Sunday, January 8, 2017

On Writing: Radhika Maira Tabrez

Today on 'On writing', we have the very talented writer Radhika Maira Tabrez.

Radhika is a hustling mother by day and a writer by night. Of all the years she had spent trying to muzzle the writer inside her; two were spent earning an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune; where she went on to become the first and only female President of the Students’ Council. She has over twelve years experience in Learning and Development.

 Her stories have been featured in many anthologies namely:
-          Sankaarak
-          UnBound
-          Defiant Dreams
-          When They Spoke
-          Mock, Stock and Quarrel

Her debut novel ‘In The Light Of Darkness’ was released in August 2016 and has been receiving critical acclaim and rave reviews ever since. It has recently won the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award (2016).
She is also a motivational speaker, columnist, a writing coach and an active member of the Kalam Library Project.

Let us welcome to ‘On Writing,’ Radhika Maira Tabrez.

Follow her on : Twitter (@RadhikaTabrez )

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

Considering, that I have been writing on and off all my life, I did nurse a dream of becoming a published author one day. But the actual day, in a way sneaked up on me and surprised me. I had been working on a story for a while. I owe the genesis of that story to the birth of my son. In the days that followed, days that saw me transforming into a mother also saw the birth of a plot in my head- of a mother-son story. And from that, this novel was born. But I wasn’t sure it was worth being published. Just for the kicks, I sent it to Readomania. And it was only after they sent back a consent did I realize that I might be standing real close to an opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming an author.
How important are the names of the characters in your books to you? Do you spend agonizing hours deciding on their names?

Some names were particularly important in ‘In The Light Of Darkness’. Because the story demanded that two of the main characters belong to a certain religion. And because I was placing the story on a fictional island, loosely modeled on Goa/Pondicherry, they also needed to have a certain ancestry in order to lend authenticity to the story. So I needed a common Indian name of Portuguese decent.

But otherwise, I rarely spend much time thinking about the names. I start with a name that deems fit at the moment and as the character develops, I am either proven right or a better name dawns on me.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a favorite place to write?

Having a four-year-old ruling my day means I do not have the luxury of a writing schedule or a fixed process. I write as and when I can, and I often go weeks without penning a single sentence. My favorite place too, is anywhere I can get a moment of peace and quiet but at the same time am not far away from my son, should he need me.
Sometimes when I am really stuck at a particular point in the story, oddly enough, going to a crowded place like a coffee shop or a park helps. I write as I watch people around me and more often than not, am able to break through the blockade in my mind.

What is special about ‘In the Light of Darkness’? How long did it take to complete writing it?

From a writer’s perspective – In The Light Of Darkness is the most honest piece of writing I have ever done. Since I wasn’t even sure that I would be finishing this story, let alone send it out to a publisher, so I wrote what I wanted to. And that honesty did wonders for this story. To be that disconnected with ‘what would someone think of this’ keeps getting more and more difficult as you get published more.
From a reader’s perspective - This is a story we don’t read often these days. I was told that there may not be an audience for a mother-son story in a world dominated with romance and thrillers. I am glad that isn’t the case; going by the reception this book has received. Perhaps, that is why it has won me the Muse India – Satish Verma Young Writer Award 2016.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

I’d have to say, Susan Pereira. Her love is so pure, so unconditional. It made me truly believe that her love would have the power of transcendence which it needs, to connect with her son.

Do share a snippet/ Quote from your book.

I’ll share one that also in a way carries the essence of the story.

“What they all considered to be the shattered pieces of their individual lives, came together to form a beautiful mosaic of their relationships. Their relationship, after all, was based on one of the strongest and most reliable reasons people come together and stay close for; their mutual need for succor. Which is precisely why, what this particular group of people shared, went far beyond the framework of social
contracts or friendships.
They were family.”

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

I am a hardcore pantser. I start my stories with just a nebula of a plot. The only thing I am quite certain of, oddly, is how I want the story to end. In fact, in most cases, I am able to envision the last scene down to the last sentence or dialogue, absolutely clearly in my head. I know the feeling I want the readers to walk away with when they finish the book. That ‘feeling’ is my homing signal. From then on, whatever I write is targeted at that. But I write in a freewheeling manner – I write whatever scene or chapter comes to me when it does. Every few weeks, I try and place them in an order and identify the gaps if any. I know how weird it sounds, but strangely enough, this methodology is yet to fail me.  

Which do you prefer as a reader? EBook or Paperback?

I was very late to catch on to the EBook phenomena. And that was mostly because I was unwilling to. I felt it was blasphemous in a certain way. I was quite like my character Susan in ‘In The Light Of Darkness’. But ever since I took the plunge, I’d have to say, I see the merit of it all. I mean, there is only so much shelf space I have. And EBooks have made reading far easier for me. So while I still would prefer to have paparbacks, I do end up buying quite a few EBooks too.

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

1) There is no substitute for voracious and expansive reading when it comes to laying the foundation of a good writer.
2) Write for yourself. Forget about the readers’ reactions or expectations. That is how you stay most honest to your story.
3) Edit for others and objectively. At that point consider all the feedback you have generated and use it to the best of your abilities. But at the same time, don’t forget to be true to the story. If your gut tells you something is right for the story, even if everyone else disagrees, stick with it anyway. It’s your story, your prerogative.

Thank you, Radhika! All the best to all your future endeavors. Folks, go get her book. It has been winning the hearts of readers from day one. Get it here:

Buy it from Amazon 

Book Blurb: Twenty years ago, Susan Pereira had to send her only child Matthew, to a faraway boarding school. That one decision brought their relationship to a cul de sac, which she still hasn't been able to break out of. Matthew is too distant and too angry to relent. Meera Vashisht's misguided love left her bruised, shattered, and abandoned, only to be found and healed by Susan. Set on a fictional Indian island paradise called Bydore, In The Light of Darkness is a journey of broken souls looking for closures and new beginnings. Does Susan manage to win back her son? Does Matthew find the future his mother hoped he would? Does Meera finally get away from her past?


  1. Good to have known so much more about the author. Congratulations to you, Radhika on the award! I loved the questions too, Preethi :)

  2. The tips are great. I think it's a super idea to go with the flow and not think about audience reaction. It's very bold of her to work on a mother-son relationship, something which is very rare.