Author Anjali Kirpalani, who wrote ‘Never Say Never’ says the title of the book is also her mantra in life. She wasn’t ever going to be an author gripped with self-doubt. Kriplani instead chose to hop careers experimenting with journalism, dabbling in television, moving to public relations and more. When she finally got down to writing her first book, she never thought the publishers would accept it. But to her surprise the book was taken up by the first publisher she reached out to. With her second one Written In The Stars, she says she has evolved as a writer. Poorvi Gupta catches up with Anjali Kriplani
1. You have had a very creative yet diverse career so far, being an author, a voice over artist, an anchor and radio jockeying. Tell us about your life journey.
I have a degree in Business Science with Honours in Marketing from South Africa. I began my career as a Management Trainee with an MNC in South Africa. However, I quit that job to be a Radio Jockey with Lotus fm (part of the South African Broadcasting Commission). When I moved back to India, my first stint was as a reporter for a show on NDTV Imagine showbiz. The show went off air after a few months and so my next job was as a marketing executive with a PR and marketing agency in Mumbai. Thereafter I was the Editor of a fashion website and then an anchor/producer with ET NOW. Never Say Never got published while I was at ET NOW. I enjoyed anchoring, but I wasn’t getting enough time to write my second book and promote my first book. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be my own boss. So I began my PR agency in 2014 and completed my second novel. I love communicating in all forms be it anchoring, RJing, public speaking or writing, but writing has certainly been the one constant in my life.
2. You have said in an interview that your true calling has been writing. Tell us more about that.
I began writing when I was 13. I started writing poetry and won a poetry competition in school. That was really where my writing journey began. I wrote for a community magazine when I was about 16. This was followed by freelance articles for publications like O, The Oprah magazine when I was 20. But the next major milestone in my writing career came about when I won a short story writing contest on Lotus fm. I started believing in my writing skills after I got an amazing response for that story. Incidentally, the story was titled ‘Destiny’! Thereafter I wrote three radio drama scripts for Lotus fm. I knew I would continue writing when I moved to India, but I didn’t think I had it in me to write a book. However, I got the idea for my first novel in 2010 and Never Say Never started taking shape. Nothing compares to the creative satisfaction I get when I complete a story. I love knowing that I started with a blank screen and managed to create an entire world through my words.
I love knowing that I started with a blank screen and managed to create an entire world through my words.
3. According to you, what are the core qualities of a good writer?
A good writer should write a compelling story. If you can make your reader want to know what happens next, you’ve done your job well. A good writer is also highly observant. You can’t reflect the world we live in through your work if you’re not paying close attention to what is happening around you.
4. How have you evolved as a writer between Never Say Never and Written In The Stars?
My writing style has certainly evolved. I feel like I have become a better writer. I definitely feel like I did a much better job of setting the scene and creating visual pictures with Written in the stars.
5. How much of your personal life reflects in your books?
Quite a lot! My novels are a blend of fact and fiction, but I won’t reveal which parts are fiction and which are real! That’s for my readers to guess!
6. What genre do you like to read most? Why?
I like reading mystery-thrillers, dramatic fiction and classics. But the genre I like reading the most has to be contemporary fiction/ chick lit. I love reading books about characters that are realistic. I read books by Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding and Fiona Walker while in college and I love how their books can deal with serious issues but are also extremely funny at the same time. These novels provide escapism but can cheer you up when you’re down. What’s not to love?
7. How do you feel empowered as a woman writer?
Every writer writes to express themselves. In a world where women are often slighted for their gender, and not heard in many a workplace, this is the one profession where we can say exactly what’s on our mind. Being a woman writer is certainly liberating and empowering in that sense.
Being a woman writer is certainly liberating and empowering in that sense.
8. You have stayed in India as well as in South Africa. How different is the treatment of women in both the countries?
The one thing I noticed when I lived in South Africa was that the men there didn’t stare at the women, not matter what you’re wearing. I absolutely hate how men in India stare at women and make you uncomfortable. In the workplace and while in high school and college, I’ve encountered really strong, confident and successful women, both in India and South Africa. However, there are always men threatened by strong women. I still remember this particular classmate who was also a colleague of mine at a summer job in Durban. He’d always say things like ‘You did well because you’re pretty.’ Needless to say, that was infuriating. Then there was the fact that despite working and sometimes earning more than their husbands, the South African Indian women were also expected to cook and run their homes on their own without much help in the domestic sphere from their husbands. The men I observed were very chauvinistic in this regard. So I’ve realized that there are chauvinistic and misogynistic men across the world. It’s up to us women to stand up for ourselves.
I’ve encountered really strong, confident and successful women, both in India and South Africa.
9. You also write a blog about your experiences in India. Do you also write about women issues in India?
I write about my passions such as films, books and travel on my blog. I don’t specifically write about women issues on my blog but I make the exception when I believe the cause.
10. Do you keep up with the digital age of the modern day? How do you think it helps you in your endeavors?
For sure. Social media has definitely helped me get the word out about my novels as well as helped me create a strong online presence, build a brand and connect with my readers.