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An Interview with Shobana Mahadevan | Author of 40 Feet Off The Ground

Allow me to introduce Shobana Mahadevan, an engineer by profession and an author by passion! She is a gold medalist engineer, so don’t take her engineering skills lightly :). She loves to do her bits to make the society a better place, especially for those who are underprivileged.

Shobana Mahadevan | Author of 40 Feet Off The Ground

Shobana Mahadevan | Author of 40 Feet Off The Ground

When she approached us with her debut book “40 Feet Off The Ground” with an offer to provide us the review copy, we were not sure what the book is all about. Of course, the cover page gave us a hint of it being a love story. You can read more about the book in our book review at:

After reading the book, we got curious to know more about Shobana and her journey. And, what could be a better alternative than having an author interview with her? Fortunately, the things worked out and from our team, I got a chance to have a Q/A session with her.

So here we go…

Hi Shobana,
Greetings from team ThinkerViews…!
We like your book very much and enjoyed reading it. We are glad to have a conversation with you. As your book is getting both commercial success and critical acclaim gradually, I can see the flow is started, and obviously, you are enjoying it. Can you share your feelings?

Yes, I am very happy. When people get back to me and tell me that they loved my book and they just could not keep it down, I am obviously thrilled. When I see my lines being shared in Facebook and kept as WhatsApp status, it really is a heady feeling. And every time that happens, I take a second to thank god for enabling me to write this book.

It is a kind of cliché question, obviously, you are feeling joyous, accomplished and happy, but, each time we are able to follow our passions the way we want to, we feel, inching more towards completeness. Do you think so?

Yes, I completely agree. I think everyone wants to make a difference, to leave a mark or a legacy. If I could make a few people happy, even for a few hours… I think that really is something. I don’t feel complete… far from it. But I am inching in the right direction.

Can you tell us more about yourself, your background, your profession, and your passions?

I am from Chennai and have spent the most part of my life here. I did my schooling in PSBB. I did my B.E. from Easwari Engg. college, where I passed out as the University First. I did my M.E. from Crescent Engg college, where I was the college topper. I am currently working in the IT Industry in the field of Research and Innovation. I am married with two kids. My passions are reading books, travelling and spending time with my loved ones.

What draws your interest towards writing books?

I believe that stories have an exceptional power to move you, inspire you and change you. I have always had stories around me. When I was little, I read a lot of books – mainly comics. I learnt a lot from them. The way in which people behave, what is correct, what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not… I think more than anything else, these stories taught me about life. And about the world I was living in. And as I grew up, the variety of books that I read also grew. I started reading all genres and started appreciating them for their uniqueness.

And when we read so much, we automatically start creating stories. I did that a lot, but never really attempted to pen one. And one day, the urge was just too much to ignore. So I gave it a try and I am very happy I did it.

What are the major challenges you faced when writing this book?

As this was my first book, I was heavily invested. Everything had to be perfect. Scenes were written and rewritten a number of times. The manuscript was corrected and edited numerous times. I also wanted the cover to be perfect. Even though, I had hired a company to do the cover design, I spent weeks trying to design the cover. So, that was the major challenge. I had a hard time letting the book go.

Can you tell which scene(s)/ part(s) of the book you enjoyed writing the most / like the most in this book? (Of course, you may want to avoid the scenes which can prove to be spoilers)

I liked the scene at the temple, located on the top of a hill. And I loved Sreya’s and Vishal’s first date – the one at the Ranganathan Street. And the scene at Ooty, where Sreya asks Vishal for beer.

Can you tell us more about your writing regime? Are you a method writer or an impulsive one?

I would have to say it is a balance. Most of the time, I write between 4 and 7am. But sometimes, when the scene formation is complete in my head, I have to write it as soon as possible. So sometimes late night and some very early mornings.

The book cover plays an important role in bookselling, were you involved in the book cover designing process? How much?

Yes, I helped design the cover. The book means a lot to me. And I wanted the cover to do justice and give proper representation to what was inside. So, I spent a really long time coming up with the concept for the cover. I, however, did use the designer for the professional touch ups.

Can you share your experience of the journey from writing the book to getting it published?

After writing the book, getting it published was a huge journey in itself. There were so many things to consider. I decided to self-publish this book instead of taking the traditional publishing company route. I choose to publish via Notion Press. Though, it started out great, I ran into a number of issues with them. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably look for an alternate way of publishing my book.

Can you tell us that how much of the book is inspired from your real life?

