Nidra Naik is an Indian novelist and a poet.
She is the author of ‘The Bhubaneswar Times’ and ‘A Lot Like Love & Other Short Stories’, both of which are works of fiction. Her musings for writing poems have been immense, so much that few of her poems have been published in anthologies of ‘Out of the Woods’ and ‘Moonlight’.
She comes from a family of writers, musicians, and actors, however, with a humble upbringing and an intense value system. She has spent most of her childhood in her hometown, Cuttack, which is a quaint little town in the coastal belt of Odisha.
After she graduated from the renowned Ravenshaw University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (management honours distinction), she decided to see the world around and headed to New Delhi for an MBA in marketing at the esteemed management college of IILM. Ironically, none in her family or immediate family had pursued business studies! It was in New Delhi that she got a streak of thought of becoming a writer and was eventually getting aware of her interests and likes.
Returning to Bhubaneswar, while having taken a job, she penned her first novel. And her most inspirational muse for the book had been none other than her then beau, now husband, who she got married to later.
These days, she writes quotes by the hashtag of #ThinkingNidra, which can be extensively found on her Instagram handle. Nidra is also getting trained in Hindustani classical music as she has a passion for music too.
She’s also appeared in many interviews on bloggers’ website, publishers’ author corners, Bhubaneswar-Radio, Odia-TV channel, English, Odia & Bengali newspapers regarding her work.
She currently works & lives in Hyderabad with her husband and two pet dogs. Being an ardent lover of animals & nature, she spends her free hours reducing carbon/water prints, petting animals, endorsing cruelty-free products, supporting animal organizations, old age organizations, and encouraging her friends and relatives to do so.
TBE: Tell us a little about your book, ‘Sonnets to Paradise’, What inspired you to write this story?
Nidra Naik: Well, my book, ‘Sonnets to Paradise’ is about striking a chord with life and peace, in a way that both my main protagonists, Nayantara & Nicola in the book have done. Their life isn’t a smooth sailing ship, it’s full of struggles and awkwardness, yet they sip a cup of learning through Sonnets. Nayantara rediscovers her joyful state by writing Sonnets and Nicola balances herself by reading/understanding Sonnets. The bond that the two characters share is distinguishable yet beautiful.
My inspiration for this book would be all the feminine energies that I have around me. Bold, strong and outspoken!
TBE: What does your writing process look like? Do you map the story out from start to finish or do you begin with an idea and see where it takes you?
Nidra Naik: Alright, I am not a method writer at all. It’s the latter. I start with an idea, and I like to surprise myself with where it takes me to further.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Nidra Naik: It’s fabulous. Leadstart was my first publisher as well! When many publication houses rejected my idea, Leadstart had shown confidence in my writing and creative conception. That’s how my first book, The Bhubaneswar Times got published in 2013. And now my third novel, Sonnets to Paradise.
TBE: For your central characters, you’ve crafted the young, complex and introspective Nayantara and Nicola. In the face of all their struggles and harsh realities, what is it about them that enables them to retain—and evolve—their individual humanities?
Nidra Naik: Yes, both the characters are layered in complexities, however, differing in age. Although Nayantara is older than Nicola, both are introspective in nature, sooner or later in the story.
I guess it’s their grit, empathetic and non-judgmental nature that makes them both riveting human beings.
TBE: As an author and poet, what other works also influenced your characters and narrative in ‘Sonnets to Paradise’? What other writers and poets did you draw upon for inspiration and direction, and why?
Nidra Naik: One of my most favourite poems is ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling. It’s so inspiring even in the face of tragedy.
Also, my other favourite reads are from Jhumpa Lahiri, Jane Austen and Yuval Noah Harari (recent). I believe in their absolute curt storytelling, their perspective in defining or not defining human emotions, the real side of life which is nothing but full of absurdity.
TBE: Your novel focuses on characters encompassing vast themes: multiculturalism, feminism, reconstruction, redemption, identity. With such complex themes, what is the starting point when you begin to write ‘Sonnets to Paradise’?
Nidra Naik: Truly speaking, I’d never thought about feminism at all and I wouldn’t want my book to pass through that lane either. It was more of discovering oneself in a foreign land with the unknowns. With that catch, I’d begun writing Sonnets to Paradise.
TBE: Ultimately, what would you like for the readers to take from ‘Sonnets to Paradise’?
Nidra Naik: You can be at any age, any juncture, and any side of your life but you must see through that. And if need be, you must rediscover yourself for the good. It can be through writing, friendship or love, but gaining back momentum is pivotal.
TBE: Deciding on an idea to pursue writing about can be the most challenging aspect for a writer. How do you come to find the stories and lives that become the subjects of your books?
Nidra Naik: Well I observe and draw inspiration from my everyday life from all living beings—not just humans around me. And thankfully, I am carried by the way the strays live, strive and survive. It’s unique and we can learn and be inspired by them to a greater degree. As they say, nature around us is enthralling from all angles—it’s a metaphor of life.
And also, I have this writing gene because of my family – my father, uncles, grandfather and above all my mother!
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Nidra Naik: Yes, I have started working on something different than Sonnets. It’s about a middle-class Odia family engulfed in talent, dreams, tragedy and philosophy. Haven’t thought beyond this…too early to predict!