Sunday, February 26, 2012

And this is some of the media coverage of The Bungalow 9 reading...

...thanks to the lovely Tisca! I must admit though that I was knocked sideways with all the media in attendance. Wotudo, never seen or experienced any such thing from the inside, have always been the one standing on my toes at the periphery of the onlooker circle. This was a fun first experience.

As I said elsewhere, I will never ever again look at these Page 3 pictures and media coverage without major respect for the stars and celebrities who do this at every event. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

At the reading at Bungalow 9 yesterday....

Bandra, Bungalow 9, 4.30 pm. Have you been to Bungalow 9 ever? It is this lovely old villa, with teak wood beams and high ceilings and old art deco tiling, not to mention wooden stairs and banisters. My reading was on the upper level, a lovely cordoned off space.
The event was scheduled to be just a small gathering of people I would invite, and I invited Tisca Chopra, too. A confession here, I have never met or spoken with Tisca before yesterday, she is a twitter friend. One of the blessings of my life has been to meet wonderful people on twitter. She very kindly offered to read for me, and of course I accepted. It was an honour. She would read, my dear friend Parul Sharma, the author of Bringing Up Vasu and By The Watercooler would be in conversation with me and we would have chai nashta and disperse. So was the plan. Of course, I am a babe in the woods with NO CLUE.
As we waited, a slew of folks I was sure I had not invited, entered with huge backpacks and stands and such like and made themselves comfortable on the front sofas. I still had no clue at all. I smiled graciously, thinking, how wonderful, such a diverse motley bunch of folks are interested in what has been dubbed chicklit.

Tisca entered the premises and the penny dropped. The Cameras. The Cameras. Having never ever ever witnessed this (despite, I am ashamed to say, having lived in Bombay all my life), it was a revelation and I am never going to look at page three photographs ever again without doffing my hat to all those who do this on a regular everyday basis. This is bleddy tough. Pose. Pose. Pose. Look here, look here, smile.

Tisca read, from the "In which much gaping at a Bollywood superstar happens..." chapter. Parul asked me some interesting questions which were a welcome change from the run of the mill. And here are some pics from the event. 

 It was such a lovely evening, thank you Tisca, Parul for hand holding me through it. And Shunali, Parthip, Chinmay, Anupam, Shubhashish, Ashwin, Rebecca, Ranjit, Naghma, Sharmila and all those who took time out to be there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And here I am on Times Now, yesterday...

...talking about my book and bucket lists.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DNA's list of Top Ten New Releases you must read

Ahem Ahem

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Telegraph: It's the write time

With Indian publishers always on the lookout for the next Chetan Bhagat or Arundhati Roy, aspiring writers never had it so good. Smitha Verma tracks a publishing phenomenon where the number of debuting Indian authors is growing by 20 to 30 per cent every year 

