Chirdeep Malhotra . Updated: 8/10/2021 11:57:12 AM Books and Authors

Author Interview: Priya Sidharth Sethi

Priya Sidharth Sethi is a lawyer based out of New Delhi. She is a self-taught artist and a student of Hindustani Classical Music, and believes that creativity is not a quality, but a way of life. A mother of two boys and married to a lawyer, Priya is often seen juggling her roles as a lawyer, a mother and a writer. She has recently come out with her debut novel “Summons from the Creator”. In a candid chat with Chirdeep Malhotra, she talks about her book, her writing journey, her favourite books and authors, and much more. Read on!

Please tell us more about Priya Sidharth Sethi as a person.

I was born and brought up in Pune, a culturally inclined city. Art and creativity were in abundance during my growing-up days. My mother and my aunt performed Natya-Sangeet, an art form where mythological stories are narrated through songs. In my younger days, though I did not understand the nitty-gritty of this beautiful art form, I would watch and observe with keen interest how a story was narrated. And whenever time permitted, I would write my own short stories, and this became my favourite hobby.
I graduated from ILS Law College, Pune, and worked as an in-house lawyer for a few years, before switching to litigation and advisory work. I am married to a lawyer and am a mother to two boys.

Has writing always been a part of your life? Or did you chance upon it later on and then instantly fell in love with it?

I could have pursued a career in writing. However, during my teens, and like most teenagers then, instead of introspecting what I would want to do, I followed what was ‘trending’. And I decided to pursue law. My creativity obviously took a back seat then.
Motherhood compelled me to take a ‘pause’. Like every mother, I had to readjust my priorities. At one stage, I felt worried that I would find it difficult to give time to my profession and I would lag behind. However, I was happy to take this challenge as well and what immensely helped me then were my old passions – ‘writing’ and ‘painting’. I again started writing and felt a sense of contentment.
It was a gradual progression from writing blogs, to short stories, to a novella, and then this novel –“Summons from the Creator”. The feedback and appreciation that I received was tremendously encouraging. This gave me the confidence to not just write my debut novel but also to publish it.

Please tell us more about your book “Summons from the Creator”.

The gist of this book lies in the fact that every action (physical action or a thought or emotion) always has a consequence and effect on the person who does the action. In other words, there is a reason for anything and everything that happens in one’s life. Not just in your present life but also in your future lives too. The play of a person's karmic influence on one’s past, present and future lives is the prominent theme that runs through my novel.
The plot of the book revolves around Ameeya, the protagonist of the story. She is a 35-year-old corporate professional, suffering unexplainable anxiety and panic attacks. After exhausting all conventional treatments, she visits a psychiatrist. Her life changes completely when the psychiatrist suggests her past-life regression therapy, a process that taps the subconscious memories of a person by way of hypnosis, as a treatment for her complications. Ameeya decides to undergo this therapy to unravel the truths of her present as well as past lives.
Ameeya’s story is relatable. The readers will resonate with many incidents narrated in it. Also, the lingering after-effects of the story will compel the reader to introspect and find reasons and logical answers towards individual life events.

How did the idea of writing this book originate? When did you start writing this book and how long did it take you to finish it?

It would be difficult to pinpoint any single event that may have inspired me to write this novel. In this work of fiction, I have made a humble attempt to weave a story from things that I have observed. One afternoon, I came across the book, “The Science of Past Life Regression” by Dr Newton Kondaveti and Dr Lakshmi. The book had interesting facts about reincarnation and karmic influences. This piqued my interest and I started reading more on the subject. I have incorporated facets of this therapy into my story. It took me about ten months to complete this book.

How did you go about mapping out a gripping narrative and crafting the imaginative scenes for this novel?

I am a visual writer; and visualising a scene in my mind helps me put it down on paper. My mind is constantly working towards ‘what I would write’. So the actual process of writing became effortless. I usually work backwards during mapping out and organising the scenes of my story. In the sense, I know the ending first and then I move backwards. With this method, my mind stays on the right track and does not waver form the original plot. During crafting scenes for “Summons from the Creator”, I have tried to create the plot as well as the characters as close to reality as possible, even though it is a work of fiction.

What type of research went into writing this book?

I read extensively about Past Life Regression. Reading testimonials of people who have undergone Past Life Regression was helpful for creating apt circumstances and situations which led to the protagonist Ameeya undergoing Past Life Regression as a therapy.
My research also involved problems faced by women in the corporate world. With the #MeToo movement going strong and the recent laws for formation of an internal complaints committee for prevention of sexual harassment of women at workplace, I have taken this opportunity to increase the awareness about the rights of a working woman. My research also involved reading on the dynamics of a corporate office, and interpersonal relations.

Can you recommend some books from any genre, for our readers to add to their reading lists, that you particularly cherish?

“Karma” by Sadhguru and “Death – An Inside Story” by Sadhguru have been my latest reads in non-fiction. These two gems were insightful and life-changing reads. In fiction, I enjoyed reading “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Recently I read “The Best of Ruskin Bond”. It is a simple read which teaches the power of imagination. A few days back, me and my kids completed reading the book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy. Reading this book was visually pleasurable, as it had beautiful sketches with quotes full of wisdom. I would recommend this book to everyone.

What are you working on next?

I am working on a new fiction novel, with a promising and exciting storyline, and God willing, I intend to complete the manuscript by this year end.

There are many new writers and poets who are aspiring to get their work published. What would you say to them?

‘Patience’ is the mantra which should be adopted by writers aspiring to publish their work. Completing the manuscript is just 50% of the work done. The real challenge is convincing a literary agent or a publisher that your work is worthy of being read. To achieve this there are two important rules – ‘Never to take rejections personally’, and ‘Never to lose hope’.

Can you share with our readers a motivational quote that keeps you going?

A quote from the book “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy has stayed with me especially during to the testing times of this pandemic. It is –
“Is your glass half empty or half full?” asked the mole.
“I think I am grateful to have a glass” said the boy.

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