Renata Pavrey

Today I’m thrilled that we’re joined by author Renata Pavrey. Not only does she write fiction but is also a poet, Nutritionist, Pilates teacher, Diabetes educator, Marathon runner, and Odissi dancer! Renata, welcome to The Write Start.

Q: Renata Pavrey, you’ve got a lot going on in your life, what else can you share about who you are for our readership?
A: Thanks for having me, Sara. I’m a nutritionist and Pilates teacher, but my interests range from sports to music, books and art, languages and gardening. I love reading and writing, and a lot of my work is influenced by my profession and hobbies. I recently had a Halloween-themed story selected by a Scottish publisher for a zine, which was based on nutrition science and fronted by animal characters. So that’s who I am – a little bit of many things, but passionate about everything I do and strive to do the best I can.

Q: Your debut solo release is the poetry collection Eunoia. What inspired you to put together this collection, and are there any themes that resonate across the work?
A: I have always loved writing poems, and using poetry to explore the limitations of prose. At the height of the lockdown last year, several educational institutes opened up virtual options of their usually on-campus courses. I am primarily from a science background (I have two degrees in Nutrition and Dietetics) and never had the chance to study literature formally. Eunoia was a culmination of learning and creating. With the pandemic looming large, I wanted to draw attention to the small things that bring us joy. The world was, and is, going through a lot. Eunoia strives to highlight what matters to us, however trivial those things might seem to others. The collection covers a range of themes across running, dance, reading, baking, connecting with friends, being taken for granted, coffee and tea. Interestingly, the feedback and reviews I’ve received so far have seen different poems resonating with different readers, who have even interpreted the same lines and verses differently.

Q: You’ve been published in over 15 anthologies to date. Which of your works are you most proud of so far?
A: For someone from a non-literature/journalism/creative writing background, I’m proud of all my works. I’m thankful to all my publishers for providing a platform to budding writers to present our work in the literary sphere. Some of the books I would like to highlight are Candy Capers from Raven and Drake Publishing, and Letters to My Younger Soul from EIV Publishing. Both books are charity anthologies – the former raising funds for the Brain Tumour Charity, and the latter donating all proceeds to organizations that work with at-risk adolescents and underprivileged women. Sisterhood from Wine Women & Wellbeing is close to my heart, because it’s the first piece I ever submitted (although it was published much later) and is about a friend who has always supported my writing. I also love Hallozine 2 from Coin-Operated Press, because it was the first zine that featured my work, and being a creative person, I’m thrilled to have my writing published alongside artwork and photography.

Q: Outside of writing you have a lot going on. The first thing I saw that stands out is that you are an Odissi dancer! For anyone not familiar with the style, what can you tell us about it?
A: Odissi is a form of Indian Classical dance, originating from the state of Odisha in the east of India. Historically the dance was performed in temples by women, and only male dancers could perform it outside. Now-a-days it is danced all over the country and even around the world, by both men and women. In my early days of learning the dance from Smt. Asha Nambiar in Mumbai, some of my fellow students were from Spain and Hong Kong. There are tailors who specialize in sewing the Odissi style costume from a traditional Odiya saree. The headgear and jewellery are also distinctive and sourced from Odisha. And the ghunghroos are blessed by the guru before we can wear them on stage. I have written poetry, essays and stories about the dance. Incidentally, many reviewers of my poetry collection Eunoia have loved the pieces on traditional dances and ghunghroos (ankle bells).

Q: As a marathon runner, keeping in shape is vital. I know that looks different for everyone, but what are the top 3 guidelines you feel are most important to keep up on?
A: 1) As a nutritionist, food comes first and foremost for me. It fuels your run and helps you recover for the next workout. Eat to be able to sustain a healthy life in mind and body.

2) Strength training is equally important in an endurance sport. Only running will not help a runner in the long run. Make fitness a part of your lifestyle.

3) Rest days are important. More doesn’t necessarily mean better. Ensure you recover well for the next workout to pursue the sport for a long time in the years ahead.

Q: You’ve written both poetry and prose. Do you have a preference between the two or one style that just feels to come more naturally for you?
A: Non-fiction comes more naturally to me. I love talking about books, animals, plants, current affairs. A lot of what I write is based on personal experiences, and these also make their way into my fiction. I use poetry where prose isn’t enough. There’s often power in saying more by saying less. Poetry also gives me a greater chance to work with wordplay, forms and devices, which I use as a creative outlet. I have also found poetry a great tool to explore different languages. I am currently pursuing a German language poetry course, and it’s fun, creative and educational.

Q: Where were you born (and/or are you from) and how has that affected your work?
A: I was born in India, where I reside. Several elements of my life in the country make it to my work. A poem I composed about running the Ooty Heritage Run in South India was selected for a travel anthology from Sweetycat Press. And a story I wrote about Muhnochwa from North India was published in a collection on urban legends from Crow’s Feet Journal. I’m observant and curious and a lot of what I write is from things I notice around me.

Q: I’ve seen that a lot of your writing has been in horror, is that your preferred medium? Are there any other genres that you enjoy writing in?
A: I love horror as a genre. The Goosebumps and Fear Street series occupy my earliest childhood memories of reading, followed by works of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King. Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite writers – I love the dark humor of her essays, short stories and novels. I think horror writing serves as a medium to face our fears. The spookiest places in the world are no match for the darkest recesses of the human mind. I also enjoy writing literary fiction, satire, crime stories, fantasy fiction, and I’ve recently ventured into writing for children’s books. I wouldn’t call myself a genre writer since I don’t set about to write in a particular genre. My ideas decide what turn they want to take while writing.

Q: If someone asks for a recommendation for a book to read, what is your top response(s)?
A: If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. I love all his works, and this one’s a particular favorite. The reader is a character in the book, and it has a narrative like no other. Ranaangan by Vishram Bedekar is another one I love recommending. Originally written in Marathi, the English translation by Jerry Pinto is titled Battlefiled – it’s set entirely on a ship, and is one of the few WWII novels written from a non-European perspective. Shirley Jackson’s non-fiction books are absolutely stellar. Although she gained fame from her fiction, her essays and dark humor can’t be missed.

Q: Thanks again, do you have any teases of what you’re working on next that you could hint at?
A: I started working on a non-fiction book as part of NaNoWriMo this year, but then I had computer problems and had to write by hand. So, I switched over to a new goal of a poem a day for the month of November. I now have a nice bilingual collection of English and German poems. I’m also working on a few submission calls for some publishers. Working full time in a completely different field means I have limited hours for creative writing, so my projects do take a long time to finish.

Finally, if there is anything else you would love to share with our readers, please do so here!

Thanks for having me here, Sara. It has been wonderful sharing with readers. I would love for readers to pick up my debut poetry collection Eunoia, and hope that it helps you find your own eunoia. I’m particularly proud of this book because it was a long time in production, and I’m thrilled to see it out and reaching readers.