Hi Nerdy people, your favorite Nerdy Bookarazzi has come out with an Author Interview with thriller writer who has taken the Indian reading community by storm!! Yeah, we have Nidhi Upadhyay, the author of “That Night” with us for an interesting conversation today.
I have already reviewed “That Night” on Nerdy Bookarazzi where I told you how captivated I was as soon as I came across the blurb and of course the book lived up to it. The moment I started reading this book I was so into it and got into a little conversation with the author on Instagram. There are few people with whom you would vibe immediately and Nidhi is that kind of a person to me. We started talking about That Night and ended up talking about Paani Puri that’s the kinda bond we developed in this short time. Nidhi is not just an amazing and engaging author but also a great human to interact with.
Nidhi Upadhyay is an incredible author, she debuted into the world of literature with That Night. She currently lives in Singapore with her two boys and husband, whom we should all thank for bring out the spectacular author in her. And I think this little image above says a bit about the author but with this Interview session, you guys will be getting to know a lot more about her. Let’s get started.
Hi Nidhi, thank you so much for accepting to do this session with me. It is a really amazing to you have you here. I’m so excited for this. I thoroughly enjoyed That Night so much. It was an incredible thriller and I loved the experience it gave. I’m literally over the moon to have this conversation with you about this tremendous book.
Thanks for your encouraging words, Meenu. Means a lot.
It is my absolute pleasure! So let’s dive into the Q&A right away. When was the first time you realized you wanted to write and there was this potential author and a story inside you dying to see the day light? Well, how can I not ask this question to an author, please answer this even though you might be tired of it!
I have been a closet writer since the age of nine. So, in my case, writing came to me much before the ambition to write. However, getting my work published is a borrowed dream and all the due credit for this one goes to my better half, who wanted the world to read my work.
Who is your inspiration to start writing in the first place?
My Maamaji introduced me to the world of literature. My childhood memories are filled with him narrating a new poem every time we met. I don’t clearly remember when I wrote my first poem, but I vividly remember reading it to him and getting a new blank diary as a reward. Since then, until I graduated, he gifted me a dairy every year. It was his way of making sure that I don’t stop writing ever.
So, I read in “about the author” section that your husband borderline bullied you into writing, so can you share more about that instance? I smell a funny backstory here 😀
After my second pregnancy, I was planning to switch back to a full-time role as my younger one started preschool. However, Vipin, my hubby, had some other plans! He started planting a seed of writing a novel, probably inspired by all his IIM-friends-turned- authors!
‘You are wasting your talent. At least give it a shot. Write a short story and try.’ And he didn’t give up not until I abandoned the idea of a full-time role. I think he knew that if not now, I would have never done it.
If “Aaj kya likha” (What have you written today) and “Main bachoon ko le jaata hoom tum likho” (I’ll take the kids out you write) is not called borderline bullying than nothing can be! Haha!
That’s really so nice of him. I think we all need that kind of person in our lives to give that necessary push. So, how did you decide you were going to write a thriller with the perfect mix of horror into it? And since you have written about paranormal activities in this book, how much do you love horror as a genre?
To be honest, I never thought that ‘That Night’ was a horror story. I only realized it when the book reviewers started tagging it under the horror genre! My idea behind the story was to play with the reader’s psyche as That Night is essentially a psychological thriller. However, this twisty novel took another turn after getting published it seems!!
I am not a fan of horror, and totally not into paranormal thrillers. However, I do like mind twisting novels that have faceless fear as a central theme such as Birdbox.
How was your experience in writing a horror thriller? How did you prepare yourself to write one?
I absolutely loved writing That Night because it took me back to my college days. The initial writing process felt like time travel, however, as the story progressed, it embarked me on a new adventure! I found myself scouting for a few haunted locations to be featured in the book. So, writing the past and the present was each a thrill ride of a different kind.
Research about the location, psychology and responses to fear were the three main areas where I spent time while developing the story.
How did the plot-line of That Night develop? Where did you find the inspiration to write this spectacular story?
I had bungee jumped into writing this story, without planning much. So, the story took its own course once I began to write. It was a classical case where the story casts a spell on the author and all you do is follow the characters who soon start speaking to you, telling their own stories!
However, I had spent a copious amount of time building the characters, and there is no denying there. The inspiration behind this story is forked out from all the nights spent in the hostel, I guess. ��
Where did the idea of an Ouija board popped up and have you ever played Ouija ever before and if so, how did that go?
Oh! it was a popular game of our times, particularly in hostels.
And yes, I have played Ouija countless times. But as I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in ghosts, so it was always for fun and to see who was going to get conned and who was moving the coin with that level of precision to not get caught.
All your main characters in the book are living in different parts of the world. That was kind of enticing and how you brought all of them together in this plot was seriously amazing. How did that idea come about?
Haha… this was a direct lift from my life. My besties from college are living on different continents, so the idea evolved organically.
Your book basically talks about friendship, bonds shared between friends, hostel life, pranks and stuff and I loved all those factors so very much. How was your college life like?
I have cherished every moment spent with my friends- chatting in the hostel corridors, playing pranks and so much more, and that’s why when I decided to write a book, it eventually ended up being about friends and college life. It’s been twenty years, but my college friends are still my best friends, and we are still thick as thieves.
