Tell us more about how you decided to write on this genre.
When I figured out that writing was what I yearned to do, it was always on the top of my mind that my stories shouldn’t be quick and amusable read and forget pieces. I was determined that if I am ever given the platform, I will use it for the achievement of something great, something purposeful, something that would move people’s lives towards betterment – even if 1 person reads my book, feels inspired and encouraged to bring about a change in his life and outlook, I will consider myself successful.
How did you get the idea for your book – The Bridal Pyre – Nainam Dahati Pawakah?
It breaks my heart to admit that even in this day and age, despite all the reforms attempted by the government, the evil, the curse of dowry manages to breathe and prosper. And I won’t put all the blames on the groom’s family. I have friends – girls – educated and established, who encourage this practice. The other day I heard a colleague say, “Mere bhai ko milega, phir wo hi mere sasural mein jayega, to expectations to hoga hi na, itna padaya likhaya jo hai”. It’s such a shame, they are educated people, city dwellers. And more disgraceful is the fact that we openly renounce its existence. U.P, Bihar, Telengana, Karnataka – dowry is offered and demanded in every nook and corner of this country. And those who who indulge in this crime are not armed gangs of terrorists who can’t be combated, its people like you and myself. And yet, the government is failing to curb it down. This is what bothered me, kept me from sleep, and intrigued me to pen it down.
It addresses a social issue. Any real-life experiences you had before writing the book?
As you and I talk, somewhere some family is negotiating “Kitna cash mein dena hai, kitna sone mein”. And I have witnessed lives razed down into ashes because of it. I have seen the police and lawyers trying and extracting the best of what they could from such situations. I have seen voices being ignored, suppressed and killed. Not one, many. So, I took it on me to give a platform to these voices.
How long did it take for you to finish the book?
Which is your most favorite opening line of a book you read recently?
Not a recent read though, but my all-time favorite opening line would be “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Tell us what happened after you finished the manuscript and before you got a call from your publisher?
Struggle and a prolonged wait. But why do I even complain? Doesn’t it happen to any and every new writer?
Tell us what do you do for living?
I am in the field of human resources and I work for one of the biggest consultancy companies in the world. Due to compliance issues, I can’t name my organization in media. I respect that. My job gives me ample opportunities to meet new people, get a sneak-peek into their lives, every life is a new story, so I love my job, rather, my ‘day job’ too.
How do you keep a balance between the work and Writing?
Just the way a mother keeps up with two kids. I don’t pay more attention to one than the next. I have a huge proclivity toward writing, and I am also a very ambitious professional with my eye on the peak of the corporate structure. When you have a natural love for things, it becomes easier to give your best to them, in my case, both of them.
At what time of the day do you write? How often do you write?
There is no fixed schedule, I work by the call of impulse. If an idea hits me up in the middle of the night, I will switch on my lights and start working on it. I think one cannot put time windows on art, art needs to flow naturally. I write whenever a new idea presents itself to me. I don’t do it as a homework everyday – I will lose creativity and imagination if I do so.
Did you take any creative writing course before writing the book?
No, I didn’t.
Tell us about your favorite authors and books?
My favorites are Khaled Hosseini, Paulo Coelho, and Eric Segal, and I literally worship Jhumpa Lahiri. I hold all the four books penned by her so high in regard as though they are religious scriptures for me.
Which is the best feedback you’ve received from a reader?
A reader wrote to me, “I think I am Meera, though my parents named me XYZ (I don’t want to reveal her identity), how did you write the story of my life and struggle when we have never met once?” That’s it, just one line. Meera is the protagonist of my book. I pray to God that the reader comes out a winner in the battle of her life.
Are you writing your next book? When it is planned for release?
I am done writing it actually. My second baby is in the pipeline. If everything works out as planned, I hope to have it launched by late 2017.
What would be the genre of your next book? Will it also address some social issue?
My next one is a collection of 7 stories. There are stories of love, of relationships, of blood ties and ties of humanity, of friendship and ambition. Stories that display the relentless struggle of human beings with the twin arch nemesis – Time and Destiny, who also double as our only bosom friend at times of need and desperation. “Who needs a friend after all, when life alone plays the role immaculately?” That is the message conveyed by each and every story of the book.
Any plans to cross over and become a full-time writer?
No, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. As I said, I have equal love for my job and writing, I wouldn’t forgo any for the other.
Words of wisdom for our wannabe authors?
1) Be Original
2) Don’t get disheartened by refusal
3) Don’t believe them when they say you are not good enough, they just don’t get your art