Novel Updates

So one fine Sunday, I was able to sort out the jalebis of my life and parcelled my novel to a few publication houses. I was Gung-ho initially but started getting cold feet the moment I inserted fresh crisp A4 sheets in the printer. I turned into Gollum and my twin personalities started fighting.

“It’s not good enough! Give it another reading!”

“Go on. Don’t listen to him. Don’t stop now.”

The good Gollum won and the button was finally hit, printouts taken and manuscripts couriered and e-mailed. It’s all done and the trepidation is nowhere near abatement. I will give it another 5-6 months and if I do not hear anything, I will drink my tears and move to the next lot of publishers.

Now as you all are the elite readers of this blog, it is my responsibility and privilege to give you a sneak peek into the creation of this story and how I went about it. This is how it happened –

  • The story is not entirely fiction. It is derived from reality but is tossed with fictional occurrences. Only the people who were involved can distinguish where one ends and the other begins. Two of them are dead.
  • The story is non-linear. It begins in 2002, then moves to 2064, then to 1930, 1984, 2003, 1952, 1965 and so on. The whole span of the tale is from 1930 to 2064. Baring the main thread, the story is derived from true events till the year 2002. It takes an entirely fictional turn after that. The story is set in Dalhousie and Delhi.
  • Since the story is non-linear, I was bound to make mistakes in the narrative if I was not cautious from the beginning. So, I maintained an excel sheet where I divided the whole timeline in decades (columns) and put major events for each of the characters (rows) in the respective columns with the exact year. This worked as a very helpful reference point for me. Even after all this, I tore off half of my mane writing the synopsis.
  • I gave up blogging to get myself disciplined and took almost a two-year break. It took me around 4-5 months for research before I began writing the book. A major chunk of the story happens in an era I have not seen. I relied on the stories told by my grandparents (which used to be very elaborate) and a lot of material I found online about how people lived in pre-independence India. I cherish those days of research because I found things I had no idea existed; I lived memories which were not mine.
  • Writing about the 50s, 60s and the 70s was a daunting task. I turned to my parents to fill me in. I had elaborate discussions with them about how people lived during those times, what they ate, what kind of movies they watched etc. I also read as much online material as I could find. Internet was a great help. I made elaborate notes.
  • The most painful experience was writing about the partition. I left it for the end. I finished writing the whole book and then went back to it. I saw a few documentaries and was left disturbed for days. What we learn in our school books can never prepare us for what happened that year. I felt completely helpless when I saw an old man crying remembering how his father beheaded his sister to save her. He said he could not forget the sound of the sword striking the flesh.
  • Finally after writing the first draft, I sent it to a few friends for review. Geet read it and liked the story. Poonam Sharma and Sonia Sundaram gave very positive feedback. After that I kept polishing the story for almost 8-9 months till I was completely satisfied with it.

So, that is how, ladies and gentlemen False Ceilings came into existence. I have sent it to a few publishers and the wait time is anywhere between 5-6 months. I will update you as soon as I hear something. And, so I leave you with a could-be-blurb of the story.

It was an enormous owl sitting on Shakuntala’s bedding that brought the bad news and changed her life. Years later, when the nerve ruptured in her brain, it was too late to share her secret. Her open eyes oscillated for seven days.

It wasn’t humans but dancing peacocks and steam engines guarding the horizon that elicited an emotion from Aaryan. He turned into a misanthrope when he was five.

Manohar was almost there when he gave up and crumpled like a detonated building. When he died, his grandson saw him flying because his legs were so thin.

Vinod liked female wrestling and lions hunting deer on Discovery. He had hunted for quails in the jungles of East Delhi and jumped into trams in Chandni Chowk. The adventures had to go on.

Meena sprinted like a horse and won prizes in racing competitions but no one wanted a bride who runs for a living. Marriage was fed into her as an escape to utopia that eventually choked her every dream. In the end, her coffin broke her into two.

Lipi could never make the almirah speak. The almirah had seen it all but it stood in a corner, hiding the secret in its false ceiling. And even after 127 years, the wooden radio still worked. She died listening to it.

Shakuntala, Aaryan, Manohar, Vinod, Meena and Lipi were bound by the secret for 130 years. The secret that devastated their lives as it travelled from Dalhousie to Delhi, as it travelled from 1940 to 2062.

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114 comments on “Novel Updates

  1. It is going to be mind-boggling, those time travels! Those excerpts are beautiful and the first one is simply stunning. Looks like I am going to have a tough time trying to review False Ceilings. Here is wishing you the best, and a ton of thanks for inspiring me to fatten that manuscript!

    • I hope so, Uma. :) The story is very simple in its core but the time travels do give it a bit of complexity.
      And you complete you book too. You are a Booker winning material, believe me. :)

  2. The mystique appeals to the reader in me. The fact that it spans decades is also intriguing. You have put in a lot of hard work. Wish you all the best. Keep one autographed copy for me. And don’t forget to invite me for the book launch.

  3. This is so good. All the very Best Amit :) :) I wish you all the success. Your hard work is definitely going to pay off well :)

  4. wow, that’s awesome!! all the best!! so, my blog is read by a soon-to-be published author!

    yes, school books don’t tell us the real story, not only about partition but many other things as well.

    • Hold your horses! :P
      Thanks for all the encouragement Debs.
      Yes, you are right. I saw two documentaries about the partition and was shaken to the core. There is so much we don’t know.

