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In this candid interview, best-selling author Anuja Chauhan talks about her writing process, family and most importantly her new book ‘The House That BJ Built.’
An advertising professional (yes! she tells us she still works with brands on consultation basis) with some popular campaigns to her ‘now famous’ name, Anuja Chauhan’s books might fall under a ‘rom-com’ genre, yet her women are more than mere soft targets, swooning and wilting under the heady signs of love.
She worked in the advertising agency, JWT India, for over 17 years, eventually becoming vice-president and executive creative director, before resigning in 2010 to pursue a full-time literary career.
From Anuja’s quill; The Zoya Factor, Battle for Bittoriaand Those Pricey Thakur Girls, were all bestsellers, earning her the title of ‘India’s best commercial author.’
Out with her fourth book- The House That BJ Built, is a romance set against the backdrop of a family property dispute involving BJ’s 200-crore house on New Delhi’s posh Hailey Road. Sharply observed and pulse-quickeningly romantic, this is Anuja Chauhan writing at her sparkling best.
Anuja talks to us about labeling authors, her writing process and why she doesn’t like to call her female protagonists, feminists!
Often described as someone who was an advertising professional first who became an author- If you were to sell brand ‘Anuja’ how would you like to do it?
Anuja Chauhan: Hmm… I am not sure, actually in the publishing world I have someone to do it for me! I am extremely happy that Westland is doing it brilliantly giving an author a broader canvas to work on and greater exposure! The taglines of a ‘chick-lit’ author is something that I have stopped commenting on! What does it even mean? We don’t classify any of the male authors in any watertight compartments! I write what appeals to me and obviously work very hard on it, so wouldn’t want to add any labels to it as such!
The Zoya Factor was based on the cricket and the advertising world, Battle for Bittoria on the 2013 elections and Those pricey Thakur Girls on the upper middle-class Thakur family. The House that BJ built, a continuation of the previous novel- in all four you were familiar with the context to some extent.Take us through your writing process and inspirations.
Anuja Chauhan: Well like most of us, I am also inspired by what is happening around me, observing real characters and noticing the finer nuances of the characters. However, one spends time building these characters- right from their language to shades etc. I keep writing and storing bits under different headings- plot or characters and such like on my desktop. I am a little bit of a messy worker in this regard, with things all over! Once I am done with sending my kids to the school and walked the dogs, I sit all day on the bed and keep writing! That’s my way! People say my dialogues are witty and fun, well, one has to work on them!The middle of the novel is where the slog is and requires tons of patience!
Talking about kids, did you have any apprehensions about moving down south, especially regarding schools?
Anuja Chauhan: Yes, but we did do our homework and asked our friends and family about a good school to shift them into- and ultimately I have found one! I notice here that people are calmer unlike in Delhi- and my theory is that it has a lot to do with the weather- which is pleasant here. I feel in Delhi half the road rage and anger is because of it being so hot!
You have been accused of portraying your women as ones who in this day and age swoon over handsome hunks and are ‘damsels in distress’ who given in to the charms of the hero! Your comment?
Anuja Chauhan: Who or what is a feminist? A person who doesn’t like to dress up look beautiful or have real emotions like you and I? My heroines are real spunky, feisty females who may not be extreme versions of feminism but know their mind and speak it too! So I am happy! I am against all kinds of broad brush slotting- surely everything has a scope of shades of grey.
Talk to us about your books getting adapted on the screen. Are you possessive about them and want to write the screenplay etc? Do you have any concerns?
Anuja Chauhan: No, actually none at all, now that I have sold the rights to my book, I have no interest in writing the screenplay or interfere with the process. I am sure the writers will do justice to that! I got paid for the book didn’t I?
So what’s next for Anuja Chauhan?
Anuja Chauhan: Well, right now I am working on a novel- with a little bit of fact and also fiction thrown in- with the Indian Air Force as the backdrop! So right now there’s a lot of meeting up with veterans, listening to their stories and of course reading and researching to get the nuances of that culture and era right. The novel will be based around the 1971 Indo-Pak war! So I am really excited! Can’t disclose anymore! You’ll have tow wait and watch!
You can find her latest book, ‘The House That BJ Built’ here at Amazon and Flipkart
Mother &wife of one; daughter of two and observer of the whole universe!
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