Monday, June 9, 2014


On Author’s Circle today, 

Bhargavi Balachandran talks about writing, life and her book, 

The Crossover Year.

Hi Bhargavi, thanks for dropping in and letting us have a peek into your life.

 buy the bookSo, what’s The Crossover Year about? 
It is the story of 29-year old Anu , who is a banker  and is  intensely unhappy with her job. She quits work and goes on a journey of self discovery. The book broaches several serious topics like sexual harassment at work , parenting, work-life balance , passion in life , marriage  and friendship, but does so in a light-hearted and funny (hopefully!)way.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
I wish I had some strange habit or an amusing anecdote to share J. I just show up at my desk and start writing. 

What does your day look like?
With a toddler who hasn’t yet started playgroup, life is one endless bid to find modes to entertain the little one. I snatch in some writing time when she dozes and am thankful for the help I get from my parents, in-laws and the hubby. Sometimes, I manage to get up around 4:00AM and squeeze in a few hours of writing. My daughter dozes for a few hours during the day, and I write during that time. With the siren calls of social media ,it is becoming increasingly difficult to fit in more than an hour of writing everyday J

Which author/s have inspired you the most?
Too many to even keep count. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni  whose words are just sheer magic; Toni Morrison whose writing always reflects strength; Joan Harrison for her masterful  novels that abound with magic realism; Murakami for his craft that is so surreal that it seems almost real; Frank Mc Court for meeting poverty head on and being so unapologetic about his childhood in his books; RK Narayan for simple stories with a heart; Stephen king for his tome on writing ( On Writing) which is the Holy Grail for all writers.

What’s your favorite book and why?
I read a lot, so I am forever discovering my ‘new favourite book’. There was a ‘Fountainhead phase’ and a ‘Wodehouse phase’(among others). More recently, I’ve started reading a lot of non-fiction and loved Jon Ronson’s The Men who stare at Goats. But some books have remained with me, because I grew up reading them and can still tuck into them without  feeling an iota of boredom( like the Mallory Tower series by Enid Blyton).

If your book becomes a movie whom would you want to play the hero and the heroine?
Ha ha! If wishes were horses J The Crossover Year doesn’t have a strong hero ; its all about the heroine.. I think I’d like someone like Konkana Sen play the part of Anu. She has the prefect ‘girl-next-door’ looks and a huge histrionic range to potray Anu’s complex character. 

How did you become a writer? In other words, tell us YOUR STORY.
Through Serendipity. I never planned on becoming a writer. I just sat at my desk one day and decided to write a novel. No synopsis, no character sketches , no chapter-wise outlines. I just wrote, and re-discovered the joys of writing ( writing credit reports for a living pretty much kills all the creative cells in one’s brain). However, I must concede that only after I started blogging, did I think I was capable of writing a book. 

What is your least favorite part about the writing/publishing profession?
Lately I find myself spending more time marketing my books than writing. Though I realize that the onus of making sure that our books do well is on us, writers must primarily be writers and not marketers.

What is your best marketing tip?
I wish I had one! I am pretty crap at this marketing game ( though I actually majored in Marketing!). But I know of examples of exemplary marketing efforts by authors around me. I think constantly engaging with one’s readers has become vital as people are bombarded with books from everywhere. A strong online presence is extremely important these days.   

Why write romance?
My first book, Seven Across was a romance novel , and one of my current manuscripts is a love story. Otherwise, I like to experiment with different genres. However, I did grow up reading industrial quantities of M&B’s, so I will always have a soft corner for the Tall, dark  and handsome hero J

Is there a certain scene you find difficult to write? Eg: Racy or action etc.? Why?
I find action-oriented scenes difficult to write. Rambling narratives come naturally to me , so I find it difficult to write scenes where I need to be crisp and to the point! 

Is your writing character-driven or plot-driven?
Definitely character-driven. In both my books, the protagonists (both women) have hogged the centre stage, and have relegated the plot to the back-seat.

Which is the best character you’ve written? Is he or she your favorite? Why?
A mother always finds it difficult to choose between her babies. Thankfully , I have written only two books, so I don’t have too difficult a choice to make ;). However, I do have a soft corner for Anu as she is totally loud and over-the-top, yet is endearing. I had fun writing her character, as she would do stuff that I could never dream of doing in real life! 

Naturally, in part you are all your characters (they come from your head) but which of your characters is the most like you? Or resonates in you the most? Why?
The first few books of a writer, I have heard are fairly autobiographical. It is true in my case to an extent. I have drawn hugely from things that have happened to me ,or to someone I know. Maybe as I mature as a writer, I’d probably rely more on research, than on experiences. I am a lot like the protagonist of my first novel , Ramya, but I think I have projected a lot of my views about feminism and culture on to poor Anu. Though Anu will come across as border-line neurotic at times, ‘her thoughts’ on certain issues are very similar to mine. Paradoxically, I feel like both Anu and Ramya are  just different parts of myself, yet are very different from who I really am J

What do you wish to convey through your writing?
I am just a story-teller who wants to entertain. I don’t have any other lofty goals as of now.  No serious word-plays or attempts at poignancy. At the end of a long hard day at work , I’d want my readers to  be able to un-wind with my book and a mug of chilled beer or chai J.           

What can we expect from you next?
I just finished the first draft of a murder mystery and will spend the next few months polishing it. Then, I’ll start work on a romance drama that is waiting for some pruning action too. Hopefully, the murder mystery should be out soon.

Looking forward to it, Bhargavi.

To end lets try a Rapid Fire round. Your answer should be the first word/s that pops into your head when you think of:
HERO: Mr. Darcy
LOVE: Daughter
HATE: Lizards

And that is all. Thank you, Bhargavi, for this insight into you. It was fun!

Bhargavi can be found at:





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