The Book That Got Me Out of Monsoon Blues

The very first reader review. On Ramya Abhinand’s blog here:

What is it with love stories? You read them a 100 times, in a 100 million ways, and every time they weave a web of joy in your heart.

I sat in bed infected with the monsoon “virus”.  My throat ached and my body refused to listen to me. The dark clouds and the gloomy skies, just made me feel all the more worse. It was a miserable feeling. It just got me thinking- What are we humans really, just funny little people strutting about the universe thinking we own all of it. All it takes is microscopic little organisms and viruses to strike and push us to ground reality. The acclaimed writer Ruskin Bond (my all-time favourite) once said, “The graveyard is full of people who once thought they were indispensible.”

As I tossed and turned restlesslessly, I decided to pull out the Kindle Reader; my hubby dearie had gifted me a few months back, which till date I had never used. I was vehemently against having a gadget to “read”. Come on, the undisputed leader is always the crisp paperback, with tiny little thought for the day bookmarks. But today with the rain lashing outside and a weak body, I had to depend on Amazon.com. After a bit of surfing, I purchased my reading material. In less than a minute, Amazon digitally delivered it –

Kiran Manral’s love story All Aboard.

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I entered the world of Rhea and took a step with her, on her holiday and her relationships. The fast pace of the book kept me guessing- what was going to happen in the pages ahead?  As I travelled with Rhea, on a cruise trip, from Sicily to Rome, I felt the warm sea breeze across my face.  Aren’t books the best way to experience the world? As I clicked on the last chapter and the book came to a close, I was left with a delicate smile on my face. It was an elegantly narrated love story. And I could sure read it more number of times.

My temples seemed to ache lesser, and the gloomy skies outside didn’t seem to bother me much. That’s what a good story does to you. I was refreshed and felt myself getting out of my physical and mental sickness!!”

Thanks Ramya! Glad you enjoyed it.

Source: The Book That Got Me Out of Monsoon Blues

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On Sakshi Chanana’s blog

The Romantic Symphony: In conversation with Kiran Manral

I vividly remember the day when I first met Kiran Manral amidst the beautifully dazzling hills of Kumaon at one of the Literary Retreats held at Te-Aroha. As the co-curator, I had a chance to interact with her and we had a great session about the ‘death of the author’. Clad in Pink, she would go about smiling and passionately discussing about life and literature. There is an aura of certain sublimity around her, which was easily discernible. Her humble demeanour inspite of being such a prolific writer and proactive social activist, touched me deeply.

With her new book’ All Aboard’ around the corner, I have been curious about how she manages to juggle between responsibilities of a Super-Mom and a constant writer and still excel at both. So, I requested her to share a part of her writing journey with us.

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail interview about her writing and the timeline of ‘All Aboard’:

1.How do you view the concept of Romance in your new book ‘All Aboard’?

To me, romance has always meant the point at which the love story ended, because then every romance has the hidden potentiality to become a tragedy. Seriously though, romance to me, as shown in my book All Aboard, is something that lifts one’s soul, makes one feel desired, and gives one hope there is happiness even after tragedy.

2. Who is your Muse? What motivates you as a writer?

Life itself, I guess. As a writer, I guess motivation has to come from within. Unless you are very driven to tell the stories you have to tell, it is difficult to be a writer because there is no external motivation, except perhaps for publisher deadlines.

3. What is ‘All Aboard’ all about?

All Aboard is the story of a girl who is ditched by her fiance practically days before the wedding and how she goes on a Mediterranean cruise for a change of atmosphere, and of course, because this is a romance, falls in love again.

4. Could you share with us something about your writing process?

I try to write every single day, even if it is just 500 words, even if it is just a blog post. When I am writing a book, I try to structure out the book chapter wise before hand and then work on each individual chapter until the book is done with. There is no magic trick to writing, it is just sitting down and typing day after day after day. It is also a very solitary profession, and we writers prefer it that way.

5 What are the challenges in writing chic-lit?

I don’t know. I write the books I want to write. I don’t feel there is a challenge per se in writing them whether they’re my chick-lit ones, the mom lit one, the non fiction, the romance or the supernatural. The stories tell themselves in the voices that feel the most authentic to the telling.

