Interview with Ritu Lalit

People usually associate two terms with  a Movie or a Writer – Critic’s Favorite and Popular.  Chetan Bhegat whom every young writer considers his idol is not at all Critic’s Darling. Ritu Lalit is one such person who has won the hearts of readers from all over the world and has been recognized simultaneously by all the top Critics.

Ritu Lalit is a post graduate in English Literature from Delhi University. Her short stories have been published by CBSE and other publications. She is also an avid blogger and posts frequently at http://www.phoenixritu.com which has got an international following.

She is also an established poetess. Some of her famous works are, “Ode to my once slim waist”) and “lament of the heavy lover”.

In her very successful first book,” A Bowlful of Butterflies”  she took a  delicate issue of a girl who falls for her younger cousin but she is not ashamed of the fact. It dealt with many complex modern day relationships.

Ritu Lalit, who in her day job is a corporate worker in senior management has penned another gripping tale, this time a fantasy thriller called “HILAWI” which will be available on 5thJuly,2012. It is based on the powerful event of Samundra Manthan. It explores the possibility that Myths are actually based on real events, and are not just Fairy Tales.

(1)   A Blogger, writer, corporate worker and a supermom. You are an inspiration to all the modern women.

I thank you for thinking so.  I think I am just a human being, first and foremost with flaws like everyone else. Yes women in our society have been suppressed and have been expected to play a subservient role, that of a dependant.  I, because of my personal life, have had to be the provider, and so it changed me.  If women can take inspiration from my life, I would be honored.

(2)  Women always play a central role in your novels. Even in your Blog you have discussed the role of Women as per the Vedas. Is it intentional?

I am a woman and find it easier to relate to women, so women play a central role in all my work.  Besides this, to me a woman is the most interesting of my set of characters.  I find myself thinking –so how will she react to this event, and what must she be thinking and experiencing.  I am trying to change this a bit in my future works, but still women play main leads in my books.

(3)  Tell us something about your upcoming novel, “Hilawi”?

Hilawi is supposed to be a powerful and magical object that is churned out of the sea by Gods and Demons during the samudra manthan.  A young fourteen year old slave girl inadvertently takes it when she tries to flee the place. The object stays in her family, and is revered, feared and even coveted leading to bloodshed and violence.

 (4) Please Continue….

My central characters are all young girls.  The slave girl is a central character, and so is her decendant who becomes the owner and protector of Hilawi.  For more details you will have to read the book.

(5)  Which parts of researching The Bhagvad Purana, the Mahabharata and Vishnu Puran were the most personally interesting to you? Were there any facts, symbols, or themes that you would have liked to include, but they just didn’t make into the story?

They are such fascinating books, all of them.  Reading them brought back the stories my grandmother told us.  What I like most is that they tell tales which seem more natural than our modern day beliefs.  Our Gods are powerful, but they have their own agendas.  They do not exist to grant us boons .. which seems so much more believable than our current day beliefs.  Consider this, if you were all powerful and had magical superpowers, would you be concerned with the welfare of a puny human?  I should think not.  You would have more lofty concerns.  And yes, I wanted to bring Krishna’s flute and sudershan chakra, the trishul of Shiva etc into the story … but perhaps that will come in some other book.

(6)  Samundra Manthan was a fascinating story about Gods and Demons forming an unusual alliance to churn magical objects. How do you relate above event in present day context using Hilawi as a powerful object?

Oh it’s a grand scene; I wish someone could have filmed it, when it happened, (if it happened at all!)  Imagine choppy waters with surf, a mountain on the back of a gigantic turtle being used as a pivot; huge warriors using a serpent as a rope to churn the ocean, fire, thunder etc …

Yes the scene is epic – I have used this scene as the first chapter of my book.  It just sets the tone for the rest of the book.

(7)   Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.

I wrote my first novel in longhand in a register when I was a teenager.  It was a thinly veiled narration of my extended family.  My father was shocked and he told me if I wanted to have any family at all, I would not show it to anyone else.  He said, “Beta first live your life, and after that write.”  Thanks to him, I still have family members who love me and talk to me 😛  And yes, I have a lifetime of experiences that have added depth to my writing.

My first job was that of a model.  I kept it a secret, because in my family it would have been a scandal.  I did that for pocket money and sadly they did find out and I got into huge trouble.

I completed my graduation, post graduation and MBA after my first son was born.  In fact for many years we did our homework together on the dining table while our dinner cooked (burnt?) on the stove.

(8)  There are always a sort of positive vibes associated with you and that depicts in your characters and your Blog. How do you keep yourself motivated?

It is not in my nature to be serious.  Of course bad things happen, but then I remind myself that we are all born with a transit visa … life is impermanent.  So why get sad and desperate?  In a few decades we will be dead, so laugh it off.  You know something, it works!

(9)  You write poems too with a flavor of Humor involved in it.

Yes I do.  I write them for fun.  My own favourite is  “An Ode to my once Slim Waist” and “Lament of a Heavy Lover”.  I had a group of friends and we used to talk to each other in verse, pull each other’s leg and generally have fun.  These poems are a result of those interactions.

(10)  What are you reading right now? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?  What are your favorite books and why?

This is always asked to me, but I find it hard to name one favourite book.  Currently I have just finished reading the third book of Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook.  He writes gritty and realistic books quite like R R Martin’s Game of Thrones.

(11)What’s a typical day like for you?

Wake up, exercise, eat breakfast, rush to office, work, come back.  Chill a bit and then write.  If my boss is out of station, I write at work too.  I know I should not, but writing is so addictive.

(12)  You are quite famous among Bloggers due to your honesty. Even in A Bowlful of Butterflies which dealt about a young girl attracted to her young cousin you simply narrated the story without passing any judgement?

Hey, Life is too short for pretences.  If I am not honest in my work, not real, I will not make a connection with the reader.  To me writing is a serious occupation; it is my craft, the thing I was born to do.  And my goal is to be honest with my audience. They are going to spend money, buy my book and read.  I owe it to them.

(13) Any message for your readers?

Keep reading.  It is the best thing to do.  We are human beings, and our supremacy over animals is that we have written history that makes us learn more from the experiences of our ancestors.  This is what works in our favour.  So keep reading.  And I would like to add, do buy my books and read them.

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