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Interview – Ishita Deshmukh (Heart Quake)

Hailing from a small yet very cosmopolitan town of Pondicherry, a former French enclave, Ishita’s schooling took place in a very different education system in Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE) where the emphasis was given to an individual’s all-round growth, letting her discover her talents and interests. After graduation, she worked in the family business for 4 years, while taking up writing as a hobby. In 2009-2010, she completed her one-year MBA in Chennai and joined Ashok Leyland as a marketing and communications professional for their Defence exports division. Two years later, she resigned and rejoined the family business. It was then that she seriously pursued writing and completed her first novel.

Q: Why did you pick up writing?
A: As a child, I always loved recounting stories. I remember my grandfather had a small blue diary in which I would insist he write down the stories I fabricated. Unfortunately, we lost that diary. I am also an avid reader, only of my genre, which is romance.
I don’t know when I started writing, for I was forever imagining, creating, and recounting stories. After watching a Bollywood movie, I would lie down and think of ways the love stories would continue. So, I guess, the writing was a natural choice.

Q: The inspiration behind your writing.
A: I get inspired to write by any small incident that catches my eye or my attention. It could be a person looking lost in a mall, or two lovers trying to get some privacy, or an argument with family members. My over-active imagination goes into over-drive and I start writing.

Q: You debuted with a fiction romance/drama. Given that the Indian market has been bombarded with this genre, why do you think your book stands out?
A: My book stands out in a couple of ways:
Most love stories are either college romances or set in political crises, such as terrorist attacks, partition, riots, etc.
My story is set in a natural disaster, one of the biggest in Indian history.
It is a mature love story, which sets it apart from the usual college romances.
It’s not only a love story, but more of an emotional drama interspersed with suspense and crime.

Q: Why did you base your story against the backdrop of a natural disaster? Don’t you think it might be tough for people to read it who has actually gone through it?

A: There are books written on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai or the riots in India. I am sure some victims would not be happy with the author’s viewpoint, whatever the situation might be. In my case, I have tried to be as neutral and sympathetic as I could be. The subject was given to me as a class assignment back in 2001. It was then I had written a short love story. Later in 2006, I started to turn it into a novel. Therefore, the subject was not of my choice, but I feel it is apt because as I said before, very few novels are based on natural disasters.

Q: The story you have penned, is a mature love story. Do you think the Indian market is ready for such maturity?
A: I think the readership in India is changing. People are willing to try something new. Society is also evolving. Many more women are marrying in their early thirties when once, it was considered unthinkable. Therefore, I think, the Indian market is ready.

Q: What’s next in the pipeline?
A: I am planning another novel based on my family history, but the storyline is not fixed yet.

Q: An author whom you admire and look up to.
A: I love Georgette Heyer and Stephanie Lauren’s books.

Q: A message for your readers.
A: If you love writing, don’t curb your impulses by thinking of the future. Let your imagination and your pen fly… You never know where you will land!

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