Roopa Menon has a Masters in English Literature from Mumbai University and a post graduate diploma in journalism from ACJ. Some of her short stories have been published in literary journals (Corium Magazine and From the depths: Summer 2014) and have also been part of anthologies (Chronicles of Urban Nomads: Readomania; Love: Lots of Volatile Emotions: Mahaveer Publishers). Currently she lives in Dubai with her husband and works for Active PR Agency. Pyar aur Poetry is her debut novella.
What inspired you to start writing?
Stories have always fascinated me. And somehow as a very keen reader, writing has always seemed like a natural transition.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
Growing up I was an insatiable reader. I read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. Like any young reader Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond were staples and whenever I ran out of books to read, I would raid my grandfather’s library. He had a wonderful collection of books. I remember reading some fascinating Chinese and Russian short stories and folktales and works of James Thurber, and Pearl S. Buck.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
For me, the greatest challenge in writing a book is completing it. I usually start writing with a lot of gusto, and somewhere down the line, either I lose interest in the story or the characters and abandon the project completely. And due to my self-sabotaging behavior, I have a stack of abandoned stories and novels.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
I don’t do any research consciously. I write on subjects that interest me, excite me, and for most part the research part is unconsciously taken care of before I begin work on a book/story. I have often noticed that when I immerse myself in a particular topic without any premeditated intention, a story seems to emerge organically.
What motivated you to write the book “Pyar Aur Poetry”?
Growing up Jeffrey Archer’s short story Old Love (A Quiver full of arrows), an unconventional love story of two carping English Literature scholars in the 1930s, had fascinated me. I couldn’t get enough of this cerebral love story. So, in 2012, when I chanced upon Indireads’ (my publisher) announcement for different and interesting South Asian stories in the romance genre, I decided to take a chance and write my version of Old Love. And that was how Pyar Aur Poetry was born.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Pyar Aur Poetry”?
Pyar Aur Poetry is a contemporary Indian college romance set in a fictional college in Mumbai. In the words of a discerning reader, “Pyar Aur Poetry is a wonderful imaginary world of the anticipation and hesitancy of young love, of tentative self-image, of loyal friends, of popular cliques, college losers, bookworms, contests, winning, losing, relationships with parents, grandparents, and above all the love for good writing. A perfect breezy bedtime read that is sure to make you nostalgic.”
How did you came up with the idea of writing romantic fiction genre book?
I must confess that I never consciously chose to write in the romantic fiction genre. It happened quite by chance rather than by design.
Who are your favourite authors?
That’s a tough one. I have a long list of favorites. However, these days, I dig the works of Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman and Amy Hempel.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I try to write every day. Since I have a full-time job, I tend to write in the morning, on my way to work. That 40 minute bus ride is precious. I shut myself out and simply focus on my project. Yes, my mobile is my writing desk.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Nobody says it like Neil Gaiman:
“Start telling stories that only you can tell because there will always be better writers than you and there will always be smarter writers than you– but you are the only you.”
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