She is the author of the first Indian Harlequin paperback I read and I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Someone with years of experience in writing, how was it getting published for Adite Banerjie? We find out:
Congratulations on such a huge success of the book! Frankly, I was surprised at how much I was enjoying reading it, right from pages 3-4. How did you manage this!?
Thank you, Samarpita. It’s an honour to be hosted on the blog of one of the most prolific reviewers. Please tell me your secret to reading and reviewing so many books! I am so glad you liked my book. I enjoyed writing the story and I guess that translated into an enjoyable read.
Did you frame the characters based on your friends and yourself, or built them on a fresh mould?
I wouldn’t say that the characters were based on any one I knew. But many of the things that I have included in the writing of the story are snatches of my own experience. For instance, Krish is a management consultant and having been a business journalist I had some idea of how they work and that became a part of Krish’s character. Having lived in Delhi for a long time, I was also able to easily recreate the ethos of the city in a small way in my book. So, while the characters were completely fictional, some of the story elements were based on my experience.
I would like to confess, I was VERY skeptical about how your book would actually be. M&B with Indian characters, I wasn't very sure. Was it just me, or you had more such reactions to the idea of your book, before people read it?
I know exactly what you mean. Having been an avid M&B reader myself, when I first found out that Harlequin India had started publishing Indian authors I too was skeptical on whether we Indians could pull off the kind of escapist romances that M&Bs are so well known for. However, once I got down to writing my book, it occurred to me that M&Bs are the book equivalent of the Bollywood romance. Larger than life, escapist and with its own set of “masala” tropes!
Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?
Oh yes, getting published is no cakewalk and I hadn’t even attempted it for fear that my manuscript would be rejected. Actually, it all started when I entered the Harlequin M&B Aspiring Author Auditions (2012). I had to write a short story of about 2000 words. What grabbed me about this contest was that winners were offered the opportunity of developing a full manuscript under the guidance of their editors.
You are not a novice to writing. Did that help in getting published?
Well, I have been writing for a long while. But perhaps what worked for me was that I have also been learning the craft of story-telling for a few years now.
Any brickbats which really hurt, yet?
Surprisingly, most of my readers have had only nice things to say about the book. And I haven’t had anyone trashing the book, yet! Beginner’s luck, I suppose.
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.
No, I never planned to be a published author. I was more into screenwriting (and still am) and I had originally thought of this idea as a movie script. However, when the contest happened, I decided to create a short story and the rest just followed.
Why M&B? Not that I mind, I would want you to write more M&Bs to tell you the truth, but I am curious about why you chose to write for them. Did they select your story or did you write for them and send in your story?
Actually, why not an M&B? They are the biggest publishers of romance worldwide and I don’t think that any aspiring author, who wants to write romance, could get a better platform than that. But as I have already said, it was a contest, and my short story was selected as one of the winning entries and I then had to develop the book based on that short story.
What next? New genre; or you would want to stick to romance?
I have a two-book contract with Harlequin. So, the next book is also a romance but this time it has elements of a romantic-comedy. After that I might try out my hand at romantic suspense/thriller.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
I read across all genres and my favourite authors are Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Philippa Gregory, William Dalrymple, Khaled Hosseini, Salman Rushdie and many many more.
People pass snide remarks saying anyone can be a reader now. True to an extent, because there is a lot of average and below average reading material out there, but one cannot deny that there are some really talented writers. Does this perception affect writers in any way?
True, there will always be good, bad and indifferent books in the market. As a writer, I strive to write something that people will enjoy reading but ultimately it depends on the reader, whether he/she likes it or not, right?
Is it as easy to be a writer as it seems, with publishing houses mushrooming and more titles on the racks than eyes to read them?
Publishing in India is still at a very nascent stage. So I guess publishers are experimenting with different genres and writers and trying to figure out as they go along what works best for readers in India. That accounts for the large number of titles. But even so, getting published is not easy. And writers have to keep improving their craft to continue to be published and read. Ultimately, it’s the reader who calls the shots.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?
If you are writing in any particular genre, read a lot in that genre, especially the best-selling authors in that category. So that when you write you know what works, what doesn’t. That doesn’t mean you “copy” them…but just be aware of the requirements of that genre and create your own story and tell it in as creative a manner as you can.