re-work your own stories?
I have worked as editor for two anthologies till now; “Blank Space” and ‘A little Chorus of Love.” Blank Space had a hundred flash fictions and many of the writers were newbie in that venture. It was tough to edit because there were numerous errors in almost all stories except a few written by prominent writers.
A little chorus of Love was easier as I had other editors helping me and more than half of the authors in the anthology were accomplished writers or eminent bloggers.
Editing our own stories is a risky job. Errors escape our attention because our brain often camouflages our mistakes. It is always better to have someone else edit our stories. But, grammar check software can be of great help while editing our own writing.
8. Tell us about the inspiration behind your paintings, where you create portraits in pencils and charcoals. When you started painting and what does it mean to you?
Painting and portraiture is a very pleasing way to vent. Creating something that is pleasing to the eye always brings happiness.
I started painting in 2011 to cope up with the sadness of losing my father. It was a way to vent my sadness. I painted one painting after the other and they helped me heal.
I started portraiture as a hobby and started gifting personalised sketches to my friends on birthdays. It was hugely popular among my friends and they started to call me an artist.
Every one of my art has a small part of me in it and it helps me grow as a person.
9. I’ve read the first chapter of ‘Without You’ which describes the home coming of Ananya, who is smitten by Dr Arjun who is the best friend of my name sake, Vishal. Is it a tale of the NRI girl longing for love and facing an identity crisis?
No, it is not the tale of an NRI girl. In fact, she lives and studies in Bengaluru. Ananya is quite the tomboy and love catches her unaware. Arjun, though, is an NRI millionaire who has settled for the time being in Sreepuram to aid his studies.
10. What can your fans and friends expect after ‘Without You’? Is there a full-fledged novel on the cards after this one?
Yes, I am working on a sequel of ‘Without You.” It won’t be a sequel in the exact sense, but some characters in ‘Without You” who were loved by my beta readers are going to have a bigger role in this second book which will be based in Sreepuram. My readers wanted me to write a story for Vishal (your namesake). So currently I am writing Vishal’s story.