Some people are just a pleasure to talk to, and Nithya is one of those people. She took the time to talk to us during the promotional tour of her book Tea Breaks with the CEO, and while writing two more books. Here is the conversation
Thank you for doing this Nithya, let’s begin……
Tell us about your journey toward being a writer and writing Tea Breaks with the CEO?
Story telling runs in my family. Everyone in my family are excellent story tellers. I remember, I could never sleep as a child unless my mother and my father told me a story each. And during the day, my mother would coax me to eat, (I used to be a fussy eater as a child), by telling me stories. My grandfathers, both paternal and maternal were wizards when it came to storytelling, they transported us to another world altogether.
My literary journey began when I was in class 6. My English teacher gave us an assignment where we could choose from a list of topics she gave, a title and write a poem on that. I chose “Sea”. I had never seen an ocean in my life until that time. I wrote what came out of my imagination and I never knew it would become a favourite amongst my family and my teachers. It even got published in a children’s magazine called Gokulam. There was no looking back after that. I continued to write and I wrote so much that my family started getting annoyed with my endless poetries every day. I was not too sure if I could try my hands at story writing. I wrote Watching over Mia in 2008, it was my first novelette. And people loved it. The response was overwhelming. That gave me the confidence to write The Eucalyptus Grove in 2010. Tea Breaks with the CEO cropped up in my mind when I was working for an MNC in Bangalore in 2012. The story’s settings are borrowed from the office atmosphere; the entire story is a figment of my imagination.
Who was your biggest Influence in life, literary and otherwise?
My parents are of course my biggest influencers. Like I said, storytelling comes to me from my family. I have had many people in my life, outside of my family as well who have been my pillars of support and my inspiration. Life itself has been the best teacher I have ever had. It is from my experiences and lessons that life has taught me, albeit through the people in my life, that I am what I am today.
Enya, let’s talk about her for a bit. The name, the character how was she born?
The name. I used to be called as N by some of my colleagues. I used that as my pseudonym (Enne). The story was being written in the first person perspective, so I wanted a name that was in tune with Enne. I googled up a few names starting with En and Enya caught my attention – the name meant a fiery jewel. It suited my character perfectly and I harped on to that name. It was much later I knew that there was a singer by that name too and I fell in love with her songs.
How was the character born you ask? Enya is a woman I have always wanted to be – strong, independent, fiercely protective of her space and her principles, I can say she is my idol… or she is my alter ego if that sounds better. There were situations where I had always wished I had reacted differently, and I made Enya behave the way I would’ve wanted to.
How much of yourself and your world is in your books?
The stories that I write are derived from my experiences in life. Although not everything is true, most of my stories are my imagination – or should I say, they are incidents I would’ve liked to happen in my life and the reactions that the characters exhibit are the reactions I would’ve expected in real life. I dwell most of the time in a world of my own making, where I have a lot of imaginary characters who are brought to life in my books.
How do you define true love?
True love? First of all let’s make people understand what love is. Many of us are under the misconception that love is only what a man feels for a woman and vice versa. I have had heated arguments about this with people who are too stubborn to even try and understand what love is. When I was searching for the meaning of true love, I saw this episode in one of my favourite TV programmes, Once Upon A Time where they say true love’s kiss can break any curse and Henry’s real mother kisses him and the curse is broken. I always thought it would be Snow White and Prince Charming who would break the curse. This made me grin as if I had won a war.
True love, according to me, is a feeling you have towards another person, or another living being where you love while expecting nothing in return. You feel such strong emotions towards that soul that words defy to express what is it you feel. And to reiterate, you expect NOTHING back. No reciprocation, no expecting that being to behave the way you want him/her/it to behave, no expectation whatsoever. And you feel happy whenever the other person/being is happy and you feel the pain when that person/being is in pain. But you do not give in to that pain, you instead help the other person/being rise above the pain. That is true love.
And this love does it really exist in this world?
I am sure it does, else this world wouldn’t be such a beautiful place to live in.
Let’s talk about books, which is your favourite book and why?
Daddy Long Legs. This is my all-time favourite book. I lived in a hostel during my college days and that was when I read this book and I could relate to Jerusha Abbot so well. I love the way the education, the hostel life, the budding romance, and everything was described. Ok, now that is true love to a certain extent. Jerusha Abbot knew not to expect any response from her benefactor and she continued to write to him all those years without expecting anything in return. Of course he was educating her, but did she anticipate in the least that Daddy Long Legs would end up falling in love with her? She loved him nevertheless, perhaps not in a romantic way, but love him she did. That is true love.
There was another book I had read as a child. It’s called Which Way Black Cat. It is about a girl who is being brought up by her aunt while her father and her brother are away in the city earning a living. She yearns for them and is desperate to see them until one day her brother’s black cat, who they named Topaz comes to lead her to them. She follows the cat wherever he goes and finally reaches her brother and father only to know that Topaz had been with the brother all along. So who was the black cat in the story? That is another favourite of mine, sadly I lost the book and haven’t found it in any book store ever since.
Who is your favourite author?
I am not an author loyalist. I cheat on my favourite authors from time to time when I read books that are better than the ones I’ve read before.
Which is your favourite genre? Why?
Humour and romance. What is life if it doesn’t have a tinge of humour to it? Tell me something, when you are stressed out in life, would you want to escape to a place where there’s laughter and sunshine and joy and love or do you want to go to a dark damp place with spiders and a lot of negativity in the air? I prefer the former.
One character you love and wish you had written?
Ha, we wish you would write you too what an interesting character that would be. Looking forward to that book and all other books you put out. Wishing you all the best for Tea Breaks with the CEO and its promotional tour.
A version of this article first appeared in the weekly YSeeker e-magazine in 2014.