On April 20th during Blogchatter Writing Festival 2018, author and columnist Kiran Manral was interviewed on ‘Being a Woman Author and Expressing your Views.’
On being asked about her author dream, Kiran replied she never actually had one. She just kept reading whatever she could as no one ever imagined being an author in those days. The readers and the publishing industry were not as acceptable as they are now. When Chetan Bhagat came into the market, he made publishing accessible to the common people. Commercial fiction ruled from then on. It made publishers more open to all kinds of writers.
Kiran’s dream was just to read as much as she could and have fun reading. Being a published author was beyond her wildest imaginations, then, even though she was a journalist. Kiran’s mother, though, kept pushing her to write the book that she had somewhere in her. Thus the voracious reader eventually turned author.
There is always a question whether women can write a certain genre, owing to the prejudice in the market against female authors. Kiran offered diverse views on this context.
They say women write romances best but in India, all the bestselling romances are written by men. The preconceived notion that women can’t write a certain genre and just should stick to romance and chick lit, is not true in today’s context. Kiran suggested to just write what you want to write and don’t think about genre as at the end of the day it’s about the story. You shouldn’t bracket a story into a tight fitting genre. You need to allow yourself to explore. Sticking to one genre is the death of a storyteller, it offers no growth as a creative person.
But there is a question that still persists- does market or readership depend on gender. Research has shown that there is a bias among the male readers in picking up a book by a female writer. Even a famous author like JK Rowling has suffered from it.
It is rather unfair that the male writers get the entire readers group, while the female writers have only half of it. The gender of the author shouldn’t affect a hardcore reader, they would pick books purely on the basis of content and interest in genre.
When the discussion shifted gear to the ever raised debate on how male authors describe a woman and whether it is easier or harder to write the opposite sex, Kiran said there’s nothing like easy or difficult about writing the opposite sex. There’s only good writing and bad writing. We have men writing fabulously conflicted women, e.g. Anna Karenina, where the flaws, internal pangs and issues of women are written so beautifully by men. And some others are just trash. Same can be said about female writers as well.
What actually matters is how you get into the skin of the character, how observant you are as an author and how detailed you are. Gender should be irrelevant. You should think yourself as an author writing a character. It should be all about telling a human story. You shouldn’t supersede your vision into the character but rather bring forth the character’s vision.
Suchita stated that comedians are often told off on twitter when they say anything that is not related to their professions. So the question came to whether Kiran ever fears having an expressive opinion on social media, sharing her views and how she suggests to walk that line where we say what we need to say and also safeguard ourselves.
Twitter is an amazing platform to express your opinions on stuff that’s affecting you. Kiran’s six pence was: don’t let the majority hijack your own opinion. You should take measures to safeguard yourself like block people who tweet rude comments. If someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, there should be a room for civil debate. If there’s no civil debate, just verbal wars, you can choose not to engage. On social media no one owes anything to anyone. Don’t give in to mentally draining arguments or ever start doubting yourself. Share your opinions. If not you then who?
On being asked about the one thing that she had learnt the hard way, Kiran replied that writing doesn’t make you money. Being an author doesn’t make you a millionaire, except if you are in the level of Dan Brown. Keep a day job. Writing doesn’t pay the bills. Do it for the love of putting words onto paper first.
While we do need an audience, some stories just gnaw you and you need to get them out. Readership should be there. But first let’s just write, you are the only person who is the most excited about your book, nobody else is. So just stay true to yourself and write.
A few questions from the attending audience helped inquire deeper into Kiran’s views and opinions. To know more about her answers, click here.
Being a Woman Author and Expressing your Views Facebook Live with Kiran Manral was one of our sessions at Blogchatter Writing Festival. We have many more different author-sessions planned ahead under this. You can screenshot the below schedule: