Bhavna Rai was born in Delhi and has subsequently lived in the Philippines, Kenya, Thailand, Germany and the US. In a career spanning fourteen years, she has worked with some of the leading technology firms of the world. She currently lives in Hong Kong, with her husband and their two children. Fate, Fraud & A Friday Wedding is her first novel.
1. When did you say to yourself – “I am going to become a writer”? How did it all begin?
I would have to go all the way back to IXth grade for this one. I always knew that I could write and would write. Why I didn’t actually write for about 10 years from college onwards, I can’t quite explain. Life took over, I guess. It was only in 2001 that I realized I had a story to tell and I needed to start writing it. So I opened a blank Word document with no plan, no outline, no timeline and then somehow it all just came together. For me, “Fate, Fraud And A Friday Wedding” is all about the characters. It’s set in a time when India was going through tremendous transformation and I wanted to write about how people’s lives have been transformed as well.
2. Being a first timer, take us through your experience of finding the right publisher. How was the journey like?
Definitely not one of the more fun things I’ve done in my life :). It was tough. I knew I had a good manuscript. I just couldn’t get anyone to read it or even talk to me about it. This was of course because I had no background, no history and no contacts in the publishing industry. Finally, all I can say is that if you don’t give up, you will eventually find someone who believes in you and I did.
3. When one faces rejections from multiple publishers, how difficult is to keep oneself motivated?
It’s difficult, but not impossible. You have to remember that you’re not being rejected because what you’ve written is bad. You’re being rejected because someone at the other end doesn’t understand who you are and what you have written. I remember one of the publishers came back and said to me that my chapters are too short. And I’m like “yes, so?” I have my own writing style, my own expression and my own relationship with my reader. Not everyone can get it. I would say I was lucky to find a publisher that saw the potential in my book.
4. How much of Fate, Fraud and A Friday Wedding (FFAFW) is inspired from real life events?
The characters are completely fictitious of course. But yes, a lot of the story is driven by my experiences, ideas and background.
5. All the characters and happenings in FFAFW are so true to life. Is that really how the IT world works? Or were there quite a few writing liberties thrown in?
I would say there are very few writing liberties thrown in :). I wanted my readers to feel that the protagonists are real people that they would actually know and care about. Hence, it’s almost as honest and true to life as it could be.
6. In your 14 years of experience, you must have seen the best and the worst of the corporate world. How has the journey been?
Well 15 years now :). It’s had its ups and downs of course. The corporate world is not for everybody. But the interesting thing is that there is nowhere else I’d rather be. So many people have asked me why I still work and why I don’t consider becoming a full time writer or even an entrepreneur. I work in the corporate world because it’s what I love to do, it’s what I’m good at and what I identify myself with.
7. Whose your favourite author? What kind of books do you generally read?
Ayn Rand and Jane Austen. I would still go back and read their books over and over again rather than some of the contemporary books that come out these days. I also enjoy biographies.
8. Would you prefer reading or writing?
With the hectic lives we have these days, reading is a luxury :). But I prefer to write. It helps me express myself, clear my mind, focus and actually create something.
9. You have traveled the world and stayed across countries. Would you say that the exposure to different places and people has also shaped up your thoughts?
Absolutely. I think I’m a more well-rounded, tolerant and adaptable person because of it. More importantly, the real learning is that people are different and that’s ok. You don’t need to mould everyone or stereotype everyone or really even understand everyone. The benefits of being surrounded with diverse people and cultures can’t be underestimated.
10. You are the Director of a global financial services firm in Hongkong. You are a mother of two children. And then you have written a book. Phew!! I am amazed. How do you manage it all?
With very little sleep :). It’s interesting because whenever I hear people say you can’t have it all, I realize how lucky I am. Sheer perseverance is the key. You need to balance and prioritize. But more than anything else, you need a strong supporting family, which I am very fortunate to have.
11. So when do we get to read your next book?
A few ideas have been taking shape, but I haven’t committed fully to any of them yet. Hopefully, soon.
12. Any message for your readers?
I’ve had so many positive reviews and so much good feedback from so many people that the only thing I can really say is ‘Thank you’. For me, the objective was always to write something people would relate to and more importantly, enjoy. I wanted to create a visual image of these people and their lives and how fast the world around us is moving. And I would love to hear from those who read my book whether I achieved that, or not.
Bhavna, thanks for taking out time to talk to us. We wish you all the best for your future writing endeavours!