Tête-à-tête With Anjali Kirpalani

Anjali Kirpalani is a twenty-six year old vivacious and a fun-loving girl who loves to dream, travel and write. She lived in South Africa for eight years and returned to Mumbai in 2008. Currently employed with ET NOW, she has had various jobs ranging from Radio Jockeying, Business Management, Marketing, TV Reporting, Print Journalism and Voice-Over Artistry in the past. She has travelled fifteen countries so far and aims to cover the entire world. Her other passions involve reading, eating and taking extreme pleasure in watching back to back episodes of Masterchef Australia!.

Ananya Dhawan: First, we would like to congratulate you on your amazing debut Never Say Never. Tell us why you decided to write the book?
Anjali Kirpalani: I started writing NSN when I was between jobs and unsure of the direction to take in my life. The book starts with Nikita Kumar, the protagonist, also unemployed and confused. So I channelled the uncertainty I felt about my career and the result is my debut novel!

AD: The title oozes optimism. What made you choose such a positive title?
AK: Never Say Never is about a girl who makes a list of things she will never do. But since life has a plan of its own, she is faced with situations that force her to do (or come close to doing) all the things she said she’d never do. So from day one, I knew that the book had to be called Never Say Never; I couldn’t think of a more apt title. The book is a positive one: even though it is funny and has many laugh-out-loud moments (as vouched for by readers and reviewers!), at its core is the message that ‘everything happens for a reason’ and that ‘everything will be okay in the end; if it’s not okay, it’s not the end’. So Never Say Never as a title worked completely.

AD: How much of the story is based on real life incidents?
AK: It is said that an author’s first book will always be inspired from the author’s life. So Nikita as a character is completely me! From the way she looks (5’2″ and frizzy hair) to her sense of humour. That said, the entire plot is fictional (I have never fallen in love with my best friend’s boyfriend and even if I have, I’ve never done anything about it!). There are some incidents inspired by real life. For example, the epilogue has a wedding where everything is going wrong; eunuchs cause mayhem, the bride’s father burns his kurta, etc (and we really experienced these funny incidents during my sister’s wedding).

AD: How was the road to finding an agent and getting published?
AK: I had sent my manuscript to an agent but never heard back from her. Another agent said the manuscript would only work if edited by him (for a charge of Rs. 25,000). Thankfully, I didn’t pay heed to that agent and approached publishers directly. Grapevine India approved my manuscript within a month of receiving it. So I think the journey to getting published was relatively easy for me. The good thing about the publishing industry in India is that you can approach publishers directly. They are certainly more open to first-time authors today than they were ten years ago.

 What I’ve learned this year is that marketing is as important as the content of the book. You can have a good book but if it isn’t marketed well, no one will know about it. I think word-of-mouth has really worked well for Never Say Never 

AD: If your book was turned into a Bollywood movie, which actors and actresses would you like to cast as the protagonists?
AK: Parineeti Chopra would play Nikita Kumar, Kulraj Randhawa would play Aziza (because Aziza has dimples and hazel eyes), Raghav would be played by Imran Khan and Siddharth would be played by someone tall, dark and handsome like Sendhil Ramamurthy or Aditya Roy Kapur (He’s not dark but I have a massive crush on him!)

AD: Besides your own book, what new titles are/were you excited about in 2013?
AK: 25 Strokes of Kindess – it’s an anthology of short stories based on the theme of kindness also featuring a short story by me. I am a big fan of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary so when I heard Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy was coming out this year, I couldn’t control my excitement! I haven’t had the chance to read it yet but it’s the title I was most excited about this year.

Rapid Fire

1. Dancing or singing?
Dancing, for sure! I can’t sing to save my life!
2. Hiking or swimming?
Swimming! Depending on my mood, Hiking would be fun too. Argh – making decisions is so hard!
3. One favourite cuisine.
Pizza ftw!
4. One favourite pastime.
Watching sitcoms.
5. Your worst nightmare.
Being stuck in a haunted house! Eeek!
6. If not a writer, what would you be?
An actor (the only problem is I am very bad at acting!)

AD: What’s next in line for the readers?

AK: I’m currently working on my next novel, which will be a nonfiction one on relationships in 21st century India but told in a tongue-in-cheek, humorous manner.

AD: I learn that you love travelling. So what five places would you like to visit that you haven’t as yet?
AK: Yes – I absolutely do! Paris, Prague, Italy, Switzerland and Nepal.

AD: Would you, someday, like to take up writing as a full-time job?
AK: Yes, definitely. Writing is something I see myself doing for the rest of my life.

AD: Is there a question you’ve ever wanted to be asked in an interview about your book or writing in general, but haven’t?
AK: No one ever asks how authors market their books – what means of marketing has worked best for their book: word-of-mouth, social media or advertising. What I’ve learned this year is that marketing is as important as the content of the book. You can have a good book but if it isn’t marketed well, no one will know about it. I think word-of-mouth has really worked well for Never Say Never but I think social media marketing, book reviews and interviews in the media and book-reading events have also contributed to the book’s success.

Interviewer

  • Ananya Dhawan

    Features Editor

    Location: Dehradun, India

    Ananya is an avid reader and writes poetry and stories in her spare time, which reflects her deep fascination for Literature. She has a cheerful disposition, believes in living each moment to the fullest and shows keen interest in the sensitive side of life.

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