Neera Maini Srivastav, a very talented author whose work managed to make a place in the curriculum of reputed schools as well as adapted to theatricals and features. In short, Neera mam is a talented personality who shared her journey with me through this recent interview session I had with her.
Welcome to the platform of Indiacafe24. Neera, please share a brief about yourself, your education, and your family.
A post-graduate in English Literature with academic qualifications in Screenwriting and Advertisng/Communications , I began my creative career by steering brand storytelling in MNC agencies like Lowe, Saatchi & Saatchi, Percept Gulf in India and overseas and media conglomerates like the Times Group. Later, I extended my penchant for narratives to publishing and entertainment- writing scripts and penning books (5 published titles) some of which have been included as curriculum in reputed schools and adapted to theatricals and features. Having won awards: Dubai Lynx, Power of Print and Abby and also acclaim as author, I straddle many worlds with equal enthusiasm. Today I lead the Communications/content industry as consulting Creative Director (Currently Senior Creative Director for chlorophyll brand consultancy and communications) as I continue to scale newer bends and peaks as author and content evangelist.
I come from a family of creative and academic professionals. My Father was a filmmaker and an advertising professional, my mother- an educator and my sister a communications expert, a Luxury consultant and an educator. My husband holds a key position in corporate leadership with many awards to his credit.
How did writing come into your life?
Since literature and literary greats were part of my cerebral diet, writing was a natural choice. Though I began my career as a writer in advertising, I was always the closet ‘poetess’ and I wore the author’s hat much later . It happened by chance when I figured there was a story within me that was seeking expression.
Got to know that besides being a wonderful author you are also a screenwriter, educator, and mindfulness coach. I would like to know more about your role as a mindfulness coach.
Well, my spiritual journey began very early since my dad was a Yogi and meditator. So that knowledge was always there in my environment and I grew up with that legacy. My curiosity about life and beyond led me to learn many modalities about the self. When I realised their value and impact in my life, I was obsessed with sharing it with the world. That led me towards becoming a mindfulness coach.
You carved a niche in the industry as young adult fiction/Children… Why is this particular niche your preferred one?
It’s not that it happened by design. But I somewhere had an affinity for young minds – I found them stripped of ‘stuck’ points of view and rigidities. The openness I guess drew me closer to them. I found it easier to tell a story to them, perhaps. Maybe the child in me resonated with them!
What are the specific qualities in you that you believe helped you in making a place in the bookish world?
Creativity, openness and a ‘young-at-heart energy’ have enabled me make a place.
Your latest book ‘Hack the Boredom Code’ is making the news. Please share a brief about this book.
The book is a panacea for the most challenging pandemic of our times: boredom! Not through heavy philosophy but through contemporary, light-hearted wisdom. Split into 3 sections: Mind, Body and Spirit, the book offers tips /hacks/solutions in each category that seed the respite from boredom in a fun, engaging way. What better than a ready reckoner for young adults to get by their highly stressful daily lives in a more meaningful, healthier and stimulating manner. A companion of sorts, the book aims at delivering well-being to the troubled young things by throwing open a world of ‘creative’ solutions to combat the new age ogre– boredom, including a ‘boredom tracker’- for journaling purposes.
How important is humor for you in life? Mam, I insist you share why people are overlooking the element of humor in their lives and how we can introduce it to our boring lives.
I am reminded of this quote by Henry Ward Beecher: “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” So yes, humor is my life’s mantra! It’s what puts a smile on the face, it’s what melts misery, differences and gets you closer to the divine. Only a joyful heart can find enlightenment! There is something so Zen about humor.
I find people have eliminated humor because they have started taking themselves so seriously. They have almost turned into pressure cookers! I can almost see the whistle blowing atop their heads!
So to begin with, how about making light of things- whatever it may be. Go, watch a comedy , indulge in a few laughs till it becomes part of you! But please take those laughter shots!
As an author what’s your opinion about the growth of Indian authors in the international book market.?
It’s been so gratifying to watch Indian authors almost steal the thunder as they say. From fiction to non-fiction, every genre has Indian authors ruling the list- and rightly so. And, interestingly, Indian author Perumal Murugan’s book ‘Pyre’ has made it to the International Booker Prize 2023. So finally the famed ‘Longlist’ is now getting populated by Indian writers. That speaks volumes.
Writing, be it of any form, needs inspiration… who is your inspiration?
Within the family, it was my father, within the larger family , it’s been my several gurus and mentors who had some nugget of inspiration or the other. The greatest Muse of course is life itself- a fascinating piece of work!
Is there any scope or possibility that in the near future, we will get to read more works of yours in other genres?
Yes, I am in the process of completing my next title, as we speak. So yes, I won’t let you rest!
Who is your favorite author? Also name one book which is very close to your heart.
There are many actually who have influenced my thought/worldview: From Ayn Rand, Paulo Coelho, Frank Simoes, Tennessee Williams, Khalid Hosseini, Kiran Desai, Amartya Sen, VS Naipaul, Shashi Tharoor, Elif Shafak, A.S. Byatt to name a few.
The book closest to my heart is “Possession: A Romance” by A.S. Byatt
Who is the best critique of your work?
My better half (husband) and my sister
What are the other passions in your life?
I love water- so I do snatch moments of splash! I love swimming. I am passionate about travelling and exploring new cultures, places and stories.
Any Suggestions for budding authors?
Write without focusing on outcome. Write for fun, for the joy of it. Let it all flow without interruption. And let no one ever have the last word over you!
Define Neera Maini Srivastav, as an author in one line.
An incorrigible optimist, an unstoppable story-teller, a forever ‘verb’.