Adite Banerjie, author of recently released Mills & Boon novel, The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal, talks to Rhea Dhanbhoora about her journey from being a fan of the series to an author under the romance label
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Adite read her first Mills & Boon romance in school. Anne Mather was one of her favourite authors and she and her school friends would giggle about the ‘hot scenes’ in the steamy novels. She even admits to being one of the several girls in love with the TDH (tall, dark, handsome) heroes and secretly fantasising about them. Now, she’s a Mills & Boon author herself, after winning a Harlequin Aspiring Authors contest. She tells us more about what it’s like to go from voraciously reading these books to being the author of one.
Did you always want to write?
I grew up in Mumbai, went to school at Mount Mary’s Convent in Bandra and graduated from Narsee Monjee College. After college, I did a course in business journalism and ever since then I have been writing.
With your father working in the film industry, you grew up around Bollywood — did that influence your writing?
You can’t escape Bollywood and its unique brand of romance, especially if you have grown up in Mumbai. When my father’s friends visited, there would be ‘story sessions’ about movies. So, some of that did have an influence on how I thought about storylines.
With your love for romance novels and Bollywood, why business journalism?
I started my career in general reporting. Business journalism was coming into its own and there were plenty of opportunities for those who wanted to get into it. The first advertisement and marketing paper, Brand Equity (weekly supplement in Economic Times), was being launched and I was offered a position, so I took it up.
You’re working on a script — what is it about?
After a fulfilling career as a journalist, I wanted to try my hand at fiction. But, it was only after I had done a few online courses in screenwriting that I was confident enough to write screenplays. I was commissioned to write a script by filmmaker Runjiv Kapur and it is expected to go into production next year. It is a true story about one woman’s fight to protect the environment and how she single-handedly takes on a corrupt corporation and government.
What inspired you to enter the Harlequin Aspiring Authors audition contest? Did you expect to win?
Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to win the short story contest and it came as a big surprise when I did. I decided to enter on a whim. Winning the contest was a wonderful experience. It gave me the opportunity to work with an experienced Harlequin editor who helped me hone my skills. Once my short story was selected, I had to expand it into a novel. So, I drew up character sketches, the storyline and a synopsis and sent it off to my editor. She gave me feedback and based on that I wrote the manuscript for the novel.
Do you plan on diversifying into different genres?
I would like to experiment with a combination of genres in the romance category, including romantic thrillers. My second book (also for Harlequin India) has elements of a romantic-comedy.
What sparked the idea for your debut novel?
The short story contest had specific guidelines and mentioned that the story should have popular M&B themes such as revenge or marriage of convenience. One of my favourite M&B storylines are those with the revenge theme. The first idea that popped into my head was of a girl who wants revenge against the man who destroyed her family. Close on its heels came the thought, what if she falls in love with her enemy’s son?
There’s always one heartthrob in a romantic novel. Tell us a little bit about yours!
Krish Dev, with the right amount of arrogance, oodles of charm, is also super-sexy!
What inspired your heroine?
I love to write about feisty heroines. And Maya Shome, the heroine of my book, is one such girl.
Writing spot: Dining table
Romantic character: Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) in Pretty Woman
Romantic novel: Doctor Zhivago
Romantic movie: Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge & Casablanca
(This interview was published by the Afternoon Despatch & Courier on September 26, 2013)