Madhuri Banerjee and I first connected on twitter and met at a panel discussion at the Wassap Andheri in 2012. She’s one of those wonderful people who immediately light up a room when they enter, lovely, articulate and very warm. She’s also the best selling author of five books. Her latest, released in March 2015 is called My Clingy Girlfriend and is written from the point of view of the male protagonist, I have a signed copy by my bedside I’ve been reserving to read once the dratted final exams (the offspring’s, not mine) get done with and I am sure, as with all her other books, this one will be as enjoyable.
Here’s a bit about Madhuri.
Her debut novel Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas sold over 40,000 copies.
She followed it with a sequel called Mistakes Like Love And Sex. She also has a romantic college story in Advantage Love. And her last release Scandalous Housewives is the first installment in the sizzling new series that explores the psyche of unsung housewives in urban India who want more from life and will go to any lengths to realize their deepest, darkest desires.
She has also worked with actress Karishma Kapoor on a non-fiction book called The Yummy Mummy Guide. She has two more books releasing this year and is currently working on television shows and a new film script.
She is also the writer of the successful Bollywood film, Hate Story 2.
Here is a short Q&A with Madhuri about writing
What are your earliest memories of ‘writing’ something? How did you know you were meant to be a writer? I started writing diaries as early as eight or nine years old. I used to write about the places my family travelled and what I felt on a daily basis. And soon enough it went from “Angry at Ani (my brother) for dropping my book into the water” to something more meaningful and introspective. So it was a calling that I didn’t recognise for a long time because I just thought it was a hobby.
What kind of a writer are you? Do you plot assiduously, or do you let the story flow organically?
I have an idea and then write out the main character’s traits. After that I let the story and plot flow organically.
What is your writing routine like? Any rituals, habits, quirks?
I wish I was more disciplined but I’m not. If there is a luncheon to attend with my girlfriends, I will happily let go of writing for that day and take off to chit chat. I call it “research” because I am inspired by their stories and lives and ask them probing questions about sex. It all goes into my books and columns somewhere. But I do write like a mad person for days and nights when I’m possessed with an idea and the story haunts me till the words come out on a document. In retrospect I think I need more balance!
Your writing influences–authors, poets, artists, any people, and anything you turn to, you draw upon for inspiration?
I’m inspired by good writing really, not just a person or book. It’s not that I take someone else’s story and adapt it to my own. Or I want to be like anyone else. When I read a book or a poem, I need to be moved. I need to feel something. And that’s what I take for my writing. I want my writing – columns, books and blogs to make people feel, cry, love, smile, laugh, think, inspire and awaken. That’s what fulfills me as a writer.
You do have a hectic schedule–plus you are a mom. Are there days when you are overwhelmed, unable to write? How do you deal with them?
Absolutely. I sit and drink! #mommyneedswine
Do you agree that discipline is an essential part of the writing arsenal? How important is writing discipline to you?
I try to have discipline but it never works with an exact time schedule with a child, managing a house and multiple projects. If a meeting comes up, I need to abandon my writing at the time and go. If my child demands more attention from me that day, then I need to put my writing on hold till she sleeps. But I do try to finish everything before a deadline and I’m always prepared for far more than what is expected of me. It’s probably because I’m always thinking of the larger picture.
What kind of reads are your favourites? Books you turn to over and over again.
I love reading Elif Shafak, Jhumpa Lahiri, Agatha Christie, Murakami. But I also love Chick Lit. It’s my comfort food for the soul. A good romance with interesting characters and a different plot always makes me happy. And it’s not too taxing on the brain while I’m working on my own novel.
We’ve discussed this at aPaulogy, but a recap for my blog readers, what is your opinion on the slotting that gender automatically seems to assign to an author?
It’s sad really but Indian women writers are slotted into these categories
a) She’s a woman, she must only write about romance and that’s sooo boring!
b) She’s Indian so what does she know about how to write in English? Also she’ll keep everything in the Indian context while I’m more of an international reader you see.
c) She’s not popular so I don’t know how her books will be.
d) She’s popular so she must have really bad writing!
It’s strange that men will not pick up women authors. I recently released my 6th novel My Clingy Girlfriend which is a novel from a man’s point of view about relationships. Men can’t believe I can write so well. But they’ve not read my previous works to realise that I have always tried to exceed myself in my writing and do something different with every book! One gentleman on Facebook said, “It constantly amazes me how you have effortlessly crossed over to the men’s side and deliver such finessed nuance that is so unerringly masculine in its genesis… Kudos Madhuri Banerjee”
How difficult was it to write in the male voice for this book? How did you get into the skin of the character? My Clingy Girlfriend has been the easiest novel I wrote! I wrote it in a month, after spending a few months figuring out what I wanted from the novel. When I started writing, the words just flowed. I guess while I was “researching” I was so in the head of men that it became easy to see their point of view. And I loved writing Radha. She was me in an extreme form.
And finally what writing advice would you give aspiring authors?
Find your unique voice. Don’t go with the flow. Be better.
You can buy My Clingy Girlfriend here: http://goo.gl/VwPjmN
Other Books by Madhuri Banerjee
Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas – http://goo.gl/9mID7O
Mistakes Like Love And Sex – http://goo.gl/fs7KUP
Advantage Love – http://goo.gl/LJyJsT
Scandalous Housewives – http://goo.gl/VUCLNr
Two signed copies of My Clingy Girlfriend are available for a giveaway to bloggers who want to review it for their blogs. If you wish to receive a copy and review it, do leave a comment at the end of this post. Madhuri will choose the most interesting two comments to send signed copies to. Contest ends April 20th. India addresses only.