In conversation with Sonia Bahl - Author of A Year of Wednesdays

Today, we have a very interesting author with us talking about life and love at large. 

Before I introduce her to you, I would like to share a small brief about our first interaction almost a year and a half ago. As a book blogger, am sure you all would agree we keep getting review requests from authors on and off. What set her review request apart from all the others (And here I mean almost all emails I have got since 2011 till date!) is the fact that she had taken the effort to go through my entire blog, including my bio, read a few reviews and everything that I had to say here which could be construed as important. Never ever have I received such an beautifully personalized email. It is as if she could read through my bio and see the person behind it. With her one email, she left me feeling so special till date. The love for books and all things mundane in life was a common attraction I guess which made me admire this author more!

Needless to add, she is an author par excellence and her debut book The Spectacular Miss remains a go-to read for me till date! If you haven't guessed it by now, she is none other than Sonia Bahl, author of the latest release 'A Year of Wednesdays'.

Source: SheThePeople.TV

About A Year of Wednesdays

A flight from New Delhi to new York. Two strangers, seat 7A and seat 7B, who have nothing in common. Absolutely nothing. Except they are both hoping the seat next to theirs remains empty. It doesn't. Mid-flight turbulence and infant incontinence forces them to interact—the cool wall Street guy and the mom-with-the-drool-stained-sweater-and-ordinary-aspirations. Blistering wit, opposing views, and some unexpectedly poignant admissions keep them addictive engaged and hopelessly sleep deprived through the fifteen-hour journey.

Touch down... And they leave the cabin without a backward Glance, jumping right back into their dramatically different lives. Never to meet again. But somehow they continue to travel together—interlocked forever through an inexplicable connected-ness. Can one meeting change everything forever? The Japanese have a term for it: ichi-go ichi-e. One time, one encounter, lasts a lifetime.

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Born and raised in Kolkata, Sonia has lived and worked in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Jakarta, Miami, Brussels, Johannesburg and Singapore. With home being everywhere and nowhere, her belief in the power of the moment became a religion. An affirmation that unexpected and undeniable human connections are everything. Meanwhile, on the work front, she spent a huge chunk of her life, her days, and sleepless nights, in advertising—writing ads for all things from coffee and cars to condoms and candy—while dreaming of morphing 30-second commercials to full-length feature films. Not surprisingly, she threw caution, and her full-time job as a Creative Director to the winds and embarked on a riveting, rejection-filled screenwriting journey in the US. Finally, her day job entails writing movies!

Without much ado, let's move onto this enlightening conversation with her:


1. First of all, congratulations on your latest book ‘A Year of Wednesdays’. Can you please tell us something about the book and how did it come into being?

Thank you so much.

Come into being? That’s a story in itself! Like I’ve always said and also written in the Acknowledgement, this one began because Pooja Dadwal, Deputy Managing Editor, FingerPrint! Publishing, the person with whom I collaborated on my first novel, kept nudging me to share a line from my next story. She (deviously) made it clear that it couldn’t be from a screenplay (I write those more than I write novels). The not-so-subtle text messages never ceased until I finally texted her back with a one-line story. Like, there! She wasn’t satisfied. Now she needed me to just finish it.So a line became a chapter and another…all via text. Until, it started happening on my laptop. That’s the genesis, and it’s all her fault.

I live and breathe the spine of this story. Human connections, particularly the unexpected ones, often define us more than anything else does. We are hardwired to thrive when we connect at an inexplicable, granular level.Also,I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in different countries, home was everywhere and nowhere. My belief in the power of the moment and honouring every encounter became a religion. For me ichie-go ichi-e gave sublime context to A Year of Wednesdays.

2. One thing you would like a reader to take back from your books.

I’m simply inviting the reader into a universe that makes sense to me. I put forward whatever moves me, makes me think, makes me feel. When a rill of that connects with a reader I feel a sense of infinite joy.

