Penning a love story is the most difficult task I feel. Not only is it the most read genre but it also is difficult to write. As an author, I know you need a force, an inspiration, conviction and the power to convince while writing a romance. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I read A Quest For Spring early this month and fell in love with it. It is not just a love story but it is a love story which takes place between two different states- J&K and Pune. Now, while it looks like two different states, well, in reality it isn’t. J&K is a country within a country and hence, this story becomes unique in itself. The author manages to retain the reader attention despite the 400 pages weight of the book.
It is this story and the zeal of author that made me want to quiz her about the book.
Following is the author interview of Monica Dixit Majumdar of A Quest Of Spring.
*This love story is unique and yet very closer to reality. What inspired you to write this story?
The one thought that drove me to write this book was the unseeming possibility of ending together. I wanted to write about people who falter and fail in their relationships yet learn to trust again and are brave to place their faith in the one they have loved and lost. A Quest of Spring is about people who conquer all conflicts created by the differences of the faiths they follow, their ideologies, their social and family backgrounds. This is a book for every heart that has loved and lost and yet risen again. I have seen so many soulmates drift away, this book was a way to reinforce my belief that yes all difficulties can be surmounted and all obstacles can be overcome to be with your soulmate. And that soulmates eventually end up together.
*Any incident in particular that is been recreated from real life?
There is one incident that I borrowed from real life. The one incident where Raehan passes on a packet of safety pins to Amolika to cover the tear in her dress without her telling him about it. I had seen this happen and I thought it was such a sweet thing that one could do for a friend.
*How long did it take to complete this novel? How many edits did it go through?
It took me three long years to write this book. Apart from time constraints I had to put in a lot of research so that the book felt authentic. As I was writing the book for so long I would occasionally revise the draft. So the book went through may be two edits.
*You have managed to present a beautiful love story and it is well-researched even. Tell us about your research process.
The challenging part was to write about the conflict in the Valley. There are not many books written on the conflict. In fact there are only two books, Our Moon has Blood clots by Rahul Pandita and the other is Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer. Writing the campus romance was difficult too as I had never ever been in a relationship. I had to literally go back to my college days and think hard of how a few of my friends who were dating behaved. I wanted the readers to feel that Amolika and Raehan were actually people they know. I listened to the songs that Amolika and Raehan liked a number of times, watched the movies they watched, read books on Sahir and also sniffed on to a bottle of Old Spice to get to know what the fragrance would be like.
During my visit to London I researched for places that Amolika and Raehan would frequent, the tube routes and stations. It was difficult as till then neither my parents nor my husband knew that I was working on a book.
*How do you escape writer’s block?
I suffered the block when I was almost 2/3rds through the book. My mom-in-law passed away after a brief illness and due to all the stress I started to struggle. I would sit for hours before my laptop and may be type just a few sentences. I never stopped writing even though it wasn’t in flow. A quick trip to Amritsar fixed all that was wrong. The most important factor to overcome any block is self belief.
*What hurdles did you face while publishing the book?
It had already taken me three long years to complete my book. After I finished the final draft I started looking out for publishers. No one in my family has published a book and so this was a new field for me altogether. Needless to say there was very little help as no one knew anything about publishing. Most of the big publishing houses were busy publishing celebrities and the minimum wait was about two year by which time the subject of my book would have been redundant. So considering all this I opted for self publishing.
*You have crafted your characters most sincerely. Where did that insight come from?
When I set out to write A Quest for Spring I wanted my protagonists to be like real people. I wanted my readers to identify with them. I am an introvert by nature so most of the times that I am out at a party or any other gathering I usually sit in a corner and observe people. The way they speak, what they speak, the way they react, their body language. All of this helped me develop all the characters in the book authentically.
*Any particular actor or actress you kept in your thoughts while sketching the characters of Raehan and Amolika?
Not really. If Raehan was to look like someone he would resemble the UPSC topper of 2015 Athar Aamir.
*What are the 5 things we can find on your work table?
On my work table you will find my laptop, markers, highlighters and different types of pens, diaries and journals, sticky notes, my iPod, headphones and a JBL speaker.
*Authors who inspire you?
Sarat Chandra, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anuja Chauhan, Gulzar, Erich Segal, Jane Austen.
*Tell us about your upcoming ventures.
I plan to premise my next book upon my grandparents love story.
*What do you do in your leisure time?
I love watching movies. Leisure time is mostly spent catching up with friends.
*What message will you give to the budding authors like me?
The one message that I would like to give all budding authors is to have self belief and not give up when the going gets tough. There comes a time when you feel that what you are doing is pointless but hang in there. Chase your dream. And trust me there is no better feeling than holding a published copy of your book.
Read the entire book review of A Quest For Spring here.