Arathi Menon is an author. She has completed her post graduation in Broadcast Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai and her undergraduate education from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. In her previous life she was an Internal Communications Specialist with over 14 years of experience in the communications field. Her previous employers include The Time Of India, Ogilvy, JWT. Let us know more about her writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
I need no inspiration to write for I have written all my life. In fact, the joke in the family is that it is the only thing I can do (I can’t cook / sew / dance / sing / knit, make polite conversation, etc.)
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
Being an only child I was a voracious reader. Having a father who bought me only books and never toys also helped to turn me into a reading fiend. In school, I devoured Enid Blyton, Louisa May Alcott, the Brontes, Dickens, Twain, Salinger, Swift, Wodehouse. College was peppered with a lot of existentialists among others, namely Sartre, Camus, Kafka, Plath, Austen, Krishnamurthi, Douglas Adams, Maugham, Muriel Spark, Tom Robbins, etc. And poetry, always poetry.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
There is none. The challenge is finding a good publisher and a sensitive editor. For Leaving Home, I got lucky with Pan and Pranav Kumar Singh (my editor) who understood my work and my sensibility.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
I wrote a memoir. As I was the subject I required very little research for all the answers were locked up inside me.
What motivated you to write the book “Leaving Home with Half a Fridge: A Memoir”?
Leaving Home With Half A Fridge was specifically written for the ‘me’ of five years ago. When I was going through my divorce, I couldn’t find a book, which could help me understand the pain and the bewilderment of a world falling apart. Once I reached my happy place (with clawing difficulty) I decided to share what I learnt – tragedy needn’t be a bad television soap and there is always sunshine after the rain.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Leaving Home with Half a Fridge: A Memoir”?
‘Leaving Home with Half a Fridge’ is a personal journey – it is about how I handled the dissolution of my marriage and my subsequent life as a singleton. The book follows the breakdown of the marriage, my decision to get a divorce, the trauma of doing so, depression and finally overcoming it all to become a stronger, happier person. To quote the blurb, ‘Written with much wit, wisdom and warmth, it is a memoir which anybody who has loved and lost will relate to.’
How did you came up with the idea of writing a self-help memoir?
I think I wanted to write an honest book and as I wrote, the book evolved into a self-help memoir. Leaving Home tries to do two things. A) By narrating my own personal experience it helps readers develop a strong connect, which springs from a non-judgemental place. I have got so many emails saying ‘I felt this too / this is my story’. B) It is extremely practical. It actually lists down what you can do to get over a heartbreak / divorce.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are so many but I am completely in love with Chekhov, Greene, Mervin Peake, Mary Gaitskill, Sedaris, Flannery O Connor, Donna Tart, Richard Ford, Munro, Jennifer Egan, Banville and very recently, Modiano.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I do not have a fixed time for writing but I do have a fixed word limit, which I need to complete every day before I sleep.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
I have no words of wisdom but Epictetus, the Greek philosopher has. He said, ‘To be a writer, write.’
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