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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Author Interview: Sarita Varma, author of 'Girl from Fatehpur'

Sarita Varma
Sarita Varma's book, 'Girl from Fatehpur' was a good book. I thought there were times when it reminded me of life, a simpler life, with all its accentuations. Little towns, empty roads, families, friendships and romances. Each one of these reminds could remind one of the past, and perhaps touch us, in its own way.

In this Interview, Sarita Varma explains to us how she came about with the idea and how she used 'believable situations and characters' to achieve what she needed to. So, let's read on...

How did ‘Girl from Fatehpur’ happen? Could you describe the journey?

It was a journey fraught with misgivings! Like most budding writers, I too, dreamt about one day becoming an author but was convinced that nobody would want to read anything I had written.

If it hadn’t been for the necessary push I got from family and friends and the very warm encouragement I received from my publisher, Naheed Hassan, I doubt whether ‘Girl from Fatehpur’ would have been anything more than a dream!

How did the story, especially Sanjana and Rajan’s come about?

The migration of people especially from the small towns of India to big metros has always fascinated me. The acquired surface gloss usually covers strong values… cultural baggage, if you will.

Naturally, there are exceptions to this but I feel Sanjana continues to be essentially a small town girl despite her high flying job in Mumbai. Even Rajan, the NRI, though overtly changed also finally falls back on tradition.

Did you have a lot of personal experiences to go with the book? What exactly was it that inspired you to write this book?

I think our personal experiences do influence a lot of our writing but in an indirect manner. I have not consciously tried to write about real people or actual situations but certain mannerisms or style of talking of some acquaintances may have seeped in. Inevitable!

I wanted to write a light-hearted entertaining story about believable situations and characters.

What according to you is different about your book?

I hope the authenticity of the characters and events impresses the readers. I have tried to be realistic in my descriptions about the background of the story whether in Mumbai, Kanpur or Fatehpur.

Writing about the 'Kumbh Mela' in Allahabad was a special delight as I have fond memories of being an awed spectator of the Mela in my childhood.

How would you relate the lives of characters to the lives today? Any similarities?
I think the changes in the lives of characters would be essentially superficial and mainly due to changes in technology. The novella is set roughly in today’s world.

What was the most challenging part about writing this book?

The need to create tension and drama between the principal characters was a big challenge.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

My friend Anjana Appachana, herself an established author was always convinced that I too could write. I owe a lot to her unfailing belief in my writing capabilities.

When will you next book be out?

I hope sometime, this year.
Which book are you currently reading?

‘The Lives of Others’ by Neel Mukherjee.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Georgette Heyer by a mile… closely followed by PG Wodehouse, Ellis Peters, Gerald Durrell, James Herriot, Isaac Asimov… many, many more!

Isaac Asimov
They are all outstanding writers with impeccable command over the language. I love the sense of humour in Heyer, Wodehouse, Durrell and Herriot, the historical atmosphere of Heyer and Peters and the sheer creativity of Asimov.

What else do you do on a daily basis? 

I have been involved with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India for nearly two decades in various capacities. As a busy homemaker, I’m always on the job!

What advice do you have for the young writers of today?

Write about what you feel passionately about.

Check and re-check your work repeatedly, like a blade being honed and sharpened. 

Persist in writing. Please don’t give up.

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