We visited first-time author Meenakshi Madhavan at her home in Kala Nagar, North-West Mumbai, for an interview on her recently launched book, You Are Here.
Petite, easy-going and friendly, the 25 year old welcomed us into an airy, sparsely furnished apartment where she proceeded to answer questions matter-of-factly.
Meenakshi has no airs about her and seems to be just another youngster living on her own in the big city. She fields questions about sex, relationships and her career gamely, facing the camera and hoping her smile doesn't come across as fake.
Presenting the author of You Are Here:
What inspired you to write the book and when did you decide to really sit yourself down and start on it?
I'm an only child and my parents are both writers; my dad (N S Madhavan) writes in Malayalam and my mom is a journalist. This book is something I've wanted to write for many, many years. I must have been 16 or 17 when I first realised a great lack of literature from people like me, people belonging to my generation -- the globalised, 21st century Indian. So I've been wanting to sit down and write something like that since then. I kept making small starts, writing a little bit and then not writing for a while. My blog, The Compulsive Confessor found an audience and I was reviewing books myself, so finally, Penguin approached me back in 2005 -- I was 23 then -- and asked if I had anything worth publishing. And I said yes, I think I do. Of course, I knew a few of the people there on a personal level and they knew I was interested in writing. I was always planning on writing a book, but they got it out of me a lot quicker than I would have!
So I took two weeks off from work -- I had a fulltime job then, with the Indian Express in Delhi -- and I wrote that whole time, I didn't leave my PC at all. By the end of it I had half a novel. After that I took to writing at night. I usually went out after work, then came home and wrote between one and four in the morning. I was suffering from insomnia at the time, which was really helpful! But I didn't write every day -- very sporadically. Some weeks I'd do chapters and chapters and then there were months on end when I would do nothing. Then the publishers would call me and I'd be back at the grind, so yeah, it was in fits and starts, the writing.
As a result, the book was a little scattered so it took me three or four edits to get it into the shape that it's in today. It took me a year to write and a year to edit, so two years to put the whole thing together.
Also see: You Are Here: 'My life is like a bra that's been put on wrong'