Author Interview - Preethi Baladev - Winner Sahitya Sparsh Award
Author Interview - Preethi Baladev - Winner Sahitya Sparsh Award

Author Interview – Preethi Baladev – Winner Sahitya Sparsh Award

Interviewer: Your latest book, “Divine Promises, has won the Sahitya Sparsh Awards 2024 under the Fiction>Myths>Legends & Sagas category. How do you feel about this recognition?

Preethi Baladev: Joyful, proud and absolutely fantastic. Those are the words that come to mind. When I entered my book Divine Promises for consideration, it was on a whim because I had not seriously considered entering any forum. When I unexpectedly received the email of my nomination, I felt glorious like I had already won the award.

And now to have actually won it, it is another dream come true. My family is ecstatic and I cannot stop feeling excited about what this means to my journey as an author.

Writing Divine Promises, was a giant step out of my comfort zone, to follow my heart’s calling. To have that leap of faith acknowledged on such a prestigious forum such as the Sahitya Sparsh Awards is truly marvelous. I think I am Divinely blessed. Thank you so much for honoring my work as an Author.

Interviewer: Can you tell us about your journey from being a software engineer to becoming an author?

Preethi Baladev: I have always been an avid reader, and books have been a huge part of my life since very young. I have been writing since high school but only as a hobby. After engineering, a software job ensured great money and a comfortable life, but something was lacking. There was no joy, no spark in my career, that ‘leap put of bed every morning’ excitement was missing. After our elder daughter was born, I bid goodbye to software. For 3 years I was floundering not knowing what to do. And then I discovered Yoga. With Yoga a magical transformation ensued and I found my calling in helping others solve their life’s problems. I have been a mindfulness coach, a subconscious reprogramming expert, motivational speaker and a content writer. And through all of it, the one constant has been this insatiable love for books. And yet it never even crossed my mind to make it a full-blown career option. And then WriteIndia happened. The challenge of writing with another author’s prompt was exciting. When I won the contest only on my third attempt, I knew my writing was not just a hobby anymore.

All of my career choices up until now has been in response to someone in need. To help a friend write content for their company, to help women handle life’s lessons, to get people to become the best version of themselves.  But authoring a book had always been a pipeline dream, you know, that something that your Soul calls out to. I love books, the magic of the written word and so it was, I think, a natural progression to writing one. Such a joyful and phenomenal journey it has been. I have been immensely blessed!

Interviewer: What inspired you to write Divine Promises, and how did you develop the concept for the book?

Preethi Baladev: Writing a book had been just a plan until 2019. Quite suddenly I had this image in my mind, of a blood red statue, a small one, of the mighty Lord Hanuman. It was so stunningly beautiful in my vision that I went online and searched for a stone of the kind I had seen in my mind’s eye. Did not find anything close enough, of course, but I began to research, and found intriguing information on the Immortal One. And from here was born the plotline of Divine Promises. The moment I opened the document and began typing the story, it came alive, the characters became strong and the plot took on a life of its own. To be frank, this book wrote itself. In seven days, I had finished a thirty-five-thousand-word novella, in a frenzy of writing that left me sapped and weeping with the emptiness within me after giving it all to the book. After that came the joy and satisfaction of knowing I had been an instrument of the Lord. My book is the culmination of years of being a book lover, a huge dose of the Divine Plan, exceptional research skills and of course an incredible imagination.

Also, Indian writers have not really dabbled in the Action-adventure genre and this is something I enjoy reading, and I think it was an unconscious decision to debut with a book combining Mythology and Action.

A big shoutout to my literary agent Suhail Mathur and his agency The Book Bakers for finding my writing impressive. And to my Publishers, Petals Publishers. Of course, my family has been my strongest pillar. The support from my husband and my mother during the writing phase, words cannot even begin to do justice to.

Interviewer: You mentioned wanting to give readers a ‘been there, done that’ feeling. How do you achieve this in your writing?

