Interview with Sudha Nair, author of 'Strictly at Work'
on Feb 04, 2022
Sudha Nair won the Amazon KDP Pen to Publish 2017 contest for her debut novel, The Wedding Tamasha—a tale about love, family, values, and traditions. A former techie, she loves writing stories and creating worlds where she lets her imagination run riot and has fun along with her characters. She was a judge at the 2019 KDP Pen to Publish contest. She lives in Bangalore, India, with her husband and kids.
Frontlist: Most romantic novels somehow end with simple and sweet stories. What keeps people attached so much to the same romantic stories that have been deliberately said or published before?
Sudha: Romance is the go-to genre for comfort reads and happy endings. Love is a universal language with no barriers such as age, gender, occupation, etc.
While every love story may have been shown or written before, the protagonists play a very important role in shaping the story. Every protagonist has different struggles. While some may face opposition from the family, the society, or nature itself, the dynamics of a love story depends on what the protagonists do to overcome the hurdles and find true love in their lives.
That’s what makes every story different and yet more of the same because the reader ultimately expects the protagonists to find a way to face the odds and emerge happy and victorious when it comes to matters of the heart.
Frontlist: When did you decide to embrace the passion of fictional writings after giving up the tech career?
Sudha: After a long break from corporate life, I started writing stories to find creative fulfilment. My journey began about ten years ago when I wrote my first short story for an online literary magazine. From there, I began writing short stories for several years until I wrote my first novel, The Wedding Tamasha, four years ago. I have now published 12 books and thoroughly enjoy the creation of fictional worlds and characters.
Frontlist: How do you differentiate this book from other romantic novels?
Sudha: Strictly At Work is a fun, delicious rom-com set in a modern, swanky co-working space where interactions happen with people from one’s own office and different companies and diverse backgrounds.
More than just an everyday office romance, this is a story that delves into destiny, love, hope and all of life.
This new-age story centres around the question of what it would be like if we met the right person but at the wrong time while also showcasing the dichotomy between having a choice in one’s life versus conforming to the standards set by society.
Frontlist: Why do romantic novels end up so sweet, quite opposite to the real-life
Sudha: Readers are drawn to romance because it helps them vicariously experience a fictional world of love, hope, and happiness. Readers immerse themselves in a love story expecting it to be fun and sweet even though it may be quite different from real life. But isn’t that why fiction is meant to be an escape from reality?
Frontlist: How do you explain the character arc of Simi?
Sudha: Simi is a marketer for a furniture company and a hopeless romantic who craves a fairy tale hero to sweep her off her feet.
Simi portrays a dreamy, fun-loving and endearing character. She is also a dutiful and loving daughter who wants to make her parents happy, so she downplays her true inner feelings about love and marriage. During the book, Simi learns the values and friendships that are important to her. It helps her make meaningful and practical choices that are difficult and crucial to her transformation in the story.
Frontlist: What is the key issue you’re underlining through this sweet romantic story?
Sudha: Strictly At Work is about two people who meet at a co-working space by a lucky chance that changes the course of their lives. It is a story about love, relationships, and the choices that define who they are and what they’re drawn to in life. Capturing the flavours of friendship and strong family values while also being fun and a light read, Strictly At Work weaves in undertones of social issues like abusive relationships, the pressures of an arranged marriage, the generational divide between parents and children, traditional and modern values, and taboos about homosexuality. Without being overbearing, these stronger subjects are addressed with a light hand to portray the choices we can have and the courage we need to stand up for ourselves.
Frontlist: Do you think Subtle romance is just a myth?
Sudha: Subtle romance is definitely not a myth. Romance doesn’t have to be bold or loud to be meaningful. It can also be soft, unspoken, and sometimes unexpressed by the parties involved. That’s what makes romance such a versatile genre. There are so many layers to love, and there’s a lot to explore and dive deeper into.
Frontlist: You worked with Amazon KDP and Penguin Random. Share your experience while working with both of them.
Sudha: Working with both these publishers has been amazing. While Amazon KDP is a self-publishing platform, it offered me the first step to reach out to a very large audience and subsequently win the Pen To Publish award in 2017 for my novel, The Wedding Tamasha. I cannot help but be in true love for the simplicity and ease of publishing on Amazon KDP.
Penguin, one of the biggest publishing houses, has also provided a very nurturing space for me to grow and spread my wings.I’m incredibly grateful to have both these publishers and honoured to be a self-published and a traditional author.