6. What do you think , is the purpose of your writing?

To be heard in a world that has no time to listen.

7. Which writers have influenced you/ your writing? How important it is to adhere to the tradition?

I’ve been great influenced by humorists like P G Wodehouse, Mark Twain, Jerome K Jerome, Erma Bombeck as well as classic writers like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, not to forget contemporary writers like Helen Fielding, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro and so many more. I don’t think one needs to adhere to any tradition. All one needs to do is to tell one’s story and tell it well.

8. How is this novel different from your earlier works?

This book is pure romance. It is also set out of Mumbai, on a Mediterranean cruise. The style is also a bit different from my previous books, it is a quicker read.

9. What is the source of your characterisation?

Life around me, people around me. Such a rich font of inspiration.

10. What would be your advice to the aspiring writers?

Write everyday. Read everyday. And rewrite everything you write until you cannot rewrite it any further.

Read the original here.

All Aboard Contest

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Hello dear readers!

Here’s a chance to take our relationship to the next level – would you like to go to lunch with me?

I’ve just written a love story that happens on a cruise and would love for you to tell me your amazing travel tales. All you have to do is write your story in the comment box below, along with your email address. 

The writers of the top 10 stories will be taken out to lunch with me! I’m already thrilled – eleven travellers sharing their stories over great food? Sign me up.

For those bloggers who’d like to have their readers participate in this too, do let me know if you’d like to host this widget on your blog!

Can’t wait to hear from you,
Love
Kiran

Psst: For Mumbai based participants only.

You could win a Monisha Jaising Luxe Wrap from MJ Essentials…

…when you order All Aboard from Flipkart here.

AllAboardflipkartbanner

And for those who are wondering what Luxe Wraps are, here’s a peek.

AllaboardwithMJStole

of course, all Monisha Jaising’s lovely creations can be viewed on http://www.monishajaising.com/

What I’m most enamoured of is her Cruise Collection and her Cruise bride, because, yes, All Aboard is based on a cruise.

All Aboard on Shunali Khullar Shroff’s blog.

All aboard with Kiran Manral

Posted by on August 25, 2015

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All Aboard (Penguin India)

A mother, a blogger, a freelance writer, a twitter influencer, an author of three published books (and counting) and a dear friend, Kiran Manral is a woman of many talents. If I were to ever write a book on her I would call it ‘I don’t know how she does it’ because ever since we reconnected with each other a few years ago I have marvelled at just how quickly and successfully Kiran has authored several books ranging from a comic detective novel to books on romance to a book on parenting.

Apart from these books and her blog, she is also a hands-on, 5 am poolside mother who has managed to raise a 12-year-old swimming champion. Indeed Kiran Manral is one woman who does not believe in pausing for breath and does whatever she sets her mind to with depressing adroitness. To a time waster such as myself, her self discipline has caused a certain degree of anguish, anguish that is substantial enough to depress me but certainly not enough to get me out of my bed and on my writing desk at 6 am.

To me, what makes Kiran unique as a writer is the versatility of her pen. While most writers find their safe niche and adhere to it, Kiran has the flair and courage to attempt different genres of writing such as….humour, light romance, parenting (her next book called Karmic Kids) and also literary fiction (WIP).

The one common thread  through all of Kiran’s books is her irresistible wit delivered in a lush language and you can expect the same from All Aboard as well, although she insists she had to simplify her writing style because it is commercial fiction.

In this tete-a-tete with Kiran Manral  she shares her take on romance, humor, domesticity, the creative process and tells us how she does it.

The Manral

Q. Kiran Manral: From a funny woman to a romantic one. Share your journey with us.

Kiran:I think I was a romantic woman who became a funny woman when the romance wore off, and the toilet seat wars began. Seriously though, I’ve always been a romantic deep down, even though I wear a cynical carapace at the best of times and defy the romantic side of me to peep out. But yes, I believe in making people laugh. I also believe in everyone deserving a happy ending, after all what is romance but the place where you choose to end a love story.

 Q. As a ‘much’ married woman, is it hard to conjure up romance between single people in the context of today’s day and age?

