Excerpts from the interview with Kalyani Rao, author of the Bubble Wrap:
Me: Bubble Wrap is your debut novel. Is any particular reason to choose child marriage as a central theme for the novel?
Kalyani: Ans: Well,Child Marriage is one of the themes of Bubble Wrap.However I have tried to narrate a story of basic human emotions and relations- of Survival and of friendship.I wanted to showcase the selfless bond friendship creates and how despite all odds against the main characters,its their strength for each other makes them move on from one issue to another.
Me: Is it purely a fictional piece or does it have some strings attached to reality?
Kalyani: It’s purely a fiction piece although I would be wrong if I don’t acknowledge that I did get inspired a lot during my travels across India.
Me: Love stories are the favorite flavor for publishers. How difficult was it for you to write and then getting published a book based on a social issue as serious as child marriage and home rapes?
Kalyani: Love stories are good for economics of publishers as they have a mass appeal.As they say writing the book is the easy part however getting it published is another story. Well in my case,I have been fortunate that I found a very good literary agency -Red Ink where they guided me and helped my work to get published in a very short span of time. I am also thankful to my publisher at Harlequin-India who supported a story which highlights some social evils which still haunts contemporary India.
Me:What would be your next book: A love story or social issue-based story?
Kalyani: Well its an amalgamation of both.Its an unconventional love story which highlights the apathy of Fundamentalism.
Me: Who do like to read?
Kalyani: I am a big fan of work of Haruki Murakami and Susan Sontag.
Me: Do you think literary writing is heading towards extinction in India?
Kalyani: Well, Literary books has always taken a very small percentage of number of books released in any given year and I guess this happens not just in India,its the same every where else. I reckon India has some very gifted literary writers whose work is followed by lot of readers. I do acknowledge that there is a huge spring in books in India which don’t classify as literary fiction.
I consider literary fiction as those gems who mange to find their readers however challenging is the market because literary works are those which we would like to revisit, ponder on and get mesmerised with. so to answer your question,I would say that literary fiction cannot head towards extinction in India.It will always find its space and readers.
Me:The present day Indian female authors, for obvious reasons, are more into writing chic-lits. Are you too planning in the coming time?
Kalyani: I think ‘chic-lits’ are good fun.However I don’t think I have the requisite expertise or motivation to write one.
Me: Are you a by-chance writer or somebody who always wanted to enter the world of wordsmiths?
Kalyani: let’s just say I am a recluse writer. I always loved writing but never thought of making it a career but now thanks to folks around me I hope to write as much as I can and publish my work.
Me:Your message to aspiring authors.
Kalyani: One thing that I have learned is that writing requires great discipline. Even though one has talent they need to channel that talent in a very systematic and discipline way.I wish all the aspiring authors to have that discipline to showcase their work and also to have lot of patience because sometimes that positive reply takes a wee bit more time than we thought it would.