with Neel Trivedi:
Q1: When did you start writing and first ifnluences?
Neel: I started writing from a very early age when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Because I was born with severe asthma and other medical complications, I wasn’t able to play football or freeze tag with other kids in the neighborhood. To compensate, I would play by myself with my toys and make up back stories for my action figures. That’s how the basic creative spark in me was born.
My earliest influences were children’s authors Louis Sachar and R.L. Stine. When I look at some of the short stories I write in my adolescent years, I can see their influences all over my writing.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Neel: Being involved in the online writing community for the past 3 or 4 years ago has introduced to all kinds of independent writers, some of whom I’ve even had the privilege of becoming friends with. Strangely enough, at this point, they remain my biggest influence rather than a mainstream author. It would be impossible to list them all but names that immediately come to mind are are Neil Clark, Jana Jenkins, Negeen Papehn and DeRicki Johnson.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Neel: I was born in Stamford Connecticut and lived there till I was 8. After my family moved to Texas, where I’ve been ever since. I can’t say the locations themselves ever really influenced me. But my circumstances definitely did in a big way because as I stated earlier, when other kids were involved in physical activities, I would sit and read or write something. Those moments gave me lots of time to hone and sharpen my imagination that later proved to be highly advantageous in my writing.
I can’t say travel has influenced me in any major way. There is one period of my life, however, that stands out. In 2001, right after high school, I took a 6 month trip to India to visit my family over there. I was staying with my grandmother and I discovered many old books of my grandfather’s, who had passed away years ago. That was when I discovered a whole bunch of Indian authors like Bharati Mukherjee and British authors like James Hadley Chase who’s works weren’t so easily available in America back then. I also discovered these really old anthologies of works compiled from the Alfred Hitchcock Magazine from the 1950s and 60s. That also was a huge influence in my writing afterwards.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Neel: I think there are a couple of pieces that stand out. One is a short story called RX: Ear-Twist. That particular story stands out for 2 reasons. Firstly, it was the first time I wrote fiction with Indian characters, which despite being Indian, I had never done before. And secondly, that story was rejected by 5 magazines but eventually appeared both in a digital publication as well as a print anthology. It taught me never to give up in work I believe in.
The second story that gave me a lot was a story called Blueberry Waffles & A Side of Poignancy. It was published in Elephants Never magazine and earned me a Pushcart nomination in 2020 which, until then, I never thought I’d ever be capable of. It was also the first time I took a real life incident, the passing of my dad, and weaved a fictional tale around it. https://elephantsnever.com/blueberry-waffles-a-side-of-poignancy/
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Neel: While I started writing at a very young age, I only started taking it seriously in my early 20s. So perhaps it was around that age.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Neel: I love watching movies and TV shows. No particular genre, just anything that stands to me personally. Another activity I love is taking long walks while listening to music or podcasts. I love doing that because it’s my time alone, which I always cherish.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Neel: I just recently started co-hosting a podcast called the Daily Wisdom Words Podcast which can be found on YouTube. I’ve done 3 episodes so far and it’s been a blast. Link: https://youtube.com/channel/UCD0W0UduUYQgauLwmTxQlCQ
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Neel: There’s a poem I once wrote called “The Invisible Aura” which talks about what my depression is like. A couple of stanzas from that poem are:
This is my universe where:
Depression is not a mere mood swing
It’s an actual chemical imbalance
My facial expressions are not always
Gateways to the feelings of my heart
Sometimes they are merely decor
Obviously this is subjective because I’m the writer but even objectively, many who have read the poem told me that those stanzas very effectively sum up a major aspect of any mental illness.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Neel: This might sound like a cliché but all the publications that showcased my work because they gave me the confidence to keep writing. Just some of them are Fevers Of the Mind, Elephants Never, Mojave Heart Review, Dodging The Rain and most recently The Bitchin K in which I have a poem coming up sometime next month.