Interview with Ekta R. Garg

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've worked in the publishing industry as a writer and editor since 2005. In 2010 I launched my primary blog, The Write Edge, as my first real commitment to myself as a writer. As a result of the blog I've met many wonderful writers, editors, and book reviewers, and to help my writers and myself I began studying the publishing industry in 2011.

I get about a dozen or so newsletters on a daily basis with news from the industry, and I read as much as I can cram into every day about it. As I read more about self-publishing, its pros and cons, and the way the industry in general has changed, I realized that all of my professional pursuits in publishing had slowly prepared me for the possibility of becoming an author-publisher. So in the summer of 2014 I made the decision to try indie publishing for myself.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love coming up with ideas or characters and pursuing them as far as I possibly can. It's exciting and fun, and I love a writing challenge -- knowing my characters need to go from Point A to Point B and figuring out the steps in the middle. It's part game, part puzzle to get all the pieces in the right place.

I also deeply appreciate fine writing -- words that make you stop and consider the sentence for its own beauty. I hope to combine both, fine writing and compelling stories and characters, and offer those to my readers.
What are you working on next?
My main concentration in writing is the production schedule I've set up for my company, Prairie Sky Publishing: a pair of stories every two months. I've finished the first pair that will come out in February 2015, and I'm working on preparing everything for the launch of Prairie Sky and the stories. In the back of my mind, however, I've also begun to work on thoughts and ideas for the second pair of stories that will act as a supplement to the first pair. The second pair will come out in April 2015.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is like asking a person to name a favorite dessert -- there are too many to choose just one! If you peruse my bookshelves, however, you'll find books by: Jhumpa Lahiri; Shobhan Bantwal; Robert Jordan (his Wheel of Time Series); the Harry Potter series; Cynthia Voigt's Mister Max books; and a variety of others. I also enjoy John Grisham and used to read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark, so you'll also find many of her books on my shelf.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids, especially my younger daughter who is a notorious early riser. :> If I've been up late the previous night, then the lure of a large mug of tea will get me out of bed. I also wake up excited to turn on my computer and work on my writing and/or editing.

Believe it or not, I also get excited by little things like a brand new episode of "The Big Bang Theory" or knowing I get to see a friend for lunch that day. I think it's important to remember those little things in life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
First and foremost I'm doing things for my family, particularly my children who are still on the young side. Once they're home from school I'm shuttling them from one after-school activity to another.

This may seem boring, but during school hours I'm usually taking care of household chores -- laundry, ironing, grocery runs, etc. Because my husband has a demanding career, I also take care of finances and fixing things in the house. In between all of these things I make time for my friends and am usually brainstorming ideas for my next writing or blogging project.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I started reviewing books in 2010, and often new authors will approach me to review their books. I became a member of NetGalley in 2012 and get to hear about new books through that medium. Authors will also announce new books on LinkedIn, and if their book pitch sounds interesting many times I'll approach the authors and ask to review their books.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
In the sixth grade our teacher gave our class an assignment: write a story. I don't remember any story parameters -- I don't think she said we had to write within a particular genre or start with a writing prompt. She just said to write a story. The one thing I do remember is that she told us not to make it any longer than four or five pages.

This was in the days before we used computers for school work, so when she said four or five pages she meant writing longhand. I got an idea to write a mystery with twin sisters as the protagonists. The story turned out to be 20 pages long, and I had grand plans to turn it into "The Courtney and Whitney Series".

Fortunately my teacher didn't take off points for going over the page count. She wrote in the margin of the last page "Very interesting! Maybe a budding author here!"

I still have that story, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.
What is your writing process?
I'm a part-time plotter -- that is, I have to have a general plan in place. I need to know my characters and have a broad idea of how the story goes from beginning to middle to end. I'll usually make notes in a small spiral notebook.

The notes aren't set in stone, however. If I start writing and realize that what I'd originally envisioned isn't engaging enough or needs adjustment, I'll go with that gut feeling. I also don't micromanage the story. In other words, I don't plot every single scene. I make sure to do what I call "story sketches" of the major turning points of the story and then let the story surprise me in how I get from one point to the next.

I start with an hour at my computer in the morning after I drop the kids at school and then take a break for an hour or more and come back to the computer mid-morning and then in the afternoon.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Kindle. It's funny, because when the Kindle came out my parents bugged me about getting one. They wanted to buy one for me as a gift. I kept resisting because in my heart I'm an old-school reader. I love print books.

When Amazon started producing variations of the Kindle, though, and allowing readers more options with the devices, they piqued my interest. I got my Paperwhite in 2012 and love it because it allows me to read in the dark long after everyone's gone to bed. I can also forward Word documents or PDFs to it. This last feature is especially helpful if a writer wants me to review his/her manuscript and I don't have to do any editing on it. I can read the MS and get the book experience, which I believe makes me a better editor and more astute in my advice and suggestions for my writers.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first stories read and recited to me. When I was a child my father would often come and say good night and regale me with tales about the Indian emperor Akbar and his wise advisor Birbal. Every story contained a lesson, but what I remember most is my dad's animated face as he shared the funny or groan-worthy moments of each tale.

When I was in the second grade, our teacher read aloud The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to our class. I fell in love with Narnia and all of the books right then, and I think hearing the book at such an early age embedded in me a sense of magic. I understood then that books are special.
Published 2014-11-14.
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