Meet Neelam Kumar. Globally educated and widely travelled, Neelam Kumar has lived and studied in countries as diverse as Russia and the US. She holds a Masters in Journalism from USA, besides a Bachelors in English Literature, a Bachelors in Education and a PG in Advertising and Public Relations.
A woman of varied interests, she is a Corporate Trainer, Life Skills Coach, a passionate wordsmith and a Communications Professional . She has co-authored a book with the legendary Mr Khushwant Singh. During her long stint at India’s largest steel company, she rose to the position of Deputy General Manager (Corporate Affairs). As a Training professional, she owns the company “9 to 5 Corporate Lounge-The Training Hub”.
She was selected by Rotary Foundation, Illinois, USA as Rotary’s Ambassador of Goodwill to the US of A. Awarded a hefty scholarship by the Foundation to study Masters in Journalism in the US and give talks about her culture. Let us know more about her writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
Way back in the 80s, my love letter to my late husband, my columns in The Times of India and my articles in magazines, my letters to friends got such Wow! responses that I felt inspired to write more.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
Mills and Boon, Alfred Hitchcock and Shakespeare! But you must remember I was brought up in Russia and knew no English, so had to learn it in Middle school when I came back to India. From “wood sitting on wood” I went on to write 5 books—all in English.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
To fuse with the reader’s mind and heart. To change my POV from writer to reader until I become invisible as a writer. The challenge is met when the reader feels—“That could be my story!”
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Days..months..ongoing during the writing process—as long as it gets so deeply internalized that it becomes YOU. I feed on real life. In that way, I am a cannibal of experiences.
What motivated you to write the book “To Cancer, with Love: My Journey of Joy”?
When I was struck with Cancer the second time, all I could hear were doomsday predictions from friends and relatives telling me to “ be brave”, since all the people they knew and their uncles knew “had died bravely while fighting Cancer!” I was looking for courage and all I got was Bon Voyage confetti.
So I picked up some best –selling classics to cheer myself up. To my horror, in “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, the hero dies; in “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, the hero dies; in “Grace and Grit”, by Ken Wilber, the heroine dies.
After reading all this, I thought there is too much grimness associated with the Cancer.
I wanted a “happily-ever-after” ending for myself. I had determined to live. So, to inspire myself, I wrote, “To Cancer, With Love-My Journey of Joy”. This quirky subject was picked up delightfully by one literary agent and several publishers.
I gave it to the top one—Hay House Publishers, the distribution of which is being done by Penguin.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “To Cancer, with Love: My Journey of Joy”?
Mine is a happy, brave little book that encourages the reader to have fun even while going through the grimmest situation in life.
It has a very powerful Foreword by the noted actress Manisha Koirala who has gone through Cancer herself. She has written,
“Neelam has come out of this struggle even stronger and wiser than before. I love how well Neelam has managed to inject humour into her grave scenario. This speaks volumes about her own strength. All of us must take this as an inspiration for our own life.”
Also, the book does not restrict itself to Cancer. It has an Interactive session that is a step-to step guide to handle life’s various challenges such as dealing with Communication roadblocks; confronting illness and death; handling adversity and obstacles; facing financial hardships and dropping fear.
There is a separate chapter on how to dip into life and drop one’s fears, as I feel that each obstacle in life comes with its mixed baggage of fears. So once we learn how to deal with our fears, we can deal with life’s challenges.
Happy to share that mine is the first humorous book on Cancer to come out of India…
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
From a reader, to a writer was a natural progression. And I don’t only write fiction. This book is my autobiography and all about my life on the flow…
Who are your favourite authors?
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss
I loved the book as it talks about the “space between lives”, finding the cause for present ailments and directs our attention to healing through past life regression. I am fascinated by the unknown and the mystery of the inexplicable.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The simple book has such a profound message! It points to the fascinating concept that there is a divine purpose to every person who crosses our path. It begins as a search for something external and becomes inward-directed. That is the journey I love!
Unlocking the Mysteries of Birth and Death… And Everything in Between by Daisaku Ikeda
Without doubt the greatest philosopher and peace builder of our times, Daisaku Ikeda helps us confront the fundamental questions of human existence. Why are we born? Can we avoid suffering and sickness? A modern classic for those who wish to find meaning in their lives…
Love Story by Eric Segal—
In this materialistic world, where loyalty, humanity and sincerity seem old fashioned, this book has remained with me for its sheer simplicity of feeling. For me it’s a timeless book of tragic romance and genuine emotions of an era gone by.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull—by Richard Bach
A fascinating novella in the form of a fable that inspires one to rise above the ordinary, even if that means becoming an outcast and a loner. Achieving perfection to become the best versions of ourselves is what the school of Life is all about. The book taught me to seek the Jonathan inside me through the turbulence of my own life.
How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?
It is important to exercise our writing muscles on a regular basis, just as we exercise our physical muscles.
Writing is not like working in an office where you can come home and forget all about it.
In my mind’s file, I am always writing furiously…
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
I run very successful Workshops called “How to Write Your Book in 6 Easy Steps”. Several good books have come out of my Workshop.
Brush up your English; Reading a good book is like entering a classroom-become a sincere student; Study the market; Find your niche; Write… Write… Write and let the next rejection slip motivate you to write some more… Good luck!
You can buy her book now: