Winning to Judging: Shoma Narayanan

Banker on weekdays, writer on weekends the first Indian Mills & Boons writer to have a global book release – Shoma Narayan – has had an exciting journey from being a winner of Mills & Boons Passions Contest to judging the same contest 3 years later. As Passions 2014 – Season 4 is well underway we get inKonversation with the writer and judge in Shoma. Read on…

Welcome to The Tales Pensieve Shoma.

Thank you for taking the time to answer the queries of thousands of beating hearts. 🙂 These questions are just not from me..but I have asked some Passion contestants if they had the opportunity to ask you one question what it would be? These are the questions that were asked by your various fans:

Shoma Narayanan.From a contestant to a judge of the very same contest. Shoma, a big applause from all your readers. How does this feel?
It’s been three years since I started writing for Mills and Boon, and I have loved every bit of the experience.  The ‘Passions’ contest is the perfect platform for aspiring romance authors, and I’m really looking forward to reading contributions from writers across the county.

By now all Mills & Boon lovers will know how your first book The Monsoon Wedding Fever started. Tell us about ‘that euphoric moment’ when you were declared the winner of the Passion contest? 
I entered the Passions contest on impulse, and was ecstatic when I won.  The best part was getting the opportunity to work with an editor from the UK office on my first book.  My editor was amazing – I learnt more from her than any creative writing course could have ever taught me.

Four books in your kitty and fifth to follow soon. Wow! What drives you to churn out these wonderful tales at this pace? [Touch-wood :)]
I love writing (and hate doing edits, but that’s a different story!).  What I like best about writing a book is that you get to create a piece of work that’s entirely your own – very few careers give you that kind of creative satisfaction.

From visualization to publication – How does this process take place for you?  Do you plan out your characters, concentrate on the conflict or just write in the direction your heart takes you?
The characters come to life in my mind first.  Once I know them in and out – how they look, what are their motivations, what makes them tick and so on, I start with the basic plot.  The conflict that initially keeps them apart is important, and it needs to come from within the characters – without this the story is likely to fall flat.  Once I reach this stage, the actual story almost writes itself.

I read your Blog in Goodreads Good enough is the new perfect! Your perfectionist theory needs to implemented by many new writers 🙂 Where is your me time? Aren’t there moments when you just want to sit down and do -nothing?
Yes, very often!  But then I live in Mumbai, and I spend almost two hours on the road each day – that’s the time I get to myself.  Though of course I spend a lot of it yakking on the phone….

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Tell us something about your new upcoming novel Twelve Hours of Temptation.

Twelve Hours of Temptation is a novel that starts off with a road trip, and ends with the hero trying to propose to the heroine in a roadside Chinese restaurant with the waiter interrupting every two minutes.  Oh, and the heroine is an aspiring author!

As a judge what do you expect out of the stories that come your way? On a scale of 1 to 10 how much will you give to concept, grammar and writing style?
All three are equally important – if I had to rate them, they’d all get a ten. What I’m looking for is interesting characters, original plots and sparky, engaging dialogue.

Mills & Boon has a specific style of writing – some strict guidelines to follow. One question that always puzzles a wannabe Harlequin writer is ‘what are alpha heroes?’ How would you describe an Alpha hero?
The guidelines aren’t actually that strict.  An Alpha male is the kind of man every woman wants.  Good-looking, sexy, confident and super-successful. And with a few flaws thrown in so that he doesn’t end up sounding too good to be true!

What is the major difference that you as an author dealt with, while writing Indian romances as compared to Western ones? How much of our cultural taboos we can break while writing for Harlequin? We are having live-in’s in abundance in India now. But are readers ready to read about it and accept it without the social taboo associated with it?
As my books sell globally, I need to make sure that the cultural context is understandable even for a non-Indian.  Indian readers are perhaps more conservative than readers overseas – similarly I’m not comfortable writing very explicit scenes.  So there’s a good fit there!

Where does one find romantic stories in a time where a lot of people do not believe in marriage? Do you think the new generation will believe in HEA’s ?
Yes they will.  These things are cyclical, and I actually think that in some ways, young people are more romantic than the previous generation.  Societal pressures for them aren’t as strong, so the decision of who they want to be with is more emotional than practical.  So yes, happily ever afters are here to stay!

‘To do or not to do’ is a nail biting phrase many writers are going through at this point of time. Did you go through it? Is there anything you can say for them to take the final leap?
I’d always wanted to write, I just hadn’t put enough time and effort into it until I won the Passions contest .  The toughest mental hurdle I had to overcome was the fear of showing my work to people I didn’t know – I suspect it’s the same for all aspiring authors.  Once you’re over that hurdle, the rest is easy.

Connect with Shoma: Website ¦ Goodreads ¦

For more details on the Passions Contest: