Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview with me on Chillibreeze

"We introduce you to Kiran Manral, who began her career as a copywriter and then moved to journalism. Presently, she is a freelance writer. She started blogging in 2005 - her blogs are part of Labnol's list of India's top blogs. She also founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11. She has worked on longterm rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, amongst others. She was also a part of core team that initiated and ran the very well- received Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month April 2011 and Violence Against Women Awareness Month.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Mumbai. As a literature honours student, I began my career as a copywriter, moved into journalism, advertising and currently freelancing on various assignments.
2. How would you describe “The Reluctant Detective”? What was the inspiration behind writing this book?
The Reluctant Detective is primarily a humour book. There is no inspiration as such; the aim was to provide a glimpse into the life within the urban gated community. There is a lot of writing on the grittier situations in the metropolises and not so much on this segment.
3. You have been a journalist and a freelance writer – would you like to share some insights about your career with our readers & writers?
I began my career as a copywriter, moved into journalism and now I freelance. I blundered into the profession so to speak, with no prior training. I was freelance writing for various publications through college, so by the time I was in post graduation I already had a base of contacts in the field and applied for positions in publications. I went from features on business to womens’ issues, which in retrospect did train me to write on every topic possible, but not a good strategy if you want to specialise in a beat. My advice, would be not to make the mistakes I made, but to train professionally in journalism, choose a beat to specialise in and to network, network, and just network.
I started freelance writing after I had my son. It involved writing on topics that might not always excite me, but something one needs to do for bread and butter. Therefore, what I think has stood me in good stead, has been my willingness to accept any assignment regardless of deadline and meeting them.
4. You are a famous blogger - as a blogger, do you try to maintain a particular style while writing and how do you think blogging helps to build your writer’s platform?
Actually I don’t. I think of blogging as a very different discipline from writing a book. But yes, it is the best form of writing practice and people are familiar with one’s style of writing. So that works in your favour.
5. What do you find the toughest part of writing? What are your recommendations to the new and upcoming writers?
Toughest part of writing? Carving out time to write. My advice to new writers would be - just sit down and write. Don’t wait for the perfect mood, moment, inspiration.
6. What kind of resources do you think are lacking for young writers in India today? What are young writers looking for?
I think there isn't anything that is lacking at any point. People have been writing with quill and ink, with manual typewriters down the ages and now with computers and the internet. Today, we have online and offline writing groups where aspiring writers can interact with other likeminded souls, get feedback on their writing etc.
There are enough and more resources for young writers serious about writing to get down to writing. The best resource according to me for a writer is to read as much as they can. It’s simple, but the most effective. Read. Study the market. Figure out where the niche is and target it.
7. Did you face any challenges while publishing your book?
I have been lucky. I’d sent across three chapters to the first publisher who found it interesting enough to ask for the rest of the book and decided to publish it.
I feel the key is to believe in your story, to have the persistence to keep pursuing publishers and if necessary to find an agent who will do the selling to publishing houses for you and help you edit the first draft to something which is presentable to a publishing house. Every publishing house has a manuscript submission format available on their websites; it would be good if aspiring writers stuck to that.
8. What are you reading right now? Are there any authors you would like to mention, who influenced you?
I read anything and everything that comes my way, and to cleanse my palate I read P G Wodehouse and Dave Barry and Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson. Right now, I am reading A Dark Anatomy by Robin Blake.
9. What’s next after “The reluctant Detective”?
I am working on a sequel to this book and a couple of other books - one humour and one dark."

The link to the interview here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

At Wassup Andheri


IMAGINE A MID-30S  HYPERACTIVE school-gate mom with a hyperactive smartass kid, living in a suburban urban housing complex. And she not wanting to poke her middle-class nose into other people’s kitchens or murders on the jogging track and inside the complex. Add to that plenty of throwaway one-liners that only a wacky wife and mother full of, and surrounded by, much nervous energy could think up and pen down.
Thank God, Kiran Manral’s not another banker or ad copywriter who has kicked her job, not another IIT/IIM-advantaged dropout genius who has torn up his degree, not just another chick with a viewer-friendly mug and stilettos to match. More than Chick Lit, this one comes with a refreshing take (though the pheeka pinkish-green cover does unabashedly submit to a dominating stiletto illustration with a little blood thrown in under it). You just got Blue: The Tranquebar Book of Erotic Stories from Sri Lanka  as Sex Lit. You can call the stuff Kiran Manral struts here as pioneering Hen Lit (with due apologies to the lovely chick of an author).
Among the best parts in Kanan Mehra or Kay’s life as set out in the beginning of the book are those that deal with her little son Kabir. Quickly, like a multitasking housewife, the author Kiran Manral (Kay, obviously) stumbles into a dead body in the complex. Enter, the cops.
Which actually excites her vicarious Gossip Queen juice glands, and she decides to offer enthusiastic unsolicited help (to herself mainly) in cracking the case. Or what do you do just attending déjà vu kitty parties and chatting on fashion, food and whatever the third ‘F’ could be? Not one but two murders, as it turns out! What a life-changer (and grist for the kitty mill) this could be, slurp.
If you are willing to wait for the real whodunnit stuff till rather late in the book and would rather chuckle at the breezily witty observations of life, you won’t be disappointed. Especially on a lazy Sunday or Moonday.

Read more of this review here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another desperate, nosy housewife?

