I am a doctor. A surgeon. Surgeons are trained to observe, to delve, to record.
When I won the Passions contest in 2013, I was catapulted into, for me, an uncharted part of the cosmos: the world of Harlequin® authors. Authors, too, are known to observe and delve and record, but there is a tangible difference between the two vocations. Doctors focus on people with problems, even on people who don’t want to develop problems; however, authors, because their creativity depends on it, focus on everybody and everything, most, if not all, the time.
So that’s one of the first things that changed for me. I began looking speculatively at incidents and people that otherwise I would take in my stride. Who knew when I would need to portray a vegetable seller or a shopkeeper; how they hawk their wares, what they wear? I began looking through the eyes of somebody who hungered for that one story, or a million myriad ones. As a consequence I found inspiration in the oddest of places. When I stumbled on the steps of Pari Mahal in Srinagar, twisting my ankle, feisty Mita (“Scorched by His Fire”) promptly had an accident, knocking her head rather hard in the process! My favorite television channel did a feature on the disappearing trams of Kolkata; before I knew it, my protagonists Tanay and Mita were airborne to Kolkata.
Another remarkable change was, I became a more tolerant driver. Delhi has chaotic traffic and I have to negotiate it every day to and from work; ninety minutes on a good day. After Passions, I used those ninety minutes to sort the story out in my head. I thought out some of the dialogues, challenged Tanay and Mita with this or that crisis, conceptualized a few kissing scenes; all this while driving. Thus, when somebody cut into my lane rashly, or harangued me with noisy honking, I was able to smile distractedly instead of showing them the finger or honking back. Never got challan-ed either, since they don’t yet give challans to people who think (of other things) while they drive!
Another wonderful change I noticed was that I stopped procrastinating over my share of the family’s routine chores. I stopped thinking ‘Not today’, ‘Later today’, ‘Tonight, just before I turn out the lights’, ‘Sunday’. If it had to be done, I preferred doing it yesterday. Only then could I be mentally free to sit down and write! And write and write!
And finally, the best thing of all, I found that I fell in love again! Just as I had succumbed, all those years ago, to the fascination of my field of specialization; then later, been enthralled by my fiance, who went on to became my husband; this time too, I fell in love with my story, and its characters, their idiosyncrasies, my editor, just about everything about the whole process of writing. It is a wonderful thing to be in love. I highly recommend it. “Scorched by His Fire” is my first piece of romantic fiction. By writing it, I am, in fact, strongly endorsing romantic love.
One of the advantages of being an author is the power it gives us to reinvent the wheel. Romance came into being the moment humans came into existence. There are folktales and poems and epics on this emotion, each one as different from the other as can be, even though the guiding genre is the same. That is the beauty of it; as an author, I get to give romance a slightly different flavor, one that stems from my imagination and my perspective. Becoming an author means that I get to reinvent romance!