Romance and crime are perhaps two of the most contrasting genres in fiction writing. While the former has the most number of takers among both authors and readers, thrillers have a following of their own. But how much does the process differ for these two genres? Do writers decide on whether they want to write on love or crime before starting their manuscript, or is it the story that comes to them first?
The first panel discussion at Women Writers’ Fest Mumbai brought together five female romance and crime authors who talked about their journey of writing books. The panel titled Guns and Roses: The unique challenges of writing romance and crime was moderated by Yamini Pustake Bhalerao, author and opinion section writer at SheThePeople.TV. The panelists were, Aarti V Raman, Srushti Mandar Rao, Richa S Mukherjee, Vrushali Telang, and Prachi Percy Sharma.
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Starting a Career in Writing
Srushti Rao, a journalist and painter forayed into the writing with her book, Of Unspoken Words and Half Said Truth, a contemporary romance fiction, being released soon. She had been writing blogs and had it in mind to sometime write a book. She says, “I started writing a book and I abandoned. I got back to it two years later and completed it. What happened to me is that the book wrote itself.”
Once you have a child, there’s a certain kind of isolation. Early motherhood is extremely isolating from the professional world but that environment actually works for a writer. – Vrushali Telang
Richa S Mukherjee was always inclined towards poetry. She started writing poems when she was four years old but never had she thought of taking up writing as a career. It was when she was on a maternity break that her creative juices started flowing. About the first book she wrote, Mukherjee jokingly stated, “I was possessed by the ghost of a well-meaning author from somewhere because there was a circus around me and I just needed to channelize that on paper.” Vrushali Telang shared a similar story and added, “Once you have a child, there’s a certain kind of isolation. Early motherhood is extremely isolating from the professional world but that environment actually works for a writer.”
Prachi Percy Sharma took up writing during her college years as a form of self-therapy since she was suffering from depression at the time. Being someone who is afraid of dejection she revealed, “I edited the book nearly four times, delaying the process of sending it to a publishing house.” Luckily, however, the book got accepted in the first time itself.
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Aarti V Raman had wanted to be a writer or a lawyer since she was ten and a coin toss decided that she’d become a writer. While doing higher studies in Australia, she started taking fiction classes and her teacher once said that she should never become a writer. The young girl was triggered and wrote the first fifty pages of her book and it got published when she returned to India two years later. That’s how she started her career in the field.
How do you come up with a story?
Srushti, a debutant author said, “I give my stories a thought that this is what I want to write. The story and the characters come to me and then it just flows from it.” She has written a romance novel and wishes to stick to the genre for some time.
I think people find comfort in labels. They don’t do it intentionally or to classify someone, but there is always segregation in your head according to who do you think is capable of doing what. – Richa S Mukherjee
“A genre is a treatment of how you tell a story,” says Vrushali, known for the hardcore research she does before actually getting at writing a book. Her novel, ‘Prime Time Crime’, based on the Mumbai mafia of 1999, made her explore the roots of the activities that took place at the time. She adds, “The seed is the story. The genre finds itself.”
Women in books and as writers
Richa S Mukherjee feels that there’s some sort of apprehension when it comes to reading female authors as well as characters. She says, “I think people find comfort in labels. They don’t do it intentionally or to classify someone, but there is always segregation in your head according to who do you think is capable of doing what. But the interesting thing is that the intensity and understanding of human emotions are intrinsic to women and if writing is about stepping outside your shoes of normalcy and stepping into someone else’s, who better to do it than women.”
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Aarti revealed that she had received comments that said it was unbelievable that the books she wrote were written by a woman and that too as young as her. She said, “The gender stereotype is very prevalent and real. I think a lot of it has to do with the kind of conditioning that we have in the society itself that men are supposed to be harder as compared to their female counterparts.”
Prachi felt that women in all spheres are generally seen as very emotional. Men, on the other hand, are seen as practical. But women can be as pragmatic as men and thus such stereotypes need to be done away with.
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV