Celebrity Indian blogger publishes first novel

Wed Jun 3, 2009 3:24am EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Amit Varma, one of India's most popular bloggers, once wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal, worked on a cricket website and also dabbled in advertising. Now, he's turning his writing skills to books.

Varma's debut novel, "My Friend Sancho," which was published in India this month, tells of the unlikely friendship between a wisecracking young crime reporter and the daughter of a man who has been mistakenly killed by police. The novel was long-listed for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize.

Varma, who won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007, is working on his second novel. He spoke to Reuters about books and blogging (www.indiauncut.com).

Q: You call yourself a writer who blogged along the way. Did the blogging help with the writing?

A: "Blogging and writing a novel are two entirely different disciplines. However, when you write every day, it does make you a better writer. In the 19th century, novelists would sometimes keep a daily diary to sharpen their writing skills. I blogged every day, and for the first couple of years of my blogging, I wrote about five posts a day on average.

"All that writing made me a crisper writer. Online readers are impatient, and have many options for their time. If you're self-indulgent or use 10 words where five will do, you'll find it hard to build a readership. Blogging -- the sheer practice of writing -- certainly made me a better writer in terms of craft and discipline."

Q: How do you approach your writing?

A: "Writing a novel requires discipline. I'm not a morning person, so I chose to work all night and sleep during the day. There were less distractions that way, and I got more work done that way."   Continued...