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Meghna Pant

Meghna Pant

Meghna Pant

Feminist Rani is an amazing initiative to advocate gender equality and women’s rights. How was the experience interacting with influencers like Kalki Koechlin, Gurmehar Kaur, Tanmay Bhatt and so many more?

Thank you. It was a lovely experience interacting with these influencers and learning of their personal journey with gender parity. The problem with feminism in India has always been that it’s never been suitably defined. It’s completely fluid because it’s been intrinsically linked to colonialism, the independence movement and the consequent nation-building and development as well as modern-day conflicts. Due to this, the knowledge of what constitutes a ‘woman’ has not been fully explored. A woman is, therefore, seen either as an abla nari or krantikaari, a devi or dayan, a virgin or whore.

She exists only in binaries. In Feminist Rani we have taken the conversation forward. We have provided context and definition. We have discussed everything from rape to body shaming to trolling to motherhood to sexual agency to female friendships.

Feminist Rani debunks the stereotypes associated with the word feminism by providing fresh interpretations. You will not find this in any other book in India.

You book ‘Happy Birthday’ was longlisted for the world’s biggest short story award: The Frank O’Connor International Prize 2014.What is the one thing that fascinates your about the short story format?

I’’ve published two collections of short stories: The Trouble With Women (Juggernaut, 2016) and Happy Birthday (Random House, 2013). My short stories have been published in over a dozen international literary magazines, including Avatar Review, Wasafari, Eclectica, The Indian Quarterly and QLRS, as well as in several anthologies including Namita Gokhale’’s The Himalayan Arc, where my story Boongthing was critically praised by all major publications like The Hindu and Hindustan Times.

Short stories to me are like an explosion of truth, snippets that take you into another lifeworld in a brief mad moment of revelation and clarity. This is different from writing a novel that is a slow revelation of many truths. I love the short story form more than any other, not just for this experience of it but also its production, as each short story requires an investment of a few months versus a novel that you need to invest a few years of your life into.

How To Get Published seems an extremely ambitious project! Please enlighten us how budding writers would be able to benefit from it.

Almost every person wants to be a writer and almost every writer wants to be a bestseller. Almost no one knows how. Publishing a book is an intimidating, frustrating and confusing endeavour. Who can thousands of aspiring writers turn to for answers?

How To Get Published, my new self-help book, is India’s first and only comprehensive book on writing, publishing and selling a book. This one-stop resource is an essential guide to anyone who wants to get published. Packed with writing tips, marketing hacks and publishing secrets, the book touches upon every genre from literary novels to commercial fiction novels to short stories to poems to non-fiction, so there’s something in this book for everyone, whether it’s a novelist, a poet, a ghostwriter, a corporate leader, a romantic youngling or a literary wizard.

Apart from the how-to survival guide, the book also showcases a collection of interviews with India’s most prominent authors, editors, publishers, ghost writers, poets, designers and agents, like Jeffrey Archer, Twinkle Khanna, Shobhaa De, Ashwin Sanghi, Preeti Shenoy, Ravi Subramaniam, Anand Neelkantan, Durjoy Datta, Meena Kandasamy, Kunal Basu, Manil Suri and Vikas Swarup, who share their secrets, their struggles and their victories in the publishing world, with candid insights and confessions.

Frankly, I wish someone had written a book like this when I was starting out.

With Holy 100 you are going really out of the box in terms of writing. Please take us through the inception of the idea.

In March 2013 I had compiled the Mahabharata in 100 tweets for the Twitter International Fiction Festival. As you may know, the Mahabharata is the longest epic and the longest poem in the world. It contains more than 74,000 verses, around 200,000 lines and about 1.8 million words in total, which I brought down to around 2000 words (including my own interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita).

The media interest in this story was huge with all the major newspapers and online portals in India (The Times of India, The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Asian Age, CNN-IBN, MidDay, Hindustan Times, The Deccan Chronicle, The Financial Express, DNA, Sakal Times, Pune Mirror, covering it. The event also received international exposure with the Oprah Book Club mentioning it on Twitter and The Guardian publishing: “Somehow, Meghna Pant has managed to contain all of the dynamics of power struggle, war, love, lust and greed in her 140 character tidbits. Wonderfully descriptive and paced.”

Therefore, I’’ve compiled India’s greatest and most sacred religious texts, The Mahabharata, The Bhagavad Gita and The Ramayana, in one hundred sentences each.

How does one gauge literary success?

Through personal satisfaction. If that doesn’’t appease you as an artist then awards and critical acclaim are standard benchmarks.

What is your advice to writers who get disappointed when they are rejected by the best traditional publishing houses of the country?

Read my upcoming book How To Get Published (Bloomsbury). You will learn how to cope with rejection and how to get published despite rejection. The trick is to be insufferably persistent.


About the Interviewee:

Meghna Pant is a multiple award-winning author, journalist, feminist and speaker.
Pant has published four books: FEMINIST RANI (Penguin Random House, 2018), THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN (Juggernaut, 2016), HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Random House, 2013) and ONE & A HALF WIFE (Westland, 2012).
Meghna has won the Bharat Nirman Award (2017), FON South Asia Short Story Award (2016) and Muse India Young Writer Award (2013). Her work has been shortlisted for international awards like the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2018),Frank O'Connor International Award (2014) and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (2012).
She has two forthcoming books: HOW TO GET PUBLISHED (Bloomsbury, 2019) and THE HOLY 100 (Rupa, 2018).