She is a pretty well-known name when it comes to Indian authors of the present age. Having books like Kite Strings, My Brother's Wedding, Blinkers Off and the very new More Than Just Biryani in her kitty, Andaleeb Wajid has ventured into a new genre. Her book No Time For Goodbyes, first of the The Tamanna Trilogy releases today. I read it recently and found it unputdownable, though I am very much an adult. In conversation with author Andaleeb Wajid on her new release:
Congratulations on venturing into a new genre altogether, that too for Young Adults, the age group which is probably the most difficult to please. How, and why?
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing for Young Adults. The reason I chose it is because I'm constantly looking for things that excite me as a writer and this really appealed. I've always felt very connected to the younger generation (although they may not consider it that way) but in my head I'm always seventeen. So that helps!
Having made your mark as an author for grownups, was this a challenge to first convince your mind and then to write a book for YAs?
Not at all. I enjoy reading Young Adult fiction too. Most writers want to write what they like reading and so this was no different.
How high was the anxiety? As much as your very first book, or somewhat better?
Anxiety about writing the book was pretty high because this was the first time I was attempting a trilogy. I already knew I wanted to write three books and I had to figure out how the story would move forward across all three, while still sustaining interest for the reader.
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?
Getting published was a very difficult process for my first book Kite Strings. I started looking for publishers in 2006 and finally found someone willing to publish my book in 2009. Even then, things never really took off the way a writer dreams and I realised that I had to stop waiting for them to happen and just go on writing. Shortly thereafter I published three more books with varying levels of success and now I'm here with No Time For Goodbyes which is the first book of The Tamanna Trilogy.
Please tell our readers a bit about No Time For Goodbyes.
No Time for Goodbyes is a story about Tamanna, a young girl who time travels to the past, when her mother is a teenager. All this happens accidentally with the help of a polaroid photograph that she finds at home. Now she's stuck in the past and she wants to get back to her time but she doesn't know how. It doesn't help that she falls in love with a charming and sweet chap, Manoj, who is her mother's neighbour in the 80s.
Any brickbats which really hurt, yet?
Not really. Been lucky that way so far! Not that I haven't received any negative reviews but I try not to obsess over them (I'm lying!). Anyhow, the best thing is to just move on because every reader is entitled to their own opinion.
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.
I've been writing from the time I was 10 years old. Never really decided about being a published author. I have written plenty of short stories for children for a children's supplement and a book seemed the next natural thing to do. The plot of my first book was pretty haywire in my head but seemed to come together once I started writing it down.
Is it difficult to write with a full time mother? How did you divide time between writing and everything else?
I treat writing like a full-time job. I work very hard at it. The mothering part is a bit easier because my kids are quite grown up now and when they head to school, my time is entirely my own. The rest just falls in place thanks to a very supportive family.
What next? Another new genre maybe?
The second book of The Tamanna Trilogy will be published in a few months. It's called Back in Time. As for taking up a new genre, I still want to do YA but with a fantasy theme. Let's see!
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
I read a lot of stuff, whatever comes my way. Romance, Young Adult, Crime Fiction and Literary Fiction at times as well. Favourite writers would be – Marian Keyes, J. K Rowling, Martha Grimes, Agatha Christie, Jhumpa Lahiri, P.D James, Joanna Harris to name a few.
People pass snide remarks saying anyone can be an author now. Does this perception affect writers in any way?
I'm not sure about others but the way I function as a writer is to put myself in a bubble. Maybe it annoys me, but I try not to let it affect me as a writer. I just do what I do best. Write on.
Any to-dos for wannabe authors?
A disturbing trend I've seen happening these days is that there are lots of people who want to write, but no one really wants to read. Believe me, one cannot exist without the other. At least not in a way that will satisfy your creative urges. In order to be a good writer, you have to be a reader too. It's one of the most important tools of the trade. So read as much as you can. The writing will come if it's meant to come.