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September 03, 2015

Quick 14 with Kiran Manral

Text by Zaral Shah and Natasha Sahjwani

Out with her latest book All Aboard, author Kiran Manral talks romance, go-to reads and love in the contemporary setting

After a long ride full of tears and laughter, and many nail-biting moments, author, blogger and regular Verve contributor, Kiran Manral has penned a new story. She lets us in her workspace and shares writing tips….

1. Your stories have so much heart. What makes you lean towards such writing?  

“I am a complete sucker for laughs, romance and a happy ending, and I think it was natural for me to write books of this type. They are supposed to be comfort reads—but I like to think that there should be layers to them, which the reader might not get immediately. There are real issues women face that do sneak into the narrative, though I camouflage them with the funnies in my stories.”

2. Tell us about your new book, All Aboard?

All Aboard was very clearly going to be a romance — with the highs and lows associated with it. It was fun researching the locations and the experience of being on a cruise to write this book. This included a lot of net surfing and vacation planning, though that is still to materialise into an actual trip!”

3. What does your work station look like?

“My desk is in a little mezzanine space, where I sit alone and work (or surf the net). It is pretty functional and simple – desktop, printer, diary and a small roll-up mattress for a midday nap…. I rarely get out, unless it is work-related or at social gunpoint. It is a rather staid routine, and I love it. “

4. What are your go-to books?

“I can read anything written by P.G. Wodehouse at any time, and my favourite all time comfort read has to be Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, which so cleverly mixes a healthy dollop of humour with social commentary. Then there are Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, which continue to haunt me long after I’ve read and reread them. But I would think the book that will always stay with me is Jane Eyre, because it was the first time for me that the heroine was not pretty, not a princess and did not end up with a Prince Charming.”

5. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

“Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t take rejection letters personally. Don’t give up your day job. Believe in your work. And only become a writer if there is nothing else you would rather do for the rest of your life.”

6. Do you follow any particular pattern while writing a romance novel?

“I don’t have a pattern per se but I do try to have the bare boned plot outlined before I continue. I also try to keep a fixed routine while writing a book, so it becomes a continuum.”

7. Is there any ritual you follow while writing?

“Get to my desk by 8.30 every morning. Drink coffee. Reply to mails and then remove all my rings, watch. Begin. I keep social media for coffee breaks and stay nose in work till I get x number of words done for the day.”

8. Given that the times have changed since you fell in love, how has your writing adapted to the current age?

“I try to keep in touch with what the current dating norms are, how people get in touch, connect. But love remains the same through the ages, so that is something that is universal and never changes.”

9. Is old school romance only a thing of the past now? Is it going to make a comeback?

“I’d like to hope so, there is a grace and gentleness to old fashioned romance we’d be lesser for the loss of. I think we might just go full circle and come back to the graciousness of wooing, and romance.”

10. Do you think Indian society is progressing towards the notion of happily-ever-after live-in relationships?

“I think yes, I see a lot more acceptance of live in relationships. But I speak from an urban space. I would not know how this is accepted in small town and rural India, I suspect not so well. Also financial independence of women and well as reproductive control does empower women.

11. Has the age bar for marriage been raised with hook-up culture coming into play?

“Not just hook up culture, so many factors, financial independence, developments in infertility treatment, etc. No longer is the biological clock an overwhelming urge for people to want to get married, or settled. Also people are much more comfortable with not settling down for the sake of settling down.”

12. What’s your take on how Indian films portray love?

“I think much more interesting nowadays but the standard-format stalker wooing needs to be killed and buried.”

13. If you could write a romantic letter to any character from literature, who would it be? And why?

“Rhett Butler for sure. I have swooned long and hard over his swashbuckling self.  Perhaps Jay Gatsby and perhaps even Edward Cullen.”

14. Which literary/fictional romance made you want write love stories?

“So many, so many. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind and Bridget Jones. And all the M&Bs that fuelled my adolescent, burgeoning fascination with the opposite sex.”

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