Obsessed, author Ruchi Kokcha’s debut novel, is a story of characters that display this very trait – obsession. We had a candid Facebook live session with the author a couple of weeks ago. And now, she bares her heart and her journey in this interview with us.
What Does ‘Obsessed’ Mean to Ruchi Kokcha?
It is obvious that every author has a connection with every one of their works. In the same way, Ruchi Kokcha loves her first novel like a mother loves a child. Ruchi talks to us about how much her debut novel means to her.
“Obsessed is not just a book for me, it is a journey, not just of becoming a writer but also about becoming a more empathetic person. When I started writing Obsessed, I just had a story in my mind. At that point, I didn’t think of becoming a writer, forget about getting published. But this story had taken birth within me and most nights I found myself working on it within my mind. It had to find an outlet.”
Obsessed – The Inception:
Ruchi Kokcha is an alumna of Delhi University where she attended lectures in Greek Literature. This course had an impact on Ruchi, and since then, the characters of Obsessed took birth in her mind.
“In the very first (Greek Literature) class, my lecturer Dr. Abhishek Sharma said, “Keep your common sense out when you come inside this door.” I guess the door was not just literal but metaphorical. For the door that led us to Greek Literature had no room for the normal mode of thinking. We studied texts like Lysistrata, Medea, The Iliad, and The Odyssey. Everything appeared beyond the realm of “normal” and yet we were taught how to empathise with someone like Medea who kills her own sons to take revenge from her cheating husband.
I wanted to create one such character. Day in and day out my mind was creating it, adding layer onto layer, to make it all the more unconventional.”
About Ananki, the Protagonist of ‘Obsessed’:
Ruchi’s characters came to the fore in the Greek Literature classes she attended. She had the image of her protagonist, Ananki, clear in her mind even before she started writing the book. It felt, she says, as if Ananki was present in flesh and blood.
“The name ‘Ananki’ is taken from the Greek work ‘Ananke’ meaning inevitability, compulsion, and necessity. Ananki is a character no one can imagine empathising with because of who she is and how we are conditioned by the roles we play in this society but somehow (even unintentionally) we can’t help but end up empathising with her. That is the beauty of this character.”
When asked about what the story and its characters stand for and show, Ruchi Kokcha is very forthcoming. She talks about what the book stands for, what it questions, what it inspires, and its standing in modern society.
“Obsessed not only shows the obsession of its protagonists but of every character in one way or the other. Every character in the book is obsessed at different levels, for different things. The magnitude of their obsession defines who they are inside. It is this obsession for something that makes them very natural, real and relatable. We are all different degrees of obsessed.
The book questions various norms that have been conditioned into the collective psyche of our society from centuries. The youth can relate to the fact that neither these norms are the sole path to tread on, nor they can be put to compartments of black/white, right/wrong, normal/abnormal and so on. The book therefore will inspire them to seek alternative lines of thinking without foisting its own or author’s perception about them. Lately, there has been a rise in the number of cases where a child is abused by someone close. Most disturbing are the cases where the biological father abuses the child. This book might also be seen as an act of subversion.
The book also throws light on the changing nature of families in our society. With growing ambition, the parent-child relationships are at an all-time low. Much like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the book also underlines the question of nature vs. nurture. Are kids being born more violent today? Or is it the environment that makes them so? It will make the readers pause and think, ‘What are we doing to our kids? What is more important than love and quality time?’”
The Struggles of Being ‘Obsessed’:
The journey that culminated in the publication of Obsessed wasn’t easy. Ruchi Kokcha takes us through it all:
“I struggled for about three years after I finished writing Obsessed. And I sent the manuscript to almost every publisher, big or small I would find on the internet and otherwise. I reworked on this manuscript thrice but nothing was working in my favour. Those were the worst times of my life. I love writing. It is the only thing I believe I can do while being at perfect ease with myself. But it was going nowhere. Despaired, I left Obsessed aside and started writing my second book.
Meanwhile, I got active on Twitter where I wrote micro-fiction and micro-poetry and gained a lot of followers who appreciated it. It was on Twitter that Ravinder Singh asked me to write a book. I sent him the synopsis of Obsessed which he narrated to the CEO of Harper Collins India in a meeting with him. And then my life changed. From a writer, I became an Author.”
The Ups and Downs of Writing:
It is a common misconception that writing is an easy job. There are people who say, ‘You only have to write.’ But creativity is not something one can get at the snap of the fingers. And creativity and writing are intertwined to the point of being mistaken for one another. Ruchi Kokcha talks about this journey in her writing process:
“Like any other writer, I had my share of ups and downs as far as writing is concerned. There were days when I could write pages and move the plot forward. Then there were days when I would struggle putting a few sentences together. The subject was quite disturbing and it affected me a lot at times. At that time I used to take a break for a few days and indulged in reading or binge watching various series, Sherlock being one of them. Coming back to the manuscript after a few days with a fresh line of thought and perspective helped.”
Author(s): Ruchi Kokcha
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Release: May 2018
Buy this book from Amazon