Sundari Venkatraman, the Queen of Indie authors as she is known, speaks to us about her book, The Malhotra Bride. Open and forthcoming about every aspect of her writing and her author personality, Sundari Venkatraman is a pleasure to talk to. Read on for a compelling and thought-provoking interview with one of the most sorted authors in the business.
Sundari Venkatraman – The Quirks and the Philosophy:
There is a lot to glean from the education that Sundari Venkatraman provides in terms of how to use personal values in the books one writes.
“I have always been a Jill of all trades, mistress of none kind of person. As for being quirky, I can share something about how I form my characters. For example, I don’t like my heroes to smoke. In The Malhotra Bride, the hero Akshay gets back to smoking desperately when he’s deeply upset. He stops the moment his life gets back on track (within a few hours) and it’s just a momentary lapse. I think that fiction influences readers in lots of ways.”
Not to generalize but Indians have come to believe that if their kids don’t become engineers or doctors, they bring shame upon the family. And Sundari Venkatraman says the same.
“I believe that careers such as doctors and engineers are overhyped as if there’s nothing else to do in life. And I do my best to bring forth a number of alternate careers, more of joy work than hard work. I have a farmer, a well-meaning contemporary royal, a couple of models, a dancer, a globetrotter, and the like. Through my books, I also spread the knowledge of alternate healing like Ayurveda and Hypnotherapy. I don’t preach but weave these ideas into fiction.”
What Impacts Sundari’s Author Mind:
What is your inspiration? What affects you the most? How do you effect these inspirations into your stories? These are the questions that are often asked of an author. Here is Sundari Venkatraman on what impacts her thinking and writing the most.
“The books I read leave an impact on me. That is why I try to create my protags in a way that people might want to aspire to be like them, at least in some ways.
I also write about subjects that are considered social taboo. It’s not careful planning; the stories burst forth from me since I feel a lot about issues like social stigma, marital rape, child marriage, dowry, paedophilia, and the like. Also, our society has one major issue – living for others. I feel strongly about that, too, and it comes out in my books. While many have liked it, others have criticized it, too. But I write what I believe in.”
On Trying Other Genres:
It is said that an author would be well off sticking to one particular genre. And then there are those who believe in expanding and experimenting with new areas every time. Sundari Venkatraman is one who is comfortable with being a romance writer, but is also open to foraying into other genres.
“I’m comfortable writing romances and themes surrounding love, relationships and marriage. After all, these are the most influential factors in anyone’s life. Especially in India, where a person doesn’t just marry his/her spouse, but also their family. I read a lot of romance novels, most from Western writers and many from Tamil books from my school/college days in Madras. That has been a tremendous influence. It’s most comfortable writing a genre that one enjoys reading.
But I’ve already made a foray into retelling stories from Indian Mythology. My short read, MATSYA: The First Avatar, the first of the Dashavatar series, was published in March, 2018.
I also like positive paranormal (not horror) and historical genres. I’ve been toying with ideas but both of these will also be romances.”
Writing – The Sundari Venkatraman Process:
“I write when the story flows, which is like most of the time. I have the protags in place, with basic descriptions. And I open sheets on Excel, beginning with a choice of title names, the names of main characters, their characteristics. This list keeps building over time as new characters pop up. Yes, they pop up most of the time and very rarely are planned too much in advance.
One main thing is that I am deep inside my head while writing. I have heard of many writers saying that they write happiest in one particular place. But I write when I want to write. If the story wants to be told, I tell it, without getting distracted. Sometimes, my family complains that I don’t even register if they talk directly to me. There are times when I need to shut the door firmly on their faces. But generally, I write without letting anything distract me or rather, my writing refuses to let anything or anyone distract it. “
About “The Malhotra Bride”:
A book is best described by authors. However big a fan you might be, you can never give as clear an insight into a book as the author can. This is a pretty obvious statement to make, one that Sundari Venkatraman proves about her book, The Malhotra Bride.
“I don’t know about The Malhotra Bride being different. But it’s closest to my heart because it’s the very first story that I wrote. I think it has touched a lot of readers, both young and old, especially in Indian family set up mainly because, almost everyone has faced either one or more of the situations and relationships that have been portrayed in the book. People are able to relate to the story as the characters seem very much a part of their lives. Like Sunita’s rebellion, I am sure many women can see it in themselves. And Akshay is a man who women want their boyfriends/husbands to be.”
Favourite Authors and Books:
“My most favourite author is J.K. Rowling and I like the Harry Potter series the most. I recently read her book The Cuckoo’s Calling under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, and loved that one, too. Books by Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown, Ayn Rand, and especially those of Jeffrey Archer, I keep reading again and again. Not A Penny More, Not a Penny Less, and Kane and Abel are among my favourites.
I also love historical romances by Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland, works of Indian authors like Ashwin Sanghi, Devdutt Pattanaik, Ravi Subramanian (to some extent), and Rubina Ramesh, who’s an Indie author. The romances by Nora Roberts, Janet Dailey, Penny Jordan, Carole Mortimer, and Anne Mather have influenced me a lot.”
Advice for Aspiring Authors:
“Read. Reading is an important factor that makes a writer. It helps open up one’s imagination and also improves one’s word skills.
Writing, like any other profession, is 10% imagination and 90% perspiration. You have to keep writing to get better at it. Write in the language and genre you are comfortable with. Don’t try to write in one that you think is popular. Your expertise will make your writing popular, so go with what you are most familiar with.
Writing romance isn’t different from writing any other genre. Everything requires research, linguistic skills, strong etching of characters, and love for the genre, the predominant factor being a powerful imagination. Read more of the genre in which you want to excel.
Last but not the least: stay self-motivated. No one is going to ask/tell you to write, especially till the time when you are a huge success. Then, maybe your friends, family, or even your publisher/s might pressure you to write. Until then, you are on your own. Procrastination is the biggest hurdle. You keep twiddling your thumbs in front of your laptop and suddenly you will realise that a whole year has gone by with you having written only a few paragraphs. This is exactly why I treat it like a regular job and do my best to write every day.”
If you have any questions for Sundari Venkatraman, post them in the comments. She would be happy to answer them for you.
Author(s): Sundari Venkatraman
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
Release: December 2017
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