I was into high brow academic stuff in school and college,’ claims Shoma Narayan. But then every once in a while, the new author for Mills & Boon India would seek solace in an Agatha Christie or a Mills & Boon. And perhaps that is where the journey began.
One novella down and one more in the pipeline with the international romance giant, Narayan is optimistic about Monsoon Wedding Fever — the first global release of a Mills & Boon book by an Indian author.
Narayan, who has her hands full with her day job at a bank, her two kids and her husband, explains that she always liked to write, though she never took it up seriously till she saw the advert for the Mills & Boon Passions contest. One serious weekend and a short story later, the author was in talks with the UK editors about the full novella and her story took its course from there.
Narayan admits that writing on the scales of Amitava Ghosh and the likes is a task she can barely fathom. The reason? Simply the depth of research that goes into it all. A detective story or a romance is far easier for an amateur author, she feels. But despite that, writing romance, and that too from the Indian perspective, is not easy. For clearly the Mills & Boon brand of romance is drastically different from the ones we read in chicklit. ‘While chicklit is all about the female protagonist, the former demands attention to the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ man in question as well,’ says Narayan.
Her book has India woven in it, but not overtly. While every vernacular word used is duly explained, the flavour is fresh and something that any reader across the world can relate to. Narayan reveals that she was asked not to use too many Indian references.
So what is Indian about this love story? We can’t possibly miss the big fat Indian wedding scenario, but that is not all, says Narayan. ‘The ties the protagonists have with their parents, the references to Mumbai rains, places in Kolkata and then the obsession with arranged marriages all ties Monsoon Wedding Fever to the roots,’ says the author.
The romance is about Riya who bumps into Dhruv – the man who broke her heart six years ago in college and never explained why. Stuck with Dhruv for her roommate’s wedding, the tension builds up steeply and sparks fly. She’s clearly still in love with him, but no matter how much the lady tries to cloak it, love gets the better of her.
We can’t give the plot away, but we can tell you that the sex is kept to the minimal. After all, it is the Indian chapter. But Narayan points out that she had willingly chosen to write about the chemistry that way. Explicit descriptions are not the key to talking romance for this author as she has consciously broken away from the norm of the trademark romance series.
There’s nothing autobiograpical in this novella, says Narayan, though she met the love of her life in college. Her second book has a bit of her in it, she reveals. And when does her daughter get to read the book? ‘When she’s 25,’ pat comes the reply.
With the Fifty Shades of Grey topping the love charts everywhere – where does this Indian chapter of romance stand? We just have to wait and see.