Your birthday recently went by, happy birthday again, and birthdays are usually special but this one came right after your book released. Did you do anything special to celebrate that as well?
Thanks so much! We’ve been celebrating the book since it came out. My team at work, my friends & family have been so enthusiastic about it. My partner even got me a birthday cake with the book’s cover on it! Look.
Bonus: That’s a Jishnu Guha book title in red icing 😛
That looks awesome. I wouldn’t have had the heart to cut it! lol. I believe your book was selected after you took part in a contest right? Do you think this is the new way to find promising commercial authors?
Yes. Hachette and DNA put out an open call for manuscripts and it was quite interesting how they tested us. Like when we were shortlisted for round 2 of the contest, they did this really cool thing where they said send us the 1st and last chapter of your novel in seven days. Seven days! It was a really nice challenge and the whole process of writing down a detailed outline, synopsis, character sketches, even the chapters – this was very significant to the manuscript.
So yes, to answer your question, it’s a great way to find new authors, especially in India where we really know so little about approaching agents and publishers and cleaning up our manuscripts. And the process of being put through rigorous tests like that is very helpful in itself. Winning and actually getting published is an added bonus.
How did it feel to write about a publishing house and its workings without having worked in one? Were there a lot of corrections to be made or did you get it all bang on?
I went through about 6 full rewrites on this one. Two of these happened while I was working with my editors. So no, I did not get it bang on at first. AT ALL. (In fact, part of me is still certain I haven’t got a lot of things right.)
But as a first time novelist, I was very clear that at 1st draft, I just wanted to get all of the story in and have clarity on the conflict. So though I read up a lot and emailed loads of questions to friends in publishing, I only took the basic framework of the publishing house in that draft. There were no intricacies, no detail.
What really helped is that when I was doing my first rewrite, I went and spent a few hours at the Hachette office with my editor, the Head of Marketing and a member of her team. And they just told me loads of stories. It was very informal – this was over lunch. But that one conversation really helped me catch the vibe of how things work – especially, and this is very important, how personally invested Marketing can get in ensuring a good book succeeds commercially.
Did you have any author in mind when you were writing about Jishnu Guha? 😛
🙂 I did. I researched a bunch of young, bestselling Indian authors and Jish’s work is inspired in bits and pieces by some of them.
I’m sure there’s atleast one cute thing that happened in real life that you’ve used for Ruta and Jishnu, could you please tell us what that is?
I’d love to share but it would be at least mildly spoilery for people who haven’t read the book yet.
You’ve worked in films as an AD. If you could would you direct It Must Have Been Something He Wrote as a film? or would you choose another director to do it? And why?
I’d love to direct the film! But I feel like I’d be better at writing the screenplay and the creative referencing. I think I’d love to see someone as sharp and powerful as Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish), Zoya Akhtar (Dil Dhadakne Do) or Meghna Gulzar (Talvaar) direct a film like this – I think they’d get the nuances of Ruta’s character, her insecurities and her desires really well and they’d bring that extra something to the story and the conflict
When obsessive book-lover (ahem, book snob) Amruta – Ruta – Adarkar arrives in Delhi to work as a marketing executive for Parker-Hailey’s Publishing, she learns that the world of books is not as cozy as she’d imagined. Her eccentric taskmaster of a boss expects marketing miraclesto happen on shoestring budgets and in record time and surviving the job (and the city) means she’ll have to master the local art of jugaad really fast. Worst of all, she’s stuck being a publicist for Jishnu Guha, protein-shake lover, serial selfie-taker and bestselling author of seven cheesy romance novels, the kind she wouldn’t be caught dead reading. As Ruta struggles between work and life in a new city, she finds, much to her annoyance, that she needs Jishnu’s help more than she cares to admit. But with her own parents getting a divorce, can Ruta dare to fall in love, especially with someone who’s so impossibly different?