“The Path to Writing a Novel is Never Smooth”
The opening line from Ritu’s web site is a reminder of all the hard work that goes into writing.
Yet, Ritu is doing it, and doing it quite well. She has been a guest on the Scribbler before with a delightful, entertaining short story - The Bag Lady – and if you missed it, please go HERE
The Scribbler is pleased to have her back as a guest with a 4Q Interview and an excerpt from
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but of Indian origin. This colorful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she has always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative with her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.
A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which recently was awarded Best Book Blog at the Annual Blogger’s Bash Awards.
Ritu is happily married and living in Kent with Hubby dearest and two children….and not to forget the furbaby, Sonu Singh.
4Q: Your web site tells us there is a novel in the works and/or completed. Care to tell us about it?
RB: My website is not telling any lies! Yes, I have been working on this story for a long time, almost twenty years, to be honest. It started as a little idea before I got married, and I managed to write a few words here and there, until I started blogging in earnest. Here, I was given the courage to work on it in a more determined fashion. I am just finishing the tweaks after my editor read through it. How to describe it? I like to call it Chick Pea Curry Lit, a bit of chick lit with an Indian twist!
“Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
After finding out her fiancé was not the man she thought, she vows to put him, and her innocence behind her.
Accompanied by her brothers and best friend, she embarks upon an enlightening journey, where memories created and new relationships forged, have far reaching effects.”
Set in 2000, in the Indian suburbs of Birmingham, UK – yes, Indian because every city here seems to have a mini India where the Indian immigrants congregate!
It is set between Birmingham and India actually.
A story of a British born Indian girl, and her family, as they come to terms with her broken engagement.
There’s love lust, humour and a little bit of seriousness too!
And even better: since I received feedback from my first released draft, and from my editor, there are two sequels which will be able to be read as stand alone too in the pipeline!
4Q: A previously published book of poetry, titled Poetic RITUals has been called “A collection of poetry drawing on the experiences of the writer……. Please tell us about your collection of poems.
RB: My poetry comes from the heart and is very much inspired by my life. You will find poems of a humorous nature, about being a mother, and dealing with children, and all sorts of life situations that we find ourselves in, from work to relationships. I write what I am feeling at the time, so they are all truly from the heart.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
RB: I feel blessed to have had a wonderful childhood, peppered with fantastic memories, as the daughter of a Kenyan born couple, who was born and brought up here. I have an abundance of family, cousins coming out of my ears, and enough uncles and aunties to furnish most of the households on my street with one of each, and still have more left over!
This kind of family means there are plenty of stories to tell. We would spend summers in Kenya, splitting the four or five weeks out there between my Pops’s family home and my Mum’s.
One memory, amongst thousands, is of the time I (attempted to) learn how to ride a small 50cc motorbike that my cousin used to get around the farm on. She was my age and size. It wasn’t going to be too hard, was it? Famous last words. Anyone who knows me, knows how clumsy I am. It all went well for the first few feet. I rode it straight, then it started to veer to the right, and I panicked instead of straightening the handlebars, and ended up in one of my Nani’s (grandmother) rose bushes! My Nani had been watching me through a window and came rushing out. I held up my arms to her, hoping for a comforting hug, and got pulled out so she could fuss over the plant instead! My Nani was a character and a half and I do miss her, God rest her soul.
4Q: When the creative juices are flowing, where do you go to write? What are your writing habits?
RB: Hmm, I’m not sure what my specific writing habits are. As a working wife and mother, I have to grab opportunities to write when I can. Usually, during term time it is after 9pm when the children are in bed, and we have eaten dinner. I get my little bit of peace then, and try and either write, or edit in that hour or so before I switch off with whatever I am reading at the time. I am usually found on my bed, laptop on my lap (where else?), typing away. And there is always a notebook handy, wherever I go!
During the longer holidays, I am up early, as my usual schedule dictates, so I use a couple of hours then, to write, before the rest of the family wakes and draws me into their world!
4Q: You have an award winning blog aptly titled – But I Smile anyway…. It must’ve been a thrill winning “Best Book Blog” How did that feel?
RB: I feel blessed that so many voted for me, over a huge amount of other bloggers, to be honest! It was a total surprise. I was sitting there, minding my own business, waiting to politely clap the winner, and my blog’s name got called out! Those around me say my face was a picture. It was so unexpected. But I am grateful.
I write, I read, I share.
Many others do the same, and in my eyes, in a much better way than me, so it was so lovely to get validation via the votes of the public, that what I do put out there, is being read, and appreciated.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
RB: I think I’d like to hark back to that first line you started the post with.
“The Path to Writing a Novel is Never Smooth”
I set off on this story writing quest with airy fairy ideas about penning a novel that would become a bestseller, because publishers would be beating my door down to sign me up and get my book out there.
Little did I know how much work goes into writing that first draft, let alone the rest of the work that you have to do after, including numerous drafts, the nervousness as you wait for others to read and give feedback, then the rigmarole of deciding whether to go it alone, and self-publish, or try and find an agent or publisher who has faith in you.
I will always be thankful to the huge amount of people I have met, via my blogging, who have become an invaluable support network, full of advice, helpful tips and bucketfuls of encouragement. Without them, I would be nowhere near quite possibly publishing this book as I am now.
Never underestimate the friendships you can create via this beautiful blogisphere.
An Excerpt from Marriage: Unarranged
(Copyright is held by the Author. Used with permission)
Aashi opened the door an inch and took a deep breath. She flung it wide and stood there with her arm extended and her palm turned upwards. Her eyes searched Ravi’s face and then fell to the piece of tissue lying in her hand... Inside the tissue was... a condom wrapper.
“What is this? Don’t say it, I know what it is, but why is it here?” Aashi felt tears begin to prick the back of her eyes
“Babe, I can explain, you see, one of my mates came around the other night, and he had his girlfriend with him, and well, they must have, well you know... Don’t worry I’ll have a word with him.”
Aashi pushed past him into the bedroom. Her whole body shaking, she sat on the bed and wiped the tears away. That’s right; of course, Ravi wouldn’t do anything. How could I even think it? She looked around for a tissue box. Aah, on the bedside table. Noticing the drawer was slightly open, she absentmindedly tugged at it. Something was stuck so she went to put it back properly and shut the drawer. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Ravi’s hand, shooting out towards her.
She took the empty box, which had once contained three condoms, and looked at it.
Aashi shoved Ravi away and fled down the stairs. She grabbed her bag and car keys and rushed out of the house. Tears blurred her vision as she unlocked the car, opened the door and sat down. Looking at herself in the rear-view mirror, she burst into fresh tears.
What’s so wrong with me? She searched the tear-stained, slightly blotchy, face in the mirror. How could he do this to me? After all those long chats about the future and how important it was to save yourself for the right one. Has there been anyone else?
As she studied her face, Aashi became aware of a figure, approaching the car. Ravi. Oh no you don’t! Aashi locked the car and went to start the ignition when Ravi appeared at her window.
“Please, babe, open the door. We’ve got to talk.”
“Leave me alone!” Aashi screamed. “I don’t want to see your face, EVER AGAIN!” With that, she turned away and started the engine.
“Look, honey, you have to listen to me.” Strange, that voice sounds too clear for someone standing outside the car... Aashi looked to the left, and there he was, sitting beside her.
“Please, get out, before I do something I regret.” In her hurry to start the car she had somehow pressed the central locking button on her key. Typical. Even inanimate objects are betraying me now.
Thank you Ritu, for being our guest this week.
For you wonderful readers that would like to discover more about this talented author and her writing, please follow these links:
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com