Yashodhara Lal is amazing. She works full-time, manages one husband, three kids, a helping of maids, writes one bestseller every year and goes to town proactively to promote it. Not many Indian writers are able to balance so many roles, and so efficiently. Her first book, Just Married Please Excuse marked her arrival as a fresh and promising new voice in the Indian fiction writing scene and it continues to be one of the most popular romantic comedies across Indian bookstores. And with each book that followed – Sorting Out Sid, There’s Something About You and her latest, When Love Finds You – she has established herself as one of the most consistently successful commercial fiction writers in India.
Her latest, When Love Finds You, is about Natasha, a badass boss. Just how badass? She can make a grown man cry, she can whip a team into shape, she can meet her targets and she won’t take bullshit from anyone. It’s an office romance – and it deftly makes a point that no matter how absorbed you become at work and about work, when it’s time for love to come find you, it will. We had quick chat with Yashodhara over email so she could tell readers more about the book, about writing and being a published author:
You picked an office setting for When Love Finds You. Were there any issues you wanted to highlight regarding women in the workplace? How did Natasha, your protagonist, help you do this?
It was important for me able to write about some issues I’ve observed over the years at the workplace. The primary ones being the definition of success, being a woman in a man’s world, especially a woman who wants to live on her own terms … and other issues women face in the workplace including how they’re perceived and treated.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. So you have a book idea – take us through how you take it from the idea stage, to the final manuscript?
I don’t follow any set pattern. I could start writing randomly without anything but a basic setting; increasingly, I find myself focusing more and more on the plot. I don’t know if that’s going to work for me or not. I think the key is to just get started. Right now, I’ve plotted something carefully but find myself unable to get going when it comes to the actual writing part of it. I don’t think I have one particular way of doing it. (Gah! What a woolly answer. But that’s the truth.) It’s a bit of a mystery to me too. But I promise I’ll tell you when I’ve cracked how I do it.
Which book did you enjoy writing the most? Why?
I think I enjoyed writing Sorting Out Sid most – it was interesting thinking like a man! I must do that again sometime.
With each passing book, is the writing part getting easier, or are you beginning to feel you’ve cracked it all – plot development, characters, climax, conflict …
I think it gets more and more difficult because the standards get higher – as they should. On the framework usage, see the woolly answer above.
What’s tougher – writing the book, or promoting it? Why?
They’re both not difficult for me. But I like the writing more. On the other hand, I think I’m very cranky while writing. Still, it makes me feel complete. I think it’s like my children.
Which books, written by your contemporaries, really stayed with you over the past few years?
I liked Anuja Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls a lot. Haven’t read very much else by my contemporaries, if you mean other Indian authors.
How do you make time for writing in a house that has three kids (and a husband)? How do you divide chores?
Ah, this is getting increasingly tough especially since I’ve joined work fulltime at Genpact last December. We don’t divide any chores between us though we are overstaffed (I won’t tell you how many people we have hired at home, it’s embarrassing). But it’s very tough to make time for writing. Actually, let me stop making excuses – it’s very easy – I just have to wake up an hour earlier every day, something I haven’t done in ages. I will do it though – for the upcoming book!
Is there such a thing as work-life balance? Considering you do have a full-time job, what space does writing occupy – work, or life?
There’s no such thing as work-life balance. Work is life. Life is work. Writing is Work. Writing is Life. Kids are work. Kids are life. They all seep into each other all the time. I’ve stopped trying to find balance now. Works better that way.
This is your fourth book with HarperCollins. What’s special about the team here, huh?
They are a special bunch. Across editorial, sales and marketing, in no particular order, and of course design too. They humour me, that’s important 😉 I’m a cranky author but I think they like me (deep down).
You can buy When Love Finds You at a bookstore near you or purchase it here: http://amzn.to/2eeMxlO