This week’s Editors Pick is Natasha Joshi’s Bhukkad. It’s a story about how a promising food tech start-up goes wrong turning friend into foe, and a programmer into a murderer. Natasha holds a degree in Economics and completed her Master’s in Psychology from Harvard University. By day, she works for Government of India as an Education Specialist. In all the time that remains, she tells stories and holds a certificate in Fiction Writing from University of Iowa. She is in the process of editing her first novel. We spoke to her about her writing and her experience with the Juggernaut Writing Platform:
Could you inform the readers a bit more about your work?
My work grows out of a collection of short stories – some that have been published already and others that are yet to find their conclusion.
Please tell us something about your early years and major influences on you. What inspires you still?
I spent my childhood in a country that wasn’t my own, where people looked and sounded different. That primed me to watch humans carefully and my writing has a physical quality to it for that reason. The first book I read was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and it showed me that you could tell the story of anything as long as you learnt its language. My writing is evolving so it’s hard to pin down major influences but I would love to achieve the kind of control and tempo one finds in the works of Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier or George Saunders.
What difference does writing make to your life? Do you think you’ll move on to other story formats in the future?
Writing cures insanity. Whenever I write, I feel reassured that despite all the growing up and wearing down that happens to our outside, our inside remains fecund and that is where human expression comes from. In terms of formats, I’m not particular. Every form has its flavor. I’ve read as many profound tweets as rubbish novels but one has to be mindful of the rules that come with a particular form. I haven’t experimented with play-writing or screenwriting and would like to do some of both in the future.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing since I can remember and I still write the same way: out of instinct more than intention. But a significant milestone for me was finishing my novel. It gave me the confidence to address larger themes in my work since they typically take more space to explore (and work better in novel form).
Is there a preferred time of the day when you get your writing done?
I wish there was! I’ve been trying hard to enforce writing discipline where I write a minimum amount every day but so far I haven’t managed to build that routine. I have noticed that if the theme of the story is dark or moody the writing is better at night.
Do you write one particular genre or different genres? Which one is your favorite?
I enjoy writing different genres. My favourite is dark humor/satire.
What made you write this particular story?
I wanted to write something current, but also something very resonant of urban India. Then, incidentally, I got really into Zomato – I started reviewing restaurants and got vouchers because I racked up enough points to become a ‘Super Foodie’. I also read Zomatos blog and that got me thinking about the glory and the hardship/sacrifice that comes with setting a company up. So, that was the genesis.
Did you face any challenge while writing this piece?
Yes. To me, it wasn’t enough that the story be just about two founders who have a fight. I had to scratch that surface but taking a well-paced funny story and layering on something more meta was a challenge. If you read it superficially the story is simple – two guys start a company, bad guy undercuts good guy, good guy seeks revenge. But what the story actually touches upon is that dreadful feeling of not fitting in/not making it in a world whose mode is different from your mode. You know you’re good, you’re right, you’re intelligent, yet things are not going according to plan. Many people in their late 20s around me are encountering that feeling and I wanted to give that feeling shape.
Is there a particular target audience you had in mind for this work?
Probably. Working professionals perhaps.
Can you suggest some books for our readers that you think are must reads?
Sure. Some of the books I’ve read recently and really liked are A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, The Vegetarian by Han Kang and The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most difficult part of the artistic process is telling yourself that your third draft is STILL not good enough and that editing is where good writing begins.
How was your experience with the Juggernaut Writing Platform?
I am glad a platform like this exists for debut writers. The interface is easy to use too!