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Interview with Manasi Vaidya

Post by: Deepti Khanna

The first time I met author Manasi Vaidya was at a book launch event in Pune. She happened to tell me that Penguin was releasing her romantic comedy No Deadline For Love under the Metro Reads section. As soon as I got back to office, I read her blog, I fell in love with her writing style. Her topical subjects, situations and reactions were incredibly funny. From how she ran to the loo to key in her novel or how she came across a group of daughter-in-laws who faked lingerie shopping to go to go to the salon; I loved her writings. And this debutant author and avid blogger’s book is certainly no exception. Read up to know how she decided to put her advertising career on the back burner to grow two babies at the same time, her novel and her daughter. 

How similar is Megha Pandit to Manasi Vaidya?
They couldn’t be more different! It was actually quite challenging to write about Megha because she is very different from what I’m like as a person, but I had a very clear idea of the kind of protagonist I wanted and she had to be that way for the story to progress. We do have certain things in common like the corporate backdrop the story is set in, the FMCG and advertising industry and, ahem, certain vile bosses, but mostly we’re very, very different. I’m secretly terribly jealous of Megha though, I wish I’d had someone like Yudi in my life!

What made you write a rom com set in a corporate background?
To be honest when I started out I didn’t mean for the book to be terribly romantic. It was meant to be a funny, warm book about a girl’s struggle to follow her heart as opposed to conforming to conventionally successful stereotypes. And I had always wanted to write a book set against the crazy, wonderful corporate world that I’ve been a part of myself and that I personally think is a terrific setting for a story. But then I created the character of Yudi and the whole romantic angle took on a life of its own. Luckily for me, a lot of readers have appreciated the romance.

I have read your book and found it very funny. How did you manage to make the humour seem so effortless?

Why thank you, I’m glad you found it funny. And also a little relieved! I remember reading out what I thought was a particularly funny bit from the book to an assembled audience comprising various members of my extended family shortly after the book was out. At the end of it, someone coughed politely and asked me whether they should laugh now? It was the most mortifying moment of my life! But on a serious note, I’ve been writing for many years now and while I’ve experimented with many different styles, the one that I am most comfortable with is the one in which I’m trying to be funny (and desperately hoping others find it that way too!). That’s also the way I speak in real life, in fact one of the early inspirations for this book was a close friend doubling over with laughter at something I’d said and telling me to write a book because I always spoke like such a cartoon.

Though the writing style was appreciable I felt there was no surprise in store for the readers. No Deadline for Love was a predictable story. Please comment.

Well I guess I always intended for the story to be straightforward, you know? Most of the story was meant to be about Megha’s struggle to fit into a world in which she is increasingly beginning to feel like an outsider, and finally the conviction at the end to follow her heart. So I never really planned for a surprise or a revelation in the story, apart from the one at the end about the person who is trying to sabotage her plans, which also starts building up at an earlier point so it may not come as a complete surprise.

Considering this is your debut novel was finding a publisher difficult?

Not really, I was quite fortunate that the first publisher I approached liked my manuscript enough to publish it.

Love your blog on your experiences of being a mother. In fact I felt that your writing on the blog is much more animated and interesting. Why didn’t you think of writing a book about motherhood?
Thanks a lot. I guess writing the blog is easier in many ways; you can afford to be more indulgent, to experiment in a blog, without being confined within the boundaries that writing a book demands. Plus my daughter for whom I write the blog is quite an interesting character herself, so I guess the animation there comes naturally! I have been toying with the idea of writing something along those lines though, maybe someday I will.

A child knows how to keep their mother’s hands full. How did you then find time to write, rewrite and edit in between preparing baby food, changing diapers and singing lullabies? 
Thankfully a child also needs to sleep, although mine seems to get by with precious little on many days! I wrote the book soon after my daughter was born, when I was on maternity leave and most of my writing was done while she was asleep or by dumping her in my poor husband’s arms as soon he got home from work and disappearing into the loo with my laptop. Of course that meant that I wasn’t getting much sleep myself and went around on most days looking like a dehydrated raccoon with a bad hair day.

Do you think it’s easier to be a writer these days with self publishing and social media available for promotion?

I think it is definitely easier to make your work accessible to more readers, but it doesn’t really help with the process of writing as such.

Did you write longhand or you prefer to type your work on your laptop?

I haven’t actually put a pen to paper for years now, unless it is to scribble a list of groceries I need to get or when I’m doodling with my daughter, so it’s always the laptop. Besides I have a terrible handwriting, it looks like a slightly stoned spider dipped in ink and left to crawl randomly on paper. Even my two year old daughter’s doodles look better.

What do we see Manasi Vaidya write next?
I’m working on my second book. It’s in a similar genre although the story is very different. It’s going slower than I’d like because my daughter now thinks that early bedtimes are for losers and has taken to enthusiastically jiving to Boggie Beebies till the wee hours. But I hope I can finish it soon, I’m quite excited about it!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind…

*Noteworthy author:  Jhumpa Lahiri
*Entertaining book: Picadilly Jim by PG Wodehouse
*Your child: Is finally asleep and I can answer these questions!
*Writing a book: Something I have to keep working at, every day
*Corporate job: Crazy fun!


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