Thursday, December 24, 2015

On Writing: Priyanka Menon

Today on 'On-Writing', we have the vivacious Priyanka Menon who made a grand entry into the world of romance authors with her debut novel 'The one that Got Away.'

Priyanka is a lecturer and spoken word poet, who literally moonlights as a romance writer – she typically writes into the wee hours of the morning. Her affair with romance novels began when she was barely out of the schoolroom. For that, she doesn’t know if she should thank or blame her aunt, who gifted her first romance novels. For leisure, she loves watching reruns of The Wonder Years, reading comic books, and dissing saas-bahu soap operas with her grandmother. She believes she gets her writing powers from red-velvet pastries and white-chocolate mochas at Starbucks.

Welcome to 'On Writing' Priyanka Menon.

FOLLOW HER ON: Facebook:

Twitter: priyanka_sme
Instagram: priyankasme
Mail to her:

How did writing begin for you? Was becoming an author always your dream or was it a particular event or incident that gave birth to the author in you?

I don’t really remember when I started writing. But I do remember my school notebooks and diaries having copious pieces of poetry and stories written into the margins as well as the back pages. This happens even today. I’m a lecturer of advertising and English literature in a couple of colleges in the city. While my students are busy working on an in-class assignment, I will be sitting on one of the benches (I hate sitting behind those teachers’ desks) and writing in my pocket notebook.
During my graduate course, my closest friend chanced upon a book of mine. He read all those little nothings that I’d scribbled here and there. He said they’re pretty good, but that I can do a whole lot better. So I guess that was the moment when I decided there was something to my dream of becoming a writer after all.

How important are the names of the characters in your books to you? Do you spend agonizing hours deciding on their names?

Yes, names of characters (especially the leads) are very important. I believe this works in three ways.
a. It’s the writer’s personal choice, so invariably certain biases follow. (Think of Karan Johar and his Anjalis and Nainas, OR, Sooraj Barjatya and “Prem”)
b. For the reader, the names are windows into the psyche of the character. (Every character in the Harry Potter series has a certain intended association behind her/his name, which in turn goes a long way in defining the character)
c. It is also a window into the mind of the writer, for the most part. 

What is your least favorite part of the publishing/ writing process?

The period after the manuscript has left you, till your book hits the stands – that part is pure agony.

What is ‘‘The One that Got Away’ all about? How long did it take to complete writing it?

#TheOne is a pure romance. It’s a story that is very contemporary, but the characters are still a little fantasy-ish, but not in an unattainable way.
It took me about 4 months to write the first draft. After which, it took me another 2 months to reach the final manuscript.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

My favourite character is undoubtedly Jairam Nair. He’s not the typical romantic hero, you know. He won’t fly you in his private jet or take you to the opera. He’d take you to the beach, sit on the rocks, and kiss you just as the waves caress your feet.  He has his flaws too, which he acknowledges without any fuss.

Do share a snippet/ Quote from your book.

‘Mithi, come down,’ he shouted.
‘Shh…no. Jai, go away,’ she replied.
‘If you’re not coming down, then I’ll come up,’ he retorted and started for the main door.
‘No, no. Jai, wait.’
‘Are you coming down?’
Shyamita didn’t answer. She could hear her own heartbeat in the silence of the night.
‘Mithi, I’m going to ring the doorbell. You can field all the questions people will ask,’ he shouted again.
And Shyamita gave in. And just like she used to say twelve years ago, she said, ‘Jai, I’m coming down.’
She quickly pulled on a pair of blue jeans to wear with her white kurta, and dug out a yellow phulkari scarf from her suitcase, stuffed her feet into jootis and ran down the stairs as quietly as she could. When she reached the main door, she fumbled a bit with all the bolts and latches. Finally, she opened the door. And there stood Jai. Like he always did. Hands in his pocket, head bent down and kicking a tiny pebble.
She quickly closed the door behind her, and asked him like she used to, ‘Where to, Jai?’
He smiled, put his arm around her waist and said, ‘Marine Drive.’

Is there a certain type of scene that is harder for you to write than others? Did you face such an issue while writing ‘The One that Got Away’?

Hahaha…All romance writers are asked this question with a certain expected answer, I guess. No, actually. I don’t think I have difficulty in imagining a scene and its dialogues. Writing is quite instinctual that way, you know. If the writer can identify the psyche of a character, the dialogue and interaction between other characters become that much more believable and relatable.

What is your method of writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

As bad habits go, this one’s the worst one. Whenever I buy a book, I always read the last 2 pages to see if the ending appeals to me. I employ this tactic in my writing too. I envision the last scene even before I write the first scene.

If your book was made into a movie, which actors do you think should play the characters of Jai and Shyamita?

Malayalee actor, Fahadh Faasil would be Jai, and I would be Shyamita ;)

What are the three tips you have for readers who are aspiring writers?

1) Write every day. It helps. You’re much more capable of filtering your thoughts and ideas when you actually sit down to write something with a purpose.
2) Know your characters inside out.
3) Believe you’re a writer. Seriously. Belief is your greatest superpower.

Thank you, Priyanka! That was so interesting.  Wish you the very best for your book and all your future endeavors.

The One that Got Away:


Blurb: What are school friends for? Shared lunches, secrets, movies and studies. And if there is a best friend, you want to share everything with him. But do things really work out the way you want them to? Is life really fair? Shyamita and Jai know they have to go different ways once school is over. Shyamita is going to pursue dance and Jai is off to Cardiff for further studies. What happens when they meet after several years? Sparks fly, shocking them both. Before they can figure out what is happening, love strikes.

That is all for now, folks. Do pick up her book.

Have a great day.

Much Love,


  1. I enjoy reading the extract from the book and lovely inputs on the need to know characters inside out. Giving names to characters, I believe, is the toughest part of writing. Best Priyanka.