Lawyer-turned-scribe-turned-novelist Kamini Patel’s first book, The Morning After, was released recently. She talks to DNA about writing and more.
Q: Your first novel, The Morning After, is just out. What or who inspired you to write it?
A: I started writing the story at a time when I was figuring out my life after college. It was a confusing period but girlfriends made it more than bearable, sharing our challenges and ‘life-threatening problems’, which, in hindsight, were really nothing but minor glitches. The issues I’ve written about are relatable to most women and I want them to understand there’s nothing you can’t beat with a little support from each other.
Q: You majored in international relations from Boston University. How did that help or influence your writing?
A: My course was all about writing papers, papers and more papers, which greatly honed my research skills. I like to ensure I am thorough with my arguments, facts and don’t leave loose ends (unless there’s a point to be made by it). I outline my ideas in a logical and clear manner before working on the draft. Writing is limitless and you need to gain all the knowledge possible, because you never know what material you can use.
Q: You find writing your calling. What does writing do to you?
A: I love to live in a world full of imagination. To be able to express an idea and thought on the paper is the greatest and most satisfying gift I give myself. Writing allows me be a silent observer and plan out lives of all kinds of characters, those I wish to be, to meet, to love and to hate.
Q: Is there a process that you follow when you sit down to write?
A: Yes. For me, organisation is of utmost importance—chapter outlines, coloured pens and post-its! I write in a notebook first and transfer into my computer at a later point. I take care to type in the correct format with proper grammar and punctuation into the computer at the first go to avoid extra labours later. When I don’t have enough inspiration for new material, I work on what I’ve already written and improvising on it usually makes way for new ideas and further development of characters and story. I don’t always have a specific plan for each character so as I write I let things fall into place—although it’s not as magical as it sounds.
Q: What are your challenges? How do you tackle them?
A: I have to completely engross myself in a story to be able to write successfully. That takes time and the only way to tackle it is to switch off from the world and sit down with coffee, a notebook and pen. The internet is a big distraction while researching; I always want to be as accurate as possible and I have to refrain from going deeper than required. I have found that the best way to really get into your writing is to keep going over what you’ve already put down. Writer’s block is something that we all face, it’s simply a matter of sitting down and getting to it; there’s no easy way out.
Q: Tell us about a literary technique or two that you like to use.
Foreshadowing, imagery and text structure. These literary
A: techniques help lend a wholesome body to the plot and keep the story intriguing. I like for my text to come alive and playing with ornamental and descriptive words is the best way to do it. I call it ‘flowery language’. Text structure helps the reader experience the emotions on the page. I aim for the reader to feel like a part of the scene, conversation or event.
Q: Like the young women in your book, do you also count on the “chocolates and cocktails remedy”?
A: YES! There’s nothing a night out with your girlfriends won’t cure!
Q: Who are your favourite writers? And books?
A: Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar; Isabel Allende, House of Spirits; Herman Hesse, Siddhartha; books by Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Judith Krantz, Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Stephen Frey and many more! I love legal and crime thrillers. Entwined with a romantic story and you’ve got me seriously hooked!