Ritu Bhathal’s debut romance novel, Marriage Unarranged, is being launched on 9 February. I am struggling to contain my book excitement as my blog is taking part in the go-live celebrations on Sunday and I was one of the lucky few to beta read this book.
As I think this clever lady is going to be very successful with her books, she’s already created her own genre – Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist, I thought it would be nice to interview her over a chai latte.
Also when she’s famous I can say she came on my blog and get some kudos for interviewing a future star *sigh*
So, we’ve both got our chai lattes in fancy cups and Ritu’s made us some home cooked nibbles (she makes amazing cakes!) which I am struggling to stop devouring. We are ready for a natter. Let’s begin.
Ritu, welcome to BlondeWriteMore! Tell us about yourself
Well, as you know, my name is Ritu, and at this moment in time, I am days away from being a published author!
But that’s not the whole of me. I’m a British Indian woman, born in the mid-seventies to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to Birmingham, in the early seventies. I grew up with a true smorgasbord of cultures around me, having a massive extended family already living here, and enjoying the colourful Indian traditions and culture, interspersed with trips to Kenya, and absorbing the culture there. Of course, being born here, I was also immersed in British life too. A true East/West mix, that’s me!
As a child I was sent to an all girl’s private school from the age of three all the way to the completion of my A-levels, at 17. Having such inspirational people around me, teaching me, made me want to be a teacher, which I did in fact end up becoming.
My mother is an avid reader, so I was always, and still am, found with my nose buried in a book. I do love a good book.
I studied, met my now-Hubby Dearest in my last year of university, and we planned our wedding, but not before I had a taste of a few other jobs, pre-teaching. I worked as an assistant manager in a designer clothing boutique in Kingston-Upon-Thames – an experience that, had it been available in those times, would have made for a fantastic reality show! Seriously, the customers! The stories!
Then I ended up in the bank for around 4 years. Marriage meant I relocated to Kent, and I had nine years in a marketing company, before finding my way back to the job I had actually trained to do, teaching.
In between all this, I dabbled in writing, and started a blog which pushed me to write more.
So, right now, you find me as a wife, mother to a teen and a tween, a feline fur baby, Sonu Singh and two feathered ones, Heer and Ranjha, a teacher, blogger, and writer!
Plenty of fodder for the imagination there!
Where did the idea for the book come from?
When I started writing this story, it was the year 2001. The working title was Wedded Stress. I was in the midst of planning my wedding and the urge to write was strong. I was entering into a perfect marriage, but what would happen if someone was all set up for the same, and things go belly up? That was the catalyst, but there was no planning at that stage. I started writing, and just wanted to see what happened. I wasn’t even sure if it would be a book length story, or just something short. (At over 86,000 words, I’m sure you will agree that it is most definitely not short!)
But life happened, and marriage, followed by trying for a family, having kids and raising them, meant that my idea languished on a floppy disk for a long while. I remember finding it, one day a couple of years after starting. I loaded it up, and thought, ‘I can do something with this.’ Hubby Dearest was most supportive, and he even bought me my first laptop so I could carry on making my dream come true. Then, it got shelved, again and when I started my blog, that was when the true writing started. When feedback from the first couple of chapters came in, I was encouraged to start writing properly, but time was a huge issue. I ended up using the month of August in 2017, to really write properly, and even used a plan. By this time, I had realised that pantsing a whole story might not be wise. It wasn’t complete, yet, but it was a real story with a beginning, a middle and I knew what the end would be.
And it got rechristened to Marriage Unarranged.
After a few months, I managed to finish it, and here we are now, in the year 2020, and I have a completed, and published book!
How long have you been writing?
I have always loved to write, from a young age. I was always telling stories, and when people stopped listening, I started writing them down, instead. At that time, I had no aspirations of becoming an author, but I loved the reading and writing process. I won a couple of school writing competitions and that boosted my confidence.
My real writing, I would say started around five years ago, when I became serious about something that started as a flippant comment about having a book with my name on it. I managed that, with my poetry anthology, Poetic RITUals, but it was this story that really wanted to be told that pushed me to learn more about the writing and publishing process, and finally got me to where I am today.
Can we expect more books from you?
I hope so, yes!
During the writing of Marriage Unarranged, many characters popped into the story, and began to want to tell their story. I had to control myself a little, but the feedback I received from beta readers hinted at the fact that they would love to read more about certain people they had met in the book.
And so, another two fiction books in the same genre, (coined Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist) have been planned, focussing on other people from Marriage Unarranged. Now I just need to make the time to write them!
I have also got ideas and words for three possible children’s picture books. All I need to do is finish the rhymes for the last one, and then I need to look for an illustrator. That’s something I need to research.
Sigh. The life of an author is not just creation, but perpetual education…
Thank you, again, Lucy! I do hope your readers choose to enjoy learning about Aashi and her journey.
Here’s the blurb:
Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something.
If you want to check this book out here’s the info you need:
In other news, on BlondeWriteMore on Thursday I have such a treat for all writers of romance. One of my FAVOURITE authors – ZOE MAY has written me a gorgeous guest post titled – 5 Things Your Female Character Needs To Have.
I am honoured to have all these wonderful people like Ritu and Zoe wanting to come on my blog x