The wait is finally over! It’s Thursday! As I promised, there shall be some surprise on the blog and it made its way on the blog. So many of you asked on my FB status, pinged asking to spell it out. Here it is!!! Yay! Thanks and Hugs for bearing and being patient with me. The first ever blog interview that I am conducting. As you may be aware, writetribe.com hosted the Book Review, ‘Done With Men’ by the lovely Shuchi Singh Kalra. When I approached the author to grace my blog, she played around by being at her funniest and very best. Hope, you enjoy the interview.
Daring and unflinching belief in her dreams! From Optometrist to full time writer, blogger and columnist, Shuchi Singh Kalra chucked out a ‘well paying job’ to listen to her heart and give vent to her passion. Who says writing doesn’t pay as a creative call?! Meet author Shuchi Singh Kalra, writer, editor and founder at Pixie Dust Writing Studio and she can be found at shuchikalra.com. The author who is not just a pretty face stormed her way with the chick-lit novella, ‘Done With Men’, published by Indireads, that earned her critical acclaim and struck a chord in our hearts. The book finds echo in the heart of die-hard romantics like us and Shuchi’s book brought lightheartedness, harmless but sinful pleasure in our heart as we read her take on relationships. Get set for a light and tongue-in-cheek chat with Shuchi Singh Kalra as she takes us on her adventurous journey and how ‘Done With Men’ happened. After this hearty chat, I am sure you will follow this link link. Go and grab your copy and it’s 90 bucks only and totally worth it. http://www.flipkart.com/done-with-men/p/itmdtksfkbwgc6zw? pid=DGBDTJKZETFDVQP3&otracker=ch_vn_digital_eb_main_eBooks%20Under%2099_prd_title
1. Are you done with Men?
Hahaha. No. Never will be (hopefully)! I’m a blissfully married mom of a two year old, but yes, I have gone through post-breakup phases when I thought, “ok, this is it. I will have none of this nonsense anymore”. But, then, got tempted to give the male species another chance. I’m sure a lot of young women have been in that spot. Once that happens, only true “louwe” can lift the curse :D.
2. How did DWM happen?
Done With Men was a stroke of destiny. Naheed Hassan, the founder of Indireads approached me sometime in late 2011 to work for them as an editor. We got talking and then she suggested that I write a book, a chick lit to be precise, because she believed I had the voice for it. Before I could make sense of things, the contract was signed and I was on my way to becoming an author. The interesting part was that I had signed the book contract even before I had a synopsis of the story!
As for the story, a friend of mine narrated about her sister who went on a vacation to recover from a bad breakup and landed up injured in the hospital. That sparked the idea for this book and I just cooked up a story that revolves around it. I always wanted to become an author but I never thought my journey would begin in this fashion.
3. How did an optometrist become a full time writer, blogger and novel writer?
I have always been fond of writing since I was a kid – it was something I was good at and I would often pen down my thoughts in a personal diary. While I enjoyed it, I never thought of it as a viable career choice (I come from a generation where everyone was expected to crack IITs and PMTs). Few people know this, but I was an Optometrist before I took to writing. I worked at a leading eye hospital in India and soon realized that peering into slit-lamps and prescribing glasses wasn’t my thing. I took up some freelance writing assignments to earn some extra money during my internship and only then did I realize the scope of it. Not surprisingly, I quit my job as soon as I could and got into it full-time. My family thought I was crazy to dump a seemingly good and lucrative career prospect to become a full-time writer. But as I look back, I believe it was the best decision I ever made.
4. Who is Shuchi Singh Kalra? Hardcore feminist, the girl who dreams bout’ perfect love or feature writer/columnist…
I would say all of the above. I am definitely a feminist, but not the bra-burning kind. I hate the way women are treated in our country and I just don’t get why we have to carry on with these bizarre patriarchal concepts in this era. As for “perfect love”, I don’t think I want it that way because then it would be too boring and predictable. Imperfections add spice to a person and make a relationship more interesting.
