After an eventful career in advertising, media and the corporate world, Usha Narayanan also had a successful debut as a writer with The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller. Her second book was Pradyumna: Son of Krishna. With her third — Love, Lies and Layoffs — she’s ventured into rom-com territory. In a chat with us, Usha discusses her literary influences and more.
Which is the best opening line in a book that you have ever read?
“The man with ten minutes to live was laughing” — from the master storyteller Frederick Forsyth’s The Fist of God.
Which genre draws you the most as a reader and a writer?
My interest constantly changes, almost as if it is seasonal! When I discovered John Sandford and his Prey series of thrillers, for instance, I read all the books I could lay my hands on, till the gore and killing got to me. Then my fascination with the TV series A Game of Thrones set off a love affair with G.R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. When the high drama became too much, I switched to simple, sweet fun — Janet Evanovich and her sassy, contemporary romances.
One fictional character close to your heart and why?
Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is a character I love. Imagine being so cool-headed and capable as to take on a host of bad guys single-handedly! And wouldn’t you love to be able to take off at will like he does, with just a toothbrush tucked into your pocket? Reacher is the archetypal hero, a loner who heads out into the wilderness and champions the underdog.
Who among the pantheon of writers (past/present) would you like to have coffee with?
I admire Bernard Shaw’s amazing dramatic talent that ranges from Pygmalion to Saint Joan, his incisive thinking, and above all, his wry humour. His plays are highly relevant even today and we still chuckle at his witticism. Some examples: “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.” Or, “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.”
One tip for aspiring writers?
Be passionate about your writing. It’s a hard, lonely trek before you get to your destination. And if you cannot enjoy the journey, you will never get there. So let your novel consume you — heart and soul! And success will definitely follow.