Fun and fast-paced, author Preeti Shenoy’s latest book is a coming-of-age tale
If you are in the mood for a breezy weekend read, try Preeti Shenoy’s latest When Love Come Calling. Her thirteenth book promises to be another best-seller with her target audience.
It deals with looking for love, longing, finding oneself, and the realisation that things don’t always go the way you want it to, especially when it comes to love.
Then, of course, there’s the perennial problem of pushy parents, who think they know what’s best for their child, whether it’s their education or which volunteer camp they should attend. So what happens when their child goes surreptitiously behind their back, to find love and then discover that life does not come with rose-tinted glasses?
When Loving Came Calling is all this and more. True to the genre she is comfortable with, Preeti weaves a story where the characters, though from the UK and India, are like the boy and girl next door – ignorant, passionate, and optimistic.
In a conversation with HerStory, Preeti talks about her new book, coming of age, and parenting.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
HerStory (HS): Tell us how When Love Came Calling came about?
Preeti Shenoy (PS): Most parents have no idea just how much to push their teens. When it comes to teens and their parents, even the most ‘chill parents’ (to use a teenage term) throw up their hands in despair. Teens and young adults are also confused about what they want in life. I wanted to write a fun, fast-paced book that encompasses all these issues, and When Love Came Calling was the result.
HS: Tell us more about the characters and what kind of qualities/weaknesses did you seek to convey through them.
PS: There is a 19-year-old girl named Puja who is lost, and doesn’t know what she wants to do in life. Then there is 20-year-old Arush, who is the polar opposite of Puja. Arush is a British citizen and has never been to India. When they meet, they never expect that the chain of events that occurs will change them so much. It deals with several themes like finding oneself, sibling rivalry, family relationships, and parenting. It is extremely gripping and is a fun, fast read.
As regards qualities and weaknesses, I’d say that some parents are very authoritative (like Puja’s mother, Chaitra). They are ‘tiger moms’. While it works well for some kids (like Puja’s sister), it doesn’t work well for others. There’s truly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to parenting. The important thing is to understand your child, and help them grow up to be good human beings. Parents should develop the ability to accept teens and young adults for who they are, as opposed to who they want their children to be.
I think this book will also help teens to see things from the parents’ perspective. Many of my readers who have read this book tell me that they have given it to their parents to read.
HS: Your story is set in India and the UK. For Arush, India is not the picture-postcard setting he thought it would be. What made you think of a voluntarism project for this character?
PS: I used to live in the UK and have friends who are British. A lot of young people I know volunteer. It’s a great way to broaden your horizons, gain work experience, and travel abroad.
HS: Puja is emotional, impulsive…. and finally finds her true self, through love, unrequited, to an extent?
PS: Wait for the sequel.
HS: Is coming of age an important lesson we can learn through the book?
PS: It’s just one of the things it focuses on. The other themes like I mentioned earlier are finding oneself, sibling rivalry, family relationships, and parenting.
HS: The book also mirrors modern society to some extent – parental pressures, young people figuring out what they want to do in life, etc. What is your personal take on this?
PS: I hope the book helps parents see things from teenagers’ perspective and helps teens to see things from a parental point of view.
HS: Your book is vivid and detailed in its descriptions of Wayanad and Kochi. Do you have a personal connection with these places and how did they reflect in the book?
PS: I travelled to all places mentioned in the book to do my research.
HS: What is your writing process like? How long did it take for you to complete the book?
PS: Do you mean the time it took to type out the book, or the time it took for research, or the time it took for me to think? I always feel a book takes many, many years. You never know when the first seed was sown, and when it began to sprout and grow.
HS: After 13 books, would you say that writing to you is a natural process and comes easy?
PS: I love writing. I was writing even when no one was reading what I wrote and I continue to write when thousands read me. Writing, to me, is as natural and essential as breathing.
HS: How have you spent time during the lockdown?
PS: It was the same as I was doing before the lockdown. Working out, making portraits, and writing.
HS: According to you, what can be done to attract more people, especially children to reading?
PS: Parents should read more. Children always imitate their parents.