I would have to say, a lot. The characters of the book reflect real life persons. The incidents were all fictional.

Can you share any of real incidents which helped you in writing this book?

Sure. I went on the turtle walk just as the gang of friends did. I was really interested in turtle conservation. During the night walk, I learnt a lot about them. And I wanted to do my bit for their conservation.

What made you to finalize the book title “40 Feet Off The Ground”?

When you are in love, you have that heady feeling that just elevates you off the ground. That is a very beautiful feeling. I wanted the readers to get that feeling when they read the book.

The terrace is where the protagonists meet most of the time. That is where they accept their love for each other. So I wanted to bring that out too.

Every book affects its author in some way. How do you think writing “40 Feet Off The Ground” affected you.

It was quite a nerve wreaking experience. It was one thing to have the story in your mind, it was quite another to pen it down. I was totally submerged in the world of Sreya. I was upset when she was and happy when she was. It was a rollercoaster ride.

Why one should read “40 Feet Off The Ground” according to you?

The years spent in college are one of the most memorable days in anyone’s life.

40 Feet Off The Ground by Shobana Mahadevan | Book Cover

40 Feet Off The Ground by Shobana Mahadevan | Book Cover

The friendships formed there generally last till the end. And many experience their first love there. Many a time when people are frustrated, those memories always help soothe over the frustration. Getting people to remember those and give them a sense of nostalgia is what I have tried to do in this book.

What is your favorite genre when it comes to reading?

Crime.

Who are your favorite authors whom you love to read?

I love Agatha Christie, P. G. Wodehouse, Jane Austin, Paulo Coelho, J. K. Rowling and Amish.

Which are the book(s) you are reading currently?

Adultery” by Paulo Coelho. I will be reading “Wings of Fire” soon. My son has been urging me to read the series. It’s his favorite.

What are your hobbies apart from writing?

I read a lot of books. I love watching serials like “Mentalist“, “Elementary“, “Big Bang Theory” and “Friends” in repeat mode. I travel a lot.

It seems that you are a nature lover, what in your opinion we should do to preserve it?

I believe every small bit adds up. Everyone can do the things that are under their control – saving electricity when not needed, not using plastic covers, reusing things to a maximum. And most importantly, we should teach our kids the value of our environment. Talk to them and set an example whenever possible. I do.

You’ve talked about various cultures and way of living across the globe in the book, can you share some similarities and something very unique to a specific culture, which you find interesting?

There are a lot of similarities between various cultures. They just manifest in various forms. For example, in every culture, there is a place for people to meet and interact with each other. A place to sing, dance or just talk. Each culture does it differently – some do it in community centers and some in bhajans. And this trait is very important. It builds a sense of community.

What is your opinion about EBook readers and their impact on the generation overall?

I think it is good. My son has got a kindle and we generally buy ebooks. Houses are getting smaller and space is becoming a constraint. Printed books are lovely but ebooks are the future.

Do you love to read traditional printed books more or EBooks?

I love to hold a printed book and read.

What is the one thing you want to share regarding time management?

I think it is very important to learn to say “No”. You cannot do everything. Pick and choose according to priority. And discard the rest.

Did you grow up hearing moral and ethical stories from parents/grandparents? If yes, how it affected your persona?

Yes, I grew up on stories. But, it was mostly my uncle who told them. As children, these stories act as beacons of truth. What is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not! It guides them until the time they grow up and can think for themselves and act according to their own thought process. I think they are very important. And it helped me in a similar way.

Do you think that we are gradually losing the tradition of hearing “moral and ethical stories from grandparents”?

That seems to be the general perception, but I don’t think so. Children still grow up on moral and ethical stories. Just the source is different. It might be parents, school or books that the kids read, and not just grandparents. There are even a lot of stories being broadcasted on TV.

What are your opinions about various social networks and the way it can be used to spread awareness about some important cause around the globe?

The entire world is on social media. So yes, I think it is a very effective way to spread awareness on important causes. Information travels really fast. But the information needs to be packaged and structured well to make the impact we need.

Please share your Social Media/web presence, so that readers and fans can follow/contact you.
Please share anything you want to convey to the readers from your end.

Life is all about the choices that we make, every single day!

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Hope you have enjoyed the Q/A session with him. And many of your questions might be already answered. Let us know that what do you think about this Interview session? Do you want us to ask anything else to him on your behalf? Do let us know. Also, let us know which other authors you like us to interview? Do let us know your thoughts and remarks via comments below. Do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds and follow us on various Social networks to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

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