Writing ‘The Guest’, my debut novel published by Black Ink, was a joyride, but it was as much work as it was fun. Here are some quick, fun facts about the book.
1. This book was originally a short story that I expanded into a novella, and then into a novel. The one I submitted to Black Ink was the novella. They asked if I would be open to expanding it into a novel. When I agreed, I was on board.
2. The name Cecelia Barnes comes from Cecelia Ahern (the famous writer who wrote Ps I love you, Where Rainbows End, etc.) and Barnes and Noble (a gigantic and popular bookstore chain).
3. The original draft of this novel was in past tense.
4. I changed the tense of the novel during the third rewriting process because I thought present tense was more suitable for this story. Present tense gave the action immediacy and was easier to read.
5. I never told Ravin sir (Ravinder Singh) I was planning on changing the tense because I thought he might object it (and my mom feared he would give up on the book because I was giving him so much trouble with my additions and changes. She nearly convinced me of the same as well). But when he learnt about it and we talked, he was very welcoming of the idea, much to my mother’s relief and in turn, mine.
6. The chapters that went under maximum changes were the first half of the 1st chapter and the entire last chapter.
7. For the 1st chapter, I wrote multiple drafts but we ended up finalizing the one I sent him the very first time (during the synopsis and sample chapters’ submission stage). So basically, we took a long U-turn and decided we were better off where we started. But we were finally convinced and satisfied that nothing else but this will work. So the efforts weren’t all waste.
8. The last chapter was previously titled Epilogue but Ravin sir said there are actual scenes in that chapter, so it can’t be an epilogue. I should make it another chapter. I asked if it was allowed. He said, yes, there are no rules to writing. You make your own.
9. The longest part of the story I wrote in a single sitting was the series of events that take place from chapter 15 to first half of chapter 19. That whole incident was based on a suggestion by Ravin sir who said that the protagonist needed to get into some trouble outside the house. I brainstormed various believable ways to get Neha into trouble and ended up with a long incident of around 5000 words. I split that into proper chapters later. I had just too much fun writing it.
10. The last scene I added to the story was chapter 30, which is my favourite scene in the whole book. I added it based on another valuable suggestion from Ravin sir (It’s a spoiler. We will discuss once you’ve read the book :). I had to tweak things a bit around that chapter to show Neha’s state of mind in this one. Maybe the reason I enjoyed writing it was because, by this time, I was comfortable with Neha’s character. I found it easier to write from her perspective without losing her voice after having spent so much time with her.
Have you read the book yet? If not, then do it, jaldi!
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