September 16, 2019

History buff unravels intricacies of love, marriage and relationships in her books

An interview by Vinita Kinra (@VinitaKinra)

Sumeetha Manikandan

Sumeetha Manikandan

Sumeetha Manikandan is the author of The Perfect Groom, These Lines of Mehendi, and Love, Again. An avid reader and writer, she loves to write love stories that are a slice of real life. She loves to base her plots on the local community of Mylapore where she lives with her family.

A history buff to the core and a bookworm since childhood, she reads all the time. Though she writes romance novels, Sumeetha loves to read across different genres. She especially loves to read historical fiction, classics and fantasy fiction. She is currently translating the five-part Tamil historical novel called Ponniyin Selvan into English on her blog: Musings from Mylapore

Vinita Kinra: Tell us about yourself.

Sumeetha Manikandan: I am a freelance writer, and I work from home in Chennai. Although I have been writing for many years now, most of my hobby-writing never left my desktop until I sent a story idea to Indireads. That’s how my first book, The Perfect Groom, got published two years ago. I am an avid reader, and I never stick to one genre – fantasy, romance, historical, non-fiction, thrillers, mystery, biography – I read them all. I am a big history buff, and have been, since childhood.

Vinita Kinra: What triggered the idea for your latest book, Love, Again?

Sumeetha Manikandan: I had always wanted to write a marriage of convenience plot, and had the basic idea of the story in place. Since my protagonist was a beautician, I wanted an insight into their life and spoke to a few. To my surprise, I found a beautician whose life story resembled that of my plot. She was a widow who had to lie to her clients when she took on bridal clients. Her inputs and anecdotes were very valuable and they made my story all the more real for the audience.

Vinita Kinra: What is your perception about the changing landscape of love in India?

Sumeetha Manikandan: Love has become more complex these days, or it’s probably us who are making it so. I have always thought that real love is accepting unconditionally, who the other person is, with all their flaws. But sadly, very few people take love seriously these days.

Vinita Kinra: Tell us about your publishing journey.

Sumeetha Manikandan: It has been great so far. My first book, The Perfect Groom, was published by Indireads as an e-book. They have been actively promoting it among bloggers and reviewers along with me. Since last September, the book has hit the charts of bestseller on Amazon India, and has remained there ever since. The second novella, These Lines of Mehendi, was published in a Double Header romance novel (first of its kind in India) by Half Baked Beans. It has got some great reviews, and the journey has just begun.

Vinita Kinra: Your debut novel was The Perfect Groom. What motivated you to tackle love after writing about marriage?

Sumeetha Manikandan: The Perfect Groom is a true story in parts just as These Lines of Mehendi is. It was based on an anecdote that I heard almost ten years ago about a girl who gets married to The Perfect Groom according to her family and her struggles thereafter. It was an unusual story of romance, family commitments and love that triumphs over trials and tribulations. I felt an overwhelming urge to tell the story to a wider audience as it deals with many issues that are swept beneath the carpet.

Vinita Kinra: Does your native city play a role in shaping your writings?

Sumeetha Manikandan: Yes, I was born and raised in Chennai, and I haven’t really lived anywhere else, so the local flavour is part and parcel of my writing.

Vinita Kinra: Was there any inspirational force behind you that believed in your dream of becoming a writer?

Sumeetha Manikandan: My best friend, Thangam Pillai, always believed that I would one day write and publish novels although I had no plans of doing so

Vinita Kinra: Give us a taste of your writing. We’d like to read a short excerpt from your book.Book-Cover-S-processed

Sumeetha Manikandan: It was a regular Tamil Brahmin wedding with the usual chaos and confusion. The bride’s room was the most chaotic one as always. In most marriage halls, the bride’s room was the only one that is equipped with a full-length mirror, air conditioning and a sturdy locker to keep the jewels. So inevitably, almost all valuables and their myriad owners are found lurking in the bride’s room.

And as always, the bridal room was full of aunties in various states of undress and some were getting a blow dry and a light make-up done by her team of girls. Sowmya was almost ready to enter the mandap but for the bindi, which her friend was searching for, rummaging through a large plastic cover full of bangles and stuff.

She sat down and watched, as her team wrapped up the make-up. On the farthest corner, she saw Tamilarasi, a new girl in her team, applying the wrong shade of eye shadow to a fat aunty. She weaved her way through the crowd and tried to get to her to correct the shade, when she chanced upon a conversation between one of her girls, Payal and the bride’s aunt.

“So her husband committed suicide just last week and she is at a wedding?” she asked sharply.

Lalitha stopped in her tracks and turned around. She saw Payal’s guilty face and sorry expression while the aunt looked livid.

“How could you do this? How can you touch the bride’s sari, let alone attend a wedding just after a week of becoming a widow? And you applied the mehendi for Sowmya right?” she asked shrilly.

The room fell silent and as if on cue, they looked at her. One word, kept reverberating through her heart – widow, I’m a widow now. She had not realized the import of Suresh’s death in her life so far until it came upon her in the worst possible way.

She looked at her and said shakily, “I’m not attending the wedding as a guest. I’m just doing my job…” The lady didn’t even bother to listen, but went out to inform the bride’s mother about the sacrilege that their beautician had committed.

Vinita Kinra: If you were not a writer, what would you have been?

Sumeetha Manikandan: I would have been a historian or an archeologist.

Sumeetha Manikandan can be reached via Twitter: @Sumeetha2 or her blog: Musings from Mylapore

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