Novelist Manju Kapur has edited an anthology of essays by 24 women writers from the Indian subcontinent on their journeys to becoming writers. She speaks to Supriya Sharma about the book, her own experiences and how gender shapes writing:
How did you get the idea for this book?
I am interested in what writers have to say about their writing. When Hay House approached me to edit any book I wanted to, I thought let me do this because this is what I am interested in. I edited the sort of book I would like to read.
What inspired you to write?
I stumbled into writing really. I was getting older and I wanted to do something. I was teaching and people around me were writing. I thought let me give it a shot. Now I am a committed writer. I left my job to write and I loved my job.
Who are your favourite women writers?
Jane Austen. She wrote about the human condition but her scenario was very local. But within that she managed to write about very large themes—human choices, moral issues. Closer home, I would say Nayantara Sahgal who was writing when I was growing up.
Does gender influence writing? Gender figures because you write from who you are and where you are placed. Men and women look at the world differently because they are treated differently. Women have to fight harder to get what they want. Their experiences are different and if you choose to be a writer, it infuses your writing. Your advice to aspiring writers?
Read like mad and write everyday.