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Interview with Swati Kaushal

Post by: Deepti Khanna

Swati Kaushal is one author we loved chatting up with. An email interview with her and we know she is one independent woman who loves people who stand by their mistakes, very much like the protagonists of her novels in Piece of Cake and A Girl Like Me. During the chat, Swati revealed what makes her novels a delightful read and how she goes about shaping the characters of her novels. And all you aspiring writers, don’t get disheartened, she has some very interesting pieces of advice for you too.

How do you think your writing style has matured from Piece of Cake to A Girl Like Me?
 I’m not sure it’s maturing as much as altering the tone and style to suit the story. Piece of Cake was an entertaining, anecdotal story about a working woman stuck somewhere between modern and traditional; A Girl Like Me is the coming of age tale of a plucky teenager and comes with all the contingent insecurities and passion that define adolescence. It needed the directness and urgency of a teenage voice, and I wanted to try and capture the intensity of emotion and underlying insecurity that defined Ani, because I think we have all felt that way at some point in our lives.

Your book Piece Of Cake has been appreciated for its writing style and humour. Considering it’s easy to make people cry and difficult to make people laugh, did you think writing a comedy was a difficult process?
Yes and no. I think we all practice being funny even in real life; even without realizing it! Making people care about your characters, enough to both laugh and cry with them, that’s the challenge.

How did working with brands like Nestle India Limited and Nokia Mobile Phones help you as a writer?
I think they helped me with material. I could write with authenticity about the working woman’s life because I had lived it myself. Beyond that, working with brands teaches you to be focused on your consumers; to put yourself in their shoes; to consider their wants. As a writer it helped me put myself in the reader’s shoes; consider what the reader wants.

You said you write when you fall in love with a particular character. So how do the characters come about? Is it your imagination or inspired by people you mee
I find people fascinating. I love being around them. Especially people with little foibles and flaws and a desire to be better; and people with big struggles, who keep trying to get somewhere even though they often don’t, and people with an edge to them. People who make mistakes and learn how to live with the consequences, head held high. I try to be that kind of person. And there are plenty of people to draw inspiration from; and characters in fiction too; so I guess my characters are hybrids of fact and fantasy, and a little bit of myself thrown into the mix.

Writers take offense on their works being classified a chick-lit. What’s your take on it?

I think I’ve moved past being annoyed by labels. The term Chick-lit does seem to trivialize the genre; and I believe what I write is contemporary fiction with modern themes and strong, relatable heroines.

Do you write longhand?
I sometimes write sketches of scenes in longhand; and I doodle a while I’m thinking. Nothing helps the creative juices flow faster than a fat pen stuck between one’s fingers!

A little about your next novel
Watch out; it’s going to surprise everyone! But I have the most awesome heroine that I know my readers will love.

Your all time favourite books.

Too many to list! But here’s a secret; I have a huge collection of Asterix, Tintin, Dilbert, Peanuts, The Far Side, Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes that’s my happy place to go to when the going gets tough!!!

Any advice to aspiring writers.
Write something original. Take a risk. Try to look at things a little differently. LOVE your characters. And take the time to talk to people as you go along….really talk to them.

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kya baat
Fri,Sep 30th 2011 7:47 AM