Madhulika Liddle - Penning her way to glory!
Madhulika Liddle, a contemporary Indian author to reckon with, has made her way into the hearts of millions of readers with her prolific creations of detective series, short fiction, travel writing, and writing related to classic cinema. Let's hear her reveal how she discovered magic with her pen!
1.Tell us something about the "woman", Madhulika Liddle.
- An introvert and shy person, but can be very chatty and friendly when she opens up to people. Mad about books, travel, food, and movies. A trivia hound. Utterly uninterested in fashion and jewellery. Generally tactful. Believes in treating others the way she'd want to be treated. Not a party person.
2.When were you first bitten by the writing bug? How did you decide that it was your true calling and you have to take it up professionally?
- I first began writing when I was about 6 years old - inspired by my mother's best friend, Swapna Dutta, who is a very well-respected writer and translator. It wasn't till I was in my mid-twenties, however, that I actually started to take my writing seriously and began sending out stories I'd written to publications or competitions. Even then, it took ten years for me to realize that I couldn't do justice to my writing and a corporate job: I had to choose. So, in 2008, after having worked in the corporate world for 14 years, I finally chucked up my job and became a full-time writer.
3. You've written short stories, travelogues, writing related to classic cinema etc. Personally, what do you enjoy writing the most?
- It's very hard to choose, because - as a lot of other writers say - stories are like one's own children; how can one be partial to one child over the others? While I really enjoy the corollaries of cinema writing (watching films) or travel writing (travelling), the writing that mostly arises out of these isn't as purely creative as novels and short stories. Each has its pros and cons.
4.What inspired the Muzaffar Jang Series?
- I first read a historical detective novel when I was in my early teens, and was blown away by the combination of history and detection. Over the next decade or so, I read many historical detectives (and still continue to discover more). They are from very varied eras and places - medieval China, ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, medieval England, Czarist Russia, medieval Japan among them - but there wasn't a single Indian historical detective. So I decided to invent one, and because the Mughal period (specifically Shahjahan's time) is so fascinating, this was the period I set my stories in.
5.What is the most creatively satisfying thing that you have experienced as an author so far?
- The Muzaffar Jang series, I believe, since (as far as I know) Muzaffar Jang has been the first Indian historical detective. Creating him, without an Indian precedent, has been risky (I didn't know if Indian readers would accept the genre), but also satisfying.
6.Do you agree to the notion that in order to cater to the expectations of the masses or the demands of the publishers, authors may often have to compromise with their spontaneity?
- That depends from one author to another, and from one situation to another. Personally, I tend to weigh opinions based on who's expressing them and how much knowledge they have - of trends, expectations, my writing, other writing in the genre, etc. I then try to see whether changing my own style makes sense or not. Ultimately, for me, it's all a question of being true to myself.
7.Can you throw some light on what you are currently writing?
- I'm currently writing a novel in a genre I've only dabbled in once before, and that too in a short story. I still don't know when and if I'll have the courage to offer this up for publication (right now, it's just a labour of love!), but I'd rather not talk about it at the moment. Also, alongside, I'm plotting my next Muzaffar Jang book.
8.What do you feel about the current young reading population? Do you agree to the common belief that the habits of reading and writing are on the wane?
- No, I don't think reading and writing are on the wane. Quite the contrary, because now that publishing (including self-publishing, blogging, and so on) has become so much easier, there are many more jumping into the fray. The result, of course, is that while there's a glut of books and written material floating around, not all of it is good. In fact, some of it is so poorly written - and seemingly unedited - that it might have been best to never have been written in the first place.
9.Do you feel India has done enough to empower its women? What more do you feel should be done?
- While India has done a lot over the past few years to empower its women, I think we've still got a long way to go. Not merely in formulating laws and executing them, but more importantly in changing mindsets. For instance, just a cursory look at advertisements in print and digital media is enough to see how women are objectified; is this the image of women - as fashion plates used to sell everything from cars to men's deos (or, conversely, as the eternal housewife, only interested in home and family) - we want to perpetuate?
10. Are you glad to be a woman? Why?
- Yes, I'm very glad to be a woman. Why, I find it hard to articulate, because I neither want to belittle men, nor be flippant. But yes, I am certainly glad to be the gender I am.