Today, I host Rubina Ramesh, the author of Knitted Tales on Day 17 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge hosted by The Blog Chatter. Who doesn’t know Rubina? She is all over the place. The face behind The Book Club, an online book publicity group, Rubina dons several hats, avid reader, writer, blogger, book review and marketer. As an 8-year-old she beamed with pride to see her name at the bottom of an article published in her school magazine. A holder of an MBA, Rubina is married to her childhood sweetheart where her travel saga started. She lives with her husband, three kids, two humans and one doggie. She has always dreamed of being a writer and finally she is living that life.
- Finally, writing seems to pay for you. I don’t mean literally, of course, but Knitted Tales is sure to ring the moolah or is it the soulful experience of weaving words in this collection of short stories?
First of all, thank you for this lovely platformJ. As the author of Knitted Tales, this is my first interview and will be cherished as such in my life. When an author publishes her work for the first time, it’s never about money. The ‘moolah’ as and when it drops is a blessing.
These stories were written during the jamming sessions we had in Wrimo India group. When I collected 17 stories, I never realized that I had written so many of them. But when I did, I saw no reason for them to lie forgotten in my laptop. My next book, a romantic thriller ‘Finding the Angel’, will be released on December 9. Before that, I needed to know if the readers’ taste will resonate with my writing. Even if one writes because one loves writing, readers falling in love with your words are a huge boost. I am sure you too will understand, being a writer yourself.
- You are a globetrotter having lived in India, US of A, Malaysia, and Netherlands. How much of the global influences are present in Knitted Tales?
A lot. Stories like ‘Chiclet’ in Knitted Tales are a take-off from real life experience. I have met people who have narrated stories about their lives to me. While I cannot share what’s told to me out of respect for confidence, as a writer it’s inevitable that they will make their way to the pages of my novel. As the saying goes, ‘be careful what you tell a writer, you might find yourself imprisoned in the pages of a book.’: P
Every country has a rich culture. And in one of my upcoming collections, you will meet some of the lovely housewives I met across the globe. But I am a total ‘desi’ at heart. So whatever I write, will have their roots in India.
- Knitted Tales is defined as a bouquet of human emotions, ranging from betrayal, vengeance, secrets, soul mates and an innocent girl driven to become a sex symbol. Do you think the observation of conflict in humans is important for a writer to present a medium and convey empathy into lives as well as be a microscope to a society we are alien to?
Vishal, I think we all write what we can empathize with. Lolita is very close to my heart. One day I might turn it into a full-fledged novel. I love observing people. I can sit silently for hours in a café and keep on watching people. I know it sounds creepy but then most of us are like that, I suppose. I am crazy about movies too – all kinds. You never know what sparks your imagination. Reading a lot also helps but nowadays finding an author you really fall in love with is difficult. Gone are the days of Sidney Sheldon and Alfred Hitchcock. They were the writers who really understood humans. There are the slight flaws of characters that might be the backdrop of a heinous crime or the pain behind a bright smile. Nowadays, writing is more into sex that sells and gory murders. And, this is what pleases a certain age group of readers. The subtlety of human emotions is gone.
- Criticisms and applauds are part of the lives of writers. How do you think it can better your work and how one should deal with unfair criticisms where writers are often pulled down?
Definitely. The tales in Knitted Tales had been criticized, murdered, killed and kicked. Hhahaha. But today, I am grateful to every member of Wrimo India for doing it for me. It hurts, I won’t deny it. When your stories are criticized for the first time, people like me tend to become very possessive about what we term as our ‘babies’. My first reaction was how the heck you would know what I am trying to say. But if you listen carefully, the voices of criticism are the reflection of society which echoes the readers’ demand. It takes some time to digest criticism. As for unfair criticism, well you have to be sure of yourself as a writer to let go of what does not mean anything to you.
- Can you share the story behind Knitted Tales and how the different stories cropped in your mind, the narrative treatment and finality?
When my first anthology called “The Long and Short of it” came out, I was criticized for writing one story with the title, ‘Let Me Go’. The criticism ran on that line that since I wrote from incidents in my life, it makes me a lazy writer. At that time, the criticism hurt me deeply since the people didn’t even understand why I wrote that piece. I almost stopped writing for the reason if I could not share the pain in my writing, where else could I do it? But later I realized I cannot let go of my love, anger, crushes and passion. This is what makes me a writer. The short story ‘The Missing Staircase’, in Knitted Tales is about my guilt. It is the guilt of not returning to my ancestral home where my Dadu lived for 13 years. Life happens. I could not be there when my grandpa, whom I was very close to, died. The story “Secret in my Closet” in Knitted Tales is actually my anger against all those people who keep minors to do household work. I am not a planned writer. I write first, then plot and then rewrite. A tedious process, I know 😛
- You are also behind The Book Club which is an online platform to give a boost to new writers which is growing in popularity. What was the initial concept all about and how do you plan to innovate in the near future?
Aha, The Book Club or my secret lover who has kept me away from my family as my DH terms it J. When I first landed in the USA, I could not work since I did not have a work permit and spouses of H4 Visa holders did not have the right to work. I am not, by nature, a very ambitious person but a rebel I am. So when someone tells me I cannot work, I must. J I saw there was a huge gap between Indie writers and traditionally published writers in India. Even today, India has not able to accept the digital media world- though the trend is changing. I don’t blame the readers as well since some of the writers really produce unedited work, which kills your love for reading. I wanted a platform where we could showcase both Indie-published authors and traditionally published authors. Let the readers be the judges of what they want to read. We are planning a change, which we will soon announce. You will be the first to know Vishal, I promise. J