My first introduction to Shuchi was on Twitter. I was taking baby steps (still am), struggling to figure out how to say it all in so few characters, while Shuchi effortlessly breezed through with a mammoth following. Needless to say I was in awe. As I began following her I realized here's a woman who doesn't hesitate to call a spade a spade. Acerbic and very direct Shuchi likes to hit the nail hard. If you don't follow her on Twitter, you're missing something.
Her previous books – Done with Men & I'm big. So what? – are light and easy reads but not without making a strong point. I do see her first two books as a precursor to her latest release. In the earlier books, Shuchi is talking about the identity of a woman; a woman who struggles with her weight and feels helpless and then angry in the dating game. In her recent release, A Cage of Desires she steps away from the frilly n frothy genre and tells it how she feels it.
It's a story of a woman trapped in a sexless and dysfunctional marriage; Shuchi doesn't hesitate to question norms that impose pliancy in a wife while giving the man free will to do what he wants. What really struck out in the book for me are the lines that are peppered all through. Emotional, evocative and profound. This is a work of a deep thinking mind, an emotional one and one who holds the pen confidently as she writes. Few examples of lines that I loved in the book:
'…the opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference. It's not the lack of love that kills. It is the lies, the deceit…'
'Between happiness and sadness, there's a middle road called peace.'
'We lose ourselves twice. First time when we live through it and then again when we write about it. So whatever kills us, kills us twice…'
A bit about A Cage of Desires - it's the story of the submissive Renu, obedient wife and daughter in-law, loving mother; who is ignored and cast aside by her husband for whom she is just a glorified servant. She hopelessly fails in love with another man, lusts for him and he breaks her heart too. And then there's Maya, the bestselling author of erotica. Maya writes under a pseudonym. Who is she and why does she prefer to stay in the shadows? Is Renu able to break the shackles of her life and give flight to her dreams? Is she able to forget the pain and scars caused by the men she loved? Does she remain fettered in her Cage of desires or does she break free?
The author spoke with me about her book, writing journey & other things...
Your recent release is very different from the two other books you've penned – Done with men & I'm Big. So what? Previous two would fall under the genre of light hearted rom coms. But 'A Cage of Desires' is very different. Why the different genre?
Although writing light-hearted romances comes more naturally to me, I wanted to push my limits as a writer and explore something new. However, more than anything else, the character had taken birth inside my head and her story needed to be told. Penning this one down has been an emotionally exhausting ride, but I'm very happy to see how it has shaped up.
What inspired the story of Cage of Desire?
It was a discussion with a Pakistani author who writes (rather clean) romances under a pseudonym that triggered the idea for the story. It fascinated me as to why someone so talented and brilliant would want to hide behind a name that is not her own. Since I come from a progressive family, I am not limited in my literary expression in any way, but I realized that many women aren't as lucky. Expectations from family and social perceptions so often come in the way of our freedom.
How long did you take to write it?
It took me 3 years. This is by far the longest I have taken to complete a book.
What is your writing process? Are you a detailed planner, make outlines, summaries and then start OR do you just start writing?
No, I wish I was a detailed planner—I'd probably be able to write faster then. My stories always start with a character, and even that is not a deliberate process. It's like a random person popping in your thoughts and saying, "Hey, write my story". Thereon, I just let things flow. There is no serious outline or synopsis—just a vague idea of where the story will go.
How long do you take to hammer out the first draft? Then what? How long do you take to edit?
I wrote my first book in 3 months, the second one in a year and the third one in 3 years. So you can assume that I ain't getting any better at this. It all depends on how much time I can spare from my job and routine. Once I've pumped out the story, I find it extremely painful to revisit it but I do make sure that I turn in a clean draft to the editors.
You used a professional editor for this book. Have you done this for all your books?
Yes, I do that for most of my books. More than language editing, I need structural guidance because sometimes I'm so deeply entangled in the story that I can't look at it objectively anymore. It was amazing working with Samarpita—she helped me fill gaps and improve the flow of the story. I think insights like those can only come from avid readers like her.
Kanishka is your literary agent. How and when did the association start?
I got in touch with Kanishka with the draft of 'I am Big. So What!?' He wasn't too hot on it at first but then he did take a leap of faith with it and got it placed with Fingerprint. I'm a complete outsider to the publishing industry and I'm extremely poor at building contacts. In that regard, Kanishka has not just been my literary agent, but a friend and a guide too. Having a literary agent makes the publishing experience a whole lot smoother. They make sure that your manuscript reaches the right hands and that you get the best possible deal for it. As a result, you are left with more time to focus on writing.
Have you ever considered self-publishing?
I have seen self-publishing work very well for many authors but it isn't something I am looking at right now. In my opinion, being published by an established publisher holds more prestige and works better for an author's brand value.
What's next from your pen?
I'm going back to penning fluffy rom-coms for a while to recover from the emotional upheaval that was Maya. Currently, I'm trying to wind up the sequel to my first book, Done with Men. It has the same characters, but will be a standalone story.
To know more about the author, please visit her website:
To follow her on Twitter: @shuchikalra
Amazon link to buy the book: https://amzn.to/2KSmBPn