All for love
JUST BEFORE MONDAY
Nikhil and Riya
Ira Trivedi was just 18 when she wrote her first novel, a fictionalised account of what she saw when she took part in the Miss India beauty pageant. Over the next 10 years, she’s followed it up with several novels and non-fiction titles, the best known of which is India in Love (2014). Love is also the theme of her latest novel, Nikhil and Riya, published earlier this year. Edited excerpts from a conversation in which Trivedi speaks about love, writing and spirituality:
Love is a theme in most of your novels. Why does it fascinate you?
Someone once told me that to be really successfully you have
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Such as Nikhil’s doomed love for Riya?
Nikhil’s love for Riya is his coming of age, or that’s what he thinks. That’s typical of 16- or 17-year-olds. It’s the reason I chose to write this book — because that is the age when we feel the deepest. The kind of feeling that ‘this’ is everything. When you get older (you realise) that it’s not everything — you have a job, a career, household duties...
What’s love to you?
That’s difficult (to explain). It’s indefinable. I try to explore that in my writing. But in its purest form, I think it is a spiritual quest to connect with something bigger than yourself.
Nikhil may love Riya, but he behaves like a cad with his wife.
In the earlier drafts, he was even worse, and people who read it commented that no one would like him. Nikhil behaves like a cad with his wife but he also feels bad about it. He becomes much better towards the end. And that’s the story of his journey at a new stage of his life.
Boy falls in love with girl, who has cancer and dies. Isn’t the plot of Nikhil and Riya a lot like The Fault in Our Stars?
Not really. The Fault In Our Stars was set all around cancer. Here, we don’t really mention the disease. This book is about Riya dying and Nikhil’s thoughts about that. The first draft of the book was written six years ago, and it was written from Riya’s perspective, as the story of a girl who had 30 days to live. I was about 23 at the time and embarking, for the first time in my life, on a spiritual quest — to think about what life is, what the soul is. Thirty days was an exploration of that quest.
You’ve been writing for more than 10 years now, and have been remarkably prolific. It must take a lot of discipline.
I don’t write every single day, but I always try to have a book project that’s ongoing. For instance, I’ve already started structuring my next novel; there’s also a non-fiction project, a follow-up to India in Love. The project that I am working on immediately is a book on yoga, a manual for adults, out on June 21. Then there are my children’s books featuring Om, the Yoga Dog. That’s quite a lot.
You have an MBA from Columbia as well. How does that tie in with the writing?
Earlier, I used to think that there wasn’t a connection, but now I am not so sure. Marketing a book, for instance, is not easy. I feel I have to use all the skills I learnt at business school. Even things like how to structure your writing career, what is the kind of brand I want to build as a writer, how do I think of it as a vision for a writer. I don’t necessarily think in terms of this, but one has to be cognizant of this. Especially now, since I do so many kinds of writing — fiction, non-fiction and journalism as well. And now a yoga show and a column.
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