On 3rd November I reviewed 'Love, Lies & Layoffs' a romcom written by Usha Narayanan.
Starting off with a gold medal in English from the University of Madras, and two Masters degrees – Usha Narayanan took off like a magpie, collecting more bling. She was creative director in advertising agencies like RK Swamy/BBDO, one of India’s top ten, and in Radio City 91.1 FM. She managed corporate communications and CSR activities in Scope International, Standard Chartered Bank. Usha has lived for the most part in Chennai (Madras), and in Honolulu, Hawaii where she did a writing course. She loves reading, travel and animals and has two opinionated cats.
The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, received excellent reviews. It is available online at Flipkart, Amazon and Infibeam.
Her second novel, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, a bestselling fantasy thriller from Penguin, is available in leading bookstores and online at Amazon, Infibeam and Flipkart (also as eBook).
Her third novel is Love, Lies and Layoffs, a romcom published by Harlequin–HarperCollins in October 2015.
- Madras Mangler has been reviewed on Writer's Ezine - my online magazine and her inteview was published in the same issue. (May 2014 Issue)
- Giveaway of her second book - "Pradyumna - Son of Krishna" was hosted by Writer's Ezine.
- Review of Pradyumna - Son of Krishna was published in the November 2015 Issue of Writer's Ezine and so is her second interview.
Let's know more about her through this interview; but before that - some details about the book.
About the Book:
Title: Love, Lies & Layoffs
Author: Usha Narayanan
Publisher: Harlequin India
No. of pages: 262
Year of Publication: 2015
With goofy colleagues, a busy career and juicy gossip to fill her days, feisty columnist Freida doesn't really crave romance. Men are such fools anyway, including 'good friend' Geek, who appears to have fallen for a sneaky co-worker. But soon, even her friendship is under threat, as steamy kisses and a romp in bed turn their equation upside down. To complicate matters, Freida's treacherous ex and their psycho boss mount a vicious attack on them. Tension build as Freida and Geek gird up for the final showdown. Can nice guys ever win? Will love carry the day?
In conversation with Usha Narayanan -
1. You have beautifully painted so many colourful characters in the book "Love, Lies and Layoffs". Which is the one that you loved sketching the most?
My heroine Freida, a feisty journalist, is my favourite. She is a firebrand with a fine sense of justice and the courage to speak up for what she believes in. I like her sunny nature and positivity in facing up to the twin pressures of career and relationships. She represents all modern women who wish to have fun, find love and succeed at work as well.
2. The story is a perfect blend of spice and sophistication. What inspired you to write such a story?
Twenty years of working in advertising, media and the corporate world have brought me many colourful experiences. I have come across several zany characters and situations that are sometimes hard to believe! Naturally, I had to recreate this world of glamour and guts, taking my reader on a fun ride that would make him or her laugh and sigh.
3. Did the story of this book fall into place as you wrote it? Or was it something that you already had in mind?
I fell in love with my characters. The setting was one I was familiar with. I worked on the plot that travels on two interconnected planes ― romance and office power politics. I mixed in huge quantities of humour and voila! ‘Love, Lies and Layoffs’ shaped up into a heartwarming tale of love and life.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing routine and the process of creating a story?
I start with the characters and their conflicts and after I write a few scenes, I have a fair idea of where they are going. Then, it’s a question of setting up the plot points, the twists and the climax which should give the reader a sense of completion and fulfilment. Whether it is a thriller, a romance or a myth, we are happy when the good guys win and live happily ever after!
5. Which is the book that has influenced you the most? Also, our readers would love to know what you're reading now.
I read almost all genres and hence have several favourites ― evergreen authors like Georgette Heyer as well as contemporary ones like Lee Child.
I am currently reading ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey, a haunting psychological mystery. It’s about an elderly woman descending into dementia, who tries to convince her caretakers and the police that her best friend is missing, and is perhaps in danger. The story is dark, disturbing and real.
6. How did you come up with the character of Freida? Was it inspired by someone you know?
Freida is fun, fiery and fabulous ― attributes I love in a heroine. Unfortunately, I have not met her in real life yet! That’s the advantage of having a vivid imagination. As Pablo Picasso puts it, ‘Everything you can imagine is real’
7. I have to tell you how intriguing the story is. It keeps you glued to the book till the end. Tell us about your decision to write such a story through the vehicle of the media?
The media world is colourful on the outside but there are many pressures on the inside. High-strung creative people, deadline-driven executives, profit-oriented bosses ― these make for an explosive mix that sparks passion, drama and conflict. As an author, all I had to do was to capture the fireworks!
8. Is there a particular message that you want to convey with this story?
An author’s message is often subtly conveyed in the way she portrays her characters and the solutions she offers them in a crisis. If ‘Love, Lies and Layoffs’ has a message, it is that a woman can achieve anything in life, whether at home or at work. As Nora Ephron puts it so pithily: ‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim’
9. Another amazing aspect of this book is its cover design. Who is the brain behind the artwork?
I gave my editor at Harlequin-HarperCollins and the cover designer a note on the main characters, motifs and the overall spirit. Pankaj Nimbalkar came up with the beautiful illustration that is so peppy and eye-catching while Saffron Design created the snazzy look.
10. I want to ask you about the colourful depiction of each scene in this book. How do you manage to unfailingly create each scene before the eyes of your readers?
I must be able to ‘see’ the scene before I can write it. This means bringing in smells, colours, memories, emotions and big dollops of wit and drama so that the scene jumps off the page and into your heart.
11. If you were to describe today's media industry in one word, what would that be?
Thank you very much for your time and wish you the best for your future endeavours.