Book Review: Kissing the Demon-The Creative Writer's Handbook by Amrita Kumar

  • ISBN: 978-9352643035
  • Genre: Non-Fiction /Creative Writing
  • Publishers: Harper Collins
  • Price: Rs.350/-  ( I got the book for review from the Writer's Melon)
Do you have a great story to tell but don t know where to begin or how to give it shape?

Whether you re an aspiring writer or a seasoned one, a writer of fiction or narrative non-fiction, Kissing the Demon will help you navigate the maze of plot construction, narrative viewpoint, character development, dialogue creation and description even while allowing your imagination to flow.

Written by an editor and publisher who has for over four decades nurtured some of India s finest writers, it also tackles the insular world of publishers, agents, contracts and editors. It tells you how to find a publisher or agent, what gets a publisher s attention and what turns it off all the stuff writers take years to learn.

Finally, it offers solutions to the vexing issue of balancing everyday life with writing, a problem every writer faces and the reason why so many books remain unwritten.

George Orwell once described writing as a horrible, exhausting experience, and that he wouldn't have written a single book were he not driven by some demon he could neither resist nor understand. Kissing the Demon will make your journey as a writer a little less painful, make you look upon that demon with a little more love.

Behind the Book
About the Author

Amrita Kumar is an anthologist, novelist, writing-mentor and creative writing teacher. She began her career in the godowns of Daryaganj to select books for a chain of bookshops, moving on as research writer for the Department of Culture, Government of India, then on to publishing as associate editor, Penguin India; editor-in-chief, Roli Books; managing editor, Encyclopedia Britannica; editor, Indian Design & Interiors magazine; and vice-president, Osian’s Literary Agency. In addition, she has freelanced for Rupa & Co., Harper Collins India and Oxford University Press. She lives in New Delhi.

Me thinks

The first thought that came to my mind after reading the blurb of this book was - WOW, someone who knows this industry inside out is sharing her experience. This has to be very informative! And I wasn't wrong at all. 

I have attended quite a few creative writing courses both in India and abroad , having had the pleasure the interacting with some amazing mentors (Some have been Booker Prize nominees) who shared their insights about writing at great length. I have also been reading a lot of books on creative writing since past few years. However there is something very unique about this book that makes it special.

For starters, the language is very simple, unique and to the point. The author doesn't give any vague tip, rather she ensures we understand what she means by reading the examples she gives in terms of books, stories, passages or exercises. Throughout the book she has written with so much clarity that it seems as if she is talking to you face to face and making sure you understand every single word taught through the book.

Secondly, this book can be read from any chapter.Maybe that is why it is called "A handbook". It is something one can keep going back to and refer in times of doubt. At any point when you are stuck while writing you can refer to a chapter on similar lines and find a solution to your dilemma. This makes the book extremely helpful as a ready reckoner. The whole book mirrors the cover in terms of simplicity and yet manages to get the point across very clearly.

Third and most important point, this book talks about the Indian publishing industry in great depths something that not many books can boast of. She also highlights the difference in working pattern for authors/publishers in India and abroad. There are a lot of things which are assumed, more like Chinese whispers. Someone told someone else and after 10 people repeat it becomes the truth. Through this book the author attempts at breaking all the myths and setting the record straight when it comes to writing and getting publishing in India. 

I really enjoyed reading this book a lot. It took me back to my student days when I used to read with a pencil in hand and a bundle colourful post-its highlighting passages which felt important and needed to be remembered. I have done this with the book and it feels as if I have finally found all the answers I used to look for while working on my debut novel.

Having said that, let me add this book is not only for aspiring writers, it is also for people who appreciate the art of writing and are avid readers. This will help you see every book you hold in your hands in different light. Strongly recommended for all aspiring authors, readers and book-lovers - this one is a treat and a must have on your bookshelf.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Matka Kulfi - traditional yet a perfect remedy for any summer afternoon to help you get rid of the heatwaves (read: writer's block)

Source: TwinCity Buzz

I received a copy from Writers melon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.