Preethi Baladev: By engaging the senses, through highly descriptive language. I love word play; I love the challenge of conveying emotions and sensory information through words. What I do is, close my eyes and visualize a scene in my mind. And then I verbalize the scene, like I am describing the visual to another person who is not able to see and feel what I am experiencing. I believe in the ‘Show and Don’t Tell’ mode of writing. Make the reader see, touch, hear, smell, taste and feel the scene like they are right there with the protagonist, fighting, chasing, fearing, loving, weeping, whatever it maybe. The secret is to make it sensual, you know, make it of the senses and then make them feel emotions like they are fighting that battle, like they are the ones having that heart wrenching breakup with the love of their life. That is what gives the ’been there, done that’ feeling.

Interviewer: How has winning WriteIndia season one impacted your writing career?

Preethi Baladev: I have been writing since grade 7 and even though my work was receiving praise from friends and family and at school, there was always that feeling of inadequacy.

Am I really that good at writing, or is their opinion biased because they love me?

We all suffer from that teeny tiny yet stringent voice that whispers IMPOSTER, right? Well, with WriteIndia, that voice has been silenced for good! To be amongst the top thirty-three winning stories from more than eighty-five thousand entries, it takes some exceptional writing skills. Reading my story alongside the remarkable winning stories gave me that much needed credibility in my head. And I knew that was the beginning of my writing aspirations. My novel Divine Promises is the unconscious promise I made to myself many years ago and winning WriteIndia ensured that it did not remain a hollow one.

Interviewer: You have a background in yoga and mindfulness coaching. How does this influence your writing, especially in terms of creating immersive and introspective narratives?

Preethi Baladev: With Yoga and mindfulness meditation, I have been able to integrate sense experience with the energy of something or someone. As in, I can feel the energy of people, animals, inanimate items, even situations and events. With that kind of sensitivity to vibes and frequencies, a whole new world of experiences opens up to you. Armed with the ‘feel’ of a scene, a character or even a non-living entity such as say a car or an airplane I use my rich vocabulary to write life to just about anything.

For example, if I have to describe the scene of an accident it would be something like this – the metallic body of the car screeched as if in pain, as the jagged rocks mercilessly tore into the chrome red, seeming like flesh was being rendered apart.

In my mind, I can hear the metal, I can smell the burning of fuel, can feel the sharpness of the rocks, and taste the terror on my tongue. And all I have to do is string the words along. With intensive meditation you are always tuned into the world around you. And this is an Author’s most formidable asset.

Interviewer: What message or theme do you hope readers take away from Divine Promises?

Preethi Baladev: The core message of Divine Promises is Intention and then Belief. The intention to be Good and Do Good. And then the Belief that I have what it takes to live my life’s purpose. The theme of the novel is the faith in Divine Intervention to set things right when situations seem horribly wrong.

I have always believed that we are loved and protected by some Power, you know, some force that takes care of everything, that keeps the World moving. There has been so many instances in my life when I felt that Divine Power saving me from imminent disaster, instances with my loved ones being given reprieve from major issues, against all odds. And so Divine Promises runs on the premise that despite insurmountable obstacles, if you give your best and believe in yourself, the Divine will see you through. When you read the book, you will get this sense of trust, this faith that the Lord is with Rylan and Mythili, protecting them, nudging them along the right path, connecting them with the right people until they finish their mission.

The message I want to convey with Divine Promises is that God or The Universe, Source or whatever you choose to call it, there is a Power up there that loves you, and so live your life with the Intention of being Good while having the Trust that All is Well and will always be.

Interviewer: What advice do you have for aspiring authors who are looking to make a difference with their writing?

Preethi Baladev: Aspiring Authors or seasoned ones with many a bestseller to their name, I would say ‘Write from your Heart’, not just for your readers, but mostly for yourself. Yes, having your work read is fantastic, but do not write just to sell books. Write because your Soul wants to create something, write because you feel like you cannot live without getting that story out onto paper. When you write with this kind of soul stirring passion, your readers can feel your pulse, they can feel your life force that has been used to bring your story alive, to breathe life into your characters. And this connection between authors and readers lingers on, long after the last page of your book has been turned. Write because you don’t know anything else that sets you on fire and still gives you peace at the end of the day!

Also read: Author Preethi Baladev – Winner Sahitya Sparsh Award 2024

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