The plane was full of book lovers. Among them was Naomi Canton, who had meticulously planned her trip from London to Jaipur, via Delhi, months before the annual literary mela in the Rajasthan capital kicked off in late January. Many of her co-passengers were on their way to the festival for some fun and sun. But the British journalist was on a mission: she had a book to sell.
Canton was in search of a publisher. And her Ground Zero was Jaipur’s Diggi Palace where the Jaipur Literature Festival was in progress. She spent five days there — attending sessions, meeting publishers, literary agents and authors. “It was an excellent platform for networking,” she says.
If you have a novel in you, India is where you should be. “Today, every second book published in India is a debut,” says Gautam Padmanabhan, chief executive officer, Westland. Thomas Abraham, managing director, Hachette India, adds that the number of Indian writers debuting every year is growing by 20-30 per cent.
Shakir Husain, a journalist who worked in the United Arab Emirates, quit his job last March to work on his book. After finding an Indian publisher, he went to Jaipur to meet publishers for European and North American markets. “Talks are on,” he says.
Like Luigi Pirandello’s six characters in search of an author, India these days is full of authors in search of publishers. Westland publishes 20-30 new authors a year. Out of the 30-35 titles Zubaan publishes annually, 25-30 are by new authors. Penguin India says that 15 per cent of the 250 new volumes it publishes every year are debut books. Since its launch in 2010, Penguin Metro Reads — a mass-market fiction labelled “quick and easy” reads priced at Rs 195 — has introduced over 13 new authors.
“It is important that new authors keep writing and it is important they are given the space because new authors and fresh writing signify growth in publishing,” stresses Vaishali Mathur, senior commissioning editor, Penguin India.
The landscape of the Indian publishing industry is changing radically. A decade ago, if writers struggled to get an appointment with a publisher, today the path to a publisher’s office is marked with helpful signposts. Many of the young writers are being picked up by foreign publishers after launching a book in India. Advaita Kala, author of Almost Single, was first published by HarperCollins India in 2007. Two years later, Random House USA had printed her book with a print order of 70,000.
“Ten years ago, you wouldn’t know where to send something, and if you did, you would probably not even get an acknowledgment. Now publishers are more accessible,” says new author Kiran Manral, whose book The Reluctant Detective was recently published by Westland.
Avenues have indeed opened up for writers in the last few years. Book sales are being spurred by the retail chain boom. Online retail giant Amazon has already entered the Indian market. Flipkart, an Indian website primarily for purchasing books, predicts that it will close the financial year with a 10-fold growth in revenue.
The country boasts of 19,000 general and academic publishers. The industry is pegged at around Rs 7,000 crore of which Rs 1,200 crore is the market share of popular reading books or trade books. “India is perhaps the only country where publishing is still growing rapidly; in countries such as Britain it has shrunk by 7 per cent,” says Rahul Srivastava, director, sales and marketing, Simon & Schuster India.
The global information and measurement company Nielsen BookScan India says the publishing industry grew by 40 per cent in value and 45 per cent in volume between January-June, 2011, and July-December, 2011. “Almost 6,000 new titles were published in India in 2011,” says Vikrant Mathur, associate director, Nielsen BookScan India. Saugata Mukherjee, publisher, Picador, Pan & Macmillan India, reasons that the growth is related to the rise in the English-speaking population. “People want to read home-grown talent and there is a deep curiosity about Indian writers,” he says.
The great Indian novel story has been given a further push by the proliferation of new publishing houses. Small units such as Srishti Publications in Delhi have found a niche market with their fiction titles priced at less than Rs 100, and with books of pages less than 250. With a target audience of mainly first-time readers, they seek to promote what is called non-literary English.
And new authors are the obvious choices of the new publishing houses. Sumrit Shahi, a first-year management student and author of two books, is among the many to have benefited from the boom. Last year, when he was 17, Mahaveer Publishers launched his first book Just Friends. The book has already sold 70,000 copies; his second book A Lot like Love... a Li’ like Chocolate has crossed the 20,000 mark. “I am now working on my third book. This time I hope to strike a deal with a big publishing house,” says Shahi.
Authors clearly have wider choices today than their counterparts a decade ago. Saswati Sengupta, a lecturer in Miranda House, Delhi, was snapped up by the second publisher she got in touch with. Her book — The Song Seekers — has just been published by Zubaan Books. “Today, it’s possible to think of publishing a book,” says Sengupta.
The authors are as different as their books — representing different age groups, backgrounds, cities and genres. Ritwick Malik wrote his first book Love Happens Like That... when he was in high school while Sengupta’s book was published when she was 50. That Shahi came from Chandigarh in no way hindered his search for a publisher. Just as the professions of Mohata textile mills CEO Chandraprakash Mohata, writer of Patyala Down de Throat, and Los Angeles-based data analyst Parinda Joshi, author of Live from London, did not come in their way.
What help writers are new platforms such as literary festivals. Though the Jaipur literary fest organisers stress that theirs is not a trade fair, many writers gather there with the dream to get published. Sangeeta Wadhwani and Jvalant Sampat, who attended the 2010 meet as unpublished writers, won deals and recommendations at the JLF. A year later, their books are out on the stands.
Wadhwani, author of Bollywood on the Bend, met celebrity guru Deepak Chopra in Jaipur, and Chopra wrote a recommendation for her book after reading her short stories. “JLF could be a turning point for many budding writers,” says journalist Wadhwani.
For Sampat, it was indeed the turning point. “I met my literary agent Mita Kapur of the literary agency Siyahi at the 2010 fest,” says Sampat, author of The Tenth Unknown, published by Niyogi Books. At the 2011 festival, Sampat struck a deal with an American writer. “I have to ghostwrite a series of thrillers set in India,” says the 31-year-old former management consultant.
The Internet is another new platform for unknown writers. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan caught the attention of publishers because of her popular blog The Compulsive Confessor. Manral, another blogger, was accepted by the first publisher she approached. “I sent across three chapters and Westland signed me up,” says Manral, now busy with a multi-city book launch tour.
“Bloggers have an advantage as they already have an audience. The publisher is assured of a certain number of readers,” says Padmanabhan of Westland. “My book went viral as people were blogging and tweeting about it,” adds Manral.
But, of course, not every story finds its way into print. The Indian publishing industry, which experts believe is still a maturing market, is cautious in its approach. The big publishing houses reject at least 50 proposals before picking up one idea that shapes into a book. Hachette India gets about five to six manuscripts a day while they publish about 60 books a year.
“I turn down at least four to five manuscripts a day and we sign about the same number of contracts a month,” says Priya Kapoor, director, Roli Books. “Even if you have some exceptionally brilliant talent coming to the fore, you also see a lot of books that you wish were never published,” rues Shobit Arya, publisher, Wisdom Tree.
The publishers with their clearly demarcated literary fiction and commercial fiction categories are also almost always looking for another Chetan Bhagat. “Everyone here is looking for a jackpot,” admits Padmanabhan. “Low pricing helps in the success of a book as it goes beyond urban cities. Lots of sales happen in railway station bookstalls.”
Publishers continue to hope that among the unknown writers lurks a Chetan Bhagat or perhaps an Arundhati Roy. “It’s like a rookie hitting the bull’s eye or a novice hitting the right note,” says Arya. “A good writer will never write a bad book. But a bad writer in today’s India can come up with a bestseller.”
For writers, it’s a win-win situation. And the readers are not complaining either.

