Romila- An Author With Many Feathers In The Cap

Before meeting Author Romila, I was not aware that an author can be so talented. I am glad that I met her and got the opportunity to interview her for this platform. Dear Friends here I present Romila, the super talented author and her journey in the industry.
Welcome Romila, we are glad to have you with us on the platform of Indiacafe24.My readers are keen to know about you. Kindly share a brief about you, your education, and your family.
Firstly wishing everyone at Indiacafe24 Happy New Year and Thank you very much for making me a part of your community. My name is Romila, I am 37, I live in Hyderabad with my parents, brother (he is an Advocate ) and sister in law ( a budding Entrepreneur with interests in baking and cooking). I am a south Indian-born, brought up and educated in Delhi. I am a PhD by education, a double graduate and triple post graduate. I own, edit and publish an exclusive digital magazine based on poetry called as “Unicorn” which was launched in July 2020.
Which authors and their work inspired you the most?
William Shakespeare, Nicholas Machiavelli, Dante Alighieri, John  Milton – for me these are the people who are the builders of English literature. You cannot call yourself a writer, poet or a story teller if you  never read them or learnt from their work.
You started writing at 13….. what scenario influenced you to pick the pen to write at this age?
It was an Inter school essay writing competition where I was told by my Hindi teacher Mrs Rashmi Bhatnagar to take part whereas I was totally blank with no prior writing experience and had no idea how an essay was written. I was scared, I was nervous because the competition was between schools and my school’s name was at stake. But I took the risk, learnt how an essay is written and went ahead writing about “Unemployment” in Hindi and won the contest – this was the first step towards my writing and it has been 26 years that I am writing non-stop.
Blogging at 20……. How did that happen?
Curiosity!! In 2004, Rediff came out with a blogging platform which caught my eye and before that the term “blogging” was unheard. I had no one to guide me except some guidelines from Rediff about getting published – I followed those and made a plunge into world of blogging and here I am 16 years later with “top Indian blogger” title and many more. I have mentored more than a dozen new bloggers, writers who are successful in their own niches.
What exactly you mean by professional writer? Does that mean content writing? How you entered this arena of writing?
Professional writing is definitely writing for newspapers, magazines, websites – where your are given credit for your work, it is not ghost writing or being a part of written discussion where your inputs are taken without naming you. I started writing professionally – which gave me name with money in 2008. Prior to this I was more into freelancing writing where I was paid without acknowledgement. An online magazine based in USA run by Indians caught my interest and I wrote my first article where I was fully credited for it and made a team member for their content department. This one opportunity made path for many opportunities for me.

You got the identity of an author when you were 32… so what was your first published work? Say something about that very first work of yours.
I turned an author by destiny. It was never in my plan but God had it for me. I started reading books when I was 4 years old, I always used to wonder how people write books and seeing the number of pages of fairy tales, bedtime tales and more it used to give me goosebumps as it was a task impossible for me. I wrote my first book in 2016 , I debuted with non-fiction, ebook which was 26 different topics randomly picked by me alphabetically. It released on amazon as well as in the blogging communities and I can call it successful as I had pretty good purchases, readers and reviews. With its success I decided to write more books and experiment different genres.
You are also into book reviewing… is there any specific genre of books which you love to read the most?
I am on Goodreads since 2014, got the verified badge in 2017 and since then I got into some serious book reviewing business through few blogging communities. I still review books every month, I am a member of a book Club based in Egypt. Last year I won “Best book reviewer” title 9 times. I have reviewed more than 165 books. I love reading romantic comedies, thrillers and religious controversies a lot. I don’t stick to one particular genre all the time.
As per you how different is the book writing and book reviewing and what qualities one needs to have in respective roles?
As an author of 13 books, I can tell you without a doubt that writing is the hardest part. Books don’t write themselves.  The authors/writers, have to invest time, energy and money into creating an important piece of work. A book review is a thorough description, critical analysis, evaluation of the quality, meaning, and significance of a book. Reviews sometimes are of 10 words, sometimes range from 500-2000 words depending on the length and complexity of the book being reviewed.
