Trisha Bora’s debut novel What Kitty Did is at once funny and romantic while also being a murder mystery. Journalist Kitty Bora’s love life seems irredeemable and so does her paycheck, but the news of a diplomat’s celebrity wife’s death suddenly gives her the possible chance to dig deeper and maybe even get a promotion at work. But this time, Kitty, who has the special knack of messing things up, feels that she is onto something big, which will change her life forever.

Bora, who is a commissioning editor at  Juggernaut Books says that being a publisher doesn’t necessarily lead to someone writing their own book, but she for one, has always been a writer.

“Most editors I know never want to write their own book.”

“Most editors I know never want to write their own book. That being said, I have written short stories before, and a few were shortlisted for a prize or two. But it was only when Kitty’s voice came to me and when I knew I had a good enough story to tell did I sit down to write a book.”

What Kitty Did Book Cover
What Kitty Did book cover

An advice writers often get is that – write what you know. So, how much of the author’s own experiences and observations in the media and publishing industry have gone into making Kitty Roy and her world come to life?

She adds, “A bit. As a writer, you try to mine your life for the juicy bits or for relevance. I did live in a flat just like Kitty’s and I am horrid with numbers and math. Also, in my twenties, I met lots of young people like Kitty and her friends and so my character is a mish-mash, a caricature of lots of people I’ve had the pleasure to have been acquainted with.”

The alumnus of Miranda House went with HarperCollins as a publisher because since she works on the commercial fiction list at Juggernaut, it would be odd to edit her own book – “Also, it’s good to have some distance from one’s work after you’re through with it. Plus, Harper made me a great offer!”

Having a considerable insight into the world of books – of what works and what doesn’t – what were her challenges of writing a novel which doesn’t adhere to a specific genre, although the voice of Kitty is unabashedly self-aware and self-deprecating (which helps in creating the humour)?

“I wanted to give the Indian reader this new experience, but more importantly, I wanted to write a story that was new, fresh and one that wasn’t just blindly following market trends. Also, I am convinced that at the end – story matters over the genre.”

“I was and am still worried about the hybrid I’ve created. Crime mixed with romance has been done quite successfully internationally (for example the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Ivanovich) but we don’t have it here. I wanted to give the Indian reader this new experience. But more importantly, I wanted to write a story that was new, fresh. One that wasn’t just blindly following market trends. I am convinced that at the end – story matters over the genre.

The problem with comedy is also one of perspective – what you may find funny may not be the case for others.

The other challenge for me was this: I don’t think India is quite there with comedic writing. I can’t think of any writer of comedy who has had me in splits. The problem with comedy is also one of perspective – what you may find funny may not be the case for others. I enjoy writing comedy but was worried the book wouldn’t be funny at all! And that will be disastrous.”

The author informs that Kitty’s voice came to her after a rather idiotic accident. One that involved room service and her accidentally making a mess of the dinner tray. Once she had the character firmly in her mind, Bora thought of her story. But she admittedly didn’t take out time from her work to write.

“I write early in little spurts – early in the morning or late in the evenings. But that kind of works if you do it regularly.”

“One, I work full time, and two, I can’t spend a whole day writing! I can’t think of anything more exhausting then sitting and writing non-stop for hours on end. I write early in little spurts – early in the morning or late in the evenings. But that kind of works if you do it regularly.”

The author who looks up to the likes of Wodehouse, Austen, Zadie Smith, Vikram Seth, Caitlin Moran, etc. says that any aspiring writer should approach the craft with honesty.

“If any author has inspired me when it comes to comedy, it’s Wodehouse. I love how he used language to delight and carry on a plot,” says the creator of Kitty. And guess whats more, she has a second Kitty book in the works, a novella and a book of short stories.”

In five years, she says she sees herself writing more/better fiction and being deliciously happy.

Pic Credit: The Hindu

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