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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Aug 24, 2023

Mark interviews Reenita Malhotra Hora, an award-winning screenwriter, novelist and audio producer.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a brief personal update and a word about this episode's sponsor.

Learn more about SciFidea and the awesome Dyson Sphere Sci-Fi Writing Contest.


In the interview, Mark and Reenita talk about:

  • How Reenita has been writing her entire life and her love of storytelling in varous forms
  • The manner in which life can be more fun when we are creating and when we don't always take life so seriously
  • Focusing for a long time on how she could help her clients get THEIR stories out there
  • The decision, in mid-pandemic, to begin to take her writing career in her own hands and developing her own IP
  • The release of her book OPERATION MOM, which was released by Harper Collins India initially in 2011
  • Buying the rights back for the book in the rest of the world (ie, outside India), as well as for the subsidiary rights for film, TV, etc
  • The publisher's belief that the Western world isn't at all interested in reading a book set in Mumbai
  • Reenita's own screenplay adaptation of the novel (written in the last year) which she decided to set in Hoboken, New Jersey
  • How the story and the comedy in the screenplay remains the same but how the specific details and specific jokes have been modified and adjusted for the different market
  • Just how much Reenita has been learning about publishing in the past few years
  • The way that working with a smaller, boutique publisher can be a good experience, but how an author self-publishing it can potentially work a bit better because of the control they have
  • Winning the Santa Barbara International Screenplay Award and being a finalist for the New York International Screenplay Award
  • The unique approach Reenita took with her newer book Shadow Realms and the multiple formats she has created it in
  • The importance of understanding the business of storytelling
  • The two active podcasts Reenita has created, including the True Fiction Project, which explores the journey of story from non-fiction to fiction
  • The different opportunities for various sponsorships in these two different podcasts
  • Diversity being so important, but the fact that it has become such a recent "buzzword"
  • The interesting compromise of the diversity of a community like Hoboken (which has shades of similarity to Mumbai and offers a window into the Indian-American community)
  • How it can be fun to play with stereotypes and tropes and to turn them around
  • Reenita's passion about bringing the experience of South-Asians to an American audience
  • Describing her experiences as being akin to a street-food in Mumbai
  • And more...

After the interview Mark reflects on a few things from the conversation, including the narrow way many New York publishers look at setting in a novel, which hasn't changed all that much since the early 1990s, and the dynamic way Reenita has explored storytelling in creative ways, while patiently learning more about the industry.

Links of Interest:


Reenita Malhotra Hora is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist and audio producer. Based partly in San Francisco and partly in Los Angeles, her experiences are akin to 'Bhel Puri,' the street food of Mumbai, her native place — a delectable mix of tastes (and preferences), meshed together with a bug or two for good measure. Passionate about storytelling the Indian narrative, Reenita writes characters and themes that reflect the South Asian experience whether set in South Asia or in the Western world.

As a writer she has contributed to Reuters, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, Times of India, Rolling Stone, National Geographic Kids, Cartoon Network Asia, Disney and more. As an on-air news reporter, writer, and producer, she has contributed to Bloomberg, RTHK Radio 3, Monocle Radio and the BBC. She has two active podcasts - 'Shadow Realm' (narrative fantasy fiction) and the 'True Fiction Project' (unscripted to scripted).

Her female-driven comedy, 'Operation Mom' is a Santa Barbara Screenplay Awards winner, a Chanticleer International Book Awards GrandPrize winner and an Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize winner. Her YA fantasy screenplay, ‘Shadow Realm’ is a Script2Comic and Launchpad Prose finalist, a Screencraft quarterfinalist, and a selected nominee for the New Media Film Festival.

She is a limited partner in the How Women Invest fund which specifically invests in women owned companies. She is working on her next novel and has recently launched Chapter by episode, a digital publishing platform for immersive chat fiction stories with diverse themes.



The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0