Richa’s life is marked by abundance. With no regard for family planning, she has gifted three elder sisters, she has lived in 8 cities across India owing to her father’s government job and her career also reflected her penchant for multiple choices. From being a BCom graduate who wanted to pursue dance (and eradicate poverty), to a journalist, to an MBA that accidentally landed her in an advertising agency for about a decade. The only constant was that she had a blast through all of it. She misplaced her pen for a while, but after becoming a mother and in between odious smelling diaper changes she found it, penning several poems, starting her blog and writing her first book. Now she wants to spend the rest of her life observing people, spinning yarns and writing books. Thousand Miles Team in an exclusive interview with Mrs. Richa S. Mukherjee.

Thousand Miles: What is the inspiration behind writing your debut novel ‘I Didn’t Expect To Be Expecting’? Was it being a mother yourself inspired you to write this novel?

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: When I think back to writing this book, I honestly feel as if I might have been slightly possessed by some well meaning author’s ghost. I was on my maternity break and one fine day I plotted out a basic outline and started writing. I say possessed because how else can I explain writing a book (meant for human consumption) while I was battling smelly diaper changes, extreme sleep deprivation and extreme emotions. In hindsight, being surrounded by this circus gave me amazing fodder for my book and made up its quirky tone. First books tend to be autobiographical in nature and I did borrow heavily from my own experiences.

Thousand Miles: These days the young generation are not focussing on their careers rather they are wasting time on Social Media and Online Games. You perspective into this matter.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: Sometimes I think the amount of time the younger generation is spending online instead of enjoying the wonder of the offline world is a consequence of many decisions where they might not play an active role. Parents hand gadgets to children to free up some time for themselves, other times it is to consume educational data, schools integrate technology into the curriculum. So surrounded by devices, and with the exposure kids have these days, it is natural for them to gravitate towards technology. Parents have to play a crucial role in ensuring moderation in use and setting an example on how pleasurable family time, play, entertainment etc is possible without over use of gadgets and gaming. Talking down to them or excessive scolding won’t help.

Thousand Miles: Being beautiful and pretty is almost every girl’s dream. Are both of these adjectives similar in nature? Your opinion on this. Kindly talk us through.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good. The path to this goal however needs to be a healthy and measured one without going berserk about it. Pretty, in a sense in superficial and beautiful to me includes inner and outer beauty. Girls can be shown a wider canvas beyond these adjectives. I keep telling my daughter that being clever is so important. Pretty will always follow if she eats well, exercises and follows a balanced lifestyle.

Thousand Miles: Your debut novel ‘I Didn’t Expect to Be Expecting’ has been written with an engaging plot and pragmatic narrative which keeps the readers keep turning the pages. Is that natural in you to write in such a captivating way? Do let us know the process.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: Every book needs to have a certain tonality, in keeping with the genre and the content. For example, my first book was a humorous take on pregnancy so it had to have very easy flowing narration and storytelling. My second book (which releases towards the end of this year) is a humorous thriller where I had to keep the writing pacy and add more twists and turns along the way. Having said that, the common thread is an author’s writing style and its ability to keep the readers hooked. I’ve tried hard to keep all my writing relatable, fun and engaging and I hope to continue doing this with the help of my readers!

Thousand Miles: Any cherished moment from your work/novel or family you want to share with us for your fans to know.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: I remember the first time I saw my book sitting in a shelf. It was also the day the book was released and my first bookstore signing. Some of my family members were able to join me. As I posed with them, I remember my eyes filling up with tears of gratitude and happiness!

Thousand Miles: The life of the protagonist, Tara, of your debut novel ‘I Didn’t Expect To Be Expecting’, seems to turn into more adventurous as she gives birth to the little one. Is the life of the protagonist reflect your life oddly and your experiences being a mother? Kindly talk us through.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: You’ve captured the essence so well. Pregnancy is often treated as a disease. When it should be considered the beginning of an adventure. The restrictions imposed, strict regimens, excessive precautions, all contribute towards deflating the happiness from the entire experience. I wanted to use Tara to convey the message that it is one of the most natural and normal stages of life. Hard yes, but manageable. I was working and exercising until 5 days before I delivered. It helped me become stronger in my mind and body for what was to come after the baby. In hindsight, I do regret not throwing any tantrums or making my husband do the midnight runs for ice cream and foods that people usually crave, but he thanks me for it!

Thousand Miles: You are seen with your cute little daughter in almost all your social media pictures. How much your life changes after the birth of your little one? (The Journey being a mother)

Author Richa S. Srivastava: Everything really! I will cherish every moment I’ve had the privilege of sharing with my little one but one thing that used to make my skin crawl was the dependancy quotient. Having been a fiercely independent person all my life, it annoyed me that I had to look to other people for support. Even my career break was very difficult for me to handle. But that is when one must remember to ask for help. That’s what family and friends are for. Being a mother changed my perspective on life, made me more patient, made me relook at my career and most of all, led me back to writing. I shall eternally be grateful for that.

Thousand Miles: Would you like to advice to our novice writers who are writing their first novel/book of their lives? As a new writer/author, what are the things one should be careful about?

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: I often receive queries from aspiring authors who are very worried about being published and are gunning for publishing houses even before they have started writing. Writing can’t work backward. You must first write with all your heart. Of course, it is important to read a lot, especially in your chosen genre and ensure that you are writing something interesting, something you would like to read yourself. I can’t say it enough. Read read read. You can’t write without it. And then write, without fear or judgment. The rest will follow. Also, don’t get carried away or try to emulate other author’s journeys. Everyone has a unique path. Find your own.

Thousand Miles: Do you think Indian parents should encourage their kids to pursue their passion? Should we start treating our teenager kids like the Westerners do?

Absolutely. Kids are smart these days. If they are passionate about something, they will learn how to develop the skill and monetise it as well. That is a primary concern for parents. But what they need to understand is pushing them against their will will only work to a certain extent. Parents from the west are good parents as well. Its just that the cultural fabric, conditioning, practices are a little different from ours hence their parenting is looked upon as freewheeling and too liberal. More than focusing on the geographical origins, striking a balance in parenting is important.

Thousand Miles: Your thoughts on being featured in the ‘Anniversary Issue’ of our Magazine.

Author Richa S. Mukherjee: It gives me great pleasure to be featured in such a special edition.  Thousand Miles is doing a great job by providing a platform for all kinds of writers and their work which is the need of the hour and creates interest and aspiration towards the field. Congratulations and wishing you the very best.