We reviewed Rashmi Kumar’s debut novel ‘Stilettos in the Newsroom’ back in 2011, and at the same time had a chat with her. She is now back with her second novel ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’. We just could not stop ourself from catching up once again.
Q. ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’ is your second novel after ‘Stilettos in the Newsroom’. What made you stick to your guns to go for a second novel when you already know how dreaded the entire process is?
Dreaded? Even losing weight is a “dreaded” experience. You need to sweat it out and control your cravings to get that fab bod! And as a new mother, may I add, even delivering a baby is a “dreaded” process. But the end result is a beautiful child cradling in your arms. So when I read a mail of appreciation from a reader or have someone tell me how much I have positively influenced their life through my writing – it’s all worth the hard work and self discipline.
Q. Talking about the dread reminds me, our readers might want to know whether writing ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’ was a good experience or did you have to fight through bouts of writer’s blocks or lack of inspiration?
Honestly, it was tougher than I thought. Not because I had to fight through writer’s block or lack of inspiration – I wasn’t lucky enough to fight these easy devils – yes, easy devils! For me, the journey was far more difficult. I got married in between writing my second book, moved to a new country and immediately thereafter had a baby. There were times, when I thought, that’s it – my life is over now. Adapting to a new country was challenging because when I left India I was at the peak of my career and was not used to staying at home. I thought I would go bonkers. Canada is so different than India in every way and I had to literally unlearn and relearn everything right from the scratch.
But in the midst of all this, I had a pressing desire to never give up on my writing career. Let’s say, I struggled hard to never let the flame in me douse.
Q. Writing before marriage vs writing with a husband and a toddler sleeping in the next room?
See, challenges are a part of life. You can never have a perfect scenario. You have to make the best out of where you are and what you have. Writing before marriage meant struggling with a full time job and disciplining yourself to write. Writing after marriage with a toddler (sleeping in the same room) means again disciplining yourself to manage time so brilliantly that you do justice to every role you have to perform. Of course, you will not reach perfection because you are donning multiple hats of a full time mother, wife and writer but at least you are learning the art of staying afloat.
Q. Readers have been quite curious about the title – ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’. Care to explain? The readers promised they will go through the book to know the story once they get to know this!
It’s a pun on hook, line and sinker which of course you know means totally, completely and based on the idea of a fish so hungry it swallows the hook (the part that catches the fish), the line (the string) and the sinker (a weight attached to the line to keep it under water). The idea is that the novel’s protagonist Alafia Singh, hooks (men in this case), lines (men get caught) but in spite of all this, she is still single!
Q. Radhika from ‘Stilettos in the Newsroom’ or Alafia from ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’. Who would YOU rather be?
I think whether it is Alafia Singh from ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’ or Radhika Kanetkar from ‘Stilettos in the Newsroom’ – both these women share a shade of who I really am. Both these ladies – who are young, strong, independent, crazy, romantic, sensitive and smart are characteristics I have always looked up to in a woman or have personally prided over possessing some. But honestly, like Whitney Houston‘s song goes, “I Am Every Woman…” So I am both these women in many ways, some ways.
Q. Did your stay outside India motivate you to write ‘Hooked, Lined & Single’ upto some extent? If yes, how?
Motivate? No way. I was anything but motivated. Like I said, I didn’t have it easy after moving here. Moving cross continents to settle down is easy when you have a job waiting for you (professionally), when you move out as a student or when you have never really had a career or too many dreams to forego. In my case, I was well established when I left India and the idea of staying at home without a career and only a husband to depend on was stifling me mentally. I actually went through a phase where I thought I was going completely crazy! So you see there really was no motivation. As a new immigrant in Canada, life has be pretty isolated and tough.
But, I think, by nature I am a fighter. I didn’t give up. Just when I got my work visa and looked forward to working again, I discovered that I was pregnant. I decided then, that was it. I HAD to fight out this feeling of isolation, loneliness, home sickness and loss of identity. That’s when I decided to complete my pending second book. I used to write so much when I was pregnant. Even with acute bouts of morning sickness. Because. I told myself that if I don’t gather myself now, I will be lost forever.
Q. Getting published in the Indian English literature scenario in 2011 vs the same in 2014. What major changes have you observed?
Honestly, there are lots of changes. I am no literary flag bearer but it kind of puts me off to see 20-somethings’ profile details that reads – writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, poet, artist, actor, spiritual guru and… Voila! Really? If and when you’re all of this, let people talk about it. You don’t need to announce it so desperately. Also, writing has become a cheap business, it seems like everyone wants to write in India. There is lack of quality, visibly.
Q. What’s next for you – another novel? How do you plan to keep up the motivation for the same?
Of course, another novel! I have already started working on my third one. You will not believe, but in 24 hours, I can only manage couple of hours for myself. In which, I have to squeeze time for taking a shower, cooking, attending a sometimes-sweet-sometimes-demanding toddler and WRITING. As to how I manage all this, don’t ask. You will need to be a woman to understand that. :)
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