Made in India
Name: Roma Dutia
Date of Birth: 21st June 1992
Academics: Master of Arts – Public Relations
Hobbies: Listening to Music, Playing Table Tennis, Reading definitely.
1. When did you find yourself lost in the world of words?
I’ve been lost in the world of words for as long as I can remember, before I even thought I could be on the other side of this amazing world that is books. (It’s funny that the name of the book is 7 To The Other Side, it is quite befitting) I’ve always been the child in my school that will be in the corner of the library, most probably on the floor with a book in my hand and 3 around me. My earliest memory of reading a book though would definitely have to be in school, Jamnabai Narsee School has this amazing hour in which they would take us, Junior Kg kids to the library in a line that I usually broke because I wanted the book with the fanciest cover. We sat in little stools and our teacher would hand us random books from a carton, it was amazing, that carton to me was magical. Throughout school, I’ve gotten into so much trouble because of my habit to read, as I would so often get caught with an Enid Blyton book behind my text book in class. It’s funny because the other kids in my school would get called on for not reading enough books and my parents were called because I read too much. I think they let me off the hook because my marks were doing alright. There’s some something about words on a page that can take you places that you didn’t even know were possible, and make you feel invincible and I don’t know, possibly create an alternate dimension for the reader.
2. How important is it for a writer to be a good reader?
For me personally, I don’t know what I would write, if I didn’t read as much, even now when I look back onto 7 To The Other Side, I keep thinking of how I could have improvised because of what I keep reading. It doesn’t have to be the same genre, its just characterization, the plot, the general flow of a book. Since I have no, so to speak, academic knowledge on the subject, I find reading to be an amazing guide to writing. It’s not just about telling a story at the end of the day, if I can’t hook someone and like I said, create an alternate dimension like how books have done for me, then I wouldn’t be much of a writer. So yeah, I think it is quite important to read once you’re a writer too, it helps to understand your own style of writing, and the flow of writing basically.
3. Most memorable life event?
If you would have asked me this question about 2 years back, I would have blindly said, the day I became India No.2 in Table Tennis would be the best day of my life. But very honestly, after 7 To The Other Side, that has changed, the first question that popped into my head was the same question that my protagonist faces, if I had 7 minutes to relive my life, what would I think about? And I’m being completely honest, the day I became India No.2 was probably one of the last things I could think off. I guess now my most memorable life events would be the times I’ve spent with the people I love and the people that love me. Yes, this is sappy and it’s been said over and over again but it’s true, at the end of the day, these moments are what really matter anyway. It doesn’t have to be an occasion or anything, one of the best times I’ve had in the recent past is just sitting one on one with a couple of people and just talking.
4. Your experience of writing the first book?
The only 2 things that will truly do complete justice to my experience while I was writing 7 To The Other Side are “life-changing” and “completely random”. To explain completely random first, this wasn’t planned at all, writing a book was never a part of any conversation I had ever had when people asked me what I wanted to do or become. In the final year of my Masters Program, a friend of mine wanted a story idea for her course in film making and I had heard about this concept of 7 minutes so I told her maybe I could write it for her and she could use it for her project. Fortunately for me, she told me she couldn’t use it because it would be too complicated to shoot and another friend of mine, who I had discussed this with, told me to write it as a book anyway and see where it goes from there. She had read some of my work and she was the first person that believed that I could do this. (She hates me for taking her name, so I’ll keep it out) I didn’t think much of it and continued writing and before I knew it 7 To The Other Side started taking shape, it gave me so much joy to be able to tell a story and that is when I decided that this is probably what I should have been telling people when they asked me back then what I wanted to become. I guess I have been wanting to become a story teller more than I knew. And life changing would be when I finally finished writing the book and moved on to the process of looking for a literary agent, it was a little stressful at first and then Suhail Mathur, agreed to be my literary agent and believed that the manuscript I had sent him would be published into a book. I cannot begin to thank him as he got me a publishing deal with Locksley Hall Publishing in less than 2 months of me contacting him.
5. Tell us about your book
7 To The Other Side is based on the scientific fact that humans have 7 minutes of brain activity after their death, though the exact process of the brain has not been established, it is my assumption that they relive their lives in these 7 minutes. The story revolves around Joshua White, who in these 7 minutes true to my assumption relives his life. During these 7 minutes he realizes that life isn’t about the monumental moments but surprisingly enough about the smaller ones that make life worth living. He relives moments as simple as just sitting with a friend or a gift he got on his birthday, and realizes that life is as simple as that. It’s a story about family, hopes, dreams, love and most importantly friendship. What I think appeals most about the book, and this is exactly what the people who have read the book told is that, they resonate with the characters and the moments, everything that Joshua goes through and the people that he has in his life are the people that they have in theirs in some way or another. They necessarily are not the parents or the best friends, but the impact has been the same and that is what has been the most important facet of the book. It makes one thing about the more important things in life and not just what one has achieved, it’ll make you think about the impact you would want to leave and what your 7 minutes would consist of.
6. Your message to the reader’s community?
I am very much a part of this community too, though it has been an absolute honor to be on the other side as an author, a part of me will always be Team Reading. I know how magical it is to read and how words on paper can transform lives and make a difference. I sincerely hope that my effort on 7 To The Other Side gives you at least one reason to hold on to for a while to come and impacts you in a way that stories usually do. And as an aspiring writer, in the most humble way possible, anyone that has read my book or will do so after this, Thank You for giving me the opportunity to call myself an author. This is something I cannot put into words.