|Born||5th March 1978|
|City of residence||Bangalore|
|Bio||Andaleeb Wajid was born in Vellore, brought up in Bangalore. She studied in Baldwin Girls High School, was an above average student, went on to do BA in Communicative English from Jyoti Nivas College and then MA in English Literature from Madurai Kamaraj University. She got married early while still in college. She has two sons, one is 15 and the other is 8.|
Fantastic Four – Four of my favourite books
Kite Runner – Khalid Hosseini
Battle for Bittora – Anuja Chauhan
Chocolat – Joanne Harris
Emma – Jane Austen
Tell us about your earliest attempts at writing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of writing?
Probably started when I was around ten. The few stories I wrote back then were ‘inspired’ quite a bit from Enid Blyton’s stories. I got interested in writing much later though when I realised that it was a perfect outlet for me. I didn’t think of it as a career then, just as something that I liked to do in my free time. It was when I won a short story competition back in 1999, I realised that my stories were good and with a little help, my writing could get better. I’m mostly a self taught writer (if there’s such a thing) or rather an ‘instinctive’ writer. However, I did have help from a friend Rehmat Merchant who recognized my talent and introduced me to a wide variety of books to enrich my mind.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Hard to say.
What does your typical writing day look like?
When I’m writing, I like to get down to it like a proper working day, at around 9 am. I do have a lot of distractions during the day but by the time my children are back from school, I usually finish one or two chapters.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an author?
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring author should do?
Aspiring authors should read as much as they can and they need to read a lot of diverse books. They need to learn and absorb from the world at large.
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I’m an open book. Also I don’t remember what I’ve told people about myself so I don’t really know what they don’t know about me. This is why when I recount something at home, especially to my mother, brother or sister, I hear them say, ‘You already told that to us. Fifty times.’
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your writing process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
The internet is a hindrance more than help. The only use I have for the internet is in research. When it comes to software, I don’t rely on anything in particular.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer / illustrator?
You need to go cold turkey and switch off the WiFi if you really want to be productive. That is all.
Can you tell about what you are currently writing and other works in the pipeline?
I’m not currently writing anything. Took a break from it for a year. Will hopefully get back to it in 2015. There are three unpublished books and I’m waiting for them to get published. One is literary fiction called The Sum of All my Parts, one is commercial fiction called Turning 30 and one is a Young Adult novel called French Toast.
In all your stories, all the characters express themselves fluently in English, (except for the use of culture specific words like Abbu, Ammi, Azhaan). Would having colloquialism in the dialogue have added to the localness of the story?
I would have to slightly disagree that all characters expressing themselves in English fluently. And if it does appear that way to readers, it is not intentional indeed. As for colloquialism, it is there where required. In my opinion, the stories take care of the localness themselves.
Many have commented upon your writing skills – your ability to create authentic characters and to describe accurately the way they would react and feel in any given situation, your seamless narrating style, adherence to predefined structure. Except for More Than Just Biryani, all your other works are very light reads.
Have you thought of writing in the Literary fiction genre?
Thank you first of all. It is always gratifying to hear that readers ‘get’ what I’m trying to say. It’s what every writer wants to hear. I have written literary fiction, although in the strictest sense of the word, it may not be considered that. It is called The Sum of All my Parts and is the story of an old woman who takes crochet classes in Vellore. The story revolves around her and the girls who come to her to learn crochet.
For More than just Biryani, you researched a lot on Muslim cuisine. Can you share something about the process and your learnings, which did not make it to the book?
Actually, I did very little research. Whatever I needed to know, I got it from my mother, my mother-in-law and my aunts. If you’ve noticed, More than Just Biryani has a recipe in each chapter woven into the story seamlessly. I needed their help for the recipes. I do not touch upon origins or other factors and hence did not really have to do much research as such. One recipe which I wish I’d included in the book, it’s called Sutriyan. Rice flour is kneaded with hot water and then small rounds of the dough are taken, rolled between the palms to get elongated shapes. These are dropped into a gravy that is pretty much the same as the biryani akhni. The rice flour dumplings (using a very broad sense of the word) absorb the akhni as they cook.
Is writing remunerative enough to earn one’s keep? Are you a full-time writer? Or do you do anything else?
Writing can’t sustain you unless you have other means or unless you hit bestseller status and start making a lot of money. Since that doesn’t happen to everyone it’s definitely not easy to make a living off writing only.
I used to be a full time writer until May this year. I quit my past job in 2009 and have been writing books since then. Ten is a good enough number so I decided to take a break from writing.
I currently head the marketing department of a software company called Quadwave. I work with a young and vibrant team and I’m really enjoying it.