Kiran: Actually no. Because human emotions remain the same and the need for love and validation from the object of one’s affection stay constant down the ages. Yes, the rules of the dating game have changed a fair bit, and I need to hover on social media and stalk conversations between the young uns to get an insight into how things happen these days, but apart from the convenience of messaging, and whatsapp and snapchat and all the other infinite mediums of reaching out here and now, I don’t see what really changes, except that the object of one’s affection is more accessible than in previous decades.

 Q. Your first book The Reluctant Detective was a light thriller set in Mumbai and I for one found it hilarious. Then Once upon a Crush was romantic but it was funny all the same. Is All Aboard purely romantic or can be expect humour from this one too?

Kiran:There is a wee bit of humour, yes, but All Aboard is primarily a romance.

Q. How long did it take you to write All Aboard? Tell us a bit about your writing process.

Kiran: I wrote All Aboard in a span of a few months, then it was the editing process and rewrites and the generally not so glamorous part of writing that is the backroom of writing a book that we generally don’t like to talk about. I sit at my desk every morning at 8.30 am and move butt from desk at around 1.30pm. If I am writing a book, I try to get as much as I can down in a day as I can and stop when the writing is going well and I can actually see where the characters are headed. If it is a bad writing day, I still try to put in time to get at least 500 to 1000 words down on the manuscript, these can always be edited later or completely scrapped if not worth the space they take.

Q. Did you have to simplify your writing style for this book because you are targeting a younger readership.

Kiran: My wonderful editor at Penguin, Vaishali Mathur, was very clear that this book had to be something that was comfortable reading, and I do have a tendency to get verbose and rather painful with sentences that don’t know where to stop themselves. In this book I have tried to tone down that tendency.

Q. Who are the writers who have influenced your writing style?

Kiran: I think P G Wodehouse would come first on that list, and the last and then everything in between, specific to writing style. But having said that, writers I have been influenced by range the gamut from Jerome K Jerome to Mark Twain to Haruki Murakami and Helen Fielding.

 Q. What are you reading these days?

Kiran: At the moment am re-reading Bridget Jones, Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding. I so love Bridget Jones, she’s a character after my own heart and feels like a complete soul sister.

Q. Out of all the three books that you have written, what character is most like you?

Kiran: I would say Kanan Mehra of The Reluctant Detective. Except Kanan makes a definite attempt at getting her weight down to acceptable levels so as not to be a blot on the public landscape while I am of the genus that counts sloth as one of her virtues.

Q. There is a lot more Indian writing that one is seeing today than ever before. Among the newer lot who are the Indian writers that you have read and enjoyed?

Kiran: I completely loved your book, Battle Hymn of a Bewildered Mother. I also love reading Devapriya Roy,  Parul Sharma, Anuradha Roy, Janice Pariat, Meghna Pant and so many more. I love the fact that there are so many new voices coming up, strong, assertive and confident, with stories to tell and the determination to be heard.

Q. Did you read any Mills and Boons when you were growing up? Do you still enjoy reading them? Is one ever too old for romance? Do married women need to reach out for romantic novels more frequently than single, unmarried ones?

Kiran: I did read a few Mills and Boons when I was growing up, and yes, occasionally they can be my deep dank funk palliative, though I haven’t read any in quite a while. I like the certainty of the fact that there is always a happy ending, and that there is only the need to ride along with the protagonists as they discover each other, and battle their attraction to each other or surrender helplessly to their passion, as the genre mandates.

One is never too old for romance I would think, but I daresay I now declare myself too tired and too cynical for romance. But one is never too old to read romance. About married women needing to reach out for romantic novels, more frequently than single unmarried ones, well what do I say, but that we live vicariously through the doe eyed, wasp waisted protagonists. There’s not much romance to be reheated after the baby is fed and burped and diaper changed and the husband growling like a starving lion about why there is peeli dal six days in row and such like and what is this damn stain on his brand new shirt, and what on earth is that face pack you’ve got on.

It is a safe getaway, those few hours lost inside a romance novel, which is easy on the pocket and one can dare get some catharsis from it, rather than run off with a travelling salesman for one’s thrills.

