The Challenge In Writing A Romance Novel Is To Keep It Fresh: Milan Vohra
Milan Vohra is a prolific writer, an advertising person, and India’s first Mills & Boon author. The author has recently come up with her new book titled Our Song. The book, Our Song (Harper Collins, 2019) is a romance novel centered on music. The book exhibits the contrasting worlds of corporate life and that of a struggling composer.
While Milan’s first book, The Love Asana was the best seller in India as well as abroad, her second book Tick-Tock We’re 30 was another hugely popular rom-com.
In a recent Facebook live conversation with Kiran Manral, Ideas Editor SheThePeople.TV, Milan Vohra talks about the genre of romance writing, what led her to it, and what makes it healing for so many people.
India’s first Mills & Boon author
“It was a bad anniversary night when we went out with our house guests. It was also the last day of the contest and everybody was sending me the forwards for me to take part in the competition. Luckily, the short was needed and I was able to submit it just about in time. A few days later I heard that I am in the Top 10 and if I could come to Bombay. I went there, got selected in Top 5, then in Top 3, and then I ended up winning it. It took me completely by surprise. I grew up reading Mills and Boons and later, I ended up working with the editors in the UK till the first book was through.”
The hesitation of people to admit that they love to read romance novels
“I never understood this. Appreciating a romance novel is the same as appreciating a thriller or any other form of fiction. There are always good and bad writing in every form of the genre.”
“Chemistry is very integral to the romance genre. In the story, Our Song, the characters were so contrary to each other in terms of their world and personality. The fun in writing came from the fact that I had to make the whole chemistry take off, it was also about how I could get them to know each other by breaking the walls that they built around themselves.”
Challenges of writing romance
“Romance is a category that has been around forever and it is so intrinsic to human nature. People are very well aware of what they are buying. The challenge is always about keeping it fresh and make the person within that believable. A person stays in there because it hooks them to your characters, emotions, and situations and they feel fresh every time.”
She adds that “Chemistry is very integral to the romance genre. In the story, Our Song, the characters were so contrary to each other in terms of their world and personality. The fun in writing came from the fact that I had to make the whole chemistry take off, it was also about how I could get them to know each other by breaking the walls that they built around themselves.”
An add-on of music in the story
“The way this book happened is very interesting. I love to have very detailed notes about my character. Thus, in 2009, when I was working on a song for my corporate client as part of my advertising work. Of the songs that I wrote for the company, the one that I liked wasn’t approved as something else was. So, I kept thinking about that song and the character in it that had already developed in my mind. That same song which is about hope ended up being the central theme of this story.”
A shift from the romance genre
Milan’s second book, Tick-Tock We’re 30 marks a shift from the romance genre. “It was a story about the reunion of old friends, it’s a re-look at it with all the bad that comes through it.”
Inspiration from her love-life
“When you are writing romance, you got to explore your characters. I am surprised with the way people think, especially like, ‘Oh, how does she know about it’. But, no one asks a crime writer about the last crime that they have witnessed.”
Writing a plot for a story
“I witness a lot of surprises in between, in fact, the opening of Our Song isn’t plotted at all. Chapter one happened by itself. There was also one scene that came out to be sensuous and that too, out of a mundane sort of thing. Even, how the book has ended was not plotted. But plotting helps as a roadmap giving me some direction of what I am heading into.”
Is writing romance easy?
“I plotted Our Song in 2009 and then I re-looked at it in 2013. At that time also, I wasn’t planning to write a romance as I was looking for something else. In 2017, when I pulled it out again, I found stuff that was getting very challenging. When I was going through the experience of my character, I found them hard to do. It would take me a couple of days to do with my nerves and write about it. I believe that writing humour and romance are the toughest of the things.”
Writing to impress using bombastic words
“I have a major problem with people who try to write to impress. The books I like the most are those where the person is so intent on that story that they are telling. I like clean writing unlike showing off your vocabulary.”
In the end, Milan talks about her favourite romance authors. “I like a lot of authors who write romance and they range between Irish and British authors. Their writing is so fresh that it seems whatever has been written 15 years ago is replicated by people now. Three years ago, I read the book, A Rosy Project and it was a self-published book by an Australian author. I was cracking up as it was humorous, it had romance, and the characters were very rich.”
“It was a story about the reunion of old friends, it’s a re-look at it with all the bad that comes through it.”
Do women write differently than men?
“I don’t think so. We seem to go into the subjects that are more emotional but there are enough men who have written that as well and enough women who have written thrillers, crime, and more.”
Udisha Srivastav is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv