Arti Manani Dreamed of Being a Writer, and Now She Is

An interview with the author of 'The Colours of Denial'

Arti Manani was asked what her dream was. Her answer put her on course to write and release her novel, The Colours of Denial (paid link).

It’s an experience that Manani recounts below. Also, in this interview, Arti Manani shares about her experience writing the book and her decision to self-publish this, her debut novel.

Remember, the best way to support writers is by buying their books. The Colours of Denial (paid link) is available on Amazon. The second best way to help writers is by telling others about their work, which you can do by sharing this interview.


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Interview with Arti Manani

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in West London, England, and live in the same house I grew up in. I’ve always had a passion for writing. I love listening to music and spending time with my friends and family, especially with my ten-year-old niece, Shreya.

I don’t really like talking about myself so I asked my cousin what I should say here, and she told me to make sure I mentioned my infectious laugh, so here it is. I have an infectious laugh and it’s something almost everyone I’ve ever met has picked up on.

You mentioned that a personal development coach asked you in 2018 what your dream was, and you said to become an author. What were you doing at that time?

I’ve spent over 11 years of my working career in marketing and copywriting - something I still do and love today.

In 2017, James Blower, my boss at the time, introduced the team to a personal development coach, Gavin Drake at Mindspan, to help encourage the team to reach their full potential. Gavin asked everyone what they wanted from life and when it was my turn, I told him that I wanted to write my own book.

His next question shocked me as no-one had ever followed on to ask me where I was with this book that I’d spent over 30 years saying I wanted to publish. My time during evenings and weekends was used fulfilling other commitments, like cooking, cleaning, and watching television, so I shamefully gave Gavin reasons (or excuses) to why I hadn’t started writing. 

That was just the beginning of this two-day training session and after it was over, not only did I learn the importance of making time to do the things I desire most, I also learnt the significance of mental development and understanding my ability to reach my potential in doing what makes me happy. 

Were you surprised by your answer?

The dream of wanting to write my own books has always been with me since childhood, but it ended up being something I put on the back burner, settling for this dream to be fulfilled upon retirement because, of course, like most people, I had other commitments. After my Mindspan session, however, and hearing Gavin’s personal story, I realised that I shouldn’t wait until I was retired to fulfill my personal goal, because you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

At the time you answered the question, how specific was the goal?

I remember when I was a young girl, the stories that stuck with me were the ones that had a moral or life message sent to the reader, and that’s what I wanted to do. I find satisfaction in helping others and although I knew it wasn’t a self-help book that I wanted to write, I did want to write light-hearted novels with little morals and messages within them.

As I grew older, I gained more interest in reading thrillers through recommendations from friends. It’s strange because I can’t watch a scary film, but I decided I wanted to write a thriller novel.

The Colours of Denial isn’t scary though, it’s a psychological romance thriller, with elements of what I’ve learnt through the Mindspan session within it. Doesn’t make sense, does it? You’ll see when you read it.

What steps did you take after that meeting with your coach to finish, and publish your first novel?

I remember talking about the Mindspan sessions to anyone who would listen to keep it fresh in my mind. It was from one of these conversations that a friend of mine encouraged me to stop talking and start writing. Other than my full-time job, that’s all I was focused on.

I made some changes to my routine and lifestyle and focused on writing whenever I had the chance to. Seeing 3,000 words turn into 6,000 words, and then 10,000 to 15,000 and so on, was so satisfying. I just kept writing and discussing my progress with those around me who were so motivating and full of positive energy and within no time, I had my first draft completed. 

But there was a lot more to it than just writing. Whilst I was on one of the many drafts of my book, editing and checking that all the dates and facts were correct, I started thinking about the rest of the process. Publishing or self-publishing? What was a manuscript and did it look any different from a normal Word document? What do I do once I’ve finished writing? Where and how do I sell the book? Who could I approach to ask the 101 questions that I had?

I was so eager to launch my book in March 2020, I decided to give it my full commitment and in November 2019, I temporarily left my full-time job to focus on finding the answers to all of my questions whilst working on the launch of my book.

Let’s talk about The Colours of Denial. From where did the storyline develop?

I started writing The Colours of Denial without thinking about a plot or storyline. I just wanted to write while I had all of the energy and motivation in me. I didn’t know it was going to be a thriller.

I started writing after work one evening and the room was kind of dark so my book started off with darkness. They say there are elements of an author’s personality within the characters they create, and to some extent, that was true for me.

I used to have a lot of nightmares when I was younger, I also had trouble sleeping most nights for a while before I started writing, similar to what I did with Sophia, one of the protagonists in my book. I distributed some of my own experiences, doubts, obstacles, and feelings amongst my characters, as well as the positive learnings from my own life and of course, the Mindspan sessions within the story. It is fiction though, so watching a range of films and series on Netflix also generated ideas. It went from being a thriller to a romance thriller, and changed once more overnight. 

