Interview with Kiran Manral

kiran manralOn the 15th of May, Just Books Library, Thane had organised a book reading and signing of Kiran Manral’s latest book, “The Face At The Window”.  I had the privilege of interviewing  Ms. Kiran Manral on this occassion. The cosy atmosphere of the library set the tone for a friendly chat rather than a formal interview. Kiran’s demeanor too made it very difficult to be all stiff and business like.

Me: “A Face at the Window ” is your 5th book to be published, isn’t it? So how did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Kiran: (laughing): Not at all. It was my mother. She kept asking me, “When are you going to write your book?” In college. After I got married, “When are you going to write your book?” When I became a mother, “When are you going to write your book?” When I was forty. And then I gave in and decided that if I have to do it now is the time, and that is how “The Reluctant Detective” was born.

Me: Every book of yours has been a different genre; from humour to romance to horror. How do you come up with your plots?download ftw

Kiran: Some of my plots are organic. They come to me fully developed. Some I consciously plan out and work out every detail. But it all hinges around the character. It is the character who dictates the plot.

Me: Coming to the main character in your books. Each one of them is so different. From Kay who was a bored housewife in The Reluctant Detective, to Mrs. McNally, an old Anglo Indian woman who is haunted by her past. How do you find your characters. Are they someone you know or just a figment of your imagination.

Kiran: I think they are a combination of both. You meet people, you hear about people, you add a bit, and a character gets created.

Me. When “The Reluctant Detective” was released it received mixed reviews. How did you deal with it?

Kiran: I realize that no matter how well  you write there will be people who won’t like your work. And that is okay. Also, I do not write for others. i write for myself. At the end of the day, I have to like what I write. So I ask myself. Do I like what I have written? Does it satisfy the level I set for myself. If yes, it is good, if not, I need to do something about it.

Me: Why did you choose to write a horror story this time?

Kiran: (laughing) Because I like to scare people. I wanted to write a story that had people asking “why?” as they read the book and even when they finished they had to ask more whys. It had to stay with them like a thorn in their side, niggling and worrying them.

Me: ‘A face in the Window ” certainly does that. I kept agonizing over the end and wanting more!

Me: Before we wind up, any advice to the aspiring writers here?

Kiran: Write, every day. At least 500 words. Get your presence out there. On Facebook, on twitter, let people know who you are but more importantly do not wait for the muse. Just write.

Me: Thank you so much Kiran. Are we expecting any more books soon?

Kiran: Well, I have had 3 releases in the last six months, and there are a couple of works in progress …so…..

Me: Definitely looking forward to reading them, Kiran. Thank you so much for your time and advice!

Kiran: The pleasure was mine!

And with that she sat down to meet her fans and sign copies of her book for them.

You can read the review on her book on my blog here 

You can buy the book on through my affiliate link here .

Aata Majhi Satakli

Sometimes I wish I could leave well alone. I wish I could be indifferent to things and the actions of people and just walk away! I tell myself that my life would be so much less complicated, if I could do just that, if I could just ignore stuff instead of letting it get to me till something inside me yells, “Aata majhi satakli!”

A couple of months ago, I had gone to the bank for some work. By the time I came out, the entrance to the bank had been totally blocked by bikes. There was absolutely no way to get out. An old man stood there on the steps looking utterly confused and bewildered.

I took one look at the bikes and went back into the bank. “Can some of you please move your bikes?” I requested, “There is no way for people to go out.”

One of the customers leered at me and said in a hearty voice, “Then you will just have to wait till we finish our work, won’t you?” This was said in Marathi, in that typical condescending tone that males reserve when they are think they are dealing with helpless females and it evoked a round of smug laughter. I don’t what it was , but something inside me snapped.

I looked around with narrowed eyes and without a word, calmly walked out.  I went to the line of bikes and gave the one nearest to me a hefty shove to the right. It toppled on to the bike next to it, creating a domino effect. I turned to the left and repeated the action with the bike there too. Oh it was so satisfying to see all the bikes go down!

Feeling terribly pleased with myself, I dusted off my hands dramatically as I ignored the yells of “Oh Madam, tumhi kay karta ahat?”, as people rushed out of the bank.

I held out my hand to the bemused old man, gave him a cheeky smile and helped him out on to the main road. “Thank you madam!” he said with a chuckle, “Oh, the look on their faces!”

Two days later when I visited the bank again, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had created a pathway to the entrance lined with potted plants on either side, with a big ‘No Parking’ sign prominently displayed. When I commented on it to the Manager, he said, “What to do, Madam? If we have customers like you, we have to do things like this no?”

So I guess it was worth losing my cool after all.

Have you ever lost your cool? I’d love to hear what it takes for you to feel, “Aata majhi satakli”. Do tell us about it in the comments on the website.

A Mother’s Fears

Ever since my parents have moved back to within a few blocks from me, I make it a point to visit them as often as I can. I must admit, I enjoy bouncing ideas off them and getting their opinion about what I should write about. These are pleasant evenings spent in their company and I treasure them.

