From her days of Enid Blyton, Famous Five, Nancy Drew, through Sweet Valley High, Malory Towers and St Claires with the twins, to queuing outside the book shop with her dad for the latest copy of Harry Potter and then moving on to murder mysteries and psychological thrillers, Shweta Desai has come a long way from being a voracious young reader to publishing her first book – Kaizen A fateful redo.
I had the pleasure of chatting with the brilliant author about her book. You know I’ll tell you everything right?!
Let’s get started then…
About the Author
Shweta is a Life Coach, NLP practitioner, blogger and now an author. She is a fabulous mum of two and a wife. With a kind of true love story that is only read about in novels, it’s quite surprising that she has no interest in writing love stories. Whilst there’ll sometimes be a little romance in her books, Shweta is more interested in psychological thrillers and science fiction. It’s no surprise then that her first published work is a futuristic psychological thriller. Perhaps her background in psychology could have a hand in this?
Shweta grew up an only child and so was introduced to books very early in life. Encouraged by her dear mum who is also an avid reader, books quickly became a welcome companion thereby making her a voracious reader at an early age. So intense was her love for reading that she would read up the news-paper sheets that were used to wrap local snacks back home in India. Reading opens up the imagination and most readers eventually become writers. It’s no surprise that Shweta is now a published author.
About the book
Kaizen is a thrilling futuristic drama about a brilliant scientist. The book takes us through a couple of different ways her life would have turned out had she taken different decisions.
Here’s the blurb:
Intriguing right, would you fancy an opportunity to redo your life 😃? I often ponder on how things would have turned out had I made different choices. There are certain things I wouldn’t mind changing but a lot more that I would not trade for anything, not even an opportunity to redo life 😋. That said, it’s interesting to see how the character’s different choices almost bring her to a similar outcome, a term called Equifinality in biology. It means that no matter what you do you’ll come to a similar outcome (It’s all in the book).
Here are some things we chatted about?
Thank you Shweta for taking time to chat with me today. Can you tell us how you got the idea for Kaizen?
I wanted to bring in a story with a lot of conflicts in it. I didn’t want to write about goody-two-shoes as I don’t relate to them. While looking at pictures from years back, it struck me that things have just happened in my life! I didn’t make a plan and if I had made a few choices differently I wondered if I would have been in the same place as I am now…
That’s how I started thinking about a woman who made certain choices and got to a point where she really doesn’t have any choice anymore in what actions she could take and how she could get out of that situation. If she had an option to redo everything would she have done the same things knowing the outcome now, and would doing it differently bring her to the same outcome? That’s how I came up with the story and the main character.
How long did it take you to write it?
It took about 6 weeks.
Kaizen, it’s such an interesting title, what does it mean and how did you cone up with it?
Kaizen is a Japanese word and it means ‘continuous improvement’. We’d played around with different titles and most had been used or just didn’t feel right. My editor came up with Kaizen, it was just perfect. Catchy enough and with a meaning that goes very well with the concept. Kaizen is used a lot in I.T and non-fiction and we were both surprised and glad that it has not been used before.
What about the cover?
The cover was a joint effort between myself and my editor. My idea for the cover was slightly different from what we eventually went with. However, between me, my editor and the graphic artist, we came up with it.
You have some really interesting characters in the book, can you share with us how you came up with them?
The main character I think is built more around me because you write about what you know, that’s when you write it well. She has a lot of characteristics that I have like being an introvert. She also has emotion dyslexia -that is when someone thinks about emotions rather than just feel them. It’s a conflict I have often in my life and I wanted to bring into her.
She resonates a lot with me apart from the other struggles she had like the one with motherhood but I felt it was something to explore. The other characters were built around her.
How did you come up with the character names?
I wanted to use normal names that can be easily remembered. Harry had to be there of- course because of my love for Harry Potter. I also used the name of one of my best friends who wasn’t too thrilled that her name was used for a cruel character.
Are you planning to build a body of work from Kaizen?
Yes, the plan is to make it into a three or five-part story. My initial plan for the book was to make it a short story, but my friend and beta-reader now turned editor convinced me into making it into something longer. So instead of doing a small novella, It’ll be combined into a novel, to give the readers more. There’s a lot to explore with the main character and her struggles. It’s going to be an adventure/drama series with a little bit of romance.
Do I smell a spin-off 😊, should readers expect a spin-off with one of the other characters?
Very possible, especially because the story plays with time. However, at the moment, I’m trying to focus on Leah, Andrew and Harry. Once that’s done I can explore something around the other characters. There could be loads of spin-offs from this.
Futuristic, whao, how did you decide on the futuristic theme of the book?
Regular life is too boring, it’s regular enough and future is easier to make complex. Moreover, the world at the moment is going through a pandemic which itself is in a way futuristic. We’re already talking about people wearing bands being screened etc.
I really hope that from reading this, people will think more about how what we do now could affect the future and therefore make necessary changes in their lives. I made sure that the possibilities I used are not too far-fetched. Leah’s research is something that is already been explored, though with animals. A lot of research went into it.
Talking about research, how much research did you put into it?
I read about it for about a week. The book is not based wholly on the research, the research is a little fraction of it but the main basis is why Leah did what she did and if it could be stopped.
What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
I had parts where I was really stuck. These are parts where I had to become Leah and think like her to figure out what she would do in a particular situation. I had to make her actions believable and the best way to do it was by putting myself in that situation. I also found writing the end a bit challenging as I wanted an abrupt ending but my beta readers advised me to make it more fluid, this took me a while to do as it wasn’t my original plan. It was only 500 words but it took me about 3 hours to get it through it. I had to once again become another character and even sought out my husband’s help in figuring out how that character will think at that time.
What did you learn from the process?
Writing the story was easy for me as I wrote and posted for my beta readers to read it. The editing was not too bad because the editor is my friend and she did a lot to help me extend myself and dig deep. Marketing though, I learnt that I don’t like the marketing part, I’ll rather someone else handle marketing.
If a movie were made out of Kaizen, who would you cast;
Interesting, I think Benedict Cumberbatch would make a great Harry, maybe because of his role as Dr Who, Dr Strange and Sherlock, he’s already comfortable in Sci-Fiction genre so I think he’ll be a great Harry. For Leah, maybe Emma Watson, but because she’s meant to be mixed Indian I think Jemila Jeman would make a great Leah. Andrew could be played well by Robert Downey Jnr. I think he’ll play the rich playboy role well, and again maybe Marvel has an influence on this choice.
How do you get your creativity flowing?
I find it easy to come up with stories as I see stories everywhere I go. By just observing people and looking around my environment I get different ideas for stories. When I am writing though, food gets me going. I write better when I’m either eating something or watching someone cook something. The cooking show ‘Master Chef’ got me through this project.
Did you ever see yourself becoming a writer?
In a way, yes. Like I said earlier, I read a lot as a Child, this of-course opened up my imagination and right from then I used to write my own stories, My mum recently sent me some of my stories she found at the house, I’ve told her to get rid of them cause as you can imagine most of them were ridiculous but it shows that the interest as always been there. Writing a book has always been a dream, I just couldn’t find the time and the lock-down gavee me the perfect opportunity.
What did you want to be as a child?
I really wanted to be a journalist. I wrote for my school newspaper and it was very good but when I had to choose a major, I chose psychology. I’m equally fascinated by the nature of people and writing about it so for me it goes hand in hand. I thought I could practise as a psychologist but it was too real for me and I had to get away from it very quickly. Writing is my way of exploring the psyche of fictional characters, I’d rather not do that with real people
Do you have any other books in the works?
Oh yes, Kaizen itself has some more parts I’m currently working on. Before Kaizen, I’d written different stories and then abandoned. So there are different stories in different stages which I’ll revisit and try to finish.
I have one I’m working on which is loosely based on something that happened to someone I knew growing up. my childhood. When I was much younger, I had a neighbour who was a few years older than me and we used to wave at each other. She went on to become an air hostess, she got married but it was to someone way beneath her class. I asked about her from my mum a few years ago and was told that she was sadly burnt alive by her husband. The story really affected me and has always stayed with. I’m using that as the background on a crime-solving series. The first one will be loosely based on this story. I’ve written 10,000 words already but I’m looking to finish it by next year. I also have some on my blog, I have about a dozen, all in different levels of unfinishedness.
Whao! that’s a horrible thing to happen to anyone. I see there’s a lot to look forward to from you. So tell me, who has been your greatest support during your writing process?
I’ve had great support from my friend who has stayed up with me through the process and has now become my editor. My husband has been super supportive, taking care of everything else so I can focus on the book. My mum has also been supportive. She started this journey as she was the one who put my 1st book in my hands and planted the seed. She’s happy about the book, though a little concerned that I’m writing about a woman who murdered someone 😀.
Thank you so much, Shweta for taking the time to chat with me. We wish you the best with Kaizen.