Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Write What You know - Novelist Rasana Atreya Shows How

How many times have you been told – write what you know? However, that general statement tells nothing about how to go about doing it. Rasana Atreya tells how she did exactly that, and wrote, Tell A Thousand Lies.

Of Dark Skinned Girls, Lies, British Spellings and Novels
(c) by Rasana Atreya

I wrote a whole novel about a dark skinned girl. If you were Indian, you’d know this is a big deal. Dark skinned girls don’t count for much in our society. Not as central characters of a novel, not as potential brides.

Funny thing is, I grew up in a colour-blind family. My mom was dark skinned, dad was as light-skinned as could be. It didn’t matter to them, so it didn’t matter to us. When I married, I found the same unusual pairing in my in-laws. I say unusual, because fair-skinned girls are highly prized. But it didn’t matter to my in-laws either, so it did not register for a while that the Indian society was changing, and not for the better.

Matrimonial ads in newspapers (yup, we still have those) are chockfull of parents seeking for their sons ‘fair-complexioned’ brides. Indian television is overrun with commercials touting the latest ‘fairness cream’ aka skin lightening product.

I came up with a tongue and cheek slogan based on the latter, though this whole premise distresses me: Fairness Creams : Finding Solutions to Life’s Vexing Problems, One Application at a Time.

Because these commercials promise everything from good grades to nirvana, if only you use the said creams.)

Back to my book. I incorporated two more of my favourite themes – superstition and dowry. Threw in a bit of corruption, a dash of jealousy, a pinch of greed , stirred the pot, and ended up with Tell A Thousand Lies.

Why a thousand lies? Because there is a saying in my native tongue, Telugu, which goes something like this: Get a girl married, even if you have to tell a thousand lies to do so. ###

Rasana offers copies of her ebook in exchange for reviews. She's also giving away three (paperback) copies of her book on Goodreads until July 25, 2012.

Rasana Atreya, Author, Tell A Thousand Lies [Shortlisted for the2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize] [Amazon US]