I Reserve My Ears For People Who Have Actually Read My Work: Author Nikita Singh
- IWB Post
- March 14, 2019
At just 27, Nikita Singh already has eleven books to her credit and has managed to create a niche for herself in the writing world. She is thoroughly acquainted with the euphoria of making it to the bestselling stands and is one of the very few women commercial fiction writers who are making it big in India.
Nikita’s latest novel, The Reason Is You, is a moving story about emotional health, heartache and second chances. It is a story about real people living in the real world and explores the boundaries of contemporary relationships.
Speaking about the book, she says, “This is a novel told from the perspective of its male protagonist. It is about being in love with someone who is struggling with depression, and how that affects the person taking on the role of a caretaker in a relationship. The story further explores how mental health issues still have this societal stigma attached, and how their symptoms tend to get overlooked or even dismissed.”
In a recent interaction with Nikita, she talked about the experience of writing from a man’s perspective, the pursuit of creating organic characters, opinions of self-appointed “critics,” and a beautiful love story that she has personally witnessed.
Here are the excerpts:
How easy/difficult is it to get into the mind of a man as a woman writer? Did you do any particular preparations before you started writing The Reason Is You?
I had expected it to be challenging, but when I started writing, I was pleasantly surprised to find the process just like any other book. If you think about it, out of the books we read, at least half are written from a man’s perspective (at least in my case) so I wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with the male POV. Also, I’ve written from both male and female perspectives in my previous books, as well.
There is a lot more awareness about mental health now than it was a few years ago. But there’s still a huge stigma attached to it. What drove you to address it in your book?
Writers cannot afford to be worried about stigma while choosing subject matter. For me, loss and depression were difficult to write about, emotionally, but I never worried about its reception by readers. The worry was about doing justice to these topics in my depiction of it.
You write about love so often, what is it that fascinates you about the emotion? Is it the fact that people forget all reason when they’re in love and thus make for interesting characters?
My characters don’t tend to be one-dimensional characters who forget all reason when in love. I write about relationships — romantic ones, ones of daughters with their mothers, between friends, and of people with their passions, careers, social and physical environments, etc. These are well-rounded characters whose lives center around love, like that of all humans on the planet, because what do we have without love?
Since a lot of your books are centered around a love story, how do you make sure you stay away from tried and tested tropes and make each book different?
Luckily, I don’t like to read the genre that I write. So, my reading doesn’t coincide with my writing – which means I don’t even know the “tried and tested tropes” and therefore my work doesn’t replicate the norm and stays original.
The circle of commercial fiction writers in India is dominated by men, and you’re one of the few women who’ve had bestselling books in this genre. How difficult is it to navigate this world?
Authors don’t work with each other. It’s not like we all go to the same office and have to navigate working with each other. Every author works with their publishing team, so there’s no overlap between different authors’ work. That said, I try to ensure that my books send out a positive message to my predominantly young readership. My characters and plots don’t spread the existing skewed and sexist stereotypes and showcase self-worth, bravery, and hope.
Over the years, as the popularity of commercial fiction, especially love stories, has increased, several people’s disparaging attitude towards it has also started showing. Does that bother you at all?
Opinions of self-appointed “critics” on the internet? No. It used to bother me when I was younger and new to public recognition. But then my mother taught me the old Indian proverb: the elephant keeps walking as the dogs keep barking. Besides, most of these comments come from people who have a hatred for the genre and for my gender, age and me (how I look, where I live, what I seem to have). I believe that criticism is an important part of the writing experience, but I reserve my ears for people who at least have actually read my work.
Can you tell us about the top three love stories you know? They can be real-life stories, novels, movies, anything.
I’ll tell you one. My parents: strangers who were married young and faced a thousand impossible mountains together and have made it to the other side. Thirty-two years of marriage and counting…