Sunday, January 6, 2019

Discussion with Shilpa Menon about her latest book In Pursuit of a Family

Today we have Shilpa Menon with us to discuss her recently published book, "In Pursuit of a Family". Those who are reading this post first time can check the author's previous interview where she had discussed her previous book "Scars Do Heal"


As we have already covered Shilpa's personal & professional background in the last interview, we will jump to "In Pursuit of a Family" directly

So you are back with another female-centric story. Can you tell us how you have perceived the concept of the book?
My first novel, Scars do heal, was published in December 2015. I had dedicated that novel to the survivors of sexual assaults. I had used fiction as a means to achieve two aims - The first was to increase awareness and sensitise people about the rampant crime against women and its aftermath and provide an understanding what the victims of sexual abuse go through. The second aspect was regarding self-healing. The research that went into the work behind the writing of Scars do Heal all paid off. Scars do Heal has been well received by readers across many countries. The reviews were very encouraging and that fuelled the desire for me to pen my second novel, “In Pursuit of a Family”. 
For the storyline of the second novel, I maintained my stance of wanting to write about less discussed topics. I chose to write about a topic which is close to my heart – about orphans, those who have no mother or father to guide them, protect them or love them. Unless adopted or taken in by an orphanage, these children are left to wander the streets, beg or steal for food and find shelter wherever they can. This cycle results in a high rate of suicide, physical and sexual abuse, the need to turn to organised crime and prostitution for survival. Their rights to adequate standards of living, health care and education are often violated. 
Once I backed myself with a fair share of research about the main challenges orphans face, I started writing the story. In the second novel also I relied fiction and used it as a medium to table the issued faced by orphans. 
The lead protagonist in the plot is, Zsofia. She had lost her parents at the tender age of 4. By the time she got to her twenties, she had gone through so much of struggles on her own that she turned into an introvert.  What kept her sanity were the walls which she built around her over the years to keep herself protected and her determination on building a bright career for stability. She then meets Kevin, someone who shares similar career aspirations with Zsofia. 
The story revolves around them —  how they help, challenge and complement each other despite their having  radically different upbringing. The story also focuses on how the lead protagonist brings out her suppressed desire of having a family of her own.

How much time did it take for you to complete this book? Any specific moment you would like to share from writing period of this book?
My journey of writing my second novel began towards the end of 2016. The first step was to do a fair amount of research about the main challenges orphans face. Once I was satisfied with the kind of issues I wanted to table in the novel, I started developing and weaving the story. It took me around a year and a half to bring the novel to fruition. 
I find writing very therapeutic so there are so many moments I cherish from having penned this novel. I, however enjoyed immensely in the area I challenged myself on this book. I took the risk of using a different style of writing whereby I oscillated in between the point of views from the two main protagonists from chapter to chapter. That was unique, exciting and simulating for me as a writer. Maintaining the flow in the story while playing with the point of views was invigorating. 
We visited the same family with Zsophia which Sonal visited. Have you been to such family from which you have taken inspiration? Also, similar Birmingham home that you have visited?
The lead protagonists from my first novel, Scars Do Heal, were cherished immensely by the readers so I was pretty sure that I wanted them back in my second novel as side characters. Though the second book can still be read as a stand-alone, for those who have read the first novel will be happy to see their loved characters back in the scene. 
I have been to London many times but I never got the opportunity to visit Birmingham, although it has been a place I have been wanting to visit for a long while. I am a big fan of historical novels and I have always been fascinated by buildings with heritage. It was therefore, not a coincidence to have the Percy’s house in Birmingham as one with legacy and passed over by generations. 
Assume that a Bollywood director selects your story for a movie with slight Indian touch, who would you like to play Zsofia & Kevin?
I would love to see Alia Bhatt and John Abraham play the roles of Zsofia and Kevin respectively.
What you are working on right now?
I have started conceptualising my third novel. The topic I have chosen to write around is domestic violence. The initial reading I am doing around domestic violence are shocking, to say the least. I feel the urge to write around this sensitive topic as soon as possible. This novel will be having a fresh crew of characters. If all goes by plan, I hope to see this novel published by end of 2020. 
Thank you so much, Shilpa, for providing us with time to get this article done. 

For our readers, links related to the author and book as follows:

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