In Ibnlive South:

"CHENNAI: An avid fan of the American series Desperate Housewives will have no difficulty comprehending that an urban and clean housewife can be associated with gruesome murder. But for the others, Mumbai-based author Kiran Manral’s novel Reluctant Detective, could be a good starting point.
The title gives away nothing, warns the debutante author, also a popular blogger. “The operative word here is reluctant and not detective,” says Manral, who was in the city recently for a book-reading session."

Read more here.

An interview on

Kiran Manral is a freelance writer, blogger and loving mother who recently published her first book called ‘The Reluctant Detective’.  With the noble intention of helping aspiring writers, Kiran gives us the run down on what it takes for a writer to get published and get popular.

Tell us a little about The Reluctant Detective.
The Reluctant Detective is basically a humorous story about the life of a suburban housewife. She has given up her career to take care of her family. However, since she has house-help there’s not much for her to do. Two murders take place in her neighbourhood, and she somehow ends up getting involved in these murder mysteries. It’s not so much ‘Detective’ as much as much as the ‘Reluctant’ part of it.

Your husband and son seem to have influenced the book in a large way. How much of your real life has trickled its way on to the pages of this book?
There are a few things like my husband, my child, my fondness for buffets and my obsession with weight that make themselves known in the book. But I am not Kay. She’s much more hysterical. The life choices that she has made are very different from the ones I have. Even though she’s qualified, she gives up her career to take care of her family. I, was back at office three months after my son was born.

What made you take the step from blogger to author?
My mother has always believed that I will be an author. Since the time I was in college, she has been on my case. Two of my really close friends are the same. They’ve spent exceptional amounts of time pestering me to write a book. I guess I wrote it to get all of them off my back."
Read more here.

And more links to the Crossword event...

And here's a montage of pics from my Juhu Crossword reading ....

...with Soma Ghosh and Pooja Bedi and surprise guest, Akashdeep Saigal who now goes as Sky Walker.

In Bombay Times today...

Finally made it to Page 3 of Bombay Times, albeit not with the simpering leg struck out pouty pose I would have liked. Thanks to Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Book Lovers Review who invited me to speak at Wassup Andheri, me and Naomi Datta and Madhuri Banerjee, two other authors who were on the panel speaking on chicklit, were in today's Bombay Times.

Here's evidence. Now that I am officially Page 3 person, let me go off and cultivate my airs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And the wonderful Swarna at Prajnya posts this....

Kiran Manral comes to town

Kiran Manral, who is traveling around India to promote her book, The Reluctant Detective, took time out on her Chennai visit to meet with a small group of Prajnya team members and friends.
Prajnya team members have interacted with Kiran on Twitter as part of the excellent social media campaigns she has put together to raise awareness of child sexual abuse and violence against women.

Read more here

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Womens Web Author's Corner

And some pictures from my IIT Chennai reading

I was invited by IIT Chennai Women's Forum to be part of their Women's Day celebrations and to read from my book. Of course, I was all chuffed and hair in a braid to attend. IIT! I had never ever entered the hallowed premises except for the Mood Indigo festival during college days where I participated in most quizzes and debating contests and lost anyway.

Here are some pictures of the event.
And a big shout out to Preeti Aghalayam for her kindness in inviting me. So what if I didn't go to IIT, I did read there. And that is good enough for me.

And here is an account of the Women's Day Blogger Dinner at The Hilton, Chennai

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bonobo, March 7th March, A Perfect Tea Party

Organised by the effervescent Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, the Perfect Tea Party had over 60 odd women in attendance on a fine summer evening, at the terrace restaurant at Bonobo. On the agenda was a tea tasting by tea sommelier Snighda and this was paired by the most sinful bites to enhance and complement the flavours of the teas we were tasting. Followed by a reading by me, moderated by the bubbly Shakti Salgaonkar, who has her own book out now, and I hope to return the favour soon!

Here's what the event was all about.

Plus some pictures:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reading at Zoya by Tanishq with Naomi Datta

An eclectic group of women gathered together at the lovely Zoya diamond boutique last evening for a reading and discussion of my book The Reluctant Detective. Professional women, bloggers, corporate women, women working with NGOs, working women, women who were homemakers, women entrepreneurs all congregated together. Crackling estrogen in the air.

Trays of the intoxicating stuff were being passed around, and more trays of the fascinatingly calorific stuff being passed around too, but I laid off until the reading was done, too many butterfly in the stomach moments before any reading yet for me. You would think by now, I would be less anxious about sitting in front of an audience, but no, I do get sweaty palmed and tensed before every reading in most unseemly manner.

Of course, once the reading was done, and the nerves had abated a bit, I knocked down an entire glass or two of the bubbly stuff empty stomach and was quite giggly in unseemly manner for the rest of the evening.
I needed to be giggly too, to keep myself distracted from the lovely stuff on display.

Here's a big thank you to Zoya, for hosting me. Thank you Jim, Delna, Aashish, Meghna. Thank you Kiehl's for offering all the guests consultations, and a big shout out to Anjali Pai who has been with The Reluctant Detective from Mumbai to Delhi and back. Thank you all the lovely ladies who dropped by, Rasna Behl, Arti Sarin, Sangeeta Irani, Shaan S Khanna, Neha Patodia, Kajal Nair, Rati Tripathi, Chitra Pandit, Gauri Vij and a big big thank you to Naomi Datta for doing such a superb job with asking me gentle questions.

Here are some pictures from the evening.

Just found this ....

....what? What? Of course I google myself. Don't you too. And yes, I'm the queen of shiny face town. This is skin that refuses to get out of adolescent mode.

Monday, March 5, 2012