 Q. What do you think of Tinder?

Kiran: I find it most intriguing. But it also makes me paradoxically very wary. While it is wonderful to be able to connect to strangers off an app, I wonder how this redefines the dynamics of the dating equation, and what it does for self-esteem if likes haven’t been responded to with a match made.

But then that is life, I guess, you’re always setting yourself up for rejection. But this makes it relatively painless since it is offline and not a blind date where the other person suddenly gets an emergency life crisis call that mandates his or her leaving immediately.

Q. What else can one expect from you in the year to come?

Kiran: I have two more books due out this year, both are completely different genres. One is a humorous non fiction book on parenting anecdotes called Karmickids (Hay House) and the next is a darker fiction, a completely different kind of work from what I have done before from Amaryllis.

Q. What advise can you offer to budding writers?

Kiran: Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Pay attention to grammar. Rewrite, edit, kill your darlings and bury them in the backyard where no qualms reside.

Q. How easy was it to find a publisher the 3rd time around?

Kiran: I was lucky that the very wonderful Vaishali Mathur of Penguin Random House saw potential in this story and took this book up.

Q. What inspires you as a writer?

Kiran: Everyday life around me is the most potent source of inspiration I have, plus the daily newspaper. Nothing is more interesting than those little snippets that often get overlooked but have me wondering every single time about the back story that led to them.

Read the original here

All Aboard on Writer’s Melon: Part 2

The art of etching charismatic characters in the book

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.

– Somerset Maugham

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.

– Stephen King

As we promised, we are back with Words of Wisdom from a very seasoned Author, Kiran Manral. For all who have been struggling with etching quirky characters in your books, here are some gritty tips from the lady who is all set to take us on a romantic ride with her third book. 

What makes an interesting character in a book, is it the quirkiness of the character, the uniqueness or is it that the character is someone the reader can relate to? The etching of a character is a very exciting process for a writer, because simply put, you get to play God. You can mold, out of nothing, a living breathing character to populate the pages of your book, to live out his or her life and to play a part, however important or unimportant in the telling of your story.Perhaps that is why they say be nice to an author, he or she can put you into a book and have nasty things happen to you.

Seriously though, creating a character for me is always a process that is fraught with much indecision because I agonize over the smallest things, how the character will look, dress, react, food choices, motivations, childhood, influences, reading habits, and every little thing that goes into making a person a person. The character has to be visible to me in my head, clear as a person I know in the real world. Often I cheat, I make a character from an amalgamation of various character traits of people I know in the real world, and that works well too. At others I sit down with a sheet of paper and make spirals of free brainstorming circuits about the character, background, character traits and when it falls together, there’s this Aha moment in my head, when I can see the character, warts and dimples and all in my mind.

And also she tells us about her favorite character in the latest book. 

In All Aboard, my favourite character without question is Rina Maasi, the feisty aunt of the protagonist. For more about her, you would have to read the book.

Read the original here.

