It truly is the age of the mother in literature. More and more women find inspiration from the everyday vicissitudes of being a modern-day woman who balances family, friends and work admirably. She even comes up with a story that can resonate with thousands of their ilk across the country!
One of the popular examples is former Bollywood actress Twinkle Khanna, who turned into a successful author with her book Mrs Funnybones, a tongue-in-cheek take on everyday life which won plaudits for its satirical and self-deprecatory wit.
But she’s not the only one — here in Chennai too, ‘mommy lit’ is catching on, with several women authors using their personal and family members’ lives as a muse for their novels. They serve either as feel-good humour or shed light on serious issues faced in society.
Blogger-turned-author Judy Balan, for example, chose an over-thinking tween as the subject of her third book, Nina the Philosopher: How to stop your Grownup from making Bad Decisions — inspired by the antics of her little daughter!
“Being a parent is like having a bottomless reservoir of fodder for writing, especially comedy. I was initially hesitant to write for children because I did not want to get slotted. It doesn’t help that my name is just begging for Judy Blume-based jokes,” she grins.
Which is why her first two novels, Two Fates and Sophie Says, appealed more to adult audiences, before Judy decided to write for kids, “I started on my Nina the Philosopher series for middle schoolers only after a couple of books in other sub-genres. I can now see myself writing a full-fledged series, using my own experiences in daily life,” she says.
But why has there been a rise in the number of mothers becoming authors, especially over the last few years? Deepti Menon, whose debut, Arms and the Woman, was a light-hearted account of being an army officer’s wife in India, says that it takes time to blossom into a writer – “By the time I released my first book, I was married with children, writing experiences my readers could relate to. I plan to continue drawing on my experiences for my upcoming books.”
Still others like Usha Narayanan seek to drive home relevant issues with their writing. “The recent explosion of Indian writing in English addresses issues that we face. My first book, The Madras Mangler, spoke of young girls who are constrained by a patriarchal society, difficult parents and an unsafe ambience,” she explains.
Usha adds, “My second book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, although set in mythical times has a message for people today. Pradyumna’s struggle is not unlike ours in this ‘dark age’ we live in. My book seeks to answer the question: How can a parent, elder, or statesman help ordinary people keep their world safe?” she concludes.