According to me a good writer must have a deep passion for the craft, it is important to love what you write and how you write, without thinking what others would feel. Good writing needs your own approval before asking for external feedback. Writers need to be imaginative to create their best. Attentive nature to details, habit of taking notes, discipline in maintaining a writing schedule, clarity with words, strong vocabulary and error free grammar, open to changes and edits and mostly important interest towards reading.
Book reviewer needs to have balance. The book which you don’t like can be someone else’s favourite, keeping this in mind, he/she needs to share their honest opinion, only the opinion which is completely theirs on the book not on author’s personality. Evaluate the content not the writer. Focus on the writing, treatment of the topic, characters, storyline, research, facts – nothing more or less to this. A good book reviewer gives more than a summary or one liners about the book. The thought of the writing, the message or the story is required not gists.
13 books and that too in such a short span of time…. How that happened and which among these 13 books is your personal favourite?
My first book’s success in 2016 craved a path for me to write 12 more books in just 4 years time. I tried poetry, prose, non-fiction and tasted success in every genre. Out of 13 books by me, 10 books are electronically published, whereas 3 are paperback books – poetry, Drabble and poet cards. My personal favourite is yet to publish book on 21 Drabble stories – I wrote them during the lockdown as a part of daily writing challenge. I love tiny tales, this is my favourite apart from Pink sparkles – collection of 37 poems which I gifted to myself as a birthday gift in 2020 – poems I wrote during lockdown.
As we know that you also contributed your work in 38 anthologies, so can you tell as an author which one is best for a writer… a solo book or anthology?
As a writer, solo book writing came first. Anthologies came in 2019 to me and I edited 2 books and wrote 7 books solo. I would suggest to experience both but start with anthologies as  themes in anthologies are different which makes you write different topics and genres, anthology is a good way to connect with the authors of similar interest as networking is important for your books, the readers of fellow participants get connected to you and you get readers for a lifetime for all your future works, Publishing house which is publishing the anthology may provide discounts/offers/for your independent book projects. People who cannot write a full-fledged book should start their writing career with a good anthology.
I am sure your books received several reviews from your readers…. Which one is the best as per you or you can say motivational for you?
Yes you are right – my every book from 2016 till date have received only positive reviews/feedback from readers. I feel blessed that none of the readers found anything negative or faulty in my books. Every review let it be one line or 100 words has been motivational and encouraging me to write more and better. I wish to share some of the best reviews I received on different books.
‘I now realise how much I miss reading. I cannot stop myself from starting this book. Crisp writing- Multi faceted topics- Peak into writers’ life through her words. Baat niklegi toh Phir door talak jayegi – she quotes Jagjit Singh in her book. Romila is a must read author ‘
‘In the Middle of the book, short stories by Romila, I had this impression, that I am reading one of Ruskin Bond’s short novellas. It is the author’s fine command over the language and emotions via which micro poems are narrated. The book opened a whole new format and style of writing for me, which is very carefully layered’
‘She is an expert of micro-poems. I think the best part of reading is that you don’t need any reason to do it as there is no loss in doing it. People who like her will definitely read and those who on the opposite side will also read so as to know about it, considering it as a part of a competition’
‘The writer’s duty according to me is to deliver the platform on which the reader can dance on their own! I’m glad to say that content of every book written by Romila are so lively which she has successfully compiled it. Every word of her is deep and it resonates when you open and seek the depth. The words work wonder and as a layman, I can confess that she has taken her work to the next big level’
‘Her work has intelligence, philosophical outlook and a subtle rhythm, it makes it nothing less than compelling and a delightful read. Her books are delightful read for sure and depict humour with a tinge of reality. Different perspectives and thoughts are omnipresent in every book of hers’
When one has a solo book, he/she is termed as an author, and the moment one contributes one writeup in an anthology he/she is called a co-author. Who is better and why?
Both! There is no harm to be called as a co-author. As I earlier mentioned the benefits of anthologies, I feel both titles are helpful in making a writing career. I am an author, co-author and content contributor. I feel every title is special to me. I don’t find a reason to discriminate or differentiate as every term has contributed to my growth.
Do you feel the glamour or royalty of being an author diminishes when you are a co-author?
Royalty of being an author diminishes when you are a co-author especially if you have solo books before debuting in anthologies. It happened with me when my first anthology released, some friends supported and some of them told me “you are just a co-author, nothing more, that’s no reason to be happy”. The feeling of being an author loses its charm for sure when you are just a part of the book but not the actual author.
