Give Up (writing) While There’s Still Time! – inKonversation with Andy Paula

Andy PaulaAndy Paula is quite a versatile personality. From a teacher to a corporate trainer to a writer, she has travelled a long road, which few of us dream of travelling or are apprehensive of. After the innumerable essays, poems, articles, editorials, congratulations & condolence letters she wrote for herself and others refused to satiate her writer’s self, she finally put herself seriously to the task and wrote Love’s Labor, a romance novella published by IndireadsLove’s Labour is a simple love story, about a Bengali girl and a Malayali boy. Piali, the protagonist, is a simple girl with simple dreams. She gives her heart to the chairman’s son. This starts her off on a journey on the path of love and duty. Let’s catch Andy Paula in a tete-a-tete, to find out how the love story between Piali and Sathya unfolds…and many more things:

Hi Andy,  Welcome to The Tales Pensieve.

How would Andy Paula relate to Piyali Roy?
Both Andy Paula and Piali Roy are academics and clear about their life choices. I drew on my experiences as a teacher to breathe life into Piali, a significant one being Dr. Kalam visiting my school when I was in my last academic stint. So potent was that impression that in Love’s Labor I made the Prez’ visit to Piali’s school the backdrop for the lovers to meet.

But then, down the narrative, she emerged as her own person and separated from her creator.

A colleague who read Love’s Labor had this to say about us : Initially I thought I knew & have met Piyali but few chapters down I realized it was not Piyali it was Anindita that I knew … U both are different. [Ref: http://www.indireads.com/books/loves-labor/#tab-reviews ]

You are a corporate trainer by profession. How did the writer in you emerge?
I am a writer by birth 🙂 My essays were always read out in class, I was always writing poetry and torturing my brother with it (so much so that he spitefully turned on me and wrote ‘Vasco da Gama, Did a drama, In the city of Rama…’ wherever that is!) and getting commended for my creative pieces, be they letters to my friends and family or farewell notes in slam books.

But it was when I quit my corporate job and followed my husband on an onsite to London that I took to blogging seriously, which gave me the discipline to write. As luck would have it, a friend got me in touch with Naheed Hassan, the publisher of Indireads, a digital publishing house that was looking at promoting South Asian voices. Love’s Labor happened when I was in a position to give undivided time to writing.

With KalamDo you think India is still battling with Inter caste marriages. Not the rural areas. But with so many youngsters in the IT field nowadays, do we still have this caste and class barriers between us?
Oh yes! Unfortunately, yes. Today’ s MNC generation is at war with the orthodoxy of their parents versus the open culture they encounter at the workplace. They want to break free from the conservative confines of caste and class and move towards a more free society but are constantly pulled back by the cloying humarey khandaan ki izzat sentimentality.

They move in with their partners while their parents, oblivious to the fact, are looking for alliances in their hometowns. I see this happening to my trainees all the time. These are times of upheaval and there are major societal changes we need to equip ourselves to deal with.

You could have let Piyali elope with Sathya 🙂 But Piyali chose to do it the hard way. Was there a message there?
Now that you mention it, and as a reader it may have occurred to you, yes Piali could have eloped 🙂 As a romantic youngster, I found the idea fascinating and would have loved to do it myself! But with time and other people’s experiences, I realized that elopement is not the solution. It is, in fact, the start of fresh problems. Picture this: A couple elopes. Where do they go? Not hanuman tekri ke veerane mien (as QSQT would have us do, and we know what happened to those lovers then!) So where do they rent a house? How much do they pay? Who takes out the dustbin? How do they share household chores? In all this practicality, can you sense love anywhere? Gawd, imagine Piali Roy blasting her internet service provider for slow service because the dashing Sathya Nair cannot book their honeymoon tickets online!

Now imagine the other scene. Struggle, conflict, differences with family and yet bringing them around with resilience, obedience, intensity of purpose. There is beauty and nobleness in the latter. It guarantees a healthier and longer shelf-life. No?

Let us do a rapid fire round. Just one word answer and the because…

Kalam autographs Love's LaborLaptop or paper pen– Laptop. Saves duplication of work because the hand-written word eventually needs to be converted to print.
Enid Blyton or Jane Austin– Austen. For the adult characters and intense portrayal of relationships.
Planned writing or Spontaneous writing – I wouldn’t know. Whichever works for whoever.
Love marriage or Arrange marriage– Love Marriage. It is impossible to arrange a lifelong bond without love.
Ebooks or Paperbacks– Paperbacks. You can smell them and let the neem leaf dry between the pages.

You are writing under a pseudonym Andy Paula.How did you choose this name?
Back at school, a classmate found Anindita a difficult name to pronounce, and made it Andy. The whole school followed suit. Andy it has been ever since. Paula just completed the cosmo touch. (Laughter)

Is there anything the writer in you must have while writing? –Besides your laptop.
Some peace of mind and the urge to write. No TV, music and friends for me please, when I am writing. Concentration is elusive for a lazy writer 🙂

What is your next venture? Can Pensievers have a sneak peek?
And Then It Was Dawn is the working title of my next novel. It is a story of relationships set in urban India, with more characters and twists than my debut work, Love’s Labor. And I still don’t know whether it’ll be a paperback or digital.

The NaNoWriMo just concluded for 2013.Your words of wisdom for newbie writers?
Six words – Give up while there’s still time! (laughs out loud)

And if you find that impossible, then be prepared to sit and bleed at the laptop; get your ego squashed by editors, publishers, reviewers; learn that writing is only 25% of your job, the rest is marketing; disbelieve people who want you to believe that and go out and give it your best. Because in today’s over-crowded literary world, nothing short of the very best will do.

Know The Author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Blogs

Love’s Labor: Indireads | Goodreads