What made you write a novella anchored in food?
At the Milan Expo, they had a division called ‘We Women for Expo’, which was about sustainable food. They had made me one of their global ambassadors. When that designation came through, my Italian publisher said, ‘Will you write a short story on food for us?’ I had this love story in my head for quite a while but it had stayed there because I wasn’t ready to put it down because I felt it needed something to give it gravitas. Then when this query came from him, it sort of fell into place. Here was a way I could tell a love story the way it had not been told before.
You explore love within and outside of marriage in the book. Do you think monogamy is a cultural construct?
Yes. I think it is impossible for any one person to find everything he or she needs in another person. Inevitably, there is an amount of compromise in a marriage. But then there is something random, completely wild that happens like in this and that’s when you question monogamy and think is it really true that you can locate your entire life in one single person? Or is it going to be at some point that you will always be battling the devil and temptation, and so on. It is just a kind of exploration of that.
The second batch of your mentorship programme Anita’s Attic graduated recently. What has the experience been like?
It has been good and very gratifying. One, when you see someone has a certain spark in them and then you nurture it and hone it and bully them into doing their best, there is a certain sense of satisfaction you get when they go ahead and live up to that promise. I feel like this explorer who has found this lost city and has been able to revive it. It brings a certain nimbleness to my thinking. It is very easy to get complacent after a while about your writing world and comfort zone. But I think when you have these new people in your life all the time, the kind of questions they ask you, that interaction keeps your thinking agile.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a children’s book for Puffin India. In May 2016, I am going to bring out my next Inspector Gowda novel.