November 24, 2013
Swati Daftuar, The Hindu, Chennai, Metro Plus
Writer and musician Radha Thomas on authoring a trilogy, juggling different creative pursuits and being part of The Hindu Lit for Life
Radha Thomas seems to have done it all, or at least a lot. After writing a column on the sexes, putting together her jazz band, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble and handling the post of executive vice-president at Explocity.com, Thomas is now authoring a trilogy on the “endless topic” of men. Men On My Mind, published by Rupa, is the first part of the trilogy. Excerpts from an interview:
It’s a varied career, yours, with the band, the column and your work in publishing, and now the trilogy. Tell us a little about the creative process behind these different pursuits?
Hmmm, let’s see. The music involves other people so the artistic process is collaborative, loud and interactive. That’s when you’re rehearsing. But when you’re on stage, it kind of all falls away, at least for me it does, and you’re alone with the microphone and the audience. It’s great fun. When you write it’s totally from within your head. A quiet space where you can call on your ghosts — real and imagined — to create a tale. But writing is also addictive. Once you’re in the zone, it’s hard to come out to face day-to-day.
Men On My Mind feels like a logical progression from the column you used to write forBangalore Monthly. Tell us a little bit about the conception of the book. And the reason for a trilogy.
The concept is a spin on the column Between the Sexes that I wrote for the Bangalore Monthly for sure, but it’s a completely different take. This is a story with a protagonist who wanders the world looking for happiness. It’s also not chick-lit by any means, even though it’s been slotted in that category for some reason, maybe the pink cover! It’s more ‘adult humour’, I’d say. This may sound trite, but Rupa asked for a trilogy and I simply said yes. I had no idea how I’d do it. But I like challenges, deadlines, structure and rules. So I just planned it out and it fell into place. Book Two will be out in April.
Juggling work, music and writing, is it easy?
I love it. I find the two disciplines complement each other quite seamlessly. So after the intensity of rehearsals and a live performance with its highs followed by the low when it’s all over, it’s nice to settle down to some dreamy sessions in my mind. I don’t know if I make sense here, but it feels right.
It’s probably an unfair question to ask, but if you had to, which would you say satisfies your creative urges best, music, or writing? Or is there an intersection, a sort of coming together?
If I were to be totally honest, I’ve been a singer much longer than I’ve been an author. I’m getting used to being an author. I’ve never been to a literary festival and wonder how I’m going to fit in with all the intellect that I’m going to encounter. I’m nervous about it. But fortunately, I’m also performing there with the band, so it should calm me down a bit. But I get nervous before a performance too. So all in all maybe I should carry some Valium. Kidding.
What takeaways are you hoping for, from The Hindu Lit for Life?
First of all I’m honoured to be associated with The Hindu. It’s always been a newspaper that doesn’t take things lightly. So more than a takeaway, I hope I can give something meaningful to the people who attend the Lit Fest.