Anita Shirodkar is an Indian writer and the former creative director of art at Mudra Communications. She has 20 years of experience in advertising and is presently a creative consultant to a destination management company promoting tourism in India. She has also written content for a gourmet food store in Mumbai and has ghost-written a cookbook for a nutritional specialist. She lives in Mumbai and Dubai.
1. What have been the changes in your life after releasing your debut novel “Secrets and Second Chances”?
It’s funny. When I tell people I’ve written a book, there’s a sense of dawning respect. An author? A published author? Wow! I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that. But for me, the biggest thing is that in my 50’s, I’ve found a new career which I’m enjoying thoroughly. As a graphic designer and creative director, I spent years working in the design and advertising space, but always to a particular brief. The creative aspect of my work was always tied to someone else’s agenda, someone else’s goal. With writing a novel, I found complete creative freedom. That, to me, is big.
2. What is the best compliment you have got for your first book? And by whom?
There were so many, I was quite overwhelmed. But one that comes to mind is a lady who told me that she couldn’t put the book down, but read as slowly as she could because she wanted to make it last longer… she didn’t want it to end. That was the ultimate compliment!
3. Tell us something about your new novel “Nights in Pink Satin”.
It’s about a young girl who writes a super erotic novel, and publishes it anonymously. On the surface, the story is a light-hearted account of Simran, her marriage, her bestseller book and the people around her. If you delve a little deeper, you will find questions about women and their sexuality, attitudes in supposedly liberal minded urban people about marriage, promiscuity and morality. Simran has no expectation of her book going onto the bestseller lists, but the controversial content of the book throws up plenty of discussion, and the drama surrounding Nights in Pink Satin makes it very hard for Simran to remain incognito. In addition to all this, she has to battle her new in-laws and ghosts of her husband’s past to keep her marriage intact. The characters are quite colourful, and I think it’s a fun, easy read.
4. What inspires you to write urban and metro based stories?
Quite simply, it’s what I know and what I see around me. It would be pretentious on my part to start writing stories based in villages and explore descriptions of rural life, because I have no first-hand knowledge of how people actually live, how their minds work and what makes them tick. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to observe society in urban cities around the world, but though I live part time in Dubai, I love Mumbai best! People are so interesting, so complex… if one watches people without being judgmental, there’s a lot to learn. And there is so much fodder for a novelist!
5. Weren't you quite doubtful about the plot based on your main protagonist, Simran, writing a book?
No, not really! The ‘book within a book’ concept is a theme that has been used many times in the past, and it’s always a tricky one. I think the way to deal with it is not to get too carried away the story the protagonist is writing. The focus is still on the protagonist and the events surrounding her. I have not gone into detailed passages from Simran’s book, because that’s not really relevant to the story. What is relevant is that the content of the book was such that Simran had to publish the book anonymously. The book also has a tremendous effect on the person Simran has modeled her character on, and I think that too is an interesting twist in the story.
6. By when can we expect your 3rd book in the market- 2015 or 2016? What is it based upon?
Hopefully by early 2016! It all depends on the publisher. I haven’t finalized a title yet, but it is set in the art world, and is full of very interesting and colourful characters. The best part of writing a novel is being able to create and own some wonderful characters. The protagonist is an artist who, for reasons of her own, doesn't want anyone to know she paints. Circumstances bring her to the forefront of events that catapult her into the public eye, and throw her in the path of the quintessential ‘angry’ young man. There’s art, there’s wine, there’s history and there’s romance… a heady combination!
7. We have also heard that you have some non-fiction themes in your mind. What’s that and are you working upon it?
I have to confess, I’m a big foodie! I love to cook, I love to eat, I love exploring cuisines and am more excited to be in a kitchen store than in a couture store! So when I venture into nonfiction, it will probably be something food based… yes, I do have some ideas, but currently fiction has me in its grip, so I’ll finish my current project before I decide where I’m headed next. I’m mulling over the idea of luscious recipe book filled with sinfully delicious food, with no pandering to the health wave which has overtaken everyone.
8. How do you manage so many roles in your life and still manage to write beautiful books at regular intervals?
That’s a question even my closest friends ask me, and the answer is, it just happens! I’d love to just say that I’m Supergirl, but unfortunately that’s not true! I have no fixed schedule for writing… though I tell myself that I must write 1000 words a day, it doesn’t quite work that way. I sometimes write three chapters at a time, but very often days go by when I don’t even touch my manuscript. I have just finished with my daughter’s wedding, and that was a 2 month, full time job… but that was also when Nights in Pink Satin was in its final stages of edit, so I had no choice but to manage my time. The thing with writing is that it’s not like finishing off a chore, and you can say okay, from 8 to 10, I’ll write. It’s a process, it requires a mindset, and mostly it requires peace and quiet. In my house, interruptions are more the rule than the exception, so I have to find ways to work around that. But hey, I enjoy it and somehow, I manage to make it work.
9. Any plan to co-author a book along with your sister, Mrs. Madhuri Iyer?
What a lovely idea! Sure, that would be an interesting thing to do, but as of now we haven’t really planned anything.
10. Any words for your fans who love reading your books?
I would like to thank them profusely for giving me the impetus to write more. Secrets and Second Chances was a bit of an experiment, and I wasn't really sure how it would be received. It worked, and that’s only because of the lovely, responsive readers out there! I would love to hear feedback from all of you… my Facebook page is a great way to get in touch. I also have a website now, http://anitashirodkar.wix.com/anitashirodkar . Lets chat!