Today I have on my blog author Usha Narayanan whose book Madras Mangler is out now. Let’s get to know her through a question and answer session.
Q: Tell us something about yourself and how you got into writing.
Writing came easily to me and an MA in English Literature made it a natural choice. I spent many years writing to a client’s brief, whether for advertising or radio, corpcomm or websites. In the last two years I started writing for myself, playing both the Queen and King of Hearts from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. One proclaims “Off with their heads!” and the other pardons them.
Q: Your experience of writing a book – easy as pie or hard as nails?
It was really tough as I started off on a whim, and had to discover every detail of the process through painstaking research. How many words, how many pages to a chapter, where to begin, where to end, how to hold interest, how to build suspense, what happens to bodies when they are dumped in water, what clothes do obnoxious show-offs wear, how does a stalker operate….
I realized I knew nothing and had to fight each step of the way forward. But now, when I read ‘The Madras Mangler’, I feel like a proud mother who has forgotten the pangs of birth!
Q: What motivates you to write?
Once you experience the thrill and the freedom of writing for yourself, it’s like a drug in your blood. After it has been completed, you want to share it with as many people as you can. Positive feedback from the readers is the ultimate high.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
I started with five starry-eyed girls, who are eager to conquer the world. What happens when the world is not exactly as they had dreamt it would be? Do they hold their own or do they retreat in fear to their homes? That is the question which this book addresses, with the serial killer being a metaphor for the challenges that life throws at you.
Q: Please describe your book briefly.
‘The Madras Mangler’ is a suspense thriller featuring five feisty girls, one hot hero, a psychopathic killer and the pleasures and pain of youth. Chills and thrills, fun and banter, drama and action ― get ready for the joyride of your life!
Q: Tell us about the main characters in your book.
Kat, Lolita, Minx and Moti are the central characters, leaving home for the first time to live in a hostel. Each of them has their own story ― difficult parents, a patriarchal society, financial or personal issues. Are they victims or winners? The brilliant and sexy Vir and his friend Bishnu are the male protagonists. We also have the trio Amar, Rakesh and Subu who together form the creepy Asuras. Thugs, cops, politicians and a Hollywood film crew add spice to the pot. They charm you or spook you and keep you reading, till you reach the spine-chilling end.
Q: How do you overcome writer’s block?
Take a break, read a book, watch a TV serial, meet a friend, go out for an ice cream. And then get back to your computer. The story is not going to write itself, my friend! The only way to remove writer’s block is to push through it.
Q: Does writing get in your way of life?
Yes, it does. When I am going full speed ahead, I have little patience for household duties, ringing phones or calling bells, even meal times. At other times, I’m happy to have an excuse to say I’m cogitating, just a fancy word for lotus-eating!
Q: What’s next in your writing plans?
A romcom with a sparkling pair of lovers in the colourful media world. And an action thriller set in mythical times, jazzed up with loads of romance, adventure, divinity and heroism.
And here comes our rapidfire round:
Your favourite movie
‘Gone with the Wind’. This was the rare movie which to me surpassed the book it was based on.
The worst movie you’ve seen
The Tamil movie ‘Boys’ which was so loud and crass it had me running away midway!
Any secret habit?
Skimping on sleep to read a book, write a book, watch the TV serials I love!
Actor you’d fall for in a heartbeat
The psychological thriller ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ by S J Watson. It is every woman’s nightmare come true.
Fallback option when the fridge is empty
A good book that you stashed away for just such an eventuality!
What comforts you when things go bad?
The confidence that you have weathered several crises before. ‘This too shall pass.’
Your most comfortable outfit
A cotton salwar kameez ― it is cool in more ways than one!
Thanks, Usha. It was great fun having you here. By the way, how does an empty stomach cope up on the diet of a good book? I’m sure all dieters out there will be intrigued to know 😉
This interview is a part of the Book Club tour for Usha’s book. Check out the buy links and author links below.
Stalk her @