Read the original article here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

More pics from the Quill and Canvas event

Taken by the lovely Priyanka Sachar, she of the Rapunzel hair and very intimidating camera.
I've stuck to the captions she has given the pics.

RD6 - Kiran getting "Shabaash"!

RD7 - welcome to my book & bhook store :p (what snacks man!)

RD10 - Deep in thought

RD-14 - wonder what they are thinking about my book

RD 18 - the Divas

RD19 - Bond hain hum, humse panga mat lena

RD24 - perplexed
Psst: Priyanka does candid photography for weddings and events. Do check out her website --

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And some more pics from Kalaghoda...

That's me with the very pretty Tishani Doshi, who recited her poetry to much sighs from the audience and Shital Mehra who spoke about Business Etiquette. Out of frame is the very witty and eloquent Saaz Aggarwal, who read from her book The Songbird on My Shoulder. All in all, we were a motley eclectic bunch on stage together.

The Delhi Gymkhana event

On Feb 3rd, Devapriya Roy, the author of The Vague Woman's Handbook, Swapna Liddle, the author of Delhi Walks and yours truly were invited by the Delhi Gymkhana to read from our books and talk a bit about them.

Here are some pictures. Psst. I'm the one in the middle.

And no, despite it looking quite like I've ingested intoxicating substances in pic 3, the man with camera has just caught me at a wrong moment.

"The Reluctant Detective is not what it pretends to be, and therein lies its magic."

So writes Meeta Sengupta on her blog:

"n the first reading, it was a quick read – a fun whodunit that left you wanting for more. A pretty young mum, stumbling over a dead body – a murder too close to home. Her irrepressible curiosity and intelligence will not let her stop till the murder is resolved, and she somehow fits it all in with her packed social life.

And then the layers began unpeeling. I do not know if Kiran intended to write it this way, but as with everything she writes, kernels of truth pop out and find soil. First came the protests on twitter – this is not chicklit! Despite the green stiletto that dominates the cover, the incessant and almost high pitched voice obsessing about weight, food and clothes this is not chicklit. At one level it is a comedy of manners, at another a neo-feminist dialogue. And of course a detective novel.
The underlying theme here is the quest – the quest for the criminals and their motives barely covering up the quest of the protagonist for her own sense of self.
Having read her twice, and gifted her thrice, I do hope the quest continues – this deserves to be a series."

Read more here.

