Interview with Ritu Gupta

What's the story behind your latest book?
This book revolves around a young professional Indian lady Rashi Jindal, who is constantly struggling to maintain a work life balance, wherein a live-in maid is central to this balance. Its her roller coaster ride through the process of acquiring a new maid, training her, maintaining her and then losing her on one pretext or the other; and then start from the beginning. The book highlights the various emotions that she experiences through these stages. These are based (though a bit dramatized) on what I, myself, or an acquaintance have experienced through our years of maid-management.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I have been born and brought up in Delhi, India. This book is developed from my own personal experiences and those of my acquaintances. Almost every incident is a dramatized version of what I have experienced or gossiped about.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For me, this book started off more as a labor of love than as a book that I wanted to get published. I started writing these interesting anecdotes around maid-troubles that are often faced by many an Indian women, and are their favorite topic of discussion. The plan was that I would a create private book to be shared with family and friends, so that we could have a good laugh on the predictability and the consistency of maid-troubles. In fact, I stopped writing after a few anecdotes, due to the multiple pressures of job and household responsibilities. My brother in law started writing a few of his anecdotes to encourage me. Its just that when we put the two sets together, it was hilarious and a source of solace for folks facing a 'troublesome maid' or 'no maid' scenario. That is when I decided to weave a story around these anecdotes and get it published.
What is your writing process?
I first visualize a scene, then put it down in words on paper. Once I have written the entire story, I go about reading and re-visualizing the same. Only after that I review the contents for consistency, clarity and edits.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For this book, it was re-living the various incidents that I had experienced. There are a couple of anecdotes that date back to when I was a kid and just recollecting those, discussing with my family and having a laugh at them was great fun!
How do you approach cover design?
I based the cover design on best way to depict the central theme of the book.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The joy of living and the prospect of creating some value during the day
Is there any message for your readers?
I would like to share my own mantra on staying happy in life. I believe humour is something we have all around us in our daily struggles and challenges. Very often we dramatize the negative part of any interaction and cause angst to self and others, instead if we could detach ourselves from the immediate emotions and dramatize the power politics that is at play in any of these interactions, we can have a really good laugh. I try to do this and keep stress away. Goes without saying, this doesn't work 100% of the times, but even if it works 60-70% of the times, it makes your life that much happier.
What do you read for pleasure?
Daisaku Ikeda's writings - I am a Soka Gakkai member and the writings by my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, help me in leading a happy and purposeful life. Besides these, I love reading fiction, especially romance, drama and intrigue. Magic and mythology, both, excite me, whereas, philosophical books like The Secret, Power of Now, The Monk who sold his Ferrari, move me towards introspection and reflection.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg - It was so close to heart, every thing she mentioned, as internal constraints of a woman professional, had been faced by me during my career spanning across 24 years
The Secret - Again, its basic message is something I believe in sincerely - We are the creators of our own destiny, we just need to have a resolute determination. Favorite line from the book - 'Thoughts are things'
Harry Potter Series - Am a die-hard Potter Head
Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi - Just loved the way mythical characters and places were used to develop the story. Again the underlying message around non duality and universality of Good and Evil is something I believe in
Many Masters Many Lives - The whole concept of Regression therapy excited me
Who are your favorite authors?
Daisaku Ikeda, J. K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Jeffery Archer
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I grew up with wonderful stories my grandfather would tell us as we, all his grandchildren, would give him light massage on his legs, arms and forehead! These stories have stayed with me to date, as these were some of the best times I recollect of my childhood. Many of these stories, especially the ones inspired from mythology, have impacted my values and thought processes.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, cooking, taking care of my kids, meeting people and encouraging them to take charge of their lives (I am Soka Gakkai member, practicing a philosophy that believes in happiness being a decision rather than a circumstance).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I generally read books recommended by friends and family. Of course if there is a series, then I wait for the next issue to come up and try to get it as soon as it is released.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Published 2016-09-05.
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