Vinita Kinra holds a Master’s degree in French. She started her career as an English teacher in France with prestigious high school, Lycée Internationale Stendhal, followed by lectureship at Université Stendhal and Université d’Orléans. She is an author, pubhlic speaker and activist, best known for her collection of fictional short stories, Pavitra in Paris, published to critical acclaim in 2013.
Her next book, IMAGINE: Selected Quotations, is launching in the fall of 2015. Vinita is a sought after public speaker, frequently invited to deliver speeches in English and French at schools, community groups, womens’ organizations, and writers’ and entrepreneurs’ groups throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Vinita is at work on her novel, Live and Let us Live, a gripping suspense between life and death, set in the burning backdrop of climate change in the pristine Himalayan valleys of India.
What inspired you to start writing?
I have been interested in books since childhood, and would find secluded corners of my house in Jaipur to write stories and compose poems. In college, I won several writing competitions and edited news journals. The big inspiration for my writing came to me in Vancouver, Canada, where I took to the paper and pen to fight off a low and depressing phase of my life in 2008. What started as therapy, soon became a cathartic experience for me and took on the passion that keeps me writing to this day. I lived a stone’s throw from the English Bay beach of the Pacific Ocean in the heart of Vancouver downtown, and I must admit that the breathtaking natural beauty surrounding me was a great inspiration for my writing back then. Currently, I live just by the shores of Lake Ontario, and its natural beauty is omnipresent in my work.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
As a girl, I was fascinated by a wide genre of books like Enid Blytons and Nancy Drews, but would drop everything I was reading for the lure of Panchatantra and Tintins. As I grew older and entered university, I was more inclined towards classics like Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, The Scarlet Letter; and R.K. Narayan’s, The Guide. Since I started learning French soon after completing my B.A. degree, I was introduced to the magical world of legendary French writers like Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, and my all-time favourite writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who wrote the famous novella, Le Petit Prince.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Writing is a mostly solitary activity, which is a good thing, as you need to listen to the inner voice of your soul to let your creative juices flow. However, you should not entirely cut the chord with society and alienate yourself from your surroundings, as all the characters of your books will, in some way, be a reflection of somebody you knew: either a family member, a colleague, a friend, or a grocery store cashier. Observing and interacting with society will fuel you with vivid descriptions to do justice to your characters.
How much research do you do before writing a book?
It all depends on the subject I’m writing on. When I was working on my short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, almost all my characters were inspired by people I had known at some point in my life, so I drew from personal experiences and the research required was minimal. My next book, IMAGINE, Selected Quotations, comes solely from my razor-sharp observation of society and the world at large. My forthcoming novel, Live and Let us Live, is an unparalleled work of fiction unfolding in the burning backdrop of climate change, for which I had to research extensively.
What motivated you to write the book, Pavitra in Paris?
Pavitra in Paris was conceived when my husband called me while he was crossing St. Andrew Wesley Church in Vancouver on his way to work. He asked me excitedly how Pavitra, an untouchable in India, would feel if he could enter the church. This thought ignited in me an irrepressible urge to write a story on this subject. Since Pavitra in Paris was the first story that came to mind, it ended up being the title story of my collection.
Tell us more about your book, Pavitra in Paris:
Pavitra in Paris is a collection of 11 intriguing short stories based primarily on Indian women living not only in metropolitan cities and remote villages of India, but across the globe — in Europe and North America. The stories are a roller coaster of compelling emotions, as the topics are varied like romance between a married woman and a high school student; love en route to having an arranged marriage; treacherous journey of a camel trader through the lonely Thar Desert; a young boy’s determination to overcome dowry objections raised by his family against his choice of a future bride, to name a few. The book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, among others.
How did you come up with the genre of short story collection, Pavitra in Paris?
As a creative fiction writer, I took up the challenge of writing short stories since I wanted to give the world a taste of my skill at crafting ingenious stories with diverse plots, characters and backdrops. Moreover, I am very adept in ending my stories with a surprise twist that readers are unable to forget easily. That’s the reason why the subtitle of my book, Pavitra in Paris, is “Stories for Life.”
Who are your favourite authors?
I have an exhaustive list, but to name a few, I would have to go with R.K. Narayan, Ernest Hemingway, Jerome K. Jerome and Victor Hugo.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
To be honest, I’m not a structured writer. I write when I get the ideal conditions of great ideas and an invisible thread to link what I’ve already written to carry along my train of thought flawlessly. I aspire for surprise endings in my short stories, and have accomplished that goal brilliantly in most of my short stories in Pavitra in Paris. Sometimes, I have been awakened at night because I found the missing link or a sought after cue to my storyline while asleep, in which case I get up immediately and jot notes, as I’m sure I wouldn’t remember anything the following morning.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
I would like to encourage everyone with a love for the written word to persevere, as writing good work is a priceless reward in itself. As you know, along with being an author, I am also a motivational speaker in the Greater Toronto Area, and I have inspired millions worldwide with my thought-provoking quotations on love, life, success, nature, dreams, destiny, and much more. I think teamwork is vital for any successful person, so don’t hesitate to solicit help from family or friends if you need an opinion on your writing, proofreading, editing or even marketing. My biggest force has been my husband, Pankaj Kumar, who works tirelessly to help me with a myriad of tasks that are crucial for a writer. I would like to end with one of my quotations on teamwork to inspire budding authors: “Taj Mahal was built as a team; without a team, it was a far dream.” — Vinita Kinra
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