Anna M.M. Vetticad is the author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic (Om Books International), an unusual overview of the Hindi film industry through the account of a year in which she decided to blog reviews of every single Bollywood film released in the national capital region — including ones you might never have heard of. She has worked as a journalist for 18 years and has hosted her own interview show, Star Trek, on television. She is now a freelance journalist, journalism teacher, social media consultant and prolific blogger.
QDescribe your favourite writing space.I have a small study at home — it’s quiet and the walls are lined with shelves carrying books, many of which my father bought in the 1950s. It’s the sort of space that lends itself to writing. But honestly, I can write anywhere — at airports, on flights, in all sorts of public places. In the past year I’ve taken to carrying my laptop wherever I go so that if I have even 15 minutes to spare between appointments and I’m in the mood, I can use that time. I particularly enjoy writing in crowded cafes because I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I have the discipline to cut out all that noise and concentrate on my words. Besides, I sometimes chuckle to myself because an image flashes through my head of J.K. Rowling writing at cafes in Edinburgh as I’ve read that she does. I’m so amused when my mind plays these games because becoming a millionaire or a billionaire through writing is a near-impossible dream for an Indian writer.
QEver struggled with writer’s block?Rarely.
QWhat inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?Everything inspires me to write — if I’ve thought it, I’m itching to write it. I think that’s mainly why I’m on Twitter. Not everything merits a book or article. Sometimes 140 characters will do.
QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?No, no and no again. No artificial stimulants needed for me
QWhich books are you reading at present?Orhan Pamuk’s The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist. I’m curious about Pamuk’s deconstruction of the writing and reading processes. After this I plan to move on to Shashi Tharoor’s Pax Indica because he had said at the launch that it’s not a book only for foreign policy scholars. I think I relate to that because I know I want so much for people to understand that my book, The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic, is not just for film buffs or film scholars.
QWho are your favourite authors?Jane Austen over and above everyone else. She’s funny, observant, imaginative and a feminist. I also love revisiting Anne Frank’s diary. When I visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, I cried thinking of how much more she might have written if it hadn’t been for the Nazis.
QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?I’m against bans except in extreme circumstances. Freedom of expression must include the right to offend. The exceptions can only be when people indulge in personal abuse, deliberately state falsehoods as facts or spread toxic rumours, incite or threaten violence.
QWhich is the most under-rated book?All the books by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer are under-rated. I meet too many people who read them superficially and therefore dismiss them as sophisticated Mills & Boon writers possibly because they were women who wrote supremely entertaining romantic novels. I’m also surprised that not enough people see beyond the mysteries in Agatha Christie’s whodunnits. Have you read Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, Christie’s tribute to Shakespeare’s Othello? Her take on Iago is amazing.
QWhich are your favourite children’s books?Good children’s books should work just as well for adults. I enjoy Enid Blyton’s books though I feel we need to educate children about her incorrigible gender stereotyping. Blyton’s The Land of Far-Beyond — inspired by John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress — is an all-time favourite, as is Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. And I find the Harry Potter books so brilliant and so adult that I’m amazed at kids who claim to understand and love them.
QWho is your favourite literary character?Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind — she was amoral no doubt, but I admire her strength of character. And Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice — because she was intelligent despite the social pressure to be silly.