By this time, I already got an idea about your multi-talents. So just tell me how poetry arrived in your life?What type of poetry attracts you the most?
Poetry has been a part of my life since I was in grade 1st of my school. I took part in poetry recitation and I won 1st prize – which is one of the best moments from school time, as my mother was also felicitated at the prize distribution ceremony. Decades later I would be writing poems was never planned. Micro poetry attracts me a lot and I have written books on this type of poetry. I have poet cards coming where I have written some of my thoughts in quotes and 2 Line poetry format. I am a huge fan of Twitter & Instagram poetry.
The conflict between the publishers and authors is very common. Have you faced such problems while finding a publisher for your book?
I have read a lot about conflicts between the publishers and authors, this is the main reason why I opted for self publishing than traditional publishing for my 10 books. But personally it took me 4 years to find an amazing publisher for my books. I have 2 books with Notion Press, Chennai and 2 with Ukiyoto Publishers, Canada (an exclusive anthology through which I made my international debut as a writer) and I plan to work with these two publishing houses in future too. My publishing process with them have been problem free. I highly recommend them.
These days we can see that mushroom growth of publishing houses and every month some new publishing house is coming up. What can be the reason behind it?
As I am very active in Instagram, I get DM’s for anthologies and free publishing offers from publishing houses who are just few weeks or days old. I find every one wants to be a published author (irrespective of quality of content) and this is the reason for growth of publishing houses – some of them without any knowledge about this industry have also started their own companies.
What are your other passions in life?
Apart from reading and writing –  music ( I cannot write without music being played in the background and I am the biggest fan of ghazals you would ever find) painting, art work, mandalas, canvas embroidery and watching movies are other interests of my life.
Say something about other major achievements and recognition in your life?
My brother calls me a born winner. I was just 6 years old when my recognition and achievements began. Some of them are –
  • 1989 – 1st prize in Poetry recitation competition
  • 1996 – Sub editor of school magazine – Hindi section
  • 1998 – Head Girl of the school
  •  2005 & 2010 – Competition Success Review “ Super brain of India” Ms Intellectual” title Winner – All India Rank 1
  • 2016 – Wrote & Published my first Book “My writing workshop”
  • 2017 – Top Blogger of India, Directory of Best Indian Blogs
  • 2018 – National Novel Writing Month – Winner
  • 2020 – Orange Flower Awards – Finalist, Poetry
  • 2020 – National Youth Talent – Winner (English poetry)
  • 2020 – Ms Vivacious Vivider – Title Winner
  • 2020 – 5k Marathon All India Rank 3 and Women All India Rank 1
  • 2021 – Best Author of all Time – Award and title Winner
  • 2021 – Author of the year – Award and title Winner
What are your future plans? What do you want to do?
I want to take my digital magazine to great heights, write more books, give more interviews, guide and mentor new bloggers and win more awards. I want to write till my last breathe for sure. I am definitely hungry for name and fame.
What next in the pipeline in books and of what genre?
Nonfiction and short stories – have some drafts on my desk and I plan to work soon and get them out in the market before the year ends.
Any tip for the struggling authors?
Read daily, write daily. Writing is hard work, and it’s difficult to improve your writing if you do not write daily.  Just because you are inclined towards one area of writing, it doesn’t mean you should stop exploring. Writing in a form that you don’t have much experience is a way to strengthen parts of your writing. If you’re new to writing, make sure to carry a journal with you all the time, you never know when inspiration will strike. Writing well depends on you maintaining your passion, you need to love your craft to grow. Best writing is product of numerous rewrites, you have to learn the art of editing and revising your first draft many times before it becomes best.
What qualities you believe are must for any budding author?
The quality to express their ideas clearly without creating chaos in the mind of the reader. Before you learn to write well, trust yourself first as a writer, you will have to be patient in the presence of your own thoughts, success will not come with your first draft or article. You need to absorb what you read from books, newspapers, blogs or even social media posts. Confidence is what politicians, speculators and business people have, but consistency is a quality found only in writers, the more and often you write, the better your skills will be.
Define Romila the author in one line?

Participating in Outsetbooks Book Marathon