One thing that you cannot miss when you meet Kiran Manral is her warmth and humility. The literary world is filled with people who claim to be much more than what they are, but Kiran is one of the few persons I’ve met who are silent about their accomplishments though they have so much they could brag about. When I read ‘The Face at the Window’ last month, I was blown away; the beauty and lucidity of language that she exhibited could only come from the calm confidence of someone who has absolute power over the language. How did she become a wordsmith? I decided to ask her…
1) What would be one thing you wish you could undo in your writing career?
Nothing actually. Everything has happened when it did for a purpose. And I’m glad it did.
2) The first thing that struck me when I read ‘The Face at the Window’ was the beauty of your
language. It was evident that it was penned by someone with a love for words. So, when did
that develop? Did you take any conscious efforts in becoming a wordsmith?
The only thing is the love of reading. One reads and one loves language.
3) The beauty of language or the nitty-gritty of a plot – what would you choose?
Both? They’re like the wheels of a bicycle. You need both for balance.
4) ‘Writing as a profession’ or ‘writing as a passion’? What would your advice and why?
Well, as a profession it isn’t too paying, so definitely for passion.
5) Who is your writing mentor? How did this person influence you?
I would say everyone I’ve read and loved, so there is no single person but every author who had stayed back with me after I’d finished reading their books.
6) What is the worst thing that you were asked as a writer?
To write admission essays, job application letters, brochure copies, etc.
7) You are a prolific writer. Please describe your writing routine.
I sit at the computer 7.30 am to whatever time I feel like it. Somedays I switch off by 3.30 pm, other days midnight.
8) What is one thing that any newbie writer must do?
Read. Read. Read. And read some more. I find too many so-called writers these days with no depth of reading. It shows in the writing.
9) If you could name only one favourite author and one favourite book, what would that be?
Three men in a boat by Jerome K Jerome.
10) What is a genre that you can never see yourself write?
Never say never I think. But mythology I think is beyond me.
11) What is one thing that you would like to change in the literary/publishing community?
The snobbishness around lit-fic.
12) Name one lesser-known writer that you would hugely recommend.
In fact, I would say don’t read the popular ones, trawl and find the ones who resonate with you. For that of course, you need to go into bookstores and root around in the shelves and not order the ones that pop up on your screen based on algorithms.
13) What is your pet peeve with the publishing world?
It seems to be quite incestuous and inner circle.
14) If you weren’t a writer, what would you have been?
Kiran Manral is a renowned Indian author, TEDx Speaker, columnist, mentor and feminist. She has written books across genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include The Reluctant Detective, Once Upon A Crush, All Aboard, Karmic Kids, A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up, The Face at the Window, Saving Maya. She has authored a short series called True Love Stories for Juggernaut. She also has published short stories in various magazines, in acclaimed anthologies like Have A Safe Journey and Boo as well on online apps like Juggernaut.
Her nonfiction book, Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You, was listed amongst the top five books on parenting by Indian authors in 2015 by the Sunday Guardian. One review called her the “Bombeck of Bombay.” The Face at the Window, released in 2016, was listed amongst the top 30 books written by women authors in 2016 by The Ladies Finger, as among the must-read books by contemporary women authors by BuzzingBubs and received much critical acclaim. The Times of India stated that “Manral may have very well pioneered the “Himalayan Gothic” genre”, about this book. She was among the six women authors shortlisted for the Femina Women of Worth Awards in Literature for 2017.
An ex-journalist, she currently writes a column on feminism at SheThePeople.tv, and has been a columnist on sexuality at DNA, on gender issues with Tehelka and on parenting at yowoto.com. She was also on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, a mentor with Sheroes and an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi. She has co-curated Festivelle 2016 and Women Writer’s Fest by SheThePeople.tv 2017. She has been a speaker and a panelist at most of the leading literature festivals in India, as well as at educational institutions and conferences. She is also considered a social media influencer.
She was part of the core founding team of Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Violence Against Women Awareness Month, two social media initiatives that ran for four years. She also initiated India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims which worked on the rehabilitation of 26/11 attack victims. She is the anchor for the monthly talk series, Bombaywaali, from SheThePeople.tv and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Walk 2017.
She lives in Mumbai with her family including ‘the brat’.