The Bookoholics recently sat down with Srishti Rathour, author of “The Missing City”. We had an endearing and interesting conversation with her on her book, and everything that comprised it. Have a read below:

1. Is the main character Sumi inspired by your life? How much of Sumi are you?

Yes, initially when I was writing the first draft, I did consider myself as the main protagonist only because I wanted her to be relatable. However, when I worked on the subsequent drafts, I made many changes in Sumi’s character. One similarity in us, though, would be the fact that we both value our intuition more than anything else.

2. How did you deal with the self-doubts a writer goes through?

I wrote the first few chapters of this book as an informal series on Wattpad and the response I got from readers over there boosted my confidence. Later, after I removed my story from the platform, I did face some self-doubt issues. But I have amazing friends who have always believed in my abilities and their constant encouragement led me to finish this novel. Now that I have completed it, I have learnt to find motivation in my style of writing itself.   

3. What was the most difficult part to write, creatively?

The most difficult part to write for The Missing City was the climax. I was doubtful if I would be able to live up to the intensity I had built throughout the novel. Also, the ending is a key factor in deciding whether a book was worth one’s effort or not. And I was sceptical if I had done the job right. So, I went through it over and over again until I had to accept that there was nothing more I could do with it.  

4. What message did you want the readers to get from the book?

I wanted readers to believe in fantasy and that it can be as real as reality when you are living through a story. Hence, my protagonists are two opposite humans; one who preaches practicality and another who simply follows her heart. I don’t mean to say that only one of them is right but I want people to realize that sometimes, it’s okay to take a decision on a whim and even that may lead you to someplace nice. Anybody can be the “Alice” in wonderland! 

5. What publishing advice would you give to new authors?

There’s too much of publishing advice out there and my only advice would be to not believe all of it. If you’re a new author, please don’t believe in everything that people (or so-called publishing consultants) say. Irrespective of whether it is traditional or self-publishing, please be as involved as you can in the process. Because no one cares about your book as much as you do. Tough truth! 

6. Did this book in any way change you as a person?

It has changed me completely. First of all, it transformed me from a writer to an author. As much as that sounds flattering, it has added quite some responsibilities. Now I have to be careful about everything I put out there because there is an image to live up to. Additionally, along the process of researching, writing and publishing The Missing City, I have learned countless life lessons which will be incredibly difficult to squeeze into this answer.    

7. What was the most common response you got from the readers?

One most common and quite unexpected response I got from readers is the fact that so many people seem to love the Sumi-Alexis storyline. I am still astonished at how the youngest prince is trending as the latest “book-boyfriend”. My Instagram dm inbox has been flooding with requests asking Sumi-Alexis bonus scenes. Alas, I have been too busy with another project though (wink wink).

8. The Guardian King has been reduced to just an accessory in the book. Did you have to cut down his part or you never planned his role?

I never planned his role. I know one would wonder why but this story of guardians had been shaping up in my mind for years before I penned it and I always pictured it to be the queen’s story. Although the king is important in the guardian world, he just didn’t happen to be the part of this specific story which is narrated through The Missing City. (And well, his absence was necessary for the city to go missing, so couldn’t help it 😉 

9. Would you say if Sumi hadn’t been religious, she wouldn’t have solved the puzzle?

No, her being inclined towards mythology is just a facet of her character. It is not essential to the story’s plot. Even if she hadn’t known a few things, they would have still reached the same end. However, Sumi’s religious side throws some light on the inspiration behind the guardian characters. It’s an added pinch of salt to the existing vial of suspense.

10. If you had a chance to write the book again after all the feedback that you got, would you change anything about it? If yes, then which part?

I wouldn’t change anything about the storyline but if I were to write it again, I would outline it comprehensively before writing it. Back then, I wrote it instinctively without really planning much. I didn’t know the result would turn out to be so huge. Nowadays, I outline my stories and I observe how much of hassle I could have skipped if I had outlined my novel. So, outlining will be a must for me from now on.    

11. If you didn’t have to care for the word count, which part would you have written more about?

The Sumi-Alexis part, for sure! Evidently, my readers want more of those two today and I feel slightly guilty of not providing those extra scenes. Also, I would have loved to reveal the backstories of some other characters- Kelly, Ethan and Myra- which I penned down but did not add to the novel owing to word count issues.

12. Were mythology fans able to find all the easter eggs you left in the book?

The readers who have read Mahabharat were able to relate instantly with most of the extra Easter eggs. But yes, there are still some which, to my knowledge, have not yet been discovered by any of my readers. Waiting (not-so) patiently and well, writing as always!

We wish Srishti all the very best for her future endeavours.