Interview with C. Phillip, author of The Last Nautch Girl


Day 21 of #WritingCommunityChallenge (August Instagram Challenge) - Interview your writing buddy!

The Last Nautch Girl by C. Phillip, visit her website here. She is currently offering the first 5 chapters for free!


It is sometimes hard for writers to end a story. How did you come up with such a great ending? 

The story ending of The Last Nautch Girl was very very tough for me. I rewrote it multiple times until I was satisfied. I watched a lot of films based on the Indian freedom struggle. I did a lot of research online & offline regarding fight scenes and story endings. Finally, I focused on two things. First, the secret area of the Gold House must be a part of the ending. Second, all characters & story lines must converge & interact with each other. That’s when everything fell into place. 

I am having a hard time with my timeline. Do you have any tips or recommendations?

I use an excel sheet with a scene-wise bullet list of the timelines in the entire book so that I don’t lose track of it. Another thing that works for me is to centre the story around a major event or festival. For example, The Last Nautch Girl is centred around the Maha Ashtami Puja Festival that is celebrated in India every year around the months of September & October. 

There is much talk about how to name chapters. Do you use the chapter titles as part of your plotting process?

Yes, I am a major title freak. I like to title every chapter and subchapter in the plot outline itself. These titles change multiple times during the editing process. Having a title helps me to remember the essence of that particular chapter in connection to the whole storyline. In my other books, I am planning to delete the titles in the final drafts. It probably does not serve any purpose to the readers. 

Were there any persons that inspired your characters? Historical or otherwise?

A lot of my inspiration for the personality of Mrinalini came from one of my favourite Bengali novels, Devi Chaudhurani. Indian history is full of stories of such strong women who, with a little help, can combine traditional values and common sense to break out of the molds of autocracy. Also, some of my favourite books like Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Persuasion, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, etc., have very strong women protagonists.

How do you like to read? Audiobooks, paper, hardback, or e-reader?

E-reader mostly. But I do like to collect a paperback or hardback copy of my favourite books, just for the novelty of it. 

Do you have any advice for new writers on overcoming writer's block? 

I read about one great piece of advice from skye this month on overcoming writer’s block. She uses a playlist to inspire her thoughts. I will be using this in future. Personally, I find writer’s block really hard. I struggle with it like every writer does. I have scrapped full chapters and rewritten them in an effort to motivate myself. I have put my manuscript on hold & forced myself to write other projects or just a diary entry. I have skipped a few chapters & written the ones that I felt more connected to (this is where my plot outline comes in handy). Once I even bounced my idea off a friend, hoping for inspiration. She was very kind but I didn’t use her inputs in the end. In short, I am hopeless with writer’s block & I can only say one thing to new writers - Be kind to yourself. It’s ok. Everyone goes through it. Give yourself time to bounce back. Because, yes, YOU WILL bounce back.



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