Monday Guest post: Attitude not abhiyaan by Rohan Bhade

A flurry of initiatives have been unveiled by the Govt of India since it won a decisive mandate (first since the 90’s for India) last year. While political spokespersons will jostle to credit/discredit these schemes whether they are “freshly brewed” or “repackaged vintage” (my words not theirs), some of these schemes require some serious soul searching on the part of the general population.
So let’s get straight to the point, last year the Govt. of India launched the “Swachh Bharat”, “Beti Bachao” and “Give It Up” schemes among many others (thankfully none of these are named after an actual person). And the message did not come from the individual ministry under who’s jurisdiction the scheme would be run, it came right from the top – The Prime Minister of India. Previously such schemes would have a “bureaucrat drafted” statement, a photo of the Prime Minister and the President on a full page newspaper spread and that would be the end of it.
But cleanliness and sanitation (especially for girls) featured left and center during the PM’s Independence Day address to the nation and that gave it the initial escape velocity that it deserves. Soon everyone was on the bandwagon, from local bodies to 15 minute fame seekers to film, television and sports personalities to large corporate houses and news channels, this instilled hope and the year was 2014.
Snap back to the present and there are some reports that the “Swachh Bharat” scheme has lost its momentum. This if true is truly sad, not for the Govt. but for its citizens, this should also serve as a reminder to all – success of any governance initiatives is only as good as the grass root participation it garners. We claim that more Indians are getting educated, are more aware, more connected and needless to say getting wealthier. But somehow this modern day materialistic evolution doesn’t seem to translate into “situational social awareness and wisdom”, I mean the simple question one needs to ask themselves is “Do we need our Govt. to tell us to keep our surroundings and by that country clean”. And it isn’t that big of an undertaking, it is actually quite simple – treat ones locality, city, state and country as you would treat your own house.
Personally, the attitude that makes one litter is driven by indifference and a general lack of social responsibility. It stems from the thought that “someone is getting paid to clean up my mess, so I’m gonna make a mess”.
That brings us to the next issue that was highlighted during this years speech, the complete absence of dignity of labour. This is a status agnostic issue. General tendency is to look down upon janitorial jobs, then there’s the other kind that won’t take creative vocations seriously (I can recollect a tweet where a writer/blogger was faced with the “writing is fine, but what do you do”).
So in the words of Aretha Franklin
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T”.
Then comes the request to “Give It Up” and we aren’t talking income details to the taxman, but the LPG subsidy. The number of citizens who have surrendered their subsidy is encouraging BUT it could have been significantly higher. Somewhere the ones who can really do without the subsidy think “it’s not going to reach those who need it so why bother” and a prolonged culture of middlemen driven corruption drives this mindset. And it’s justified to quote the Gita “do your part without expectation of result, outcome or gain”. To the eternally optimistic me, just the satisfaction of the surrender should be good enough and surely the Govt can release evidence as to how these noble citizens have helped another one of theirs.
At the end of it, Govt succeeds by the participation and involvement the citizens show in its initiatives. Great ideas have failed for the want of great implantation, and the implementation matters.
To sum up, great abhiyaans require the right attitude from the citizenry.
Time to play our part, over to YOU the citizen.
(Every Monday I post a guest post. If you would like to post on my blog, do mail me at kiranmanral@gmail.com)

My iDiva.com column this week: Why I Hope College Girls Will Continue to Wear Shorts

Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral

Kiran was a journalist before she quit to be a full time mommy. Her blog is considered amongst India’s top blogs. She is the author of The Reluctant Detective (2012), Once Upon A Crush (2014) and All Aboard (2015). An advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi she is also an Author Mentor at Sheroes.in. She now blogs at http://www.kiranmanral.wordpress.com and you can follow her on twitter @kiranmanral.

Women shorts

A prominent college festival in Mumbai has banned girl students from wearing shorts. This is in addition to the numerous bans we are already grappling with, which seem to increase day after day, and which one must now make out an excel sheet of in order to remember what is banned currently in the event that one might forget and not comply with the ban, and end up being hauled up to the clinker.

The ban on girls wearing shorts though is not a clinker level ban, but merely a diktat from the educational institution the girls are at. The boys at the educational institution, lucky sods, have no such restrictions and can continue to flaunt their hairy legs much to the dismay of hapless onlookers, in all their unwaxed glory, and single-handedly cause a spurt in the sales of eye drops.

I find this grossly unfair for the simple reason that if shorts were to be banned as an item of clothing, the ban needed to be extended equivocally to both sexes. That’s all I say. What sense does it make to ban shorts for the girls, and allow the boys to roam unfettered, baring their legs, inciting lust and longing amongst the hapless onlookers, who then would not be able to contain themselves, and lead to a security issue, as the wise authorities have decreed?

I have an issue with shorts and that is primarily because I have legs of the version that aren’t flattered by the garment in question. You know. I have been caught on rare occasions in public wearing shorts, and most of these have been on vacation. Banning them, for me myself, would be a good move, because then I wouldn’t dare inflict my chicken legs on an unwary world and have them wince at the offence to public sensibilities I presented. But that is me. I do not dare speak for the world or those who love the item of clothing in question. Shorts have a lot to recommend them. For one, given the humidity of the climate we live in, they allow for adequate air circulation, and keep the body cool. For another, what better garment during the dratted monsoon in our city where a drenched pair of denims right down to the ankle can cause skin to rot till it turns green and falling off the bone until one manages to reach home and change into a dry pair, not to forget the ensuing fever and chills and work days lost in the process because one was drenched to the bone and stayed wet all day.

