I am delighted to feature the third author in the special Edge authors feature, Savita Kalhan, author of The Long Weekend. If you are interested in finding out more about The Edge authors, then please click here.
Firstly, can I thank you for joining me today on my blog.
Hi Vivienne! I’m thrilled to be here – thank you for inviting me!What did you do for a living before writing became your chosen career?
I’ve done lots of things! I used to be a Batik Artist. I went into schools and had fun with huge classes of kids, tons of hot wax and permanent dyes! I also ran workshops for Art teachers; I had exhibitions and was commissioned to do pieces – there’s even one of my pieces in The Polka Theatre for Kids!
Then I went to live in the Middle East for several years where I taught English. It was a challenging environment to live in, but I loved my years there. It’s where I first got the writing bug!
How long did it take you to write your debut novel ‘The Long Weekend’?
Everyone who’s read The Long Weekend says it’s a fast read, but it was also a pretty fast write. I was working on something else at the time, but I set it aside because I had this idea and I needed to run with it. It ended up a sprint and the book was finished within a couple of months!
What made you decide to write a thriller? Are these the style of books you normally read?
I don’t think I made a conscious decision to write a thriller. It just sort of happened. I love reading thrillers, but I also enjoy books in so many other genres too. I love epic fantasy, world literature, crime and detective novels, teen and YA books.
How long did it take you to find an agent?
I wrote The Long Weekend and then sat on it for a few months before plucking up the courage to send it out to agents. I think I was lucky because I found the right agent for me in a matter of months.How many rejection letters did you get before it was accepted?
There have been lots of rejection letters – especially in the early days when I was still finding ‘my voice’ as my agent puts it. I wrote all sorts of books from fantasy to fiction for 5-7 year olds before I found the writing style that suited me.
How many times did you have to edit your book before the agent was happy to send it off to publishers?
My agent only asked that I consider writing a more extended ending – hence the ‘Six Years Later’ chapter. As soon as I had written it, she sent off the book immediately.
What was your first reaction when you found out that your book was to be published?
I was eating sushi while I was writing when the email came in and I think I almost choked on it! I had to go out to the garden and scream and jump about on my deck. I’m not sure what my neighbours made of that!
How long did it take for your book to reach publication after the initial agreement?
I think I was quite lucky – the book was published about nine months after the contract was signed, which I believe is pretty quick. I’ve heard stories where the author has to wait up to two years.What was happening to your manuscript during this time?
My editor at Andersen Press went through the manuscript, but she asked for very few editorial changes. I think I had to remove a couple of ‘hells’. Then it was proof read by several people. The cover for the book was designed by the illustrator at Andersen Press. She read the book first to get the feel of it before designing the cover. When they sent it to me to look at, I must admit I was a little afraid of opening the envelope, but I loved it.
How did you keep yourself occupied as you waited for publication day?
I think the waiting is the most difficult time for a debut author waiting for publication day. You almost feel like you’re in limbo. I decided that I had to carry on writing, and once I got into my next book, the time flew past!How did you celebrate on publication day?
I was taken out for lunch by a friend, and then I went out for dinner with my family. Of course we splashed out on champagne!
Can you tell us a little about your next writing project?
It’s another thriller, but I can’t say anything more than that just yet!
Do you have any finished yet unpublished manuscripts hidden away that you hope to publish one day?
Quite a few actually... and there’s lots more in my head too! Hopefully, one day, they’ll all be out there.Tell us what a typical writing day would be like?
My perfect writing day starts with dropping my son off at school at 8, going to the gym for an hour and then writing pretty much solidly until 3.30 when I pick my son up from school. Between 4.30 and 6.30 I either carry on writing, editing or do research, or go through emails, write blogs or guest posts, read blogs... It’s never ending!
What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?The best advice I can give is to read, read, read, and to write anything, try every style, every genre, until you find your voice. Honing your craft is hard work, so persistence and patience is everything.
Thank you Savita for a fabulous interview. The Long Weekend is published by Anderson Press and is available to buy now. To find out more about Savita here.