Inspiring Woman Leader Spotlight: Author Shiwani Neupane

Author Shiwani Neupane talks about her passion for books and writing as her latest novel “Crossing Shadows” comes on the market.

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Shiwani Neupane at the release of her book, “Crossing Shadows,” on December 23, 2015. (Photo: The Himalayan Times)

From a young age, Shiwani Neupane knew that there was something special about books. “There was a library in Kupondole that my mom used to take me to [when I was younger], and there were all these books that I loved reading. I loved spending time with books,” she recalled in a recent interview with Women LEAD. “I used to think, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I create something?”

Shiwani followed this passion, studying journalism in the United States and later returning to Nepal to work as a freelance writer. Today, she is paving the way for female writers in Nepal as the author of two books: “Monica: Pieces of Perfect” and “Crossing Shadows,” released at the end of 2015.

The book launch of “Crossing Shadows”  included some of Nepal’s most eminent women, such as Anuradha Koirala, Arzu Rana Deuba, Menuka Thapa, Sunita Danuwar and Sapana Pradhan Malla. The book has also been met with praise from social activist and Founder and Director of Maiti Nepal, Anuradha Koirala, who commended the book for its ability to “[give] detailed information about corruption and also [narrate] stories of people from different strata of life.”

Women LEAD sat down with Shiwani and asked her new book. Below is a transcript of our interview with her.

1. Please tell us about your new book.

There are about half a dozen characters in my new book and all of them have their own story about how the civil war in Nepal impacted them and what the outcome was. There is a crime that occurs that joins all the characters together and connects them to one another. This is a multi-layered book, I would like to say. One message that I would like people to get from my book is kindness: people change depending on how they are treated. I hope people will understand that they should be kind to one another through this book.

2. What inspired you to be a writer?

There was a library in Kupondole that my mom used to take me to [when I was younger] and there were all these books that I loved reading. I loved spending time with books. I loved literature, and that is when I felt maybe I can do something like this too. When I was in the 5th grade, I had a line of books in my room and I felt it was something I was meant to do. I used to think, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I create something?” Soon, I felt it was time to stop reading and start writing and giving other people something to read instead.

3. Do you have any memorable experience as a writer?

I didn’t give my first book much. It was a simple one I wrote, but when I was re-reading it and telling myself “I did this,” it was the most amazing feeling. Accomplishing what you have worked for, in which you have spend your time and effort on, and seeing it being completed in front of you feels great.

4. What do you think about the new generation of young writers?

We have plenty of new writers this year [in Nepal] and while I haven’t had a chance to read all their books, I have heard that all of them are incredible. It is very exciting to see so much potential and talent in young writers who have more ideas and are more creative. That’s exactly how new things generate.

5. In your opinion, what role does art play to create a societal change?

Art helps others know about society. It connects movies to books to literature and [that] is a really deep subject to look upon. It helps to give direction to our society. I think writing is very powerful. It give us hope, and that is how we can create something new.

6. One woman who has impacted your life?

I would say that is my mom. My mom has always been a role model for me. She is always happy and knows how to handle situations. She is very optimistic; if one thing doesn’t work out; something else would. She has lots of positivity and continuously reinforces me to do better.

7. What do you think is the status of women in Nepal?

While I’m not too sure about [areas] outside of Nepal, I think things are at least changing in Kathmandu. [In Kathmandu] I think there is an awareness about women’s rights and more women are appreciated now than before. But on the other side, we still have a long way away in completely changing patriarchal issues. A woman has to think about her marriage before her career and she has to think about others’ needs and opinions before her own. She has to keep other people than herself at the top of her priority list.

8. What will be your message to young girls pursuing journalism or any other subjects related to writing?

It is a very difficult field, [and] it only works if you have a real passion for it. If you don’t love what you do, then money is hard to come by. We should love what we do and keep that on the top of our priority list [when looking for a job]. Passion is what drives your work ahead.

9. What is your next step for your writing career?

I also do business aside from writing. I will be working on another book soon, which will be a teenage fiction novel. I already have a rough draft and have a schedule for it. I will continue writing books, but I will also be giving continuity to my business.

“Crossing Shadows” is now available in bookstores in Nepal or using WeRead.


 

Stephanie Arzate is the Research and Communications Fellow at Women LEAD. You can reach her at stephaniea@women-lead.org.

 

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