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'A Bestseller Always Has The Element Of Surprise'
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You have explored almost all aspects of the Indian fashion industry. Tell us about the research you had to do to put this book together.
I interviewed a number of models and designers including Tarun Tahiliani. Along the way I made some great friends and witnessed the social side of the fashion scene as well. I also attended fashion week in Delhi from both the audience and backstage. My own masters in fashion design from Milan gave me insight on the entire process from inspiration to execution on any collection. I was pleased to learn that this is also the norm for the serious fashion players on the Indian scene.
You studied finance and then moved over to studying fashion... How did that happen?
I was always a weird arty child growing up. I chose finance in college because it seemed to offer wider career opportunities than pure number crunching. After graduation, a major retailer recruited me to train as a buyer on the corporate side. Realising I knew nothing about retail or fashion, I casually applied to a number of art schools internationally. I was thrilled to be accepted into the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan for their Fashion Design programme.
You have explored the fashion industry across the globe. What is your take on the Indian designers? Who are your favourites?
I think India’s fashion industry has come a very long way in an astonishingly short time. I see obvious industry leaders who consistently deliver unique,stunning collections. Unfortunately, there seem to also be quite a few designers who are struggling to find their identity and aren’t able to fully differentiate themselves from the rest just yet. I do think that western designers don’t always employ the bold and blunt prints, colours, and textiles that are bursting from the
seams in India. I love Tahiliani’s bridal collections. He celebrates the female form like no one else. I also love James Ferreira’s style.
A bit about your writing habits? When and where do you write?
I am a procrastinator. I hate admitting that I write best under pressure. I am trying to remedy this horrible condition with some attempt at daily discipline.
By Tulika Mehrotra
Regular writing is only possible when I disconnect my wifi connection, shut off my phone, and don’t have any access to the world. I seem to write best in the morning for a few hours and then later at night. I need lots of light to function and music is constantly playing in the background to contain my short attention span. My workstation is my dining table that I’ve converted into a huge desk. Chicago always inspires me. When I can’t write – I go to the beach at Lake Michigan or walk around my Gold Coast, Lincoln Park neighbourhood.
What’s your energy drink?
It varies between unsweetened chai, green tea (double bag), coffee with almond milk, and soda. Sometimes all of them consecutively in a short span!
What according to you makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
I think it’s a combination in equal parts among character and plot development and writing style. Trendy topics aren’t sustainable if the story itself can’t keep a reader’s attention or else insults the readers intelligence. A bestseller always has the element of surprise and keeps the tension in every chapter.
What are you reading now? And, e-book or paper format?
I’m reading Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes on my Kindle. Lately, I tend to read only electronic format unless I can’t get the Kindle copy. My book shelves are jammed full with my large book collection and I have more in boxes that I just haven’t gotten around to unpacking. The e-format allows me to carry dozens of books on my Kindle – especially useful when I’m travelling.
Tell us about your second book: Crashing B-town. What is it about?
Crashing B-Town is a sequel to Delhi Stopover. It takes Lila to Mumbai and delves into India’s media industry. I was tired of old clichés and wanted to offer a fresh take on the city’s film landscape. The industry has changed so much.
How did you find a publisher for your book?
I had just returned from my last research trip to India last year and was on the verge of giving up after almost three years of writing, rewriting, and submitting to agents. I was exhausted and drained and was seriously considering just putting the whole writing nonsense behind me by self publishing the book. Within a month of my return to India, in my most defeated mental state, I suddenly secured an agent and received an offer from Penguin for not one but a two book
deal with an option for a third. It was the fourth of July in America when fireworks lit up the whole country for Independence Day. I recall crying and laughing at the same time.
(Compiled by Sanjitha Rao Chaini)