NAW Interview with Shubha Menon

Shubha MenonShubha Menon is a copywriter and is currently working for a leading advertising agency. A self-confessed workshop junkie, she has been known to attend weekend lessons on chakra healing, screenplay writing, film appreciation and thumri singing, among others. She is crazy about Dachshunds, flowers, babies, qawwalis and shoes. She hates horror movies and ghost stories. Her other bugbear is mathematics and numbers give her a headache. She lives in Delhi with her husband, daughter and two dogs.

NAW- Please provide a brief bio focussing on your writing life. How many works have you published till now? And how did you become a writer?

I am a copywriter and have been one for years. But this is my first book. I wrote it because I found myself bored and dissatisfied with writing ads.

NAW- Tell us about the character of Mini. How did you develop the character?

She is a little bit like me and a lot like other married women in their forties. They obsess with weight and diets. They are bored of their husbands. And they yearn for something more in life. And that makes them funny because imagine a fat, older woman determinedly chasing romantic love.

NAW- Were you inspired by Mills and Boons or Brigette Jones diary while writing your book? It doesn’t really represent traditional Indian society, does it?

Yes, by both. Because Bridget Jones is Mini’s reality and Mills and Boon is her fantasy. Mini doesn’t represent the traditional Indian woman but she does represent the growing breed of the educated urban affluent working women in India. You will find hundreds of these in Ad agencies and corporates.

The Second Coming

NAW- How did you research for the character of Rustom? And how difficult is it to give voice to a male character?

I didn’t need to research, Rustom is a Mills and Boon hero with a weak, wolfish streak. Yes, giving voice to a male character is difficult for me and that’s why there is very little of Rustom or Shyam’s feelings in the book.

NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey. How did you get published?

I happened to meet Karthika, the chief editor and publisher at a lit fest. Then I met her in her office with the first two chapters written. She liked what she read and asked me to complete the book and give it to her. Since there was no contract or written commitment, i had a harrowing time, wondering if the book would actually get published. But several rounds and a couple of years later, it came through. (Karthika V.K. heads Harper Collins India).

NAW- How do you write? In fits or starts or in a well planned manner?

In fits and starts but in a well planned manner! For the first draft I needed to get away from everything to write. So i took 10 day breaks every few months and wrote in a well planned manner. Later when i had to make changes, I worked early mornings at home. So it was well planned writing, done in fits and starts.

NAW- When did you decide you wanted to become a writer? What inspired you to write a book?

Like I said, I have always been a writer, even though it was just ads, brochures, commercials and jingles. I decided to write a book when advertising became somewhat unfulfilling.

NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any you would like to name as inspiration?

Sue Townsend. Maya Angelou. James Michener. Cheryl Strayed. They all inspire me greatly.

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