Source: Twitter.com
3. Your books have been extremely unique in terms of the themes they explore - ‘The Spectacular Miss’ explored adulting and existential crisis, while ‘A Year of Wednesdays’ explores alienation and loneliness with imperfection being a common theme in both. Has it been a conscious effort to talk about these topics which are spoken less about?

My writing, like everything else I do, is led by the heart (okay, the gut plays a monumental role too!). I’m not sure I’m qualified enough to pull off anything else authentically.

4. Your writing is extremely poignant and sensitive. How much of it arises from your own experiences and observations?

See above :)

Isn’t all writing overtly or subliminally autobiographical? If I didn't live it in some way or the other (first hand or through intense observation), I’m not sure I’d have a worthwhile story to tell.

5. Apart from being strong, independent and opinionated, the characters in the books also seem to grow with a reader. As if in the beginning you plant a seed of imagination in the reader’s mind and water it with your writing/thoughts/narrative to create a complete image by the end of the novel. Is that how you visualize them too?

I wish I had the prowess to do that. I really don’t,Stories have always unfolded in my head like a movie. I just write them as I see them. I feel an insoluble thrill when a reader like you joins the dots and makes this beautiful observation.

Picture Copyright (C) Author Sonia Bahl
6. As an artist and a creator, your thoughts on banning books, movies, artists across the world.

Is there any independence-valuing human who believes in the banning of any artistic expression? Can’t remember who said these invaluable words: 

Unexpressed emotions will never die. 
They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.


7. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

That’s a tricky one. I feel compelled to channel Anna Quindlen, a writer I admire immensely, when she said: “I like to say the biggest impediments I had to becoming a successful writer is I had a very happy childhood.” I had an insanely happy and utterly free childhood. No writerly bleeding angst there. On a serious note, my inspirations are simple, maybe even clichéd. Love—deeply grateful for the way it flows in my life and my ability to reciprocate. Conversations—the real ones are oxygen to me. Belonging—everywhere and nowhere.

8. Please share your writing ritual with us. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you research extensively before writing a book?

I’m not qualified to do much else. So writing remains my resting pulse. It’s not anything lofty and ritualistic. Yep, I am a crashing bore and a worker bee so I follow routines with ease. Not a plotter at all. Instinct, again. And again! Research: yes. Even if I know my characters and their motives well, I don’t always know what makes up the rest of their demographic, like the intricacies of what they do for a living, for example. There’s only that much reading you can do on that. I prefer to speak to people who are living what I am writing. So for The Spectacular Miss, I used a lot of help from a student at Imperial College to back up every medical student related fact. For A Year of Wednesdays I spoke constantly with a financial trader to help me with accuracy and insider stories. It’s what I do for anything I am writing.

Source: Google Images
9. As a writer, how difficult is it to stay true to your art and not give in to the commercial demands this profession entails?

It’s a terrific question for me. Really made me think. So I spent many years in advertising where you aim to tell a brand story in the most creative way possible. And it comes with myriad, unavoidable commercial must-do’s and mustn’t do’s.

It’s a brilliant training ground for understanding how to remain disciplined while being commercial. There’s a lot more creative freedom when writing original screenplays, but you also write commissioned screenplays, where you’re trying to put your writing skill into someone else’s vision.

Films by nature are a team sport so it works out well to be able to write to a brief or be open to altering your original ideas based on legitimate feedback. Writing books is totally different. 


You’re Roger Federer on center court. Alone. 
You give it everything you have and everything you believe in.
Here it’s impossible for me to do anything other than heart writing; 
I suspect I’d flounder miserably if I tried.

10. Do we see you experimenting with genres? If yes, which genre would you like to write in?

I never know if I’m writing another book. Let alone what I’m writing. Perhaps, you’d be better off asking the person who knew I had a second book in me!

11. Any words for your readers.

Thank you. Sono Grata (I am grateful). Truly. Madly. Deeply.

Thank you so much for your time and lovely words of wisdom! 


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