Handling emotional toll of gothic writing is a challenge: Meera Bhansali

Prof Dr Shiv Sethi

Meera Bhansali, a Mumbai-based author and poet specializing in horror and psychological thrillers, has gained recognition for her gothic poetry, including her book “Speck.” Her writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and ezines. As the editor of “Letters to the Dark,” she provided a platform for young writers during the Covid lockdown. Advocating for mental wellness, Meera addresses taboo issues related to mental health and actively participates in literary groups. Alongside like-minded individuals, she works to revive art and literature in her mother tongue, Kutchi. Her latest book, “Nocturnal Frights,” continues to explore the dark aspects of human psyche while shedding light on important societal issues.

Q1) How long have you been writing ?

A   – Ever since I learned to frame proper sentences,and make logical sentences, I found myself writing. I loved the poems and the rhymes and the sing song quality that was taught in school. Often I would change a word here and there, then change or add an extra sentence to those verses. Gradually I started adding full stanzas continuing with the thought and rhyme of the poem. Also with time, the vocabulary increased,learnt more poetic devices and forms, so the experimentation never ended.

Q2 ) When did you first consider yourself as a writer ?

A –  A writer is not a writer until the written words are not read by the people or actual readers. When my first book “Speck ” got published, came on Amazon, was bought by actual readers,gave stars and reviews on social media platforms,it was then that I considered myself as an author or a writer. Before this came to happen ,I was like any other person jotting down thoughts, opinions in a personal diary.

Q3) What is the most difficult part about writing for you ?

A – The most difficult part, for me personally, would be writing in a given framework or writing on a topic that does not actually interest me, but yet there is this nagging urge to still try and experiment.

Q4) What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk ?

A – Hmm..that would be writing at actually  presumed haunted places. Also writing when there is blasting music either on my headphones or on the home speaker. It creates like a white noise to seperate my thoughts from the outside happenings,and I just hate if there is change in music or even a drop of sound. Also I like to let my first draft simmer for quite a time. Writing at night is another quirk ..I guess most writers have.

Q5) What does success mean to you ? Define success

A – Success is when what you intended to do,is actually done and the thought or the motive behind doing it is fruitful. Only then would I say a person is successful. I consider myself a successful author. I am not the best selling one or on the peak, but the task of writing my book “Speck” and the thought that this book is to open the society towards being more empathetic and aware towards mental health is achieved. With every copy of the book bought,read,discussed I would consider it a success.

Q6) How do you deal with the emotional impact of your writings?

A – I have often been asked  this question. I write in the gothic genre which is a very dark subject. The psychological aspects bring out too much darkness.Handling the emotional toll of my gothic writing is a challenge. When I was working on “Speck,” trusted friends and family kept me grounded with regular check-ins. But with “Nocturnal Frights,” the darkness consumed me more deeply. My daughters noticed the change and intervened, ensuring I stayed connected to reality with activities and support. I took a break when things became overwhelming, resuming only when I felt balanced again. The line between reality and imagination is thin, but I have safety nets in place.

Q7) What is the favorite part and least favorite part of publishing.?

A – The part that I hate the most is proofreading and editing, and formatting. Sometimes with all those grammar AI apps, old English, linguistic words, many poetic devices all get flagged out. The back and forth explaining is sometimes a huge task. The favorite part is when finally the book is in my hand, sort of warm, like a bun fresh from the oven! And the smell of fresh ink and paper,my own name in ink. !! Love that feeling.

Q8) Are you working on anything at present? Can you share?

A – I have almost completed around 60% of a collection of short horror stories, have data of around 3k poems which I am trying to sort out in genres or themes so that I can get them published. Also I am a storyteller and there are a few horror stories that came

impromptu or are just in the spoken format. I have yet to actually write them in a proper script sort of. So working on that as well. There is this group of ours where we are trying to revive literature and art form of my mother tongue that is Kutchi. So I am experimenting to write in my spoken language which relies on Gujrati as it’s written language . It’s a difficult task because I have been writing in English and Hindi. The Gujarati font is totally new for me . So learning things as I move forward in my journey.

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