Wow!! That’s really cool!! Where did you get inspirations for all the characters in the book and who is your favorite in your book that you absolutely loved writing about?
The challenge with writing the characters for That Night was how to not get inspired by your friends while writing Natasha, Riya, Anjali and Katherine! Else, I would have ended up being the Riya of That Night!
I thoroughly enjoyed writing Katherine as that was a territory unexplored- to empathize with someone who believes in ghosts and let her sway between being logical and superstition.
First of all, getting Penguin Publishers as your publisher for your debut novel is something really amazing and it is an achievement in itself. So what was your publishing journey like? Was it easy or difficult? If you could share your publishing story here, it would be really helpful for all the budding writers out there.
I had my shares of struggles because That Night isn’t my first Manuscript. My first MS was under submission via a literary agent for a couple of years, with no rejections or acceptances. So, staying on tenterhooks for two long years was a patience test of another degree. However, I am glad that I kept myself motivated by writing That Night, but some scars are still there, I call them war trophies!
Chuck Palahniuk’s advice for writers pretty much sums up my initial writing journey: Have your adventures, make your mistakes, and choose your friends poorly – all these make for great stories.
And all the budding writers out there: The key to achieve success in the publishing world is resilience. That Night is essentially a product of not giving up.
Great and inspiring publishing story that was! How did you feel when you first got to know that your book was going to be published? How did you react? Who did you contact first to share the news?
It was a surreal feeling. I read the mail once and then twice, but I wasn’t able to believe it. Then I read it aloud to Vipin and soon found him dancing with joy that was unmatched! I think his happiness felt more priceless than the news itself and when I broke the news to my boys, they were equally happy. In fact, everyone back home had seen me struggling, so it was a moment to enjoy for everyone in my family.
What is your writing routine like? Do you plan out the entire plot and start with the writing or you go with the flow?
I used to go with the flow but with the third MS I have become more of a planner, using spread sheet more than the word doc.
What was the best appreciation you received for That Night and who was it from?
I am blessed to have an amazing family and when it comes to writing, Juhi, my sister-in-law, is my biggest supporter and my favorite beta reader. I still remember when she had finished reading the raw draft of That Night and she messaged me: ‘Didi aap Paula Hawkins ki maa ho!’ (Didi! You’re the mother of Paul Hawkins!) Nothing can match that kind of love!
How well do you take criticism?
I think criticism only bothers me when it stirs some form of regret– Ah! this could have been done. And when that is the case, rather than worrying about it, I take notes for the next project. This is my debut novel, and there is a long road to travel. So, currently, I treat every criticism like a comment from the examiner, each marks deducted is a learning! And then I tell myself yeh to mock exam tha… final toh abhi baaki hai!!! (it’s just mock exam … final exams are yet to happen) After all I have just started.
Since you are an author now, lots of your fans and readers might be reaching out to you on your social media. So, what was the most memorable or funniest message you received? And how does that feel to receive messages from people after reading your book?
I am simply overwhelmed by the love I am receiving, and I have made a load of friends in the process. I save all the heartwarming messages from the readers as screen shots- the messages are that special to me. If I have to pick one – the cutest message was by this book reviewer Vanshika Gupta who painted a Ouija Board on her face. I am not a makeup person, so I was extremely touched by the gesture of taking so much effort and her review was equally stunning displaying the genuineness.
What is the genre of your next book? And how is it coming along?
I am currently working on a crime thriller. I am also giving a final read to my first Ms. Which one will see the light of the day only time will tell.
What is your ultimate goal that you would like to achieve in the literary world?
I believe in living in the moment, not a planner as you can see. Just becoming a better version of myself is the only goal I set for myself.
What is your favorite book that you want every single person out there to read at least once in their lifetime?
Exceedingly difficult to pick one, it’s like picking your favorite kid. However, these always get a first mention in their respective category: And then there were none (Thrillers), What Alice forgot (Contemporary Fiction), When Breath becomes air (nonfiction) and Self Editing for fiction writers (on writing) and Godaan (Hindi)
What did your husband and kids say after reading your book?
My younger one is too young for it. Vipin has read many versions of this book, but he showed me the goosebumps he got while reading the first draft!! My teenager calls me a mother with a twisted mind.
Since you’re not in the country what is it that you miss the most?
The entire India.
We have been having a lot of talk about Paani Puri, (I know I owe you a picture of Paani puri, don’t worry it is on its way) so what is your favorite Indian dish apart from Paani puri?
Maa ke haath ka khaana. (Mom’s food) I haven’t had it two long years.
And finally, how was your experience with Nerdy Bookarazzi?
You already know my favorite food, so that’s speaks a lot about the relationship we developed in such a short time… Do I need to say more!
Thank you so very much Nidhi!!!!!! This was one amazing author interview session, I had in long time. Thank you so much for your time and patience in doing this interview with me and answering my questions patiently. It was totally engaging, I smiled and laughed a lot throughout the making of this interview. Thank you!!
Get in touch with the author :
Hope you guys enjoyed this session!
Stay tuned for more updates!!