A Conversation with Neena H Brar, the Author of 'Tied to Deceit' | Interview
Neena H Brar

A Conversation with Neena H Brar, the Author of ‘Tied to Deceit’

1. Why Crime fiction?

After I moved to Canada I got introduced to British detective fiction and fell in love with mysteries. I realized no Indian writer had written a good character-driven mystery. I decided to write my own then.

2. How did you think of these complex characters?

When at first the idea of the book came to me, there was only Devika in my mind. I had no idea about any other character at that time. She had such a strong presence throughout the whole book, she easily could have overshadowed every other character in the story. I didn’t want that to happen; If Devika was a go-getter, I didn’t want other female characters to be weak. Gayatri, Urvashi, Nandini, they all had to be strong-minded and compelling. The male characters had to be equally absorbing. And moreover, it is the characterization that is the most important part of a story. Having said that, I would say great characterization is something I love as a reader. So, it was a natural choice for the writer in me.

3. Was it not a bit taxing detailing the characters, each different from the other?

I loved the process of characterization. It was fun getting into the head of different characters and think for them. It was, in fact, my favorite part of writing the book.

4. Why Sanover? Why not any other place?


The setting is an important part of a story after characterization. If the readers can have the sense of the place where things are happening, they are able to connect with the lives of characters. I wanted to have this special setting for my book and as I live near the Rockies in Canada and totally in love with mountains, Sanover was a natural choice.

5. How long did you take to write this book?

Two and a half years from the time I wrote the very first paragraph on paper; it took 18 months for me to finish my first draft and then another year to do full edits and get the final copy in my hands.

6. What do you do to de-stress yourself while writing?

Clean the house and then read. A shiny house makes me very happy and reading de-stresses me like nothing else.

7. What were the Challenges you faced while writing this book?

To find time to write. We had just moved to a new house in a new city. We bought the house in a relatively new area where everything was under construction at the time and I had to drive 4+ hours on a normal day just to get kids to school and other classes. With usual household chores, I beat all the time. It was hard to find time to write.

8. Did the thought to give up writing this book ever occur to you?

No, not the actual thought. I knew the book was coming out good and there was no way I could stop midway. But I did curse myself several times for taking on the project in the first place. Not that I hated writing but with young children and a new addition to our family: a 10-week-old German Shepherd pup who needed to be housebroken, I was getting exhausted beyond means.

9. What is your motivation for writing more?

Motherhood a serious commitment. For me, my children always come first and from my own experience, I know it is so easy to lose one’s self among many responsibilities of motherhood. It’s the same for working mothers as well. Writing helps me grow and teaches me new strengths. I’m a mother, a wife, a homemaker, but I get to witness a constant growth within me because of my writing. It gives me an opportunity to keep this (‘my own self’) part intact. That’s a big enough motivation for me to keep going as I’m a person with a strong sense of ‘self’.

10. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Instead of studying science and business administration, I would study creative writing with major in English.

11. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

To stay focused. I lose interest easily in things; it’s hard for me to stay interested in one idea for a long time.

12. How many hours a day do you write?

I don’t have any fixed schedule. Sometimes I write all day until midnight and at other times, nothing for weeks.

13. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

It has to be Ace; our German Shepherd pup.

14. How did publishing your first book, change your process of writing?

I’m better prepared for writing my second book now. I know know-hows of the writing process.

15. Do you Google yourself?

Google - Tied to Deceit

Not myself, but I do google my book sometimes. It’s nice to know where it is available and if any blogs have covered it in their reviews.

16. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every single one of them. It gives me a new perspective on my book. Being a hard-core reader and having written hundreds of reviews myself in the past, I understand not every book appeals to everyone; sometimes, despite being excellent, the book, the genre is not meant for a reader; there are literary giants with hundreds of negative reviews. Tied to Deceit has gotten all kind of reviews; from 5 stars to 2 stars. The positive ones make me feel appreciated for the hard work I have done and the negative ones make me feel validated as an author.

17. What is your special nook or writing place where you prefer writing?

I have a small desk in our bedroom next to a large window overlooking a ravine and woods beyond. I like sitting there and write on my laptop. I like to write in bed mostly. But I can write anywhere if I’m in the mood and have my laptop in hand. I’ve written while waiting in a car to pick kids from school, at their swimming lessons, dance classes, and other activities, and sitting in front of a TV and talking to my husband.

18. Any plans on writing the second novel?

Currently, I’m working on a poetry book. I have a story for my next novel in my head but not sure when I’m going to start working on it.

19. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing the book?

That I had the patience to complete the book. I’m an ever-changing person and there is hardly anything that keeps me interested long enough to actually finish it (any project). So, having the finished book in my hand was a pleasant surprise.

20. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I was a bright child and like most Indian parents, my parents wanted me to be a doctor. But my dream changed each year. I have thought about becoming a fashion designer, an interior decorator, a chef. The idea of becoming an artist (painter) appealed to me as well. And to be an author was a dream at the back of my mind that I never shared with anyone but it stayed there always.

21. How often do you write?

I’m not a person who follows a disciplined routine. There were times when I didn’t write a single word for months and at other times, I wrote like a maniac while working on the first draft of Tied to Deceit. I’m getting better at the art of discipline now.

22. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing?

It was pretty easy when I first started writing. I was overly excited and eager to work on my novel. However, as the story started taking shape, it became harder and harder. The realization that I was supposed to write at least 130, 000 or more words to produce a standard 80,000-word novel dawned on me sometimes after I was done with first 10,000 words and it started getting on my nerves. The kids, household chores, the driving time for kids’ school and other activities started making me exhausted on top of writing.

23. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

It’s editing. The first draft is not hard except for the times when you have to figure a way to move your plot forward; connect various dots. The editing, especially, working on your second draft is extremely hard. That’s the time when you’ve to get rid of some of your best-written paragraphs or whole chapters so as to make more sense of the things. It’s like picking your favorite out of your children.

24. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I am a hard-core reader. I read all the time, every day, and carry a book with me everywhere I go. I’m a versatile reader; I read everything except for romance, horror, and erotica. ‘Mystery’ is my favorite genre. I read 10-12 mysteries in a row and then it will be an epic, a literary fiction or a classic. My favorite authors are Leo Tolstoy, John Irving, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, P. D. James, WilkieColins, Mary Oliver, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, and Charlotte Bronte. I’ve read almost all of their books.

25. What is the first book that made you cry?

There are books that made me depressed for weeks; The Mists of Avalon, We Need to talk about Kevin. The Song of Achilles, but it was ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel that made me cry almost all through the story.

26. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

To start working on a plot and then abandoning it midway and find another idea more fascinating, letting the self-doubt get better of you, and letting the criticism get to you.

27. Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

Fortunately, I don’t get writer’s block. Just delays as I figure out how my plot is going to move forward. In times like those, reading always helps me.

28. What would you like to say to your readers?

Shower your love on ‘Tied to Deceit’ 😊


Website: neenabrar.com
Instagram: @bookaddictnwriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NeenaHBrar/


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