Media coverage for The Reluctant Detective

 Grazia Feb 2012
 New Woman, Feb 2012
People February 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

At Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2012

Me on stage at Fresh Off The Shelf with Shital Mehra, Tishani Doshi and Saaz Aggarwal.

(Pictures courtesy Nidhi Dorairaj)

What you do not see in the pics, is me shaking like that proverbial leaf in the wind.

But what about the ghost?

Saaz Aggarwal writes about The Reluctant Detective:

Kay, a young housewife and mother in Bombay, is the giddy-headed narrator. At first I found the language convoluted but once it had made me laugh aloud a couple of times, I decided to stop being judgemental and enjoy myself. The rapid-fire monologue is even in tone and describes the people and events in Kay’s life – her obsession with clothes, her hyperactive son (um – wonder where he gets that from), her neighbours, friends and rather serious husband.

Read more here.

A lovely review by Vidyut....

If you don't know Vidyut, let me introduce you to her. Firebrand, opinionated and very socially aware, she was among the rare few who voluntarily gave time and energy to our Violence Against Women Awareness Month on twitter in October 2011.
Here is what she wrote about The Reluctant Detective:

"For me, The Reluctant Detective is fascinating for its point of view. It is that candid manifestation of the thoughts of the character. Random quirks and the knack of looking at the mundane and turning it into art. And make no mistake, for a rolicking, light hearted read to pick up and inhale, this book packs a pretty solid punch in terms of depth. Yes, through the eyes of a housewife with the leisure to choose her problems and indulge in them.
I’ll to the ordinary parts of the review in two lines. Humorous, entertaining, light, extremely readable book. Contemporary fiction at its smoothest.
What I treasure about the book is its transparent, even at times naive “Kay”. The utter honesty of the train of thoughts rambling through the pages is I think what captivated me. I think like this too. I obsess over things others may think trivial too. I do invest a lot of myself in my quirky priorities. I can relate with this book, and I think that it describes the truth of the background track running in most minds."

Read more here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

As reveiwed by Bhargavi...

"Enjoyable and Refreshing"

Here's what Prashant from Chennai has to say about the book.

"The Reluctant Detective is definitely not a murder mystery novel. If you took it up hoping for a sinister plot, you would only be disappointed. However, read it without any expectations and let your imagination run all over the place and you will enjoy it a lot. At least, that’s what I did. The plot is a very simple one. Its only Ms. Manral’s writing style that makes it a good read. It’s simple, lucid and witty. A lot of writers think up a complicated plot, sacrificing on writing style, which keeps you thinking about what’s gonna happen next. The Reluctant Detective is unique and refreshing in that respect.
      If I noticed one thing about Ms. Manral’s writing style, it’s her attention to detail. Her characters are well described, especially those of Kay and Runa. I felt each of the characters in the book is based on someone Ms. Manral knows in real life. I might be wrong. It was just a thought. Now the question that a lot of people will ask. Is it a chick-lit? Maybe yes. However, that does not make it a bad read for men. It’s humorous and lighthearted. Something that anybody would enjoy irrespective of the gender. With a bit of imagination, you could feel the events in the story happening in your neighborhood. Give it a try people. On a Sunday afternoon or while traveling. I am sure you will enjoy it a lot. The Reluctant Detective is definitely a good read albeit simple."

Read more here.

And one more giveaway...

This one hosted by Baisali.

Unless you’ve been holidaying on a romantic, remote island with zero Internet facilities (in which case I envy you!), I’m sure you’ve all heard that our very own, our wildly wonderful, witty and popular blogger Lady Kay – or Kiran Manral, as she is also known :–p – has finally written a book! Yaaayyy! This has been a long time coming, but “The Reluctant Detective” has been worth the wait. A quick, easy, breezy read, is replete with Kiran’s trademark sardonic humour and wacky but oh-oh-true observations on the people who inhabit our world.
The story revolves around 30-something Kanan Mehta, Kay to her friends, a mommy of-one, tackling issues that I and countless women the world over, are only too familiar with – grumpy spouse; tantrum-throwing, junk-food loving child(ren); the battle of the bulge and of course, the most difficult one of them all – what do I wear today? When Kay stumbles upon two corpses in her neighbourhood, one after the other, she gets pulled into detective work, albeit reluctantly, to douse the fires of her curiosity – and of course to make sure the guilty are punished. As the blurb says, this book is a ‘hilarious account of how not to get involved in other people’s murder’ and you need to pick it up now.
If you haven’t read it yet, then I am going to make it fun for you to get one absolutely free – and signed by the author herself!"

