Preethi Nair, author, publicist and publisher, not to mention this year’s Wordstock Speaker Extraordinaire answered most of Elena Bowes’s questions.
“Listen hard, dream big and take the first step” was my takeaway from your terrific Wordstock talk. Please expand on this.
Sometimes, we know what we are supposed to be doing but we fear the consequences. What if we dreamt big and held on to that vision and all that was required of us was to take one step towards that vision….what would happen to our lives?
What advice would you give an aspiring author? Should they follow your example and also be their own publisher and publicist?
No. They should do what feels right for them but they should realise writing a book is only half of the journey, the other half is getting the book out there.
When you didn’t want to tell your parents about the Double Life article in the Daily Express, you opted to tell your parents the news while they were asleep. “Maybe there’s 100 ways of explaining the truth,” you said. Please explain.
That phrase was in reference to a quote from 100 Shades of White and it is whether we should always tell the truth or should we be mindful of the vulnerability of those who have to hear it? In the novel Nalini tells her children that their father died in a car accident when in actual fact, he had uprooted them, abandoned them ruthlessly and had another family. Should the mother have told them the truth? She lied to protect them but then whole realities are built on this one lie.
I didn’t tell my parents not to spare them from the truth but because I was a coward and didn’t want to disappoint them or feel their disappointment in me.
Do your parents still give you advice on your career?
No! Well for a long time after the book deal my father asked if I should consider getting a job with the Foreign Office until I got married and had a child. I could tell him that I am a trapeze artist now and I don’t think he would care.
Whenever you’re too comfortable, you think it’s time to move on. How have you practiced that in life? And why do you believe that that is so important?
I gave up work to write a novel, I wrote the novels and set up a business taking creativity to businesses, I am in the process of putting on a one-woman show. It’s important because it stretches you as a person. It is a cliché but it is about the journey, how you grow as a person. You can’t grow if you stay in the same place doing what you know.
When you have children, will the adult version of the Encylopedia Brittanica factor into bedtime story telling as it did when you were a kid? How has your specific upbringing affected your thoughts on child rearing?
I have a five-year old daughter who will probably decide to be a lawyer. I understand the sacrifices my parents made for us. It was a different generation, a different time. They were concerned about stability and for us not to ever suffer the upheaval they went through. For them economic security and survival was everything. For my generation (2nd generation immigrant) it’s very different – I have the luxury of giving my daughter more options and choices. Cliché again but as long as she is happy, she can do what she wants, but as I said, she will probably be a lawyer!
What do all businesses need to know about storytelling?
Story is everything. Brene Brown captured it beautifully when she said “stories are data with soul” and the best way of communicating meaningfully in an organisation is through story. I can tell you a lot of facts that you will not remember, or I can tell you a story that will affect change and make you want to follow me as a leader.
Describe what you do in 26 words.
I am a storyteller, entrepreneur and a dream catcher. In essence, I am a sheep that thinks it is a lion; I encourage other people to roar.
What do you do for fun?
Play with my 5 year old and work.
What book is on your bedside table?
The big leap – Gay Hendrix (need some confidence for the next big leap. As I said, I am a sheep pretending to be a lion!!!)