Free Press Journal

Authors speak: What love means to you?


Manasi Y Mastakar speaks to four authors who delve in the realm of all things love

Sara Naveed

Bollywood influence

I had been an ardent fan of watching Indian romantic movies since my adolescent years. I was a huge movie buff and of course enjoyed watching romantic movies more. That’s where I picked up the interest for the romance genre. The same interest led me towards writing romantic fan-fictions on various Bollywood forums. Readers and viewers over there appreciated my writing and encouraged me to write something substantial. I took their advice seriously at a later point in my life and decided to pen down a romance novel. I guess that’s what I am good at – writing romance novels. It’s hard for me not to think of romance when I am writing a novel.

‘Follow your heart’

I would suggest budding romance writers to just follow their heart and live their dreams. If there’s a spark within them, let it come out. Show to the world what they’re capable of. Believe in your work. Believe in yourself.

Favourite romance novels

Love Story by Erich Segal was the first romance novel I’ve ever read and it instantly became my favourite. Therefore, it’s really dear to me. Secondly, I fell hard for the Twilight series. I can’t forget the sizzling romance between a human and a vampire. Stephene Meyer has outdone in this paranormal romance genre. My third favourite romance novel would be Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover because I love the way she writes! I am a huge fan of her work and really get inspired by her writing. This book revolves around human-like characters, stuck in a very complicated romantic situation.

Sara Naveed is a Pakistani author based in Lahore and is currently gearing up for the release of her new novel, ‘Our Story Ends Here’ on Valentine’s Day

Kiran Manral 2nd lead kiran manral

Catharsis from bookish romance

I have written one pure romance novel “All Aboard” which is set on a Mediterranean cruise, and two romantic comedies, Once Upon a Crush which is about an office romance, and the latest “Saving Maya,” which is a romcom second chance romance with a single mom as a protagonist (on the Readify ereading app on Google Play). I am a romantic at heart and I love the concept of a happily ever after. We all read for some sort of identification with the characters and get some sort of catharsis from the romance that unfolds in the books we read. I enjoy reading romance books; they are instant pick-me-ups when one is in a foul mood and infinitely better an option for the waistline than hitting the Nutella. And I think that’s what makes me write them.

‘Think like your character’

It is very important to get into your character and think like your character, to feel the emotions your character is experiencing in order to be able to portray those feelings in words. Also conflict, internal or external, is always a great thing, as well as uncertainty about the feelings the protagonist is experiencing. I think every reader wants to identify with the protagonist so some flaws that make her quirky or some vulnerability always helps.

Favourite romance novels

I would have to say The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind and Wuthering Heights. You wouldn’t call the three classically romance novels. All three have unfulfilled love stories. But it is precisely this that draws me to them.

Judy balan2nd lead judy balan

‘Comedy as a coping tool’

Actually, I write romantic comedy which often tends to be the subversion of romance. It’s more about the pursuit of love and the accidents that happen along the way – a theme I happen to be more familiar with than straightforward romance. And it’s also a genre I grew up watching and loving and it’s what I turn to when I’m feeling low. I loved what I read somewhere recently: ‘Comedy helps you live with who you are.’ It’s true and having used comedy as a coping tool during my own rough patches, I suppose I want to contribute.

‘More hahas, less emo’

My mantra for the younger writers: More hahas, less emo. What I mean is, young writers ought to bring in more fun elements or comedy in their writing and try to be less overtly emotional.

Favourite romance novels

Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes, Love Story by Erich Segal and of course, Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.

Preeti Shenoy2nd lead preeti

Different faces of love

I am strictly not a romance writer, I write about relationships. My books are relationship stories dealing with realistic issues and grave choices that people are forced to make at certain points in their life. Love is a deep-rooted feeling and my books deal with different aspects of love. My last book, ‘It’s all in the Planets’, deals with four people: a tech geek who has this hot girlfriend and a woman who is engaged to a Mr Perfect. Each couple goes through their own set of problems; despite finding what they perceived was ‘love’.

Slotting books into categories like ‘romance’ is what book-sellers do: You will slot a Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steele, in the romance category, but they all deal with different kinds of love. Love runs much deeper than that phase where you promise to get your beloved the stars and the moon.

Read more, write more

Not just to a romance writer, but to any writer I would say: Read, read and read; write, write. Also, grow up a bit before you decide to write about love. Deep love isn’t something that happens at the age of 20. What probably happens at young age might seem like love, but love is something that comes with experience and is not to be mixed with the heady intensity of passion of the youth. It is with experience that you realise what love entails. And love is not limited to young people; it can happen at the age of 40, or 60 or even later. Deeper your life experiences the more powerful is your understanding of love.

Favourite romance novels

I am not much of a ‘romance’ reader; but I enjoy a good story. If I were to name three books that have deeply moved me they would be: The Every Seventh Wave by Daniel Glattauer,  Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.

The reason why I like the books so is because they describe the excruciating agony that each character goes through in the book in a realistic manner which deeply moves you and changes your perspective of looking at life.