I think I had completed my eleventh draft when I randomly woke up at 3 a.m. one day with a different idea for the ending, and this was after my beta readers had read it. I spent the next few days adapting and making more changes to the whole book, changing it from a romance thriller, to a psychological romance thriller. I don’t regret that for a second. People are loving the twist. 

It wasn’t just random thoughts and film that inspired me whilst writing. Talking to certain people made a huge impact to the final storyline. By far, that was my biggest motivation, having encouraging people around me, and for that I am grateful. 

What was the writing and editing process like for you?

For me, the writing process was a nice escape. I worked on it whenever I was mentally prepared to sit in silence and step into my bubble for a few hours – which was most of the time. I aimed for a specific amount of words a day but found that it wasn’t the best approach for me. Instead of jumping straight into it, I used to read over what I’d written so far, editing along the way, and then continue where I left off.

I found that on the days I had writer’s block, I’d write words down for the sake of hitting my daily word count, only to spend the next day deleting what I wrote previously. So I decided to use my time effectively and made sure that on the days that I didn’t feel like writing, I’d still keep focus on the end goal and use my time to find the answers to my 101 questions on getting it to the next stage.

When I finished the first chapter, I sent it to a few friends to see whether it was a comfortable read for them in terms of the pace, the use of description, etc. before continuing with that same momentum throughout. I then sent what seemed to be my billionth draft off to my beta readers, and then read and re-read my book over and over. I still found myself deleting paragraphs, adding and rearranging chapters, and removing chunks of unnecessary pages, which hurt a lot!

I even changed the ending. I didn’t have it in me to ask my beta readers to re-read the book all over again after I’d made so many changes, so I ended up reading it 100 times more. Honestly, I didn’t like the editing process but these stages were vital in making the book what it is.

How did you decide to self-publish, and what’s that experience been for you?

I did a lot of research before going down the self-publishing route. I joined many writing groups on Facebook, watched YouTube videos on self-publishing, and looked into various articles about getting published. I based my final decision around my end goal.

What I wanted from The Colours of Denial was to have it published and for people to read it and enjoy it. I didn’t want to rely on a publisher to tell me whether or not they were going to publish my book, and especially wait years and years to get that answer. So I decided to do it myself through Amazon KDP. I’d definitely recommend it as it’s simple to use and easy to navigate around.

I’d also recommend networking with other authors way before you’re ready to make that decision. Everyone has had a different experience and joining writing groups on Facebook is definitely once piece of advice I’d give to someone considering writing a book, and now rather than tomorrow. I say this because I went off social media for nearly a year whilst writing, and went back on it three months before launching my book, so I didn’t utilise it as much as I should have. Especially when it came to getting my social media accounts established before promoting my book, which leads me on to my next point.

Once the book is finalised and available to purchase or download, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Marketing the book is just as important. I’d recommend looking into ways of marketing your book and building up a network of those who may be interested in reading your book sooner rather than later. I am definitely grateful that I’ve been able to use some of my marketing skills in launching and promoting my book, but even despite over 11 years marketing experience, pushing my book has by far been the most challenging. It’s a huge market and a highly competitive one too.

Your book will go as far as you push it, so one thing I’d say for sure, is keep going and don’t give up.

Who are some of your favorite writers, past or present?

There are so many brilliant writers out there. I have to say Dave Pelzer is one of them, for being the only author to have written not one, but three books that have made cry to a point where I had to close the books every so often and walk away. I read A Child Called It over ten years ago along with the rest of the trilogy and thinking about it today still makes me feel the same way as I did when I first read it. I hate the book because of what happened to him, but I love the way it was written.

I also like books by Simon Wood and C.L Taylor. I loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I need to read more of her books.  

What are some of the best books you’ve read lately?

Now knowing how difficult the market is for indie authors, I want to support them more and so the most recent books I’ve read are written by indie authors. I’m currently reading a cosy mystery by Kelly Brady Channick, called Asbury High and the Thief's Gamble. I’m actually reading it for the second time, this time with my ten-year-old niece. It really is a cosy mystery and I highly recommend it. 

Also, as we’re currently in lockdown, my niece and I are doing book swaps with each other, so whilst she reads one of mine, I’m reading one of hers. The most recent one being a short story called Diary of Greg Heffley’s Best Friend by Jeff Kinney, which I read in less than 30 minutes and had many laugh out loud moments with my infectious laugh. You can never be too old to read a children’s book, it’s so nice to see the innocence in them and this book really made me laugh a lot!

Lastly, anything else you'd like Bidwell Hollow followers to know about you or your work?

I’m just very grateful to have been able to get to this stage before retirement. It takes a lot of commitment and can be torturous at times. I’ve sat there before and started many books without the motivation to finish it, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up this time. That feeling of holding your book in your hands for the first time is indescribable – even as a writer, I have no words. 

If you’re an aspiring author, I quote a line from my book, “Kings will dream, but only you can make yours come true.”

Get Arti Manani’s The Colour of Denial (paid link).