Behind the Book: Bhargavi Balachandran
Today @Behind the book we have Ms. Bhargavi Balachandran the author of the newly released book The Crossover Year.
The book’s blurb says:
"Meet Sri Anuprabha, aka Anu, a twenty-nine year-old banker who is terrified of entering her thirties. She dreams of quitting her job at the bank, sporting yoga pants and traipsing around the world. Her world turns upside down when things go awry and she is faced with the prospect of spending her days watching Tamil serials. She comes up with a five-point plan for reclaiming her life back before she hits the big 30. But things are never as simple as drawing up a flowchart in real life, are they? Especially with a ghastly recession rearing its ugly head. Anu bumbles through the corridors of domesticity and travels on a fun-filled roller coaster ride in a bid to discover her passion in life. Along the way, she meets new people, experiences crazy things and learns some hard lessons in marriage, friendship, parenting and life."
This is the author’s second novel, the first one was a romance novella called Seven Across that came out in 2012 . Let’s get into a conversation with her to know more about her and The Crossover Year.
Extending a warm welcome to Reviews and Musings to you! It is a pleasure having you here and thank you so much for your time.
Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Privy. I am super excited about connecting with all of you and sharing more about the book.
1. The Crossover Year – can you tell us more about it?
Its the story of 29-year old Anu , who is a banker and is intensely unhappy with her job. She quits work and goes on a journey of self discovery. The book broaches several serious topics like sexual harassment at work , parenting, work-life balance , passion in life , marriage and friendship, but does so in a light-hearted and funny (hopefully!)way.
Having a female protagonist, was it intentional or was there any specific reason you wanted the tale to be narrated from a female POV?
It is the story of a woman’s journey, and considering the fact that it is recounted in a light-hearted way, I had to do it from the POV of a woman. So essentially I didn’t have a choice – the story chose to be told from a woman’s POV. Also I find it easier to writer from a female POV and think it would be a challenge for me write from a man’s perspective.
What are your views on the Indian Woman of today’s times – the juggler of home and career?
Ah, that is the crux of this book! 9to 5 jobs are a thing of the past and women no longer see work as something that will helps bring in a few bucks. For many of us , our work gives us our biggest sense of identity. Now, add a demanding family and children to the equation and we have the perfect recipe for heartburns. All around me , I see examples of explemplary achievements by Indian women and I cannot but think about the amount of hard work that goes into being successful and balancing aspects of personal life at the same time. Don’t we all want to be super-women , being able to juggle work and home and tackle them both with equal panache? This is exactly Anu’s predicament!
4. Was it a passion you always had, to become an author?
I remember when I was about ten years old , a friend and I wrote some stories on a pink chart paper and tried selling them to unsuspecting adults in our colony. Other than this , I don’t think I have really harbored a dream of becoming a writer. I have always loved reading and writing, but it was always for my own amusement. Then, blogging happened and I discovered that I had several stories inside me waiting to be told.
I blog at Bedazzledeternally.blogspot.com and Hyphenatedsemicolons.blogspot.com. However , after the arrival of my little one , I haven’t found much time to blog.
5. This book is more of a chicklit genres, a usual light reads which are scarce in current Indian Publishing market. Didn’t it bother you?
Ha Ha! I think that the word chick-lit is the most abused word in Indian publishing. I’d probably take offence if someone told me that all chick-lits are brainless and full of fluff. According to me there are just two categories of books – good ones and bad ones . I am not talking about fancy words and flowery language when I say good books. To me a good book makes an honest attempt at conveying whatever it wants to convey and is unpretentious. There is space for the Arundhati Roys and Preeti Shenoys to peacefully co-exist here.
Please share your experiences about getting published with the aspiring authors. How has been your journey till here?
Anu’s story was written almost five years back. Writing was the easy part, what followed was a nightmare. I had sent the manuscript to four publishers and three of them wrote back within three months saying they couldn’t go ahead. One publisher was excited, but wanted me to edit the book to almost half its size. By the time I edited it and got back to them , the commissioning editor who had asked for the edit had resigned and Anu’s story was orphaned again. In hindsight, I feel I should have spent a lot more time on the manuscript before sending it out. When I was about to give up on the book and move on to the next , I read an article about literary agents in India. I was intrigued and decided to mail my manuscript to an agent. He promptly got back and told me that Anu’s story had to be told and that if we reworked the manuscript a bit, publishers would gladly take it up.I spent months re-writing it. However, despite re-working, things didn’t really work out. We were all baffled and for almost a year there was no news. Then out of the blue , the agent mailed me saying that he had found a publisher. That was three years back. There were points when I was ready to give up and move on, but somehow I think this book was fated to come out. It was just a matter of time.
Our Indian publishing industry is at an exciting stage where publishers are willing to look at unsolicited works and are on the constant look-out for new voices. All you need to do is keep writing and sending your stuff out to publishing houses. Good luck !
7. What is that one good thing and one bad thing about becoming an author?
Every author will tell you this that seeing their book in print is almost like giving birth to a baby. It is intense, has a lot of pain and toil attached to it ( the edits most definitely are!). But all that doesn’t really matter when you hold the book in your hands. It’s your baby; it’s a part of you. You have breathed life into something that didn’t exist before and you have a book to show for all the long hours you spent cloistered in your room toiling away. That’s the good part.
When you write a book (even if its a work of fiction) , your thoughts and prejudices creep into it. Its almost like you are carving a part of yourself and putting it the open for the whole world to gawk at. It can be a little unsettling if one is not very sure of oneself. But that’s how life is: where bouquets fall, brick-bats will also exist. Also , unless you are a best-selling author , there is no money in this pursuit. You do it because you want your stories to be told , not because you want to become a millionaire. So if you don’t have a backup job , things can be very frustrating. Some really good writers fail to make a mark, while mediocre books manage to make it big. That’s publishing for you.
8. If there is one thing that you could change in the book what would it be?
Oh, lots of stuff. Every time I re-read it , I find ten different things I want to change. I’ve realized that Anu’s life is written and I need to move on now. She might be flawed in some ways , but there is nothing much I can do about it and that gets me to stop obsessing. I have new Anuprabhas to obsess about now :)
9. We would love to know your future projects or any other books you might be working on currently.
I have four manuscripts at different stages of completion. All of them are of different genres and I have no clue which one would get completed first.
1 Any message for our readers and all those aspiring authors out there.
Just keep writing religiously- at least 300-400 words every day. Writing is like any other skill – it just gets better with practice. Read like there is no tomorrow – only that way you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. Network with fellow writers and your potential readers, as publishers don’t just want a book , but a pre-packaged author who can sell books for them. Yeah , publishing is like any other business.
And lastly , don’t ever give up, because if you don’t have faith in what you have written , how are you going to get someone else to like it ? Good luck !
Thanks a bunch for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts, Privy. You’ve made me introspect about what really attracted me to writing this book in the first place. Blogs like yours are a blessing for new writers like me. Stay blessed!
A huge thank you for sparing some of your precious time to be with here today, we would like to wish you all the best for all your future endeavors.
P.S: Stay tuned for a review of this book here soon!