We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Smitha Vishwanath, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of January/February 2023.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
It’s a huge honour to be selected as Author of the Month. It feels good to know that people have taken the time and made the effort to vote for me. I consider it both a blessing and a miracle as it comes just in time for the launch of my debut novel, ‘Coming Home’.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
I started writing at eight when my dad asked me to write about a birthday party I had attended. I considered it a punishment and wasn’t too happy about it. But, after having done it, I realized I enjoyed writing. I have written about my journey to writing in my blog – EUNOIA. I must credit my father-in-law for pushing me to share my writing with the world. It’s how I got here.
That being said, my readers- real and virtual-have kept me going through their appreciation of my writing. Writing is a solitary journey. So, it feels great when someone writes back to appreciate your writing or tells you how the piece of writing affected them. The high it gives me is immeasurable.
What inspires you to write?
I draw inspiration from my personal experiences, people around me, nature, and world events. I feel strongly about certain things, and the only way I can get it out of my system is by writing about it, or else it nags me. I have always kept a diary – some writing I share through my blog, either in a poem or a post; many may never see the light of day.
What was your writing catalyst?
I used to read a lot as a child, and being an only child for a long time with working parents, I had a lot of time to entertain myself with my stories. I would weave them in my head and have conversations going back and forth between the characters. I wish I had written those stories down; I would have had several books published by now. Lol.
But, the catalyst that got me writing, is falling in love. Love makes a person go through a multitude of emotions, and there are things that you don’t want to talk about or you can’t talk about. If my husband reads this, he is going to be very happy. Because it means every time we disagreed on something when we were unmarried, I was pouring out my feelings on paper and therefore honing my craft.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
I don’t have a process as such when it comes to poetry. I see, I feel, I write. I don’t spend time editing my poetry; I read it aloud to myself or to my daughters, and if it sounds right, I publish it on my blog or share it with a publication.
However, writing a novel is an entirely different ballgame. I first wrote a draft of my story, then left it for a while. Going back after setting it aside for a month helped me gain perspective and read it as a third person would. I had to do several edits subsequently and research a few things I wasn’t sure about (even if it’s a fiction novel, you may need to do it, as in my case). Then, I got my husband and my daughters to read it- they were my beta readers.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
The comments of readers- especially those that say my writing made them pause and ponder or inspired them somehow. Sometime, in 2019, a reader told me that my writing had helped her through a challenging year. She said it was as if I had been writing for her and that she would diligently look to see if I had posted something on my blog before going to bed every night. This comment made me see my writing differently – until then, I had been writing for myself. But, after that comment, I felt I had a responsibility. It spurred me to write better and more regularly.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Yes, it does. I use quite a bit of imagery in my poetry and, when required, in my prose. I feel it helps a reader visualize the scene better.
What is your favorite reading genre?
I enjoy reading historical fiction and literary fiction with some romance, memoirs and philosophical books. I like it when I learn something new about a place, culture, and people’s lives.
What human being has inspired you the most?
I cannot choose one person who has inspired me the most. But writers who support other writers and those who write tirelessly and share their work on social media without any monetary gain but for the love of writing. I have come a long way because of them.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
I have fallen short of words to express my gratitude to the Spillwords Press community, which includes writers and readers, poets, and non-poets. I hadn’t expected to win. It came as a beautiful surprise. I am also thankful to those who couldn’t vote for me, for whatever reason, but wanted to; I believe their collective thought manifested this win.
I especially want to thank Dagmara and Spillwords Press for providing writers with a space to write and encouraging writers with awards such as these. It’s service in its purest form to all literary enthusiasts.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I would be happy if my writing resonates with readers and my experiences give them the courage to accept change, do things differently, appreciate all that they have, take risks and somehow live more fulfilling lives as a result.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
To all those who aren’t into reading yet, I’d like to say that it’s never too late to begin. Find something you think you’ll like and read ten pages daily if you can’t read more. Reading is the best gift you can give yourself. It will change your outlook towards life.
Lastly, if you have a writer friend, support them by spreading the word personally or through your social media accounts; it doesn’t cost a dime. You can write a one-line review if you can’t write more or gift books to those you think will like reading the genre.
Smitha Vishwanath is a banker turned writer. She began her writing journey in 2016 through her blog. Thieving Magpies, Spillwords Press, Silverbirch Press, Borderless Journal, and Rebelle Society have published her poetry. In 2019, her poem, 'Omid' was nominated for Best of the Net and her poems, 'Do you have dreams?' and 'Forgotten' were given special mention in NaPoWriMo, 2021 and 2022, hosted by Maureen Thomson. In addition, she was awarded the Reuel International Prize for poetry by the online group TSL. In 2019, she co-authored a book of poetry, 'Roads- A journey with Verses', which received positive reviews. Smitha's writing is peppered with the lessons learned from the plethora of invaluable experiences that come from having lived in India, UAE and Iran, worked in a multi-cultural environment and travelled widely. She resides in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with her husband and two daughters. When she is not writing, you can find her painting, travelling, or sharing reviews of books she has read on Goodreads, Amazon, and her blog. Her debut novel 'Coming Home' was released on 24th March 2023 and is currently available through Amazon on Kindle and as paperback, in most countries.