5. Are you a bit like the female character in DWM-eccentric, fun filled and adventurous?
I am eccentric, fun-filled and adventurous but I am not half as crazy and accident prone as Kay. She’s impulsive like I can never be and she’s a little confused too, poor thing. But we do have a lot in common, too. Kay is the quintessential modern, urban, working girl. She loves to travel and is a writer, like me. She has everything going for her – an enviable job, amazing friends and a loving family but the only sore point in her life is her choice in men. I have been in the same boat more than once so I completely get her when she says she is “done with men”. Kay could be an exaggerated and slightly more messed up version of me in my early twenties.
6. What do you think of critics who say that new age rom-com writers put too much of sex in their novels?
Going by some of the recent books I have read, I’ll have to agree to that. But let’s not be prudish about it – if that’s what sells, then why not? That said, I do get annoyed when characters in a book just land on top of each other for no good reason. Sex might add spice to a story but it should not be forced. Let the story speak for itself.
7. Advice to wanna be rom-com writers like me who wanna write but ‘successfully fail’ in terms of plot and the scenario?
I am just one book old so I’m not sure if I am the right person to dole out advice, but I would just say that don’t wait for the perfect moment to write that book cooking in your head. Set a routine, write a few words everyday and FINISH that first draft. Don’t waste time on fancy words and expressions when you are writing – just let the story flow. You can edit and pimp it up later.
8. The future of chick-lits and rom-com in India, according to Shuchi?
While I enjoy most genres, chick-lit holds a special place in my heart. Whether I am traveling, feeling blue or just plain bored, nothing lifts up my mood better than a lighthearted chick-lit novel. Sometimes, we need to just chill and unwind with something that is not too taxing on the brain and these novels provide that sense of escapism. The genre especially works for women because the characters are just like us, and are going through the same day-to-day problems. Then there are BFFs, clothes, shoes, fluffy romance, humor, lively pink covers – what’s not to like! I know a lot of people trash chick-lits and rom-coms for being dumb but the truth is that they are popular and here to stay.
9. How close is Kay from reality and where did you draw your inspiration to develop your character?
Kairavi is so real that she could easily be one of us. She is the quintessential modern, urban, working girl who anybody could relate to. She loves to travel and is a writer. Like any single girl her age, she is has her own wonky ideas of romance and is clumsy enough to land into trouble at the drop of a hat. Many of her personality traits are borrowed from people I know. In fact, she is modeled after a random girl I spotted while walking around in Nainital. I was in the process of sketching out Kay’s character and that image of the girl just stuck. The choice of name also has a long story behind it – it means “moonlight”, which is also the meaning of the name I chose for my daughter. I just wanted to establish some kind of connect between my first biological baby and my first literary one. I didn’t plan out all of Kay when I started writing the novel – she just took shape on her own.
10. Teaser Question: What would a man do to sweep you off the feet?
You are going to regret asking me this….
My ideal guy should be tall, wide and supremely hot, but not too brawny; have a min IQ of 130 (intelligent, but not in a nerdy kind of way); be able to hold an interesting conversation; be well groomed and well dressed (none of those tight lycra shorts please and also, no pointy shoes); not be useless around the house; have purpose in life; be passionate about something…anything; be funny; give me space when I need it; be kind to animals; not be too hairy; be 100% loyal; share my love for travel and food; respect women; have concern for the environment; not talk or try (hard?!!) to initiate sex unless explicitly asked to; not be a selfish jerk; be sensitive and understanding of the lady’s problems; be good in the bedroom, kitchen, drawing room and not make a mess of the bathroom either; not be religious; not chew with his mouth open; have a good sense of humor; not send lame forwards on Whatsapp; be a thorough gentleman; smell good; have eyes only for me; treat me like a queen; not gift me flowers.
Phew! That’s it, I think.
Editor’s note: Hop you enjoyed Shuchi sassy and tongue-in-cheek chat conversation with. A lady who knows exactly what her interviewer wants and played around-cum-fiddle with words in the most talented manner. I enjoyed the interview, particularly, her sixth sense. That’s what amazingly awesome writers are made of and have fun with words. Must say, I enjoyed it lots and, in particular, the last question.