Author Interview with Dipa Sanatani

Dipa Sanatani
The Little Light

Dipa Sanatani

Author of The Little Light: A Story of Reincarnation and the Crazy Cosmic Family

Describe yourself in five words

Curious. Adventurous. Happy go lucky.

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. Even today, I love visiting planetariums and observatories. It reminds me that the world is a vast and glorious place full of undiscovered mysteries.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 

I follow my heart’s desire. And that’s that.

What scares you the most? 

Heights. Seriously. The first time I went rock climbing, I nearly threw up.

What makes you happiest? 

I enjoy both solitude and the company of others. There’s a sense of exhilaration that sweeps through me whenever I pack my bags and embark on a solo adventure in a new country. I also relish a good one-on-one conversation that’s full of depth and substance. Throw in a nice meal and we’re in business.

What books did you love growing up? 

As a kid, I loved Roald Dahl. I re-read The Witches countless times. He has a brilliant way of weaving real life into a story and making it fantastical. I read a lot of Enid Blyton, too. Archie comics were a childhood favorite of mine.

I think I’m dating myself… Yes, I grew up in the 90s.

Why do you write? 

Because I must. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I don’t know where this desire comes from. It’s hard to explain.

What do you hope your obituary will say about you? 

She fulfilled her personal legend. I’m a Paulo Coelho fan. Can you tell?

Location and life experiences can really influence writing. Tell us how your travels have influenced your work. 

I’ve lived, worked and studied in: Singapore, Australia, Israel, Japan and China. Each culture I’ve encountered has molded and shaped me in some way. Perhaps I’ll tell that story when I’m old enough to write a memoir.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

San Francisco. What a city. What a vibe.

How did you develop your writing?

I started by writing words. Words became sentences. Sentences became paragraphs. Paragraphs became chapters. And one day, I was holding my very own debut novel in my hand… I’d say that’s the gist of it.

Do you find it hard to share your work? 

I think there’s a big difference between the stuff you write for yourself and the stuff you write for publication. It would be ill-advised to confuse the two. 

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 

To be an authorpreneur is to constantly develop and expand your skillset. When I started my own publishing business Mith Books, I knew I had to become a jack of all trades. It hasn’t been easy – but the journey’s been incredible. I’ve grown so much so quickly.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in starting Mith Books? 

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes into making a book happen. It’s also an industry that’s been going through an overhaul since ereaders entered the market. The game’s been changing for several years now and will continue to change in the future. Personally, I think it’s an exciting time to be in the book business.

Currently, I’m working ridiculously long hours as I’m in the startup phase of a business. Finding the right people to work with has been a challenge. I’ve collaborated with some incredible individuals as well as ran into a few duds. It’s part self-study and part trial-and-error.

What marketing works for you? 

I’d say that unlike other ‘products’ available in the market, a book is different – especially when we’re talking about fiction. We can do our best to hustle and get it out there into the hands of reviewers and readers, but we never know when the story will take off and find its way into the public imagination. It’s not a linear path.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? 

I’d say a vast majority of them would prefer that I live a ‘stable and secure’ life where I conform to societal norms. But the heart wants what it wants. I’ve met way too many people well-meaning people who make the mistake of projecting their own fears and expectations onto me.

One thing I’ve learned is that it is unwise to stand between a soul and its heart’s desire. The soul always chooses the heart’s desire.

 What other jobs have you had in your life? 

My background’s in business and education. I have extensive experience in the public-school system as well as the private, corporate and government sectors.

 If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

Astrophysics. Having said that, I don’t have any intention of going back to school anytime soon. I prefer learning-by-doing. I no longer have it in me to sit in a classroom.

Tell us about your new book.

The Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketu – Celestial Beings from world mythology – bicker and squabble, just like any family. But they’re going to have to put their differences aside to help the Little Light – a wise soul, imbued with insight and curiosity – prepare for its birth on Planet Earth, where it has a great and far-reaching destiny…

What inspired The Little Light?  

The idea came to me when I was lying in bed alone in my apartment in Japan. I was contemplating the vast nature of the universe when I suddenly thought, “How nice it would be if I could invite the planets over for a discussion on life, love and the larger purpose for our existence.”

I promptly opened up my notebook and drew a sketch of what the mythological Nine Celestial Beings would look like if they were ‘updated’ for the modern era. The idea ruminated in my head for four years before I finally sat down to write the story.

It’s vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about your marketing campaign.

Many of my readers have said that The Little Light is a unique book in the spirituality genre. My novel handles themes like reincarnation, mythology, cosmology and folklore. There’s nothing else like it available in the market. Titles in the spirituality genre are typically non-fiction and intended for an adult audience. I’ve written The Little Light with younger readers in mind. My goal is to inspire their curiosity in these topics in a fun and accessible way.

This has been both my debut novel’s strength as well as the challenge I’ve faced in marketing it. This is typical of books that don’t fit into a neat category. Even marketing veterans from traditional publishing houses have told me that they’ve faced this very same challenge with some of their favorite books.

Firstly, I’d say get the buzz going about the kind of book it actually is. Target the right bloggers and reviewers that will ‘get’ your book. Don’t be hasty and rush into things too quickly. Once you have a better idea of the initial response, you can plan a more large-scale promotion campaign.

 If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? 

The Nine Great Celestial Beings, of course! The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. They’ve been gazing down at mankind since time as we know it began. I’m sure they’d have great stories to tell about the history of the earth.

 When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? 

Long walks by the ocean. Stargazing. Travelling. A good conversation with an old friend.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

Life is short. Savour it.  


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