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Author Highlight: Sameera Kotta Discusses her New Book ‘Beyond What Meets the Eye’ and Stories from her Life

We are back with another author interview. Today, with us, we have Sameera – the author of ‘Beyond What Meets the Eye’. In this interview, Sameera talks about her writing aspirations, and the route to getting her book published. Stay on...while we chat with her.

What motivates you to write?

Nothing gives me more fuel to write than my job. It's so easy to be passionate about being a doctor, and there's just so much to write about! No wonder there are so many TV shows on doctors. I also find injustice very unsettling and I hate the saying, “life isn't fair.” Life should be fair! And that's what motivates me to write.

How do you handle the response of this book, especially from your friends and colleagues?

I probably wouldn't have finished the book if it weren't for my friends and colleagues. The kind of support and encouragement I've gotten from all of them is overwhelming. For the most part, though, I've received so much praise from my friends and colleagues that it's swept me off my feet! I didn't expect it. But what I appreciate more than that is the constructive criticism, and I've got a lot to work on.

What kind of research did you do to pen down this novel?

A lot of the MBBS life I've described is based on my personal experience. As for the description of mental illness and the way depression and suicide works, I got an idea of it during my college years, as I was always interested in Psychiatry. The rest of the information I needed to make this novel plausible and realistic, I could find easily online in a couple of days.

What are some of your favourite novels and authors?

I love all three of Khaled Hosseini's books. He is my role model and my source of inspiration to become an author. I'm also into books by Paulo Coelho, Veronica Decides To Die being one of my all-time favourites. Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air is another life changing book. I also love The Shiva Trilogy. The Great Gatsby was another turning point for me. Recently, I have developed a particular interest for Indian authors.

Do you think writing a book from the comfort of bedroom is possible?

Of course! Writing is a thing of comfort. I don't believe that I need to inculcate discipline to write well. Writing has always been an outlet for me, which means I never push myself to do it. I do it when I feel the need, and take a break for as long as I need-- even if it's for months.

Where do you write from? Do you go to some specific place, like beachside or into the hills?

Haha…no. I usually prefer my bed, actually. Like I said, writing is a thing of comfort. There's no place like home! I don't need a perfect setting or plan; just some peace and quiet to think.

What inspired you to write this book? Any tales to tell…

I wrote a lot about the injustice I've seen, though most of the book is fictional. It's quite surprising that most people haven't the slightest clue about how to recognize the most basic of signs of depression, suicide attempts and the like. As a society, it's our responsibility to help those who aren't able to help themselves. While we make attempts to help those who are physically unhealthy, we don't often recognize and make exceptions for the ones who struggle to cope with their mind. This is what I hoped to change with this book, through the life of Millie.

What was your biggest learning experience throughout the publishing process?

So far, I've self-published my book on Kindle. The biggest lesson was that it's much harder and more complex than actually writing it.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in as a writer?

I didn't care about what was the right or wrong thing to do. I wrote for myself, to vent out my thoughts. Once I was done, I realised it was a story I wanted to share with others!

Any best piece of writing advice from your side that we haven’t discussed?

I've already said, writing is a thing of comfort. Don't write something to satisfy an audience; just be yourself. There's audience for every kind of writing, just like there's audience for every kind of music!

Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I'm very short tempered. And the one thing I can't control is my appetite.

Any future books that you would like to discuss now?

No concrete plans yet. But I'm quite sure it'll revolve around a hospital.

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