BENGALURU: Ask Preeti Shenoy how long she has been in Bengaluru, and you will likely have to wait a few seconds before she answers. “It has been eight years now,” she says, adding, “Bengaluru is definitely home to me.” Growing up, Shenoy was on the move a lot due to her father’s transferable job, a pattern that continued post marriage as well. “When it was time to come back to India after living in the United Kingdom, I had the choice of choosing any city, but Bengaluru has a vibe that Mumbai and Delhi can’t compare to,” says the writer known for her books like The Rule Breakers, Life Is What You Make It, and Wake Up, Life Is Calling.
Upon moving back, Shenoy was certain she wanted her children, a son and a daughter, to continue with the syllabus they had in UK – a wish that Bengaluru’s international schools fulfilled. “The housing situation is much better too here. I don’t see myself being anywhere else in the foreseeable future,” she adds.
Such is her love for Bengaluru that the city even finds prominence in her book, It’s All in the Planets, which was set here and features popular localities like Koramangala, Sarjapur and HSR. “The mental hospital mentioned in Life Is What You Make It, and Wake Up, Life Is Calling is also based on NIMHANS,” adds the 47-year-old author.
Shenoy’s own schooling, across various Kendriya Vidyalayas in the country, also included a brief spell in Bengaluru. But besides moving around a lot, writing came up to be the other constant in her life. “I have been writing long before people started reading my work. It’s only in the last few years that success, fame, popularity and featuring on bestseller charts happened to me,” she says.
In 2012, Shenoy blogged about experiencing a ‘writer’s high’– a phenomenon quite similar to the runner’s high. Seven years on, the feeling still holds true, with her highest number of words clocked in a day reaching 9,000. “But I don’t set a daily target for myself. Some days I write 1,000 words, other days it could be less or more. About 90 per cent of writing is actually thinking,” she explains, adding that she prefers the solitude and silence of her home while she’s working on a book. And she has the best writing companion by her side. “My dog Laustris – named after an Egyptian queen from a book by Wilbur Smith – is like my armrest when I sit down to write,” she says with a smile.
When she’s not writing, Shenoy dons the hat of an urban farmer, and even grows her own spinach, fenugreek, snake gourd, chillis, rocket leaves and more at her house in Whitefield. “I have a zero-waste household where everything gets composted,” she says.
While days are reserved for writing and gardening, her nights have her turning to old-school ways to fall asleep: “I read till the lines blur. Currently it’s a book called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,” she says, adding that she is a frequent visitor at Blossom Book House and Higginbothams. “Every time I go to a bookstore, I try to buy books worth `1,000 or `2,000,” she says. “It’s my way of ensuring bookstores don’t shutdown.”