I’m very happy to have Sumeetha Manikandan on my blog today. I have known her since 2012 when we both got epublished by the same publisher, read and reviewed each other’s work. We have been mutual admirers since. Sumeetha has two books to her credit, The Perfect Groom, published by Indireads, and her latest, Love Again, published by Half Baked Beans.
1. Welcome to my blog Sumeetha. I’m very excited to have you here. First off, tell us something about yourself and your background.
Thank you for hosting me in your blog Zeenat. I am a freelance writer who works from home and when I am not working on writing projects for my clients, I write for pleasure. I live in Chennai with my family and my husband is a film maker.
2. You have published two books to date, if I’m not wrong? can you tell us about them.
Yes. My first book is called ‘The Perfect Groom’. It was published as an ebook and is currently a best seller in Amazon India. The story of Perfect Groom was based on a real anecdote that I heard many years ago. My second novella – These Lines of Mehendi has been recently published as a double header romance novel called Love, Again. These Lines of Mehendi too is based on a real-life story of a beautician.
3. What set you writing in the first place?
I have been writing since college but I never showed it to anyone The Perfect Groom too might have sat in my laptop but I chanced upon Naheed Hassan ad asking for writers and I sent her a half-written story and after a year Voila! I debuted as an author.
4. Who is your intended audience? Do you choose who to write about, as in your characters, according to the audience you have in mind?
No. I just have a story to tell. I don’t write for any intended audience.
5. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
Trying to promote your book is the hardest thing. By nature, I am very reserved and I have always found it difficult to talk about myself. But one needs to put these things aside if you want your book to sell. That was a hard lesson to learn.
6. Your first book, The Perfect Groom, touches upon a very serious and taboo subject, tell us why you chose that topic?
The plot of Perfect Groom was a true story that happened to a friend’s friend. She too was married off in a hurry to a man whom she met once or twice and then shipped off to US. While in US, a strange country for a girl who has never lived anywhere but her hometown she discovers the truth about her husband. I was very impressed by the way she handled herself all through her marriage and strength she showed while picking up the pieces of her life. My plot deals with a serious and taboo subject that is most often than not swept under the carpet. Women shy away from discussing it because it is a reality that is difficult to accept, especially in a conservative society. To tell the truth, I didn’t consciously select this taboo subject. All I wanted to do was to tell Nithya’s story.
7.What has been the best feedback yet about your books and by whom?
I get excited when I read reviews written by total strangers. I got a mail from a lady who said that Nithya’s story was her own which was pretty sad.
8. Which writers inspire you?
Many and to name a few – Marian Keyes, J.K Rowling, P.G. Woodhouse, Mary Balough, Julia Quinn, Nora Roberts, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Galbraith, K. M. Munshi…
9.Which genre are you most comfortable in?
I like writing romance novels. Contemporary romance is easy to write though right now I am toying with an idea for a period romance and a historical fiction as well.
10. Any advice for new writers?
Keep writing… Don’t stop writing just because you got a bad review.
11. Since you’ve experienced both traditional and self publishing, what is the top most advantage / disadvantage of self publishing do you think?
I am yet to self publish actually. My second book was published by Half Baked Beans.
12. Many people have asked me this question and I’d like to get your opinion on it. How different is a South Asian Romance from a Western romance?
A South Asian romance plot will have many societal barriers that is easy to play around for the author, while things need to be handled in a different way for a western romance. For example, take a couple in US or Europe, they see each other they fall in love, have sex and then have conflicts and so on… While if the same couple were in India they would see each other fall in love and then their parents have to approve, then marriage… etc. In a South Asian plot one’s society is very much a part of of the story while in western romance the focus is completely on the couple and their feelings for each other…
13. Describe yourself in three words.
Reserved, Shy and Introvert
14. You’re stranded on an island. pick one book, one character, and one item of personal use you’d take with you.
Book – Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan
Character – Tyrion Lannister
Item – Big box of tissues
15. List three items that you cannot resist buying, no matter what.
Books of course Clothes and shoes
Many thanks for your time and your very interesting responses, Sumeetha! Truly enjoyed this interview. Good luck with your books and writing.