THE HINDU, Swati Daftuar, August 24, 2014, New Delhi
Radha Thomas’s new book, “More Men on My Mind” continues to intrigue, entertain and, surprisingly, educate
With her first book, “Men on my Mind”, Radha Thomas spun a story that was both fresh and exciting. The sequel, recently published, takes the story forwarded, its protagonist journeying through exotic locations and meeting a few, or many, new men. Once again, Thomas conjures up an image that speaks of independent, free spirited women.
Excerpts from an interview:
A little about writing the sequel, and the development of the plot?
The original book, ‘Men On My Mind,’ introduced the lead character, still a little girl around seven years, and goes on to follow her antics and acrobatics till she’s in her twenties. And just when she thinks life can’t get more hazardous, along comes the next chapter of life which is revealed in, ‘More Men On My Mind.’ Her experiences grow in complexity and she meets all sort of challenges. It’s not just her sex life, which the book sort of focuses on, but also the various other influences that go towards the shaping of her character.
Could you elaborate a little on the whys behind the book and the story? Why did you choose to write what you do, and why do you think it is relevant to today’s context, and more specifically, women?
Hmm. I like comedy, humour and writing. So the best way to put it all together seemed to me to be in the form of a book. I used to write a column called, ‘Between The Sexes,’ for The Bangalore Monthly, and it was kind of popular. The book grew out of the column and also life around me. Humour is always relevant. Sex is always relevant. And relationships, hopes, dreams and so on are timeless topics as long as there are men and women doing the dating dance. So in that sense it’s not a topical subject.
I didn’t think much about making an impact on women or any other interest group really. I didn’t really think I had any sort of authority to lead anyone, women or men, this way or that. But oddly, since the first book came out, and now with the second one, I find many people relating to the main character, relating to the incidents, finding themselves in one form or shape somewhere in the book. It’s nice to know that I can touch people, although it’s hard to believe.
And a bit about the places your plot visits? What kind of research went into it?
I have actually been to all the places mentioned in my book. But I had to refresh my memory quite a bit before writing, because the memory is not as reliable as Google! The funny thing is that things you remember vividly may have never actually happened, or places you visualise in a particular way actually are very different. So research is a crucial and critical part of my books to make the places come alive the way they ought to. I don’t write a thing without research, spell checks, grammar checks, punctuation checks and so on. I used to edit a lot of copy for the company I worked for, Explocity, so I’m used to it.
Could you talk a little bit about how you see Indian women’s fiction, for and from, evolving?
In a way I am ashamed to say his, but it’s been a while since I read someone else’s work. Not because I don’t like it or don’t want to, but merely because I have been writing my own material for a few years and until I finish the trilogy, I don’t want my thoughts or words coloured by someone else’s. So I can’t comment on other people.
One could easily think, based solely on the blurb, that the entire book is about is sex. But it isn’t. Could you talk a little bit about the issues you have tried to look at?
Life can be great entertainment… or a horrible nightmare… or something in between. As a writer, a humour writer, I’ve tried to bring ‘the funny’ into situations that may actually be sad. I’ve tried to have fun with words, with situations and with people. In a way, you kind of feel like god, manipulating this character and ticking off that. It’s enormously rewarding to be able to control people so. I am kidding of course. While I plan chapters and plots and so on before writing, very often thoughts and scenes just flow out of me before I can stop them. When that happens I feel enormously happy. And there are other days when nothing happens at all. I question my creativity in those times. But the book is about conflict, resolution, temporary fixes and moving on with life, ready for the next battle.
How does your music play into the way you write, if at all? Do you see a connection, a common creative source?
Most definitely music is an integral part of my life and it is because of music that I’ve actually been able to do many of the things I actually have. I write a lot of songs too and although it’s a very different discipline, I’m certain there’s a connection. Some days I like writing more than I do singing, and others, it’s just the opposite. Hard to tell from day to day. But I am fortunate to be able to do both. Very fortunate.