'Love is immoral, unexpected and totally inconvenient'
First-time author Komal Mehta, whose book Nick of Time has just hit the shelves, discusses writing, the inevitability of love and spills her deepest, darkest secrets in an interview with rediff.com's Divya Nair.
They say all's fair in love and war. And Komal Mehta's book takes the adage quite seriously.
Alehya Mehta, the protagonist of Nick Of Time travels to Chandigarh to celebrate her best friend Shagun's wedding only to realise that the guy she's getting married to -- Vicky -- is none other than her childhood nemesis.
In her quest to make the two most important people in her life get along, Shagun puts Alehya and Vicky in situations that lead to the two finding what their hearts truly seek.
Nick of Time tries to tell the perfect Indian tale of how two imperfect people with completely different views of life end up finding true love at the wrong time.
The situations that arise and the consequences they face from family and friends form the rest of the story (click here to read an excerpt from the book).
Interestingly, Komal, who is 28 years of age and is yet to find her Mr Perfect, talks of how people find true love in the most imperfect of situations unlike in films.
"Love catches you unawares. That's the best part of falling in love. And that's exactly what makes it so adventurous. It will make you do things that you would have never imagined doing otherwise," says the debutante author who works as a senior manager with Hash Entertainment, a film marketing agency in Mumbai.
In the following pages, Komal talks about why it is difficult for young authors to find the right publisher, why people find it so difficult to confess their feelings to the one they love and explains why it is fair to lie and cheat for true love. Read on.
What inspired you to write a love story?
I am an incurable romantic so I wanted to write a romance. I'd read Anuja Chauhan's Zoya Factor and since then I've wanted to write a book that was very contemporary in its language and setting
It all started as a story of two best friends. I had so many friends and each of them had interesting anecdotes about their love life. I wanted to tell those stories through the book. The idea of finding the right love at the wrong time in life crept in. The book was meant to be a story about friendship, love and confusion.
This is your first book. What were the challenges you faced writing it?
Writing was not so much of a challenge for me. I started writing at the age of 15. But most of it was content-based writing for newspapers and magazines like JAM, DNA and Business of Cinema to name a few. So I thought, 'It will be easy to write a book.'
Only when I sat down to write did I realise that writing fiction is slightly different from what I had already done. I had to write the book in the language we speak, so you will see a lot of Hindi words and conversations in Nick of Time. I wanted it to be simple and enjoyable to read.
I started writing in March 2010 and finished the book in December 2010.
And the real challenge came after that. I wrote to a few publishers who rejected my book immediately. At least 14 publishers must have rejected my work before Penguin agreed.
Image: Komal Mehta
'During the interview, I proposed to him!'
What is your idea of falling in love?
Love is an abstract emotion in relative world. Therefore, everyone has a different version of it. It is immoral, unexpected and totally inconvenient.
Tell us about the first time you confessed your love to a guy.
I cannot tell you his name, but there was this international singer I'd heard on the radio. The instant I heard him sing, I had a crush on him. I had this deep desire to talk to him at least once and tell him how I felt. So I called up the radio station and got his e-mail address. I wrote to him but did not get any reply. I kind of felt stupid but that's how it makes you feel, I guess.
A few months later, when this guy came to India my editor, who'd known of my admiration for this singer sent me to interview him. Stupid as I was, during the interview I proposed to him! Of course he turned me down, but he was sweet to me. I must have been 18 then.
Why do you think people take time to realise and confess their true feelings to someone?
I think we all have self preservation instincts and we all fear putting ourselves out there to be hurt by someone. People also take time coming to terms with their emotion and a lot of factors like time, people and distance etc come in the way. Maybe, that's why.
Personally, I find love to be a beautiful thing. If it happens to you, you should follow your heart and go for it.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'Being in love and giving in to it is personal choice'
In your book, the protagonist Alehya falls in love with her best friend's fiance. Would you justify doing something similar in real life?
No. If my best friend did that to me, I would be upset, very upset.
Do you think it is okay to cheat/lie to a best friend who confides in you?
Being in love and giving in to it is personal choice...it's like deciding your career, your education etc. It requires commitment and you stick by it.
Also by withholding the truth from your friend, you would still be cheating. Right?
Are there some unwritten rules in friendship and love that one must try and follow? Like never dating your best friend's ex, for instance. Please share some rules you follow.It is definitely not okay. But there are things in life that are bigger than right or wrong.
Make your own rules. Go by your instincts and do what you think is right, within reason, without harming anyone. The way you love is as unique as you are.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'Don't show your work to people who will pull you down'
What are your views on love vs arranged marriages?
In India 50, percent of the marriages are arranged. I know people who have successful arranged marriages. However I come from a family where love marriages are a trend.
I think going for a love or arranged marriage is a personal choice and as long as you are happy with the choice it doesn't matter how two people come together.
What advice would you like to share with first-time authors who fail to find the right publisher?
If you want to be a good author, you have to be disciplined in your work. You must feel strongly about your book and its idea. You have to face the world with conviction. While it is important to share your work with people for feedback, don't show it to people who you know will pull you down with dissent.
Remember, every book has its audience.
What are your future plans?
Right now, I am busy with the release of the book. I am also writing another book which is slightly more serious than this one.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh