I remember, as a child, walking through a grocery store or hanging out at the newsstand at the airport, and glancing curiously at the covers of the romance novels situated on turnstiles near the magazines. I wondered a few things about these seemingly torrid covers– What are those people doing? Why are they half-naked?
But what I wondered about most, was– why do all the women and men on every cover look the same? The women’s cascading, (often) blond curls draped down the length of their tiny backs, with their crystal, penetrating blue eyes. The surly men with their deeply tanned (though obviously Caucasian) skin and windblown light brown hair flexed their bulging muscles.
Romance, and romance novels, it seemed, were for white people.
Anju Gattani is part of a small group of elite romance writers helping to change the face of romance novels. Her highly regarded debut novel, Duty and Desire, takes place in India. In it, Anju weaves a compelling, layered love story for her readers, while reminding them that love, in its various forms, comes in all colors.
And that romance novels should be for everyone.
WHEN DOES ANJU WRITE?
I was first published at the age of 7 in Hong Kong’s leading newspaper and I’ve been writing professionally for over 20 years. That doesn’t mean I’m 27 by any means but I’ve learned over the years—many, many years—that writing is in the blood. I’m working on the edits of the second book and pounding out the first draft of the third book and promoting the first book, DUTY AND DESIRE, in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series. Each novel, I now understand, is an elephant by itself! Not a baby one either!
I sit down to check emails, etc, in the mornings at about 10am… and by the time I get down to writing or editing or tweaking the manuscript… it’s usually about 11am. The first draft of any manuscript is always hand-written on plain, white 8.5×11.5 paper. Why? I don’t know. But I’ve learned over time that lined paper makes me and my characters feel restricted and ‘contained’. White paper gives my characters the canvas to express themselves freely. The pen is the instrument through which my characters talk and tell me their stories. I simply hold the pen and write. Perhaps, I’m the vehicle?
I write first drafts in complete silence and have learned to block out white noise. First drafts are like a form of meditation; I just sink in the character’s point of view and let her / him speak. I write or work on the manuscript, have my lunch somewhere in the middle, and stop at about 4pm when my boys (now 12 & 16) trickle back from school.
Writing time after that comes in starts and stops… depending on who needs to be where at what time – the kids I mean. Is this the double life all writers lead? It doesn’t matter if I’m running, on the cross-trainer in the mornings, the laundry during the day or cooking dinner in the evening. I’m ALWAYS thinking about my characters and questioning their GMCs. It doesn’t matter if I’ve just got another rejection or request for another guest blog, I’m STILL carving my characters’ personalities. It doesn’t matter if no one happens to be reading my published work that day, my characters still talk. And I, as always, simply listen.
You see this is the life of a writer. We simply put in words what everyone else has to say.
BIO: Anju Gattani, fiction author, freelance journalist and former news reporter, has been published for over 2 decades in leading Asian and US publications. DUTY AND DESIRE, her debut novel, is available worldwide in hardcopy and on: Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo and all Apple products. Visit Anju at: www.anjugattani.com, Twitter: @Anju_Gattani, Facebook: Anju Gattani Author