Madhuri Y | Author Interview

As a writer, Madhuri Y has done it all – children’s fiction, non-fiction and even ghostwriting. With her latest book, Untying the Fine Knots which deals with divorce, she addresses all the relevant issues which will enable a person to deal with her or his divorce in a calm and reasonable manner.

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bookGeeks:Tell us something about yourself.
Madhuri:Most of us choose our line of profession before we know ourselves well enough to be able to make a good decision. I too had done that. When I passed out of IIM Ahmedabad in 1993, I flitted from sales job to sales job before I figured I liked writing over 20 years ago.

Today, I write non-fiction and children’s fiction. I also ghostwrite books for people related to their subject area.

bookGeeks:What inspired you to start writing?
Madhuri:My daughter’s the reason I wrote the first story. She was two years old at the time. When the first story led to another and another, I realised with relief that this was what I wanted to do – writing felt just right.

Until then I had been in sales jobs, which I was very uncomfortable with since I found meeting total strangers stressful.

bookGeeks:How was Untying the Fine Knots conceived?
Madhuri:I had been divorced for a couple of years when my daughter asked me to try non-fiction. I had been writing for over 15 years by then and had taken a break from a full-time job to write. My daughter’s words had been the trigger and I felt it would be a good idea to write one on how to deal with divorce.

There’s much more to divorce than the legal process – emotions, the psychological impact, dealing with family, larger issues of how we view our identity and how we handle our financial affairs, I had learnt these one at a time, and I felt that an element-by-element guide could help divorcing individuals, their families and friends.

bookGeeks:How is your book Untying the Fine Knots relevant to Indian divorces?
Madhuri:The two things that hit me when I considered a separation were – how am I going to tell the family and how am I going to deal with the aftermath? The legal process was far from my mind.

First, in the Indian context, divorce has been a taboo, and hence it adds emotions like shame and embarrassment to the other emotions like pain, regret, anger and so on. It becomes very necessary to address the emotions and our state of mind first.

Second, men and women have a different set of challenges that they must cope with, some of which are specific to the Indian context – men with managing the house and maintaining relationships, particularly with their children, and women with their identity and financial stability among other things.

Third, suddenly within a generation, we are seeing instances of divorce multiply and we find ourselves ill-equipped to deal with it calmly. We are in anger and quite often, with vengeance in our hearts, often causing great harm to our children who are caught in the cross fire.

Untying the Fine Knots addresses each of these very relevant issues to help individuals come to terms with their divorce and to deal with it in a calm and reasonable manner and thereby move on with their life at the earliest.

bookGeeks:What is your biggest ambition as a writer?
Madhuri:Honestly, I do want to be a best-selling author, but over time, reality kicked in and I realised that all that’s in my hands is to write what is meaningful to me and to the reader.

So, the ability to go deep into the story or the subject and the craft of writing have become important. My biggest ambition today is to get to the point where I have a unique voice that speaks to readers and draws them in – which is a goal you never reach because you are always trying better your previous effort.

bookGeeks:Any new projects that you are currently working on?
Madhuri:I am writing a full-length story for 9-12-year olds. I have wanted to write a story about nilgais for a long time. We find them at least once or twice a year near the highway and in certain areas on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

It’s strange to see them move around freely, we are too used to seeing only animals that are domesticated around us, or if they are not domesticated, then in zoos and reserves.

As the city expands, it’s easy to see that nilgais will disappear from open view in the near future, and I have wanted to write one about them being a part of our lives.

bookGeeks:If given a chance, will you to back to fiction writing?
Madhuri:Whether a publisher gives my story a chance isn’t entirely in my hands, but continuing to write fiction is. All I need to do is to make the time for it each day. I am unable to do it every day, but I keep coming back to it and the story moves and I am happy with that.
bookGeeks:Who is your biggest critic and how?
Madhuri:I have three critics in friends and family who never say no to reading my stories. Most times, specific feedback is too narrow.

What we need is someone to tell us where we have gone wrong and sometimes, just to tell us that something’s not working. And the three critics have been doing just that for me.

bookGeeks:Any other books that you would recommend on the subject of divorce?
Madhuri:For books dealing with divorce in the Indian context, the list on this link helps.
bookGeeks:A few words for our readers.
Madhuri:There are plenty of us who read, yet the strangest thing is, it is rare to find someone with a book or a kindle in hand when you are travelling.

It would be great if we took it as a campaign and never walked out without a book in the bag, whipped it out, and began reading whenever we have a wait ahead of us.

Imagine a plane or a train-load of people reading books! Maybe a few others will realise the joy of reading. People do pick their cues from what goes on around them.

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