After working as a journalist with The Asian Age and The Times of India, Kiran Manral quit work to be a full time mommy. However, she never gave up on writing – as she always found time to write on gender issues, parenting, fiction and got associated with causes that she passionately believes in and maintains a blog too. She has three books due for release in 2015, the first of these being All Aboard! We caught up with her for a tete-e-tete. Excerpts from an interview:
Two successful books The Reluctant Detective, Once Upon A Crush, one newly released All Aboard and already the next Karmic Kids is round the corner. As an author, do you constantly feel the need to write? Or is it just how early or late a new idea/plot germinates in your mind that dictates your speed of writing?
I actually try to write every single day — even if it is just 500 words, or a day when the Muse is AWOL. These 500 words just add up at the end of a few months. I work very methodically most times, I write an outline, a chapter wise synopsis and then fill it up with the chapters. There are constantly ideas churning in my head, and the ones that are the most insistent are the ones that get written out.
Clearly you glide through varied genres with ease – romance, thrill, parenting – however, love features in all your stories and your latest one too is on love?
I think I am a romantic at heart and love the idea of romance in a cynical world. Having said that, I enjoy writing across a variety of genres, except perhaps medical thrillers or crime, but then never say never. I love to dabble in different genres, dependent on the story and how the characters dictate the voice and style should be. I’ve written mom lit, humour, chick lit, romance, non fiction anecdotal humour and a darker, supernatural story which should be out in November-December.
While the emotion of love essentially remains the same, its expression changes with time. How do you ensure that your books tick with the younger audience? The rules of engagement have changed after all!
Love remains constant and yes, the rules of engagement change all the time, but then the more things change, the more they remain the same. I think the younger generation is very prosaic and matter of fact about love and dating and commitment in a way my generation never was. I do a lot of observing the younger generation, chatting with youngsters and finding out how they connect, how relationships are in this day and age, and how they navigate the now complicated waters of modern day dating. I find it great fun.
Are Indian writers who write English fiction finally finding their niche in the Indian marketplace, which was once flooded with western authors?
Yes, they are and this is absolutely delightful. I think it was time that the Indian reader were given stories they could identify with, in a language, syntax and contemporary setting that they were familiar with, and could relate with, rather than a plethora of literature from outside or literature written in India but very consciously for the Western gaze.
As a writer and author, what do you also think about the future regional language authors? With fewer and fewer people learning/speaking/writing in their mother tongue do you think this should be given attention too?
Absolutely, translations can definitely help, and as parents we need to inculcate the habit of not just speaking but also reading in the native language to keep the languages alive and vibrant. A little bit in every home can help combat this decline in the use of regional languages. Having said that, there is a vibrant literary scene in languages like Hindi, Bangla and Tamil that I am aware of.
Often a doomsday scenario is painted when it comes to reading as a habit. What are your views?
There is so much competing for our attention, the internet, television, movies, etc. The time available to spend on leisure activities like reading is shrinking and the competition for things to spend time and attention on has increased. Nonetheless, I am delighted to see that youngsters are reading, and e-readers have made reading much more convenient for them in terms of portability and accessibility.
How do you respond to reviews of your books? Is the reader’s view supreme or is the critic’s view more important?
Both opinions are welcome and valid, I appreciate genuine criticism and feedback.
Who are your favourite authors and why?
First on my list will always be P G Wodehouse, for his sparkling wit and the wonderful world he conjures where nothing is truly amiss, where laughs are galore and all will be well at the end. I also enjoy Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series, JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the sheer scope and magnitude of the world he imagined and epic battle between good and evil, and not to forget Mark Twain and Jane Austen. There’s Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro who are personal favourites for the sheer evocativeness of their writing. And finally, I must doff my hat to J K Rowling. Her Harry Potter series brought me much joy and her Cormoran Strike under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in recent times.
Would you like your books to be made into films? In Hollywood we see a lot of scripts based on books – do you see that happening on a more frequent scale in the Indian film industry?
Yes, I think a lot of books have been made into movies, and a lot of books are being optioned to be made into movies. Chetan Bhagat has had his books made into movies which have done pretty well at the box office. I think this is a trend that is here to stay, and I can only hope that one of my books gets picked up to be made into a movie.
Finally, if not a writer, author, blogger – what do you think you would be?
Honestly no clue. I think this was what I was meant to be. I can’t remember doing anything with any modicum of passion from the time I was young, except read and write.
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