Hello Rasana, first can you tell us something about your childhood, growing up years and family.
My mother died when I was eleven. That was the first defining moment in my life.
After my my B. Tech. I wanted to go to the US for my Masters. At that time I wasn’t still sure if the assistantship from the university would come through. So my father, an officer in the Indian Army, mortgaged his house for me and gave me the money. When I protested, he said that I could pay off the mortgage when I got a job. His complete faith in me was the second defining moment in my life.
The third was when I met my husband-to-be (arranged marriage) and told him that the first thing I needed to when I got a job was to clear the bank loan on my father’s house. He had no issues with that. There was no dowry offered by us, none was asked for by my in-laws or husband (though I did inherit my father’s property).
A few months after we got married, I got a job in the Silicon Valley and paid off my father’s mortgage soon after.
How and when did you start writing?
When we returned to India with our two young children, I decided to quit my job and write full time. I started freelancing for The Times of India. That was an interesting period when I’d take my infant daughter with me to my interviews. Three years or so into this someone in my writing group posted a fiction writing challenge. I accepted and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is that one thing you love about being an author?
The ability to bring my feelings to life on paper. I feel very strongly about women’s issues. Fiction gives me the chance to write stories around them. My stories can be serious but often have elements of comedy.
I also love that when you write something that you’re really happy with, and that something also strikes a chord with your readers, there isn’t quite anything like that ‘high’.
Can you tell us something about your books?
I have written three books:
Tell A Thousand Lies
The Temple Is Not My Father
28 Years A Bachelor
Tell A Thousand Lies was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor-Jones South Asia prize. This novel addresses how considerations like marriage and honour always triumph over a woman’s dreams. It also deals superstition and the Fair N Lovely type of (skin-colour based) racism that is so woven into the fabric of India. A very common form of greeting in India seems to be, “Oh no! You’re become so dark!” Skin colour seems to take precedence over goodness, kindness and most other human values.
‘The Temple Is Not My Father’ is about the scourge of devdasis, the temple prostitutes.
’28 Years A Bachelor’ is more comedic, but it also deals with issues like widowhood and child marriage.
How does it feel like being a part of Tornado Giveaway?
This giveaway, and the effort that has gone into it, is phenomenal. My deepest gratitude to everyone associated with this amazing giveaway.
What do you think is the future of reading and writing in India?
With more and more bookstores closing down, and a large section of the reading populace not online, I’m not sure which way things will go. Though we will never stop reading, decreased access to print books, and distraction from electronic and social media might mean not as many people will be reading.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
Music – classical or Bollywood/Tollywood. And cooking. The once-in-while-fancy-dishes kind. Not the have-to-cook-or-the-kids-will-starve kind! 🙂
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
My writing life took off on a rather unexpected trajectory after the manuscript of my first novel, Tell A Thousand Lies was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize. I declined a traditional publishing contract and self-published. After that I wrote about it in an article for The Hindu. I started getting requests for interviews because self-publishing was still such a novelty in India. Meanwhile sales of my novel picked up in the US and the UK. Despite being self-published, UK’s Glam magazine, out of the blue, reviewed Tell A Thousand Lies, calling it one of their five favourite novels from India.
Amazon took notice. When they set up operations in India they flew me to New Delhi for the launch. I was also invited to the 2013 Jaipur Literary Festival, then the 2013 Hyderabad Literary Festival. Other such invites followed.
My advice to aspiring writers:
Believe in yourself. If I’d listened to my friends I would not have declined the traditional publishing contract. And I would not be where I am today.
#TornadoGiveaway is an initiative of The Book Club.
FB Page of THE BOOK CLUB: https://www.facebook.com/TheBookClubBlogTours?fref=ts
Please follow the link for TELL A THOUSAND LIES :
Please follow the link for 28 years a Bachelor:
Please follow the link for The TEMPLE IS NOT MY FATHER:
Interview Co-ordinated for IWI: Rhiti Bose