In Sweden, a couple of years ago, they did ban shorts during work hours for train conductors. While shorts were not termed a security risk in this case, the issue was the question of propriety and dress code and ban extended equally to male and female conductors. What the Swedes did in response to that ban was what I call inspired. They took to wearing skirts. Male and female. And the train company with amazing maturity, made no nose snorting disapproving noises of the skirts not being gender appropriate when worn by men. Their rules stated skirts or long trousers as a uniform. And as long as the rules were being adhered to, they were absolutely fine with it.

In Israel, school girls who were asked to stop wearing shorts when their male co-students were allowed to wear them, didn’t take this gender discrimination lying down. They took their protest online with a hashtag #ItsMyRight. Girls in Fiji had things worse, with a British colonial law allowing them to be flogged in public for wearing shorts, a law that was only just recently revoked.

Why is this ban on shorts only for girls by an educational institution something we should all be worried about? Two reasons. The first, and the most obvious one is that it officially gender discriminates between students and does so at an educational institution, which should be telling girls that they are on par with the boys. The second is that this ban takes the debate right back to the perennial problem we women face, that of victim-shaming, and the ‘she was asking for it’ and all such that rightfully deserves to be euthanised and interred forever.

Instead, what we need to tell our girls is that no one has the right to touch them without their consent, no matter what they might be wearing. And more importantly, we need to teach our boys that a girl wearing a pair of shorts is not asking for it. Never is. And they would do well to keep their hands to themselves.

Read the original here

All Aboard on clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta’s blog

A chat with author Kiran Manral on her new book – All Aboard!

August 20, 2015

 AllAboardbanner

Tell us about the book, and how it connects with the youth today in matters of love, betrayal and moving on?

The book is about a girl who is practically ditched at the holy fire by her fiance. She goes on a cruise with her aunt, to get away for a while and clear her head. Being jilted is never a pleasant experience, apart from the uncomfortable practicalities of calling off the wedding and dealing with the financial matters of cancellations and such, there is also the very real trauma of dealing with rejection. This can be quite shattering emotionally–a jolt from which it is terribly difficult to recover for some. What I do find is today’s generation is rather practical in the way they deal with emotional betrayals, they move on.

What most fascinates me as a psychologist is how much of your personal value system influences the way you write the books.

I’m rather old fashioned, I believe in romance, in being swept off one’s feet, of having a knight in shining armour rescue one and in the happily ever after of love stories. I think somewhere, the stories I write do reflect that. On the flip I am also of the belief that a woman needs to be her own advocate and earn her own living, and that seeps in too, in some ways.

This book has a powerful narrative, is there a message that you have for the audience?

I think what I believe in, that it is never the end of the world, no matter what happens. There could be something that is even better for you waiting just right round the corner. If I distil it down to one word, it would be hope.

Travel, escape and betrayal – what do these themes mean for you or your character?

They’re all interconnected in this book, there’s betrayal which leads to a need for escape and as a consequence leads to travel. I think love, betrayal and escape are such universal themes that they exist in everyone’s lives in some form or the other, and travel is a human need that has existed ever since early man traipsed out of Africa. These themes resonate with everyone, and each one brings to the reading their own individual experiences.

Often in therapy, clients ask me if the only way to heal from a break up is to fall in love again. As an author and someone who has written on gender issues, what is your opinion about it?

Unfortunately, I have not experienced a break up–I married my first long term boyfriend and we celebrate 20 years of being married to each other next January. But having said that, what I do believe and what I think helps the best is allowing yourself to heal completely from a break up–to get closure, to resolve the residual anger, resentment, guilt, self esteem issues that arise from a break up before opening yourself up to love again. Unless of course, love blind sides you completely unannounced. Having said that one is definitely more vulnerable when one hasn’t completely healed from a break up. And love on the rebound can be a great thing if it works out well.

Tell us where can the readers order your book from.

The book is available on Amazon India for pre orders right now and this is the link.

 Read the original article here.