‘Absolutely surreal’: 29-year-old Durban author books her place among publishing giants

Founder of Krest Publishers, Keli Hariparsad.

Founder of Krest Publishers, Keli Hariparsad.

  • In 2020, Keli Hariparsad had given up the security of a career in medicine to pursue her lifetime dream of becoming a published author.
  • Two years later, her publisher, Krest Publishers, is nominated for Best Publisher at the Book Behind Awards, along with publishing giants.
  • Looking ahead, Hariparsad sees Krest Publishers as a platform for creative products and services including photography, fine arts, performing arts and multimedia.

Leaving the security of the medical profession to pursue your lifelong dream of working in the world of literature is a step that requires incredible courage. The 29-year-old author and book publisher Keli Hariparsad not only took this step, but also benefited from it.

Since leaving a stressful medical job to pursue her dream in 2020, her publishing company, Krest Publishers, has published several books by South African authors, telling stories that illustrate the country’s vibrant cultures and unique history.

Not only that, she’s making waves as a writer herself.

Making the bold decision to quit medicine and write books at the start of a global pandemic would fill even the bravest heart with trepidation, but Hariparsad was rewarded for her bravery by watching her publishing company grow from strength to strength in just under two years.

Krest Publishers has already caused quite a stir in the literary business as it has been nominated, along with heavyweights Johnathan Ball, NB Publishers and Penguin Random House, for this year’s Book Behind Awards, scheduled for next month.

“It feels absolutely surreal for a company of our age to be placed alongside industry giants. I grew up reading all my favorite books from these publishers. It’s an amazing moment for a young company that was operating from home less than two years ago!” said Hariparsad.

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Krest Publishers received nominations in the Best Fiction categories for a teenage fantasy called Teneo Named by Novian Dunne and Best Educational Book for a book on the conditions of healthcare workers doctor scared by ZMF Patel.

Krest Publishers is also nominated for Best Biography in the categories Cabin crew diariesa book about the adventures of S. Bharuth, a stewardess with one of the most prestigious airlines in the world, and Best Poetry for stepping stones by Vishnu Kristna.

“I spend a lot of time making sure our house books come out beautifully, and I don’t have much time to focus on my own work. Hence, it was such unexpected and exciting news that I was nominated in the Best Emerging Female Author category for my book The Four Hundred Clubalso published by Krest,” said Hariparsad.

While Hariparsad has always had a flair for writing, she didn’t always believe she could one day do it for a living. She completed her medical degree in 2017 and worked in two hospitals in Durban until the end of 2019.

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krest authors

Left to right: Krest Author Liam Nisbet, Krest CEO Keli Hariparsad, Vishnu Kristna, Best Poetry Nominee, Sarvdasha Sewlal, 2021 Best Poetry Winner, and Published Poet Mervin Francis.

Her decision to give up a career in medicine came as conditions for medical staff deteriorated and her passion for words remained a constant presence even in her adult life. She then quit her job as a doctor and eventually founded Krest Publishers.

“At that point, I hadn’t even envisioned it becoming a full-fledged company, but rather something small and local. I just wanted to prove that creative careers are just as important and viable as academic careers,” she said.

She said while awaiting her own book The Four Hundred Clubbeing the first book Krest would publish was it secrets and lies by Paul Zunckel and Yellow Roses by Sarvdasha Sewlal, which brought in Krest as a publishing company.

These two books were nominated in the Best Fiction and Best Poetry categories at the Book Behind Awards 2021 Yellow Roses win in its category. She said this process taught her that creativity needs to be coupled with some business and marketing skills to turn it into a sustainable career.

Hariparsad said Krest Publishers offers publishing agreements under either traditional, self-publishing or hybrid publishing. Krest Publishers helps with standard tasks such as editing, ISBN application, layout and cover design.

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Krest also provides assistance with marketing and sales of books, which Hariparsad says is the challenging part of book publishing that each author must take personal responsibility for, especially in the digital age, which has greatly expanded reader choices.

“We’ve since launched the Krest online bookstore, which also sells for other independent publishers. We have a Krest Conservatory, which offers informal writing classes, and Krest Cars magazine, a luxury coffee table publication for high-performance car owners,” she said.

Hariparsad regards South Africa as “an incredible source of inspiration”. She said this motivated Krest Publishers to hold an annual short story contest to showcase stories that incorporate multicultural characters, local landmarks, tourist destinations and languages.

“I particularly like that the stories from our country reflect both a past from which we can learn and an optimistic view of a progressive future. For example, we have struggle stories that humble us, freedom stories that inspire us, and we also gave birth to free stories to show us an inclusive future that we are moving towards,” Hariparsad said.

Going forward, Hariparsad sees Krest Publishers as a platform for all types of creative products and services, including photography, fine arts, performing arts and multimedia, giving experienced creators in these media the opportunity to have fulfilling and sustainable careers.

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