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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Author spotlight and Interview: Shama Patel

By the number of smiles in the interview, you can tell how positive a person the author is. True to her personality, she has written her debut work, "21 ways of being happy" which has been published by Grapevine Publishers. It received a 5* rating from our blog  here.

Today, she joins us for an insightful, cheerful and lovely chat!

Kritika: What triggered the writing bug in your case? Was there some moment of epiphany?

Shama: The writing bug was triggered in 2009 when I was all geared up to write a fiction script. I did complete the script, co-authored by a close friend (Asif Sayani). We managed to circulate the script to 12-15 publishers and got a ‘No’ from most of them. The rest never got back. Though I did enjoy working on that script, I was not drawn to writing as passionately as I am today. While I continued to work as an editor and take up various writing projects, the real breakthrough happened when I developed a sincere urge to write about my thoughts, feelings and experiences (sometime around 2012). I started maintaining a blog where I began writing about everyday human struggle and ending each post with something positive to take home. I maintained that while continuing my work as a Psychologist. It all started then and the passion was patiently transformed into '21 Ways of Being Happy' when Grapevine India identified my strength as a writer and a Counselor:-)

On her journey with the book:
This book has been a cathartic journey for me. There were time where I found my creative genius leading the entire process while I felt like a mere channel through which the words were spoken. There were moments when I was so involved into writing a part that I would begin writing at 1 am and be in the literary trance till 5-6 in the morning. So this whole journey has been mystically creative for me.

Kritika: How was writing the book a different experience than the sessions you have with your clients?
Shama: Haha. I like this question:) Well, when I take sessions, it is the client who does the talking and I play the role of a listener. In therapy, the clients speak out their dilemmas, unanswered questions, doubts, confusions etc. and it is during these conversations that they begin to see their life in a better and much healthier perspective.
However, in writing, it was left for me to do the talking and I had the entire Universe as my imaginary readers! So, I began to play dual role of both client and a Psychologist and began this beautiful journey towards happiness. Since I have gone through (and I still go through) day-to-day human challenges, I started sharing my own challenges (from a client perspective) so that the readers can relate to the feelings, behavior and emotions that we all experience. Then I would role reverse and see things from a Counselor's perspective and add ways that I personally practiced in my life. While in therapy, the clients bring in a problem situation, I had to come up with my own list of challenges that I would simplify through this book. The common thread that runs in both therapy and my book is my desire to touch lives. So, even though the process differ, my purpose of healing remains same in both the situations:-)

Kritika: How do you think does the genre of self-help ease the pain of those in distress?

Shama: I believe that each of us has a special gift. Some are gifted techies, some are gifted artists, some gifted dancers and similarly, there are people who are gifted with the ability to ease out the stress in people's lives. Psychologists and Counselors are some of those gifted individuals who, by nature, posses the art of healing which is further enhanced through studying the subject matter and learning various tools to overcome stress. In my opinion, any human being who has gone through problems in life and have managed to overcome them becomes compelled to share this learning with fellow human beings. This is how we have people write volumes of books on self-help. Since we all are human beings and most of us receive the same conditioning throughout our lives, we tend to have (almost) similar problem pattern and when we hear a person (aka self-help guru) talk about a problem and solution, we begin to relate to it with all our heart and mind. Since the self-help writers are human beings, their (hopefully) tried and tested ways do help in easing out the stress that a common human being experiences in his/her life. It works because when in distress, we refuse to see another perspective or fail to cross the fence and get on the other side of life. In that helplessness and hesitation, a self-help expert becomes the one who stands in front of you to say "Dude! life is difficult. It is painful. But you know what, I am here to be by your side. I am here if you need a hand or a light to assist you get on the other side of this fence. I know you can cross it because I have. If I as a human being can, then you as a human being definitely can". So, while you get comfortable relishing the role of a victim (the poor me), a self-help book/speaker can kick your butt and get you connected to the lost strength that lies within you.

What I do wish to highlight here is, self-help books are to be read with an intention of beginning your journey towards easing the stress in life and not used as a bible to refer to, each time you are in distress. While you continue to treat a particular book/author as a self-help guru, do not limit your search. Make your own self your own self-help guru (No one else but you). When you do that, you automatically begin to see how one book or one video or one self-help talk begins to transform your being in a positive manner, opening several healing channels within and around you. Get in touch with that self-help Guru within you, while you continue to explore this genre to broaden your knowledge and wisdom about human life:)

Kritika: What are the future plans? Can your readers expect more in the same genre, or is there a surprise?
Shama: Well I have signed a contract of seven books so, I have six more to go! For now, I hope the readers enjoy the journey into '21 Ways of Being Happy' :-) I am determined to write a book on Relationships so hopefully that would be my second writing venture:)
Future plans! To continue spreading happiness and healing through my work, be it writing, art, counseling or by simply being a human being! :)

Kritika: Any comments/experiences you'd like to share pertaining to getting published?
Shama: Now that I have a book published, I realize that it is easier to get a book published than to promote and market it in the literary world. Since first time authors are still looked at as wearing an 'L' board around their neck, not many people/bookstores are open to giving them bhav and promoting their work. Especially with the self-help tag, people develop a presumed notion that 'yeh toh badi boring and pakaau book hogi'. So, it is a real challenge for me to break that myth and pass this message of happiness to as many people as I can. Even though it is a challenge, I have been fortunate enough to come across blessed and wonderful souls like you who have been generous to join me on this journey of spreading happiness. I keep talking about the book/concept to whoever I meet and in that determination of promoting my work, I do encounter people who are willing to help me spread the word. What keeps me going on this journey is my faith on my work and the belief that it will touch numerous lives, sooner or later:)

This was such a great interview.
I am so happy to know that there are more books in the pipeline, I can't wait! And this author certainly endears herself to her readers! I adore the optimism and candour! It is at times like these that I find myself immensely lucky to be a book blogger.
Thanks for hopping on to my blog!
Find her book here:

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

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