Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Simi K. Rao author of two novels, Inconvenient Relations– Book 1 in the Arranged Match series and The Accidental Wife and a novella, Milan- A Wedding Story.
Simi was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years, working as a physician. The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances. She enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life. She lives in Denver with her family.
Norm: Good day Simi and thanks for participating in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Simi: I was born in India in a middle class family. As far as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a physician. My parents supported me and never asked me to compromise on my goals despite their limited means. When I was in my early twenties I came to the United States to further my education and have since settled here.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Simi: In today’s environment a physician’s job is probably one of the most demanding both physically and mentally. So has it been for me. Over the years as the stress accumulated I sought an outlet that would help me relax while at the same time channel the creative spark I knew was hidden somewhere inside. Thus I began writing.
Writing is like a best friend whom I can call up anytime and talk to. It is the best form of therapy I can find for myself.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer and what helps you focus when you write?
Simi: I usually start out with a general outline. My characters are the ones who drive the story forward and bring it to life hence they form the crux of the plot. As far as focus goes, it has never been a problem.
Norm: Did you read any special books on how to write and do you work from an outline?
Simi: No, I haven’t read any special books nor have I taken any creative writing courses. I just write and let my wonderful editor take care of the deficiencies. I must admit though that I have learned a lot from her. My stories start out with a general outline. The details arrive later.
Norm: Do you have a specific writing style?
Simi: I use the narrative style as most authors do—I tell the story and let my readers read between the lines.
Norm: From my own experience most Indian authors are great story tellers. Is this a valid assumption on my part and if so, why?
Simi: I agree. I believe it is because storytelling is a tradition in the Indian culture that has been handed down successive generations. I still remember sitting at my grandmother’s feet and listening with avid interest tales of man-eating tigers in the jungles of Dongargarh and of the witch in a certain Peepal tree who liked to prey on passers-by especially young children.
Norm: Why do you believe many of us enjoy reading fiction and what do you believe makes a good novel?
Simi: The reason I think novels are still holding their own in today’s world of movies and TV is because they allow us to pace our entertainment. Even more they permit us to exercise our imagination in the choice of scenery and characters. For me a good novel is one that entertains and educates.
Norm: Does your writing career ever conflict with your career as a physician?
Simi: Yes it does in that I’m not able to devote as much time to writing as I would like to.
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
Simi: Simi, the writer stands validated.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Simi: I write what I see, know and feel. While my upbringing gives my writing a certain, for the use of a better term ‘exotic’ flavor, my experiences prevent it from becoming stale.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for your most recent book The Accidental Wife and could you briefly tell our audience something about the story.
Simi: After noting how popular online dating sites are in the US and correspondingly marriage portals in India, I was inspired to write a story where this entire process goes awry. The Accidental Wife is about Dr. Rihaan Mehta, a brilliant young Indian American neurosurgeon who has no inclination for marriage but is forced to find a wife at the behest of his domineering mother. He succumbs and sets in search of a bride who would fit his 'requirements' but could never have prepared for what awaits him.
Norm: What would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read the novel?
Simi: If you would like to read a story that starts out as a comedy of errors but leads to something far more profound then The Accidental Wife is the book for you.
Norm: How did you go about creating the characters in the novel? Are they based on people you know?
Simi: The characters in The Accidental Wife are inspired by life, hence are authentic. They are not based on people I know.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Norm: What is next for Simi K. Rao?
Simi: I am currently in the process of finishing the sequel of my first book Inconvenient Relations. Subsequently I plan to start working on a story that is based on a true incident.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Simi: Perhaps I’d have liked to have been asked: ‘Do you feel accomplished as a writer?’ My answer would be yes, I do feel accomplished though I haven’t made it yet to the New York Times Bestseller lists. For someone who not so long ago didn’t think she could weave a coherent plot together, to be able to connect to strangers through her books is indeed no mean achievement. What I mean to say is anything is achievable as long as one desires it enough.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors