Shobhan Bantwal is an Indian-American author who has written six novels and co-authored two anthologies. Her latest book, The Reluctant Matchmaker — a romantic comedy — is about an Indian-American woman who falls in love with her boss, but is at a loss when he makes her a request: to find him a suitable wife.
QDescribe your favourite writing space.My desk and computer are located in our small and simple home office. This is where I do all my writing. A wide window overlooks our backyard that features a landscaped waterfall and a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. As a writer, I find the tranquillity of the outdoor space both soothing and inspiring.
QDo you have a writing schedule?After retiring recently from a long, demanding career in the government sector, I am still a busy grandmother of two young children whom I often babysit, hence I write whenever I find the time and the mood strikes.
Q Ever struggled with writer’s block?Writer’s block troubles me very frequently, but I use the sluggish periods to edit what I have already written, so that I don’t waste precious time while waiting for my muse to reawaken.
Q What inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?My inspiration comes from daily living and reading/watching the news. No tricks whatsoever. As a first-generation immigrant living in the United States for nearly 40 years, I have faced many challenges: the initial adjustment to arranged marriage and the American environment, raising a child in a mixed culture, juggling a demanding career with homemaking, living an active social life and, finally, taking up creative writing at the late age of 50. These life experiences as well as my passion for Indian women’s issues such as dowry deaths and female foeticide provide me with both story ideas and inspiration.
QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?I drink about two cups of tea each day; I am not a smoker. However, I must confess that I consume sweet foods like chocolate and mithai at least once a day, sometimes twice.
QWho are your favourite authors?R.K. Narayan used to be an old favourite when I was a teenager growing up in India. As a young adult I moved on to Mills & Boon romances and Barbara Cartland became a staple. But after moving to the US, my list of favourites has expanded to include many other authors. Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts, Robin Cook, Khaled Hosseini, Dan Brown, Michael Connelly and a number of other action-adventure and crime fiction writers (too many to mention) are in the mix.
QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?I don’t believe in banning either books or authors. Readers should have the choice of reading any kind of literature their hearts desire. Eventually, the market will decide which ones are worth reading.
QWhich is the most under-rated book?Many years ago I read a wonderfully intriguing mystery called The Genesis Code by John Case. In my estimate it had the potential to become a New York Times bestseller but, sadly, despite the large sales volume, it did not quite attain greatness.
QWhich classics do you want to read?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is my all-time favourite classic and I still re-read it sometimes for inspiration. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is another. What I would like to read in the future are one or two books by Charles Dickens that I missed in my early years.
QWho is your favourite literary character?Scout, the pint-sized heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird has always been my favourite literary character.