Oh! Mom! I just forgot my Saccharine pack at home! Anyways! Forget it! I saw her on the bus stop today and shez so cute. Probably! That would be a love story or crush story that would make me go hmm!! Kidding! Not really. When I requested Kiran Manral to add dash of sweetness on the blog, she gracefully accepted to be interviewed on the blog. When I mailed her last Thursday, ‘Monday,’ she said. Like a true professional, she remained true to her words and the interview was wired to my digital letter box today morning.
Social media maverick, avid blogger and social activist. Mumbai-based Kiran Manral is no stranger to the world of writing since she worked for years as a journalist and has been voted by Times of India and IBN Live as Social Media Star, 30 Interesting Indian Women to follow on Twitter and Top 10 Indian Moms to follow on Twitter in 2013. Her first book, The Reluctant Detective, was published in 2012 and on Friday, her book, Once Upon a Crush, latest offering on romance, was launched by actor Tisca Chopra, at Infinity Mall in Andheri hosted by Landmarks. Go and Grab your copy, Once Upon a Crush is available in all major bookshops and flikpart.com. Kiran can also be reached on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiran-Manral/351966148147792
‘Once Upon A Crush’ came about, from me observing women in their late 20s and early 30s in Mumbai. Yes, I do draw from real people and incidents, after all that is what we writers do, cannibalize facts to create our fiction, but it isn’t just a single character one uses, rather, I make my characters composites of many people, a bit from here, a bit from there, and string them together to create someone completely new.
3. Is it easy or natural for us, journalists, to shift to writing not as news or feature journalism but making the mark as book authors?
Honestly, I wouldn’t know. I think it depends on your style of writing. What journalists do have as an advantage is a keen sense of observation, an instinct to grab what is dramatic and a sense for words and narrative, that definitely is an advantage.
4. You started your first novel, The Reluctant Detective in 2012. What made you choose the theme of murder in your first outing and were you wary of treading in a path where many would not dare to go. How was the response to your first book?
The first book did fairly well, and like this one, one doesn’t really choose a book, a book chooses you. So it came to pass that The Reluctant Detective got written because I built the story around the protagonist who was a suburban housewife, and what could shake up her little world without really impacting her, except something that happens in her immediate surroundings. In this case, it was murder.
5. You also founded India Helps in the after math of 26/11 and Violence Against Women where help is provided to the victims of terror attack. How easy is it too reach out to victims of the system and how do they respond?
It is easy to reach out to anyone who has suffered a loss, a bereavement. Most of the times, people are willing and accepting of help. Sometimes, they aren’t and you realize you cannot intrude on their sense of self and at others, there are some who take advantage of help, and you need to be alert about that, too.
6. As a woman, how do you react to violence against women based on experiences where you work with victims? How tough it is for women battling prejudices, violence and sexism and do you view things changing in the near future?
I don’t actually work with VAW victims, just run an awareness month but I think it would be very very difficult for me because I am rather sensitive and quite the bleeding heart. What can I say, you just need to open the newspapers every single day. Nothing changes. From Dec 16, 2012 to the girl who was set on fire by her classmates in Indore after being raped, nothing changes. Until mindsets don’t change, nothing will. And our only hope is the next generation of boys we are bringing up right now, if we perhaps bring them up right, they might change equations.
7. Back to ‘Once Upon A crush’, give our readers an insight on the rom-com that you wrote. What do you think of rom-coms and aspiring writers. Is it a fad or it is here to stay?
‘Once Upon A Crush’ is the story of a girl nearing 30, panicking about settling down and with a furious crush on a handsome man in her office. On the other hand, she is being pressurized by her parents to get married to a very eligible boy. Her career is going nowhere and she has a boss straight from hell. Rom coms will always be around, we need romance and we need laughter as human beings, living a stressful life. Whether books or movies, romance and comedy will always have an audience.
8. What do you make of the new phenomena of e-books flooding the market?
They’re convenient for readers who might not have the space to store more books and who are comfortable with the electronic medium. Anything that gets more people to read is always welcome.
9. Tell us briefly of your experience as a journalist and how you entered the field. What advice would you give to aspirant journalists and those trying to make a mark in the profession?
Oh! I was a complete flop journalist so won’t dare give any advice. And plus, been out of the field for over ten years so the game and, since then, the rules of the game have changed completely.
10. Once Upon a Crush makes me go to our first or innocent crushes that we’ve all been through. Any fond incident or crush that you remember or the charming prince declaring his crush for you.
Ha ha. I was sadly, quite, a boring book worm and no one declared their crush on me. But, I had a terrible crush on this one guy in college and he finally noticed me in the last month of the last year in college. Well, to cut a long story short, we dated for six years and have been married for 18 years now.
11. Let’s get a bit mad: If someone tells you that he has a crush on you, how would you react? A slap, angelic smile or keep dreaming, dude.
Ah! No one has crushes on me anymore. Am past that phase.
12. What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to write? Do you follow a strict discipline of writing every day and what do you do when you face a crunch of ideas?
Yes, I write every single day, even if it”s only 500 words. Think of writing as a muscle you need to exercise every day or a skill you need to hone. When one is stuck, I suggest leaving the manuscript for a while, doing something completely different, reading in a completely different genre, painting, watching a movie and come back to it after 24 hours. The brain will marinate the ideas and emerge with something good.
13. I am not letting you go without making you play Agony Aunt for me. Picture this out: I am struck by this beautiful girl drinking tea in the café or at the tea stall. How do I go about declaring my flame for her?
Ha ha. Smile at her. Go up to her. Strike up conversation. That’s all. All the best.