Read more here. And go on, try your luck.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And a contest, and a giveaway...

And its special, because ten wonderful readers can win signed copies of The Reluctant Detective. Signed by me. Made out to them. By name. Yes.

Is that exciting enough to get you poised at your keyboard to get started on your entry to the contest?

What do you need to do? Nothing too complicated.

You need to write me a comment on this post about your favourite female protagonist in literature and tell me what it is about the protagonist that makes her your favourite.

The good people at Westland will decide on the winners and you have over a week to get your post up. Winners will be announced on February 20. And the judge's decision is final and binding, and we reserve the right to change the decision. All international participants must give me an address in India to courier the copy to.

So, what are you waiting for. Just get right to it.

Leaking Pipeline Or Fountain Of Creativity?

Did you know that India has among the highest attrition rates when it comes to women in the workforce? Statistics show that nearly 50% of all women drop out of work between lower and middle management.
Kiran Manral (author) and Natasha Badhwar (film maker) joined by Anita Vasudeva (co-founder, Fleximoms) shared their perspectives on women, working flex and the leaking pipeline as more and more women are choosing to leave the formal workforce at an event organized by Westland Publishers and supported by Fleximoms.

Read more here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"It’s an easy read. it doesn’t pretend to be anything but."

And Rajsahiba writes this:

"it’s a simple enough plot. what makes it really really interesting and funny is the way ms. manral writes. she is a laugh a minute writer. the protagonist and the style of writing are reminiscent of bridget jones’ diary and the confessions of a shopaholic. kay is self-deprecating. she pokes fun at herself. she laughs loudest at herself. she takes herself far too seriously. she is super fun."

Read more here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Author Kiran Manral gets chatty about The Reluctant Detective

And here's what the vivacious Shakti Salgaonkar at DNA wrote:

"An avid blogger and a freelance writer, Manral’s first book is about a housewife who stumbles onto a murder mystery. “The idea of the book came by not in a day, not in a month. It was the story of so many women out there. They have a child, give up their career and what do they do with their time? They gossip, they shop, they do something to make their life more interesting,” says Manral whose protagonist stumbles into dead bodies around her as she parties, struggles with weight and plays proud mommy. Is Kanan Mehra an extension of Kiran Manral? “There are a lot of similarities like the obsession with weight, shoes and shopping and complete lack of domestic skills, but that’s where it ends. I haven’t really found corpses, you know,” she chuckles."

Read more here.

And this is what they wrote in Midday

Is The Reluctant Detective a Closet Fleximom?

Sairee Chahal of Fleximoms asks this question:

"Before I go ahead, I have to confess that I have developed an immortal fear of the chiclit (or chicklit) genre – having acquired over a dozen half read, author signed copies – can’t keep, can’t sell, can’t gift!  Not a fan of the genre and add to it my distaste for gruesome murder mysteries – But having read the book, I can safely say I throughly enjoyed it – more than paisa vasool!
The Reluctant Detective is like a liquor shot inside a dark chocolate – when you pick up it up, you know you are in for a good story and an enjoyable read but as you go further it lingers – there is another layer you will never see until it hits the back of your throat. I love the double layer – in the book and in the chocolate."
Read more here.

And here are some visuals from the Fleximoms Lunch at Asia 7 on Feb 2nd, where Anita Vasudev, Natasha Badhwar and I discussed mom-dom and the workforce.

A blogger's account of the event at Quill and Canvas, Gurgaon

Here's what Aabha Midha wrote about the Quill and Canvas event. I'm touched because she travelled all the way from Faridabad, on her own, to come attend the event.

"The Gallery was full of anxious and excited people who waited for the action to unfold.  Kiran started reading ..she read  a portion where Kay goes to pay condolence to the house of the deceased person.  The humorous thoughts of Kay kept us laughing.... as so did the excepts from the second portion where an ambitious Kay sets forth to catch the murderer, equipped with pepper spray as her weapon.... Did she catch him? Well.... you'd be surprised at what happened there! Read the book and find out."

Read more here.