BENGALURU: Anita Nair is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of several novels, which have been published in many languages around the world. Her latest book Eating Wasps explores the everyday decisions taken by women and the consequences that take place thereof. Excerpts:
What was your trigger for writing Eating Wasps?
I wanted to explore once again the lives of women. It has been 17 years since Ladies Coupe was published and if that book was about women finding their identity, I wanted Eating Wasps to be about women preserving their identity despite the constant challenges they have to face on
numerous fronts, be it patriarchy, misogyny, the male gaze or the even technology, and especially from
within themselves. As the world we live in today ceaselessly drums in tropes on how a woman may be or may not be.
Have you always seen yourself as a writer?
Yes. That is who I am.
What has been your inspiration as a writer?
The human condition. Who we are and what we do with ourselves never ceases to amaze, appall, and inspire me.
Does your writing draw influence from vernacular books?
My characters are mostly drawn from small-town or rural India. So the landscape and mindscape I delve into is the same as regional language writing. I am a great admirer of what is happening in the literary space occupied by writers writing in various languages. The themes explored, the strength of the language and writerly insights have inspired me, rather than influenced me to break barriers with how I write my books.
With the digitisation of books, have you moved to reading books on screen or do you prefer the old-fashioned books?
I don’t own a kindle. I prefer to read books that I can touch and smell
What is the process you undergo while writing?
I am an early riser so I work in the mornings. I write long-hand using a fountain pen and a ruled hardbound notebook. I am yet to have a writer’s block but at times when I am stuck in the middle of a book. I usually go for a swim or a film and somehow both these clarify my thinking and I get back to the writing.
Do you go back to your old writings? How does it feel to re-read what you had written years back?
I very seldom revisit my writings but when I do, what hits me is the thought: Where did the story line come from? How did I know what to do with it?
How difficult or easy is it to get published? Have you had to modify or change the content of your book for it to get published?
Someone once told me that there is a home for every book written. Nevertheless, there is no way to gauge how easy or difficult it is for a book to be published. One finds very good writers languishing without a publisher while elsewhere people writing tripe seem to find publishers easily. I suppose to some extent market tastes determine what is published. No, I haven’t rewritten a book ever to make it more salable.
Who’s your first reader? And who are your biggest critics?
My long-time editor VK Karthika and a journalist friend of mine, Jayanth Kodkani are my first readers. They also point out what works and what doesn’t in the book.
Do you think marketing plays an integral role in the success of a book?
A book today faces competition not just from other books but from the various forms of storytelling available, be it cinema, TV or the web. Hence marketing is necessary to both inform the reader about a book and persuade them to pick it up.