  5. The story sounds mysterious with all those time travels. All my best wishes are with you Amit. I am sure your hard work will surely pay off. I am waiting for it to get published. It’ll be awesome to read a novel written by someone i know personally (virtually at least) :-)

    • Thanks. :) Not insane because I knew the people involved and about their lives but yeah I did take a few months to prepare the groundwork.
      Thank you very much for the encouragement. :)

  6. You write wonderfully well Amit! The publishers would be glad to go ahead with your manuscript. It sounds awesome & can’t wait to read it. Requesting an autographed copy & invitation to book launch too! Best wishes! :-)

  7. Wow….good luck,Amit. Hope all your days and nights of hard work comes into fruition soon :) Will be waiting to read it. I liked the few excerpts that you mentioned here..I read a book called ‘Difficult Daughters’ by Manju Kapur and for the first time knew the pains of partition..

  8. The moment it hits the stands, I will buy it and that is a promise. :smile: Btw when hundreds and hundreds of women wait in queue for your autograph, I hope you will not make me wait too long (because by then the twins will be howling and screaming…and maybe even farting loudly :roll: ). Ohh now the question is how will you recognise me….hmm maybe I will have to wear the Grinch costume in my DP?? :mrgreen:

    Jokes apart loads of luck and am sure this is going to be a best seller.

  9. So so so very excited for you and can’t wait to see it in print!
    I have immense respect and deep admiration for those who turn letters and words into pure magic.
    All the very best to you and do let us know as soon as you hear from your publisher :)

  10. Wow!!! A story spanning 130 years!! Can’t wait for your book to get published, man!! :)

    P.S.: So THAT’s where you had disappeared in between eh? This explains it. ! :mrgreen:

  11. Congratulations for the taking that first step..umm..well actually the second :) Writing itself is a step no? :) :)

    Feels good to read this post, I’m eagerly waiting to see the book in the market…so what if that means maybe 5-7 months from today :)

    P.S. you are inspiring me to finish my half written book :) thank you!!! I might need your help, will take it offline!

  12. yes yes yes you did it Amit…yipeeeeeee! I am sure if this one doesnt publish it, someone else with..with your style and lovely way of putting things to perspective, I can sure imagine a super novel..so so waiting for the good news now :)

    I loved that name False Ceilings..it gives such a feeling of intrigue :)

    • Hehe! Yeah, feels good that I was able to push it to the next step. :)
      And thanks for liking the name and all the good wishes. I was actually skeptical about the title. :)

  13. Wow….I am sure this book will be published. The day it hits the stands, I will go buy it :) I want an autograph on the book though perhaps a message ;) How else will I show off otherwise :D

    All the very best :)

  14. Awesome Amit! You have put in sweat and toil and now leave it to the heavens. See how you write, I am sure it will be a great read. Loved the little blurb you shared with us. Wish you luck!

  15. I have never met you personally but I feel a certain kinship with you. And that makes me delirious with joy that your book is ready to face the world. The storyline looks interesting and the blurbs are definitely enticing!
    I wish you all the best with ‘False Ceilings’. I am certain that it will be a great success! I can’t wait to have my own signed copy soon.
    And thanks for sharing the development process! I think it is very insightful.

    • Me too! Although your satirical posts are more profound and mine border near double entendres at times but I do enjoy the similarities. :)
      Thanks for all the encouragement Rickie. If this book is published, one of my biggest dreams will be fulfilled.

  16. this is so awesome Amit!!! The sneak peek you’ve given has really sparked up my curiosity – here’s wishing you all the best …. can’t wait to read it!

  17. I love the premise of your story and the title “False Ceilings”. Pretty impressed that you were meticulous enough to maintain a timeline on your excel sheet.

    Writing a novel requires you to live the story for months and sometimes for years.

    Let us know when it gets published, so that we can start harassing you for free copies.

    • Phew! I was really skeptical about the title but I am glad that everyone liked it.
      And I had to create the excel because the initial rough sketch had mistakes when I glued the years together. That was when I understood that I have to maintain a timeline. It really helped.
      *filmy monologue alert*
      One day, when all this is over, I will tell you how much of this story I have lived.

      Thanks for the support and encouragement Purba.

  18. 130 years is a pretty big timeline..you maintained excel sheets! how diligent :)
    One secret, six lives, a hundred and thirty years…you are our desi Archer ;)
    Best wishes with you Amit.

  19. This is so intriguing…130 years is such a long time… Secrets, mystery, I love it.. I’m sure it will get published soon and will be among the bestsellers… Good luck for that…:-) :-)

  20. So so so so happy for you Amit! I really hope your dream comes true :)
    With all the research and the superb excerpts out there and prayers, am sure you will soon be reading your book’s reviews on others’ blogs :)

  21. Sounds very interesting. All the hardwork done will be rewarding! Good writers are always open and work hard for their research. May the publishing houses have a good luck in recognizing a tremondous talent!!

  22. A Beautiful update of your work Amit… loved the way you made use of words and created those beautiful lines… Don’t worry, every successful man has to face some difficulties… but ultimately success comes to him.. :) Wish u all the very best… :):) tc

    • Thanks Pratiksha for all your wishes. :)
      Oh yes! Difficulties are there. Loads of them. It is not easy to get your first piece of work published.

    • Thanks Sitting Bull. :)
      Right now, I am sending it to publishers and waiting for a response. Of course, I will scream from the rooftops if it hits the stands. :)

  23. Pingback: Novel Updates – II | Mashed Musings

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