Radhika Nathan has always been allured by the written word. So, when she sat to write her own novel, it’s no surprise that she would want to pen down something that she would someday go back to reading. After her historical romance, The Mute Anklet, this Bengalurean has found her voice and is back with her second novel, A Time to Barnish.
Speaking about the contemporary fictional offering that comes with a generous helping of historical influences, an art heist and romance, the plot follows Josh, an American techie least interested in art and Vidya, in their quest to track a stolen Nataraja idol.
“It hints at questions about the meaning of art — the spirituality associated with religious art, the historical and present context, the scientific angle, etc. Even the minor characters are built to showcase the various perspectives on Chola bronzes,” says Radhika.
She confesses to having a field day immersing herself with everything from the history of a period to art crimes and metallurgy even, because for her, researching is equally enjoyable as writing.
“In college, my friends into writing and I, would play this game — someone would write half a story and the others would finish it. That really reignited my interest,” she shares. Although the science major confesses that she’s partial to gripping mysteries and classic romances, she says when it comes to writing them, it’s about a lot more.
“In my books, there’s always subtle messaging or a purpose — questions about identity and transformation of characters, not just two people falling in love. I like to build strong characters, irrespective of gender, but my interest in women’s rights makes me particularly inclined to make sure the female characters have their own purpose,” she says.
Radhika is undoubtedly her biggest critic, but she also has two daughters who like to add to it. “They’ve read the books and gave me valuable suggestions which I often incorporate,” she says about the fresh perspective they bring. How does she juggle it all? “If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it’s difficult to sustain.” She also makes time to listen to podcasts, blog or curl up with a good book.