Humor is a difficult genre to write, especially when you’re trying to take off in the field. But when you have as much talent as Khushnuma Daruwala, who makes her debut with 50 Cups of Coffee: The Woes and Throes of Finding Mr. Right, it shouldn’t be too easy to make a mark. Her writing is funny and teaches you a lesson without being preachy. Who wouldn’t want to read such a book, especially when it is about a woman navigating the dating world in her thirties?
In this candid interview with us, Khushnuma Daruwala opens up about writing, publishing, and her debut novel, 50 Cups of Coffee: The Woes and Throes of Finding Mr. Right.
About ’50 Cups of Coffee’ and its USP:
50 Cups of Coffee is a non-fiction-esque narrative by Dia, a thirty-something woman who is trying to navigate the dating game. Humorous and wonderful, this book is something that you wouldn’t want to miss, no matter what. Khushnuma Daruwala expands on how her close friend’s experience with dating gave her the idea for the book and also what sells the book the most.
“I was as shocked as I was bemused when I learnt my close friend had actually been on 50 coffee dates in the pursuit of a groom. Some of the stories were so incredulous and far out, one might be forgiven in thinking they are fictitious. On a whim I suggested I’ll write about these and she agreed. And that’s that. Over the years, many other friends shared their dating stories which I’ve weaved into the book but through the voice of a single protagonist.
The genre, the story line or anything that is unique about this book.
I’d slot it as a funny book on dating. There are two points of difference though. One, there is no storyline. It’s not a linear narrative where A meets B and the story unfolds. The closest example I can think is Sex and the City. Second, I’ve refrained from a clichéd pat ending. I was clear from the onset that I wouldn’t feel pressurized to close the loop in the usual fashion.
What seems to be resonating is the humour and relatability. And that the book makes light of the marriage-hunt, which at times can become more critical than Mission Mars.”
About Khushnuma Daruwala, the Author:
Many of us find it difficult to talk about ourselves. We try to put off the inevitable for as long as possible. Khushnuma Daruwala, the author, is much like us.
“This is the most difficult question of them all. I left it for the very last and dawdled over it the most. I think I vacillate between extremes – from heights of laziness to being the most driven person on the block or from being the most staid to pursuing the quirkiest. And yes, I hate the word ‘no’. I think at some level I am an idealistic who believes anything is possible if you put all your might behind it, consistently.”
While the world isn’t a wish-granting factory (thank you, John Green), writing is most certainly one. With words giving you stories, they make your dreams come true; those that might not see the light of day in reality. Khushnuma Daruwala speaks about why she writes and what writing means to her.
“As an introvert, writing helps me express myself. And hopefully influence perspectives whenever need be. I’ve also realized I’m the happiest when I’m engrossed in stringing together situations, dialogues and creating stories. In short it evokes a sense of purpose.”
Writing – The Khushnuma Daruwala Process:
“I started writing on a sabbatical but re-joined the corporate life soon after. It’s then that a ritual really helped. I used to work in the night after returning home or on weekends. Having a fixed place and time does help set your creative juices into motion. Irrespective of whether you have a full-time job or not, a ritual helps set a discipline which helps in maintaining the flow.”
Khushnuma Daruwala and Inspirations:
“As a child I fell in love with the writing of James Herriot and Gerald Durrell and I think somewhere their humor and dry wit had an impact on me. In recent times, I’m fascinated with cartoonists. To tap your funny bone in such a limited space is truly an art.”
Advice to Aspiring Authors:
“Persistence is key, whether it’s writing, publishing or marketing the book. Even if you feel you’re blocked, sit down and write. Or at least try to pen down a few words. As mentioned earlier, a fixed ritual will aid the writing process. Same goes for publishing – keep trying. From the first submission to receiving a ‘yes’ took me a good five years. Even if a publishing house had turned down the manuscript, I tried my hand again at the next given opportunity. My specific experience taught me that it’s all about the sensibility of the editor on whose table your sample chapters land. Try again with another editor. Preferably someone who has edited similar genres as your book. [Figuring this is pretty easy. Simply turn to the Acknowledgements page of a book.]
Marketing the book was quite an eye-opener for me. For one, I realized the onus is as much on you as the publishing house. While the publishing house will follow their marketing plan, you too need to get out there and push the book as much as possible. I’m not saying it was easy but if you won’t shamelessly demand all and sundry purchase your book or network or call in the favors, who will? Again, here too, persistence is key. Be on the lookout for opportunities even after the initial few months. Even after the first year. A book has a long shelf life. Pun unintended.”
About the Author:
After exciting childhood dreams that vacillated between astronomy, zoo keeping and diving with great white sharks, Khushnuma Daruwala eventually settled for something a tad tamer – advertising. Six years ago, while on a sabbatical, she rediscovered her love for writing something more than creative briefs and PowerPoint presentations. Advertising and writing apart, she is extremely passionate about animal welfare, conservation and of course, regular sabbaticals.
Author(s): Khushnuma Daruwala
Publisher: Penguin RHI
Release: May 2017
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