An Interview with Aditi Mathur Kumar!

Jun 16th, 2014 | By | Category: Interviews

AIWAKMMAditi Mathur Kumar is the author of Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life. The book deals with Pia’s story, a young woman who leaves her past life behind, when she becomes an army wife.

Aditi describes herself as a book-hoarder, an ex-advertising girl, a once-upon-a-time blogger, a fanatical Army wife and a real-life social person. Here she talks about her experiences on  the road to become a slightly famous author.

The MAG: Let’s start with the essential question: When did you start writing?
Aditi Mathur Kumar: I have been writing since childhood, for school and college magazines, and for a few local publications in Rajasthan. But I took writing seriously around 2006, which is when I started writing regularly. I am a blogger (albeit an irregular one) and blogging helped me find my voice, my style.

TM: Were you sure from the start that you will be published? Any interesting rejection experiences?
AMK: I wasn’t sure I will be published, but I was determined to try my best. This is the golden era of Indian publishing, where writers are getting chances and big breaks, and I had my hopes too. But I was aware that the subject of Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life’ was a little niche and well, controversial, so I was pleasantly surprised when the entire publishing process turned out to be so easy.

There were no rejections for Soldier & Spice, as I sent it only to Westland books and they decided to publish it. But many years back, when I was still studying, I wrote a story (technically my first book) and sent it to as many publishers as I could. It is still unpublished. I know now that it is very raw and would have needed a lot of editing, but hey, it’s still my first!

TM: How difficult was it to get published?
AMK: Like the epic fairy-tale of the publishing world, getting Soldier & Spice published was not difficult at all. It was surprisingly easy and stress-free. A couple of weeks after I had finished writing the story, I decided to try my luck with Westland (easy choice, I was reading and loving their Secret Of The Nagas at the time). They requested for the entire manuscript within two day. And then I signed the contract with them in about a couple of months. Easy breezy!

TM: Your book seems to be inspired from real life? Is it? Did that make writing the book any easier?
AMK: This is a question I’ve been asked the most, maybe because I am a complete civilian girl turned Army wife like ‘Pia’ (the protagonist). Soldier & Spice is inspired by the hilarious experiences of a lot of fellow army wives and mine, but the book is not autobiographical. It is a collection of experiences put together, with a dash of exaggeration that fiction often demands. Writing it was not easy because writing about Army calls for extra caution and things had to be dealt with care. But I’m glad that Army Wives all over have related to Pia on some level, and have loved the book.

TM: Who is your favourite author and has your writing style been affected by the author’s style?
AMK: My favourite authors are Gabriel García Márquez, J.K.Rowling, Nick Hornby, Sophie Kinsella, Kazuo Ishiguro, Neil Gaiman, John Green, Khaled Hosseini, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and a lot more. A current favourite is David Sedaris.

My writing style in Soldier & Spice is said to be similar to Sophie Kinsella, who I absolutely love reading. I find first person-present tense very interesting when writing or reading humour.

TM: What is your favourite thing about writing?
AMK: The best thing about writing is the creativity and freedom with which you can create a new world with new, or no, rules. Fun, right?

TM:  Which part do you dislike?
AMK: Editing. I completely detest editing my drafts, mainly because my initial drafts tend to have a big word count and cutting stuff down to bring it to an acceptable length is pure heart break.

TM: Do you write to a schedule?
AMK: Oh, how I wish! I have no schedule whatsoever and I don’t understand how people can write according to a schedule. Write daily for three hours is the type of writing tip that has never worked for me. I am either completely detached and don’t write a word for a month, or I am completely consumed with an idea, writing throughout the day (and half the night). If an idea grabs me, I find it hard to stop. But that’s just me. I’ve heard schedules work for people.

TM: Do you think writers are born, or do you think they are made?
AMK: I think some people have a knack at writing, it comes natural to them. Some, on the other hand, practice and polish this skill over time. Writing is a skill and I think it can be polished through training.

TM: Do you have a favourite book? What book are you reading these days?
AMK: There can’t be one favourite book for me! I love the Harry Potter series a lot, and John Green is a new favourite. Currently I’m reading ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ by David Sedaris and it is a great book. I recommend it to everyone who can read, really.

TM: What advice do you have for aspiring writers, especially in the current scenario where there seems to be a surge in the number of Indian authors writing in English?
AMK: My advice would be to never stop trying, and never stop writing.

TM: What are you working on these days?
AMK: I am working on my next book now, which is taking me really long. Hopefully I will be done in a couple of months. Besides that, I write for a few websites and e-zines, and I also write stories for my little daughter who demands a new story every day.

TM: Do you use social media actively? Where can the readers find out more about you?
AMK: Oh, I am very active on social media. Twitter is my regular haunt because it’s convenient and fun. I am also pretty regular on Instagram. I am adicrazy on all social media. Also, there is my blog but like I mentioned earlier, I am very irregular – sometimes I blog thrice in a months and sometimes no post in three months. You can also find me on my Facebook pages: Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life and Aditi Mathur Kumar.


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