Q. A book like Advantage Love has a number of colourful personalities. I have to ask you, why a politician and a Tennis player?

I’ve never explored the mind of a politician and tennis player. What would it be like for a young upcoming man from either of these fields to fall in love? What would the family be like? Would they be supportive? Where would they live? And how would that man find his identity finally? Vedant and Abhimanyu are as different as chalk and cheese. Yet Trisha loves them both. You’ll have to read Advantage Love to find out who she ends up with and why!

Q. Was either of these inspired by any real life person that you’ve met?

Vedant and Abhimanyu are an amalgamation of everything I’ve read in the papers of young scions rising to fame and the tennis scene that I’ve loved as a child. All my female characters from Trisha in ‘Advantage Love’ to Kaveri in ‘Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas’ to Bela in ‘Mistakes Like Love And Sex’ are close to real characters with much chutzpah thrown in.

Q. If I may ask you, who was your favourite character from the book?

From ‘Advantage Love’ my favourite character is Abhimanyu. For the gentleman he is, for loving a woman even when she tells you she’s betrayed you, for supporting her dreams, for knowing what she needs before she speaks, and…you’ve got to read the book! From ‘Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas’ – Aditi for living unabashedly the way she chooses and making the most out of life. From ‘Mistakes Like Love And Sex’ – Shyamolie for her Bengali roots and her Mumbai existence.

Q. In the book, you provide some firm views about marriage, which translate into it being unnecessary in the present times. Do elaborate.

Marriage kills romance. I’ve always believed that marriages are for people who want join accounts and lust-less nights. Love is for people who are passionate and bold. Weddings are for people who love sentimentality and making their parents happy. What two people have between themselves can never be taken away if they choose to stay firmly in love. But Trisha believes in marriage. She wants to be in love with one man who loves her only. She needs that commitment. That is her Advantage Love.

Q. Trisha is given much advice in the book about being a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man to complete her. Do you believe women in India can move to this direction?

Men and women do complete each other in this circle of passion. But when we move beyond this desire, we really don’t need anyone. Trisha is strong and independent but love completes her. Women in India are very complete in themselves. Ask anyone. But they still want to be appreciated, loved, cherished and pampered. I don’t believe they should move out of that zone at all.

Q. I love a certain line in the book about love, “Love should add layers to your identity, not take it away. The differences make it exciting and challenging.” What are your thoughts on love and its role in a person’s life?

Love plays an extremely important role in our lives. It makes us stronger, helps us stay centred and gives us wings to do what we need to. It cannot be a mundane existence of the same thing every year. As people, we need to constantly change and our love needs to evolve as well. If you are ambitious, you should have a person who says – “What are your dreams? Go for it! I’m behind you.” If you are a person who says, “I want to take a sabbatical.” You should have a partner who says, “I’ll go out and earn for us. You figure out what you want to do.” And give each other time limits to move in a direction. That’s the way to add layers to your love. And a difference of opinion, talking about the things that happened in your day to each other and laughing about a silly joke you share makes the relationship exciting and challenging!

Q. In the book, there is a constant struggle between love and career for Trisha. What do you think holds more importance?

I think she finds a balance in the end when she speaks to the person she chooses.

Q. Would you say that India is a hypocrite when it comes to erotica novels where people like reading it, but vociferously declare the book bad?

What erotica novels are there by Indian authors? I write regular romance novels with passion thrown in. Don’t all relationships end up in bed sometime? I just write what I observe. Erotica is 90% sex and 10% story. Romance is 90% story and 10% passion. There is no need to slot or categorise anything much less declare it bad. Enjoy every genre!

Q. I do read that Mills and Boons has signed you on for a book, do divulge!

Not at all. But I would love to write one! Am currently working on the Scandalous Housewives series with Rupa Publications and ‘My Clingy Girlfriend’ with Westland.

Q. You seem to be a highly creative and have your foot in a variety of bags! How do you manage with everything?

I’m like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get with me! Different genres excite me as a writer. If I can’t challenge myself as an author, then what legacy am I leaving behind for my daughter or the youth of India. I don’t want to say “Do the same thing every day that you’re good at and hopefully you’ll be rich and famous one day.” My motto is “Do the things you’ve never done every day and be super successful at it one day!

Q. How did you venture into writing?

With a pen and paper at the age of 5, I wrote a diary. At 12, I wrote a book. At 25, I wrote a screenplay. At 30, I wrote a novel. You don’t venture into anything. You just do it every day!

Q. Where do you find your inspiration to write about the topics that you do?

From everything around me. The newspapers, friend’s conversations, TV shows that might spark what would happen if that didn’t happen like that, films that I think could have been better, magazine articles where I think of a different opinion, family functions where I observe human behaviour more than taking part in the festivities, coffee shops where I imagine where the people in the next table come from and what their dreams would be. Life inspires me!

Q. What role of Madhuri Banerjee do you like the best?

As an author and as a mother. That’s the 50/50 in my life. And I bring in both to each sphere. As an author, I explain things in detail to my daughter. And as a mother, I write things more sensitively for a chapter.

Q. What advice would you give struggling authors out there?

Finish writing the book. Send it to an editor and change what they tell you. Send it out to publishing houses. Pray.

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