So I was a little surprised last Wednesday when mom grabbed hold of me as soon as I entered and said, “There is something I must show you. I want you to write about it. It is very disturbing.”

“Whoa! Slow down! What happened?” I asked worried.

“This!” she said, pushing the newspaper into my hand and giving me the article to read. “Why are they doing this? Can’t they leave the babies alone? Why drag them into it?”

“I want you to write about this. It isn’t right. I know that they believe that the IS has been training kids as well but this is not the way to retaliate.”

“Just because you think somebody is evil, does that mean you have to be eviler?”

“Won’t that mean that it will just spiral downwards into being more and more evil till the only thing that is left is evil?”

“And what happens to the kids? Why aren’t their parents saying anything against this? Where are their mothers? Do they really want to send their kids to their deaths?”

“When will people realise that religion, no religion ever has been created by God, any God?”

“Can’t someone do something? Can’t someone put an end to this madness?” she cried finally ending her tirade.

I tried to calm her down and we had to admit that we were just two helpless mothers in a world gone mad with hatred. And as we wondered what we could do, I remembered the words of a poem by Israeli writer Prof. Ada Aharoni


How do you know
Peace is a woman?
I know, for I met her yesterday
on my winding way to the world’s fare.

She had such a sorrowful face
just like a golden flower faded
before her prime.
I asked her why she was so sad?
She told me her baby
was killed in Auschwitz,
her daughter in Hiroshima
and her sons in Vietnam, India, Pakistan,
Israel, Palestine, Lebanon,
Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur and Chechnya.

All the rest of her children, she said,
are on the nuclear
black-list of the dead,
all the rest, unless
the whole world understands –
that peace is a woman.

A thousand candles then lit
in her starry eyes, and I saw –
Peace is indeed a pregnant woman,
Peace is a mother.

Being Awesome In 2016 !

awesome 2016

Yes, I know, it’s a little too late to be writing a “New Year Post”. But there was just no way this one could have been written earlier. I have to confess, the title of the post is something I have borrowed from my mentor, who refuses to be named. She is working with a group of us and came up with this idea of creating a group working together to hone our skills which she called “2016, Year of awesomeness!”

I was so struck with the idea of devoting a year to becoming awesome, that I decided to make it my personal theme for the year as well. And since planning awesome things is so intrinsically linked with actually doing awesome things, there was no way I could have written about this year before the awesome things started happening.

Has the year been awesome? You bet it has! Right from day one! What better way to spend the first day of the year than with friends old and new; laughing your guts out and dancing like crazy? A trip to Hyderabad to spend New Year with my daughters ended up as a gourmet’s fantasy. Biryani, Khabsa, Mandi, even Rajma Chawla took on a different flavour!

The evening was crazy with Debashish’s cooking and Sneha beating us hands down at dancing with her fabulous steps. Not that any of us were far behind! We even had a stand up or rather a sit down comedian. Anurag had us in splits at the way he narrated the most mundane anecdotes and got us howling with laughter. Yes. It was a lovely beginning to the year!

poetry tuesday

The first Tuesday of the month saw me at the Poetry Tuesday as usual. This is one of the places I absolutely love to be, meeting other poets and writers, listening to what they have written, having them listen to what I have written! Oh it is heady stuff! I never cease to thank Anish Vyavahare for coming up with the idea of having this in Thane. It really adds that awesomeness to my year every month. If you are a poet or a writer or would just like to hear some good stuff that is being written come over and join us.

alphabet sambar

Another dream came true this year. I had been in touch with Ramya Pandyan, or the Idea-smithy for sometime now and had been trying to make it to Alphabet Sambar.(See my post on writers who inspire me.) And then out of the blue, Anish announces that Alphabet Sambar is happening in Thane and I am like “What? Where? When? OMG?” and just like that on the 9th of January, I attended a session at Café Verve. It was awesome listening to a whole new genre of writing and being critiqued on my writing as well. You can find out more about Alphabet Sambar here.

Since I had decided that this would be my year of learning and interaction, I attended two workshops organised by ITC, International Trainer’s Conclave. The first was on building your Vision Board . It was conducted by Ami Sheth and what I liked that she emphasized the fact that we had to draw it ourselves, no cutting out and sticking board She encouraged us to dip our fingers into the paint and splash it on the page. It was really liberating. We felt like kids, with no inhibitions and let our hearts speak.

The second workshop was on e-learning conducted by Mr. Milind Mangle. It was something I thought of attending as I am contemplating shifting some of the courses I conduct to the virtual platform and it is always nice to learn something new. Though the session was a good enough introduction to e-learning, what amazed me was how many friends I made and how many people were really interested in learning how to write.

I realised that I really do something that not a lot of people do; I write! And I am good at it! And not only am I good at writing! I am good at helping others write as well!

And if that isn’t what makes for a truly awesome 2016, what does?

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