Our author of the month of March is Simi K. Rao.
I have chosen to read more poetry books and anthologies this year to help me improve on my poetry and also reach out to fellow poets who are published authors. Last Month, I received a copy of the author’s book, “Under The Shade Of The Banyan Tree” and I was really inspired by it (Click on “Poetry” on the menu of my homepage to view my review of this book).
About the Author: Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her work and experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships. Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life. She is a practicing physician, and much of Rao’s down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction and poetry, and photography. She is also an avid reader and traveler and has visited many locations around the world. She has written four novels. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree is her first collection of poems and short stories. It is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is currently working on a new novel. She lives in Denver with her family. To learn more about Simi or her books, visit SimiKRao.com or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
I requested an online interview with the author and was elated to be obliged. Simi has given us an insight about her life as an author and more by answering the 10 questions below. Special thanks to Simi Rao and her publicist Kelsy Butts.
1. How did you get started as a Poet/Writer?
Simi: It just happened. I decided to put my thoughts on paper and voila!
2. What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work?
Simi: I’ve always loved to read. I’m more at home with a book than at the movies. That was my initial inspiration. I wanted to write something for others to read. And then being an immigrant in America I wanted to write about immigrant life and their unique struggles. That’s how my first novel came about. Later, I wanted to also write about myself and my own private feelings hence the poetry.
3. How did you come up with the concept of publishing a book with Poems, Rants and Shorts Stories together as you did in your book “Under The Shade Of The Banyan Tree?
Simi: The poems were written over several years. A friend asked me to publish them. Then I was told that a book of poems is not necessarily palatable to a lot of people. Therefore, I came up with the idea of adding the short stories in order to reach more readers. It was an experiment that may or may not have been successful.
4. What was the greatest challenge in your writing process and how were you able to write regardless?
Simi: I’m a practicing physician and work comes in the way of my writing. It is often a challenge to find the time and be in the right frame of mind.
5. Do you view writing as a spiritual practice? If yes, how?
Simi: Yes, I do view writing as a spiritual practice. I like to unload my thoughts and feelings when I write. It is especially true with my poetry. I find the process cathartic and therapeutic.
6. How did you first get published and how was the experience?
Simi: I self-published initially. It may work for some authors but for me the experience wasn’t great. Now I’m published through a small publishing house and I love it as I don’t have to do everything, yet I still have quite a bit of control.
7. We know you are currently working on a new novel, can you give us a hint on what it’s about?
Simi: My new novel is my most ambitious work yet. It’s the story of a young girl who falls victim to a disease and how her life spins out of control.
8. How do you combine your job as a practicing physician with your writing?
Simi: I find tremendous inspiration from my work. I get to see and experience life in its rawest form. The only difficulty I find is time as I mentioned earlier.
9. What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Simi: “Your poems speak to me”; “You are a very visual writer”; is some of the feedback that makes me want to continue writing.
10. Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write and publish books?
Simi: Write from your heart and be sincere.
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