After completing her schooling, Priyanka did her Bachelors in English Honours from Daulat Ram College, University of Delhi. She is currently pursuing MBA from Jaypee Business School. Her blog, Gossamer Diaries unfurls the poet in her. A few of her poems have been published in anthologies and e-magazines. Her skill in literary English and proficiency in the art of presenting beautiful ironical facts of life in fictional form make her a contemporary writer of note.
Akshay Vyas from Thousand Miles Team had a close conversation with her regarding her debut novel, interests and hobbies
1. What was the inspiration behind writing your debut novel ’Red is for Love, Black is for Kohl ’?
Priyanka: I was inspired by idleness & boredom. After my graduation I had a year off on me, I didn’t know what to do. I had never planned a day in my life, have always taken it as it came. Living in the moment gives me thrills. I would write poems on my blog, Gossamer Diaries, every now and then. Later I decided to start a series of blog posts in the form of short stories. When I wrote the first post and showed it to a friend, his exact words were,’When you can write this good, why a blog? Why not a novel?’ I took it seriously and here we are talking about it today.
2. Tell us briefly about your debut novel. Is this a complete fiction?
Priyanka: ‘Red is for Love, Black is for Kohl’, is a racy romantic campus fiction. The book revolves around the life of Naina Shergil, a literature student at the University of Delhi. She is headstrong, super-smart, ambitious, and like several others her age, juggling so many college activities with her search of the perfect love. Her bland spell of a boyfriend-less routine, is suddenly broken when she bumps into a hot young designer who twists her world sideways. Thereon, the book catches pace with its twists and turns, never letting a dull moment creep in! Do get your hands on it J The book is a complete fiction, yes. (Take it with a pinch of salt 😉 )
3. Did you ever get any rejections for your novel? If yes how did you react to them?
Priyanka: I did get rejected. It is very difficult for a debutante out there. I became thick skinned and never stopped trying. That is all I did. Finding an interested publisher, I believe, has a lot to do with luck and timing besides your manuscript but of course.
4. How did you come up with the title?
Priyanka: Oh, this has a huge story to it! I had another title for the book initially. But my publishers informed me that there were some ten books written under that title and I must decide on another one as soon as possible. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand I was a little dejected because I had worked with that title since the very beginning, when I didn’t even know whether I would get publishedat all. I had developed a sense of belonging to it. While on the other hand, I had no option but to fish for another title. I asked my friends, brainstormed over the phone but nothing clicked. And this one fine evening, while I was driving back home from college, I started to mend my hair and fix kohl in my eyes while I stopped at a red light. I was wearing a red shirt and some very romantic song was playing on the radio. It all fell into place for me, there and then. Life for me has always been painted with hues of pink & red, I have always been spoilt by love from my dear ones, they always tell me that I have these big ping-pong eyes and the way I put on my kohl it seems like I have painted them with a black marker. And since the protagonist of ‘Red is for Love..’ has traits that reflect me in some way (only that she is prettier and has been very lucky in finding love), I picked the keywords, Red, Black, Kohl and Love,and then came into being the title, ‘Red is for Love, Black is for Kohl’
5. How do you usually find your ideas?
Priyanka: I have an advantage here. I am a girl. I am invariably ears to gossips& stories that float in the air around me. I carry these stories in my head and define characters picking from a little here and a little there. Plus, sometimes, (which is 90 out of 100) I just start writing to see where it leads me. The pen only needs a push, the story then builds up on its own. It’s like magic.
6. What are the major challenges that you have faced in writing this book?
Priyanka: To start with, there is writer’s block that frustrates you to the extent of pulling your hair out. Then you do not know whether your readers will like what you’re writing. There is this on going to tussle through and through to think and feel like a reader while you give words to your expression. This has been the biggest challenge.
7. How has been the response and does it fulfill your expectations as a writer?
Priyanka: It’s only been a few weeks that the book has seen the light of the day. I have absolutely no clue what is it going to be like. Though a few of my classmates and a handful ofreaders did reach out to me to tell me how much they loved the book. And no way, It’s a long long way to go from now. I don’t think my expectations will be met this soon. I am going to be a little whiny and a little greedy for a while now!
8. Do you see writing as a career?
Priyanka: I don’t know. I like to write. I do not intend to stop, that’s the most I can say right now.
9. Is there any message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?
Priyanka: Um, ‘Whenever your life tends to get filmy, try shaking a leg at its item numbers. You might either end up just the way you want, else you will surely have a story to narrate to your grandchildren”
10. What are your hobbies besides writing? Yours other interests and passions.
Priyanka: Writing is my only hobby that became a passion and now has actualized into something more palpable. Minus writing, I am someone who likes to eat and sleep and eat and sleep.
11. Any particular genre you would like to write about more?
Priyanka: For now its campus romance all the way!
12. Any new book you are preparing to launch or writing for your fans?
Priyanka: ‘Fans’ is a big big word. I don’t know if I am yet that author who has fans. But yes, I have started working on the next book. A line is all I have right now, so can’t say what it’s going to be about.
13. Do you have to travel much concerning your book? If yes, how was the travel from place to place?
Priyanka: By far the only travel that has been was to collect my complimentary copies from my publishers’ office!
14. Who designed the covers and helped you in publishing the book?
Priyanka: My publishers, LiFi Publications, have been very kind. Their designer put the cover in place for me.I probably got the cover changed a zillion times over and they did it each time with a smile. They are a lovely bunch of people!
15. Which is your favourite book and favourite author of all times?
Priyanka: My favorite book(s) are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte & Color Purple by Alice Walker. Both the books have strong, headstrong female characters through and through and I love this about them.
16. Any message you want to deliver to your fans and modern Indian writing trend?
Priyanka: To all the people who have liked ‘Red is for Love, Black is for Kohl’, Thank you!I hope I have been able to connect with you there! About the Modern Indian Writing Trend, from where I see, it has a place for everyone and is evolving for good.
17. Your thoughts on being featured in this issue of ourmagazine Thousand Miles.
Priyanka: I cannot be thankful enough to Akshay Vyas for having interviewed me. It’s my first interview and is very special for this reason. It gladdens my heart to see what a wonderful platform this is to bring forth young talent. It’s a service by all means. Way to go, Thousand Miles! All the luck & Love!