Shenoy’s ‘When Love Came Calling’ follows the lives of 19-year-old Puja and 20-year-old Arush. While Puja is carefree and clueless, Arush bags a scholarship to an Arts College. Raised in the UK, Arush gets a chance to volunteer in Kerala where he meets Puja and the two fall in love. However, disaster strikes and they are pushed to choose between their beliefs and relationship. In a candid chat, Preeti Shenoy tells us about the joy of winning the AutHer Award, her views on modern relationships, her tips for aspiring writers and all things books. Excerpts from the interview:
1. How does it feel to receive the AutHer awards?
It feels fantastic because ‘When Love Came Calling’ is the 13th book I have written. All the awards that I have won so far have been like ‘Indian of the Year’ or ‘Business Excellence of the Year’. And though they are special by themselves, what makes this prize more special is that it’s the first time my book has won an award. It means a lot also because it is a Popular Choice Award and my book was voted for by thousands of readers!
2. What is the biggest hurdle you faced as a writer?
Publishing my first book was easy but my second book ‘Life Is What You Make It’ got rejected over 40 times. Later it sold over a million copies and it also got translated into so many languages. People think that if you have one book published, then things would be easy. But no! Rejections can happen at any time no matter how successful you are.
3. Would you like to share any words of wisdom for aspiring authors, especially women writers?
Before your work gets published, I would say read a lot and write every single day. It need not be great writing; it could be something as simple as a private journal, an email or a blog; it is extremely important to practise the art and craft of writing. And once you have written a book do everything that you can for it; try to approach as many publishers as you can. When your book gets published, don’t think that it is the work of your publisher to promote it; you have to do your bit! After you finish writing a book, keep that aside, don your marketing hat and see that your book goes out in the world and gets the attention that it deserves. Unless you own your book, talk about it, or you are proud of your work, no one else is going to talk about it.
4. What made you write about Puja and Arush, who are trying to find themselves in life, in ‘When Love Came Calling’?
I wanted to write a book about young people because I do feel that the new generation today have a lot more choices that we had in our time. Also, young people today are a little lost especially when it comes to relationships as they have too many options, be it Tinder or other apps.
5. But don’t you think, having too many options is messing up their mind…
No, I don’t think so. When I was writing this book I really felt I understood the younger generation. I feel parents have to understand that this generation has a different set of priorities. This book has the voice of Puja’s mother and every parent in India would be able to relate to it. My own children are 23 and 19 years old and they were a year younger when I wrote the book. I could get so much insight by speaking to them and their friends. I feel this generation knows what it wants; it’s a very practical generation and it is happy to sacrifice romance for whatever their goals are. I have tried to depict that in the book and it has a very practical ending.
6. Are Puja and Arush’s characters inspired by real life people?
Yes, they are. I have drawn (them) from my own kids. For example: like Arush, my son loves animals and he is very compassionate– I have drawn those qualities from him. And I have spoken to a lot of young people in that age group for my book. When you are in touch with the ground reality, that’s when the writing feels real.
7. ‘When Love Came Calling’ depicts a love story between opposites. Do you agree that opposites balance each other out in relationships?
Sometimes… but it is a lot of work like Puja and Arush discover. Relationships are not easy. People might be attracted to each other in the beginning but are they willing to make that sacrifice to keep the relationship going?
8. What do you think makes a relationship work?
I feel the first thing has to be the match of wavelengths. For young people that is very hard simply because as you grow older your wavelengths and your priorities in life change. The second thing is commitment. There are going to be times when your relationship would be hard but if you remember that you are in it for the long haul, if you remember what made you fall in love with a person in the first place– then you can make things work. For that two people have to grow and evolve together.