Writer Interview | Suneetha B

(Originally appeared in ChilliBreeze.in )

This month we will introduce Suneetha B, an accomplished writer, published translator, accent trainer and a Chillibreeze Preferred Network member.

Please tell us about yourself.
I am 43, married to a broadcaster, have a son and a daughter, both in their teens. I live in the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum. I am a postgraduate in English and Management and a student of M Phil (Management). I am a published translator and an accent trainer in the English Language. Other than in English, I also write in Malayalam, my mother tongue.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since childhood. I wrote poetry while I was in school in both English and Malayalam. My essays were appreciated beyond the school boundaries, so writing has been a habit since I remember.

How did you start writing?
My Amma who is an English teacher, used to get me all the classics in English from her college library, I kept up my Malayalam reading from the enormous book collection of the Malayalam writer Sri .P. Govinda Pillai, who is a neighbor. All this reading naturally had an impact on my creativity and when I started to excel in language classes in school, it showed me that here was something I could do and enjoy as well. In teenage, when one’s emotions takes one on roller-coaster rides, I found refuge in poetry, both reading and writing it. This is how the mantle of writer came to be mine.

What do you love about writing?
Writing calms, but also exhilarates and it makes you feel delighted that you are alive.

What is your favorite piece of writing? Tell us about it.
I love historical novels, and Jean Plaidy’s historical novels are the ones I never turn away from.

Who are your favorite writers and what are your favorite books?
Jane Austen is a favorite, so is Charlotte Bronte. As a child, I devoured Enid Blyton books, the Chalet school series, the Little Women quartette, the Katy series and Mary Webster’s Daddy Long legs. I have so many favorites that it will be tough to mention all of them. In Malayalam, I read mainly poetry and G.Sankara Kurup, the Jnanpith winner is my beacon. I also love to read translations from other languages, especially Bengali. Asha Purna Devi is a favorite.

What kind of writing do you hate? Any turn-offs?
No genre which I hate, but I can’t understand post-modern literature. It turns me off completely.

Did you face any challenges in your writing career? Tell us how you dealt with them.
A writer always faces challenges and the nature of challenges changes every day. Writing is a lonely journey and it is by absolute luck that one finds a soul mate in this journey. Writing makes you transgress all boundaries in making companionships – age, culture, gender, class – I don’t expect anyone to understand the reasons for this, almost always, nobody understands your motives.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do about it?
I don’t know if you can call it laziness. I get it once in a while, but in general, I am more prolific than lazy. When I write fiction, I can’t stop till I put down all that I have in mind. When laziness strikes me, I cut off from the world and read old favorites which make me come back. Doing exercise and reading inspirational books always puts me back on track. I also try to clear the clutter around my work table which has an effect on work.

What is the best feedback you received about your work?
That was from a Chillibreeze client for whom I wrote a book-review. He wrote to Nishi (the Chief Content Officer & Chillibreeze Director) that he was delighted with the book review and ‘it was all that Nishi had promised and more’. Nishi put that on the CB Newsletter. In creative work, a short story I wrote about a mother getting adjusted to a son’s leaving home for studies abroad got me many good words because people identified with the feelings I put to the character. I felt really appreciated with that feedback.

Who is your biggest critic?
My small group of writer friends; I wouldn’t survive without them.

What do you think makes Chillibreeze writers different?
The Chillibreeze mantle makes you disciplined and self-sufficient. I have seen other clients express surprise and marvel at the discipline we have.

How do you see the internet changing the way writing works?
Technology has broken geographical boundaries and if not for the net, I wouldn’t be writing these answers for you.

What has writing taught you about life?
Writing has broken my ego and taught me to be humble. It also taught me that there is happiness waiting round every corner and life is not about big things all the time, the little things also matter.

What inspires you to write?
Reading a new writer, reading old favorites, and reading positive feedback…But I don’t need a reason to write…I just do.

What would your autobiography/biography be called?
Wow! Will I ever have something like that? Maybe something like ‘A Crazy Woman’ JJ

What is your dream as a writer? Any publications you’d like to see your work in?
I am working on a novel and dream of it being a path-breaker. I appreciate all publications that publish my work; each has its own value. If I get paid, that’s the icing on the cake. When one is famous, a standard publication will grab your work even if it isn’t good, but in the struggling years, the small unappreciated magazines and websites give one the impetus to continue writing by giving bylines. I guess I would like to write for more people than a single famous one, if you ask me for a preference…

What kind of mistakes do you think new writers usually make?
I am still a fairly ‘new’ writer in my eyes; I guess I will be so even after another decade. I am still learning, every moment. One mistake a new writer can make is not to know one’s weaknesses and strengths. e.g. If your forte is non-fiction, don’t keep sending miserable short stories and getting rejected and dejected; find out what you are good at and market yourself that way. Without that, you can be just a writer, not a good writer. Another fact is don’t expect others to tell you what to do all the time, most times they won’t. The path to writing is not smooth, and it works best when you find out things yourself. Learn the tricks of the trade by keeping your eyes open.

Do you have any advice for writers who are starting out on their careers?
We never are the best, there is always someone who thinks, writes and speaks better, so we can’t afford to be complacent. We have to keep reading and writing and improving ourselves…There is nothing shameful about reading up grammar rules or learning a new word. Again, there are always new writers coming up and wanting to know things from you, passing on experience doesn’t take anything away from you, it always brings back more than what you gave away…so does sharing opportunities.

  • Don’t keep thinking that ‘no one told me anything, so I too won’t’.
  • Keep a sharp look out for opportunities and take risks once in a while, fortune favors the brave.
  • Start a blog and a website and blog frequently.
  • Join writer’s groups, they help you more than you can ever imagine.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
Nothing I guess, I am just me. Maybe you can visit my website www.suneethab.com. It is just getting into shape and you can get my blog links too there. Not much activity in the blogs yet, since I still keep a manual diary, but I hope to put a lot of content there soon.

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