Author name: Ritu Bhathal
Genre: Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit with an Indian Twist!
Books: Marriage Unarranged, Poetic RITUals
What’s your story and how did you become a writer? What is my story, indeed. I am a British born Indian woman, born to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to the UK in the seventies from Kenya. I was born in Birmingham, in the Midlands, and was raised with a massive extended family around me. After school, I went to university to study to become a teacher, my dream since I was seven. Along the way, I developed a passion for reading, thanks to my mother, and the urge to write stories came from the wonderful books I grew up reading. I would write short stories as a child and won a competition at school which definitely gave me more of an urge to write.
The beginnings of this novel started twenty years ago, as I was preparing for my own marriage. I would write little bits, then save and file away my installments. Life happened and with the addition of a husband, in-laws and then two children, there was precious little time to think about my book.
Almost fifteen years after I started writing it, I created my first blog, and realized that I had a story I really needed to finish, and hopefully publish. I also uncovered a hidden love of poetry by taking part in challenges and ended up with a poetry anthology out in the world too!
I have to say that blogging has been hugely instrumental in me getting this book out there.
From finding like-minded souls, to writers I have grown to love and admire, I have managed to learn so much about the writing and publishing process and have got an amazingly supportive team behind me.
How do you balance your work with other demands? Well that is a tough one! As a wife and mother, my hands are full. Add in being a full-time teacher, and you must be wondering where I find the time!
Writing and reading, for me, are a release. I find that when I write, or read, I sink into a world that is all mine, with no interruptions. So, during term time, I make time in the evenings, to do both. I get the kids settled, then I have my time. I’m not a huge television watcher, so that helps. In the holidays, I know my teen and tween will be sleeping late in the mornings, so those couple of hours are perfect, before they all wake up, to get creative. It’s all about making time to do what you love.
Name one of the happiest moments in your life: Oh my… just one? Finding out we were pregnant for the first time. I suffer from PCOS and had great difficulty in falling pregnant, so after a few years of disappointments, and upsets, seeing that little plus sign on a pregnancy test, then having it confirmed by the doctor was something else. Seeing the little heart beating inside our baby bean at that first scan brought tears to our eyes! Now, as that little bean gets older, the tears are caused by his attitude…but that’s teenagers for you.
What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I proudly call myself a plantser! I fall heavily in the middle. I usually start off as a true pantser. I get an idea and let it fly. Then I realize that without a skeleton plan, at least, I am going to trip up, so I create more of an outline. But I don’t over-plan. I know the gist of the story. I have an idea of where I’d like us to end up, then I let my characters take me there! It can make for a fun journey. I mean, with this new release of mine, I had no idea I’d end up with a homosexual character, who ends up crying out for a book of his own, with his antics!
Could you write in a café with people around? Honestly, I have tried this, but I am too much of a people person, and I end up in conversations with everyone. I do like the idea though, so there have been countless times my computer and I have journeyed to a coffee shop, and a few words have been typed. But not many. In all honesty, I think I prefer to people watch, or talk. After all, there is inspiration in every situation, don’t you think?
Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? The characters in my book are British born Indian Sikhs, with a home language of Punjabi. They tended to speak English, with a smattering of Punjabi words within. I tried to convey the meaning of the words through how they said things. Initially I had some whole sentences, but then translating was tedious, and the language glossary page count was rivaling that of the book, so I decided to lessen the second language, and use the power of inference instead!
What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? I always stumble with this question of a favorite book. It is a tough one, as I have read and loved so many books! As a child, anything by Enid Blyton was my favorite, or A.A.Milne. Then I started Danielle Steele books. My mother had the Flowers in The Attic series by Virginia Andrews, which I absolutely loved, but there was one book of hers that I reread many times, My Sweet Audrina. I think I was captured by the twists and turns that Andrews would create in her writing. Right now, I am about to start the fourth book in the Cliffside Bay series, by Tess Thompson. It is a Small-Town Romance set of books, with a host of interwoven stories written from the perspective of the different residents of the town.
What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? I am not as much a fan of hardbacks as others, because they can be cumbersome to hold when reading. I do love a paperback, but space doesn’t permit me to buy many, so for convenience, my Kindle Paperwhite is my faithful companion. And it has the added bonus of a back light, so I don’t have to disturb my Hubby Dearest at night, if I am engrossed in a book, and it is so light!
Do you think print books will always be around? Oh, most definitely. How could the bookstagrammers of the world create such enticing book posts without the paperbacks to play with? Sure, you can get the photo of a cover on a screen but seeing the spine of a book on a bookshelf… there’s nothing to beat that! I know of many readers who will not read anything other than print books.
Would you ever read a book on your phone? I try to keep my Kindle with me at all times, but I can forget, and this is why I have the Kindle app on my phone. I don’t do it often, but I have, on occasion, read on my phone, while sitting at the doctor’s surgery, or if I have a spare moment.
What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else? I currently own an Android phone and have never had an iPhone. Though, having said that, I recently bought a MacBook Air, so who knows… an iPhone might be on the cards!
How long could you go without checking your phone? Hands up, I admit I am terrible. Unless I am at school, during the teaching day, my phone is near me and if I am bored, I will pick it up and check notifications. My Hubby Dearest has me down in his phone as #Valiyey, translation Girl of the Hashtag! But then, I have to keep on top of my Social Media for my Author brand… (see, I have an excuse!) I dread to think what one of those apps would tell me about my phone usage! But then again, my brother lives in Finland, and I have two Finndian (their mummy is Finnish, to their daddy’s Indian, hence, Finndian) nephews. So, we use the video call functions a lot so we can all stay in touch.
Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I have to confess to being a non-listener. I prefer to read my books, instead of listening. If I was a commuter, I might have got into listening to audiobooks, but my drive to work is short, and the kids are with me. They’d refuse to listen to a book in the car, favoring their latest music!
Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? As I mentioned earlier, I do love social media. I am active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mainly.
Website and social media links:
WordPress Blog Website: But I Smile Anyway
Author Website: ritubhathal.com
Facebook: @butismileanyway (But I Smile Anyway) and @RituBhathal (Author, Poet and Storyteller)
Goodreads Author: Ritu Bhathal
Click here for more information about Ritu’s latest book, Marriage Unarranged.
Awards/special recognition: Best Blogger at the Annual Bloggers Bash 2017 and Best Book Blog at the Annual Bloggers Bash
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