Dr Harshali Singh is a fairly simple person who likes to live and let live
I work as a member Judge in the Consumer Forum and though I was an average student I was cursed to study all through my life. I did my B.Sc Honours in Physio-Occupational Therapy, B. Ed and then an LLB. I paint as much and as often as I can. In fact, the cover of my book A Window to her Dreams was conceptualized and painted by me. I have a very hardworking other half, two expressive children and a naughty mutt named Bruce.
The beginning of an incredible writing journey
“I was always writing,” is the clichéd statement that exploded in my mind as soon as I read this question owing to conditioned response, I guess.
But as I turn the pages of my memories I think it actually started writing stories with a prank I played on a friend of mine in middle school. I just felt so bad for her that I created a paper boyfriend for her, a diversion to look forward to. The long love letters fueled many a story and I am not sure if I am sorry I did it, since she was so happy for the time it lasted. Eventually I had to kill him as she became obsessed with this non- existent love. Such a dramatic death it was. I corrected my wayward imagination and ways and henceforth only wrote for pleasure, my own.
I write to tell stories; it is as simple and as complex as that
I get inspired by everyday things, ordinary people, their courage in the face of adversity and their faults and quirks. I believe that the angel and the devil are both within us. Who we let out to play and why is a choice that we make. This choice and its consequences along with the reason why we made the choice in the first place is what excites me, inspires me.
A Window To Her Dreams
Are two good people with good intentions enough to make a good marriage?
Aruna, a young divorcee, marries Bhuvan, an averagely successful young man. Both make promises of ever after with preconceived expectations—hers, freedom from a judgmental society and validation of herself and his, unconditional love and partnership.
Despite their best intentions, life plays rogue.
Does she succeed in saving her marriage? Or is she held back by her own apprehensions, choosing to stay victim?
How did you choose this style of narration? What prompted you to pick Haveli?
The narrative is in keeping with the times the Haveli was built. It had to be so as the Haveli could not speak in a voice that is contemporary. More often than not we become the sum total of our surroundings and so the Haveli’s voice is more old school and British influenced. Everyone who crossed the threshold of the Haveli left an imprint on its voice which gave it a beautiful layered texture. Since I was a child I always wondered what did the walls of my house see and hear and if they could speak what would they say?
Hence when I needed a sutradhar, a narrator for ‘A Window to her Dreams,’ I immediately gravitated towards the Haveli as a character. When I had visited the Haveli with the 100 doors in my college days I remember thinking I would love to listen to the stories that it could tell. An idea or a thought will find its way in me and percolate till I can smell the aroma of an exciting plot or an interesting character. It is a very organic process with getting my hands muddy with different writing styles, voices, sieving the white noise that surrounds me till I find the one that suits the idea the best. Post that, it is about refining the words.
Given a chance, would you change anything about the book at all?
Since it is a series of 7 books, story wise I wouldn’t change a thing. Editing, I would polish more.
Your overall view of marriages in India
India is still in the stage where it is feeling the growing pains in terms of marriage. In the urban set up marriage is becoming a partnership rather than the lopsided patriarchal relationship of yester years but it’s a very slow process as mindsets have been conditioned for far too long. Once the euphoric feeling of ‘love’ dies down disappointment sets in and that is when patience and good sense play a vital role. Thankfully young couples are more evolved and better equipped to handle the strain that their relationships faces with family and friends rallying around them, if they want to improve their circumstances.
In the rural set up, sadly marriage is still very much a decision taken by the elders of the family. The age, education, financial independence and the wherewithal to engage in a meaningful relationship is usually sacrificed at the altar of shifting the heavy burden of a daughter from the shoulders of a parent to a husband. It is a long road ahead to reach even a semblance of balance where girls will be seen as a member of a family first and Paraya Dhan later.
Having said this however I firmly believe that a marriage is a very personal understanding between two people that cannot be by enlarge pigeonholed into a set mould.
On most occasions, we and only we are responsible for making our marriage what it is. We have to own it at some point.
Your experience of pitching the book to the publishers and choosing Readomania
I frankly did not struggle in that sense of pitching my book continuously to publishing houses probably because I wrote the book for myself, so I was happy to let things rest as they were. I did send it to couple of publishing houses but never got a response back in the stipulated time. Readomania ticked a lot of boxes for me the most important one being the ability to treat their authors with respect. Any and all of them.
I don’t like the entitlement that is reflected in some individuals, authors, editors and head hunters alike. To me it smells of insecurity and an incompleteness that no amount of success can fill. Humility and the ability to be kind attract me. After all you may be better in this field but try facing me in my arena of work.
With Readomania, I found a publishing house that was happy to engage in dialogue and create something rather than have an attitude of ‘I know best’. At least that has been my experience.
I read everyone and anyone, some more than others but it has to make me think, question and reflect. I like a good story told well.
I lean towards an interesting plot, use of language that is not dumbed down to suit the lowest common denominator but is lucid enough for everyone to read and enjoy without being pretentious. A difficult task but then what are we without goals.
Your favourite authors
Jane Austen, Chitra Devakaruni, Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Anand Neelakantan, Julia Quinn, Kavita Kane’, Emily Brontë, Anuja Chauhan are a few authors I like.
Author(s): Harshali Singh
Release: November 2016
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