Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
An eternal romantic, Aastha Atray Banan thinks romance novels are meant for getting rid of all this scepticism in the world. Her next book for Mills & Boon is a supernatural love story. She has also been a journalist now for 13 years and has worked with Open magazine, Tehelka, DNA, Mid-day, Elle and Asian Age. At Tehelka, she won the Laadli Award for Gender Sensitivity for best feature story for an article about young Muslim girls from Nagpada who played basketball. Presently she is an Assistant Editor at Hindustan Times’ Sunday magazine Brunch. Her second book, Games Girls Play, published by Rupa, released in November 2014. It’s a racy, sassy take on two girls trying to find love in Bombay.
tgbc: What’s your personal brand of romance?
Aastha: Light, frothy, dreamy and also relevant to the times we live in. Full of grounded fantasy!
tgbc: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Aastha: Everything and everyone. I am super romantic, and like seeing the romance in everything. So people in love, people falling out of love, people looking for love – they all inspire me.
tgbc: Who is your favorite character in your book/books?
Aastha: Mehtab, the hot, lovely and flawed lead in my book His Monsoon Bride. He makes me want to marry him!
tgbc: Difference between love and lust?
Aastha: Lust might fade away, but true love is very powerful and stays for a really long time. It makes you invested in the person for the long run. But when it’s true love, lust is always there.
tgbc: The nicest gift you have received from a loved one!
Aastha: My father gifted me a trip to New York for my 32nd birthday. That was awesome
tgbc: What would you cook up for a romantic dinner?
Aastha: Rajma chawal! I can only make that nicely.
tgbc: On a date – would it be a chiffon sari and bindi, or a long sexy gown?
Aastha: None. A sweet black dress.
tgbc: Your favorite fragrance.
Aastha: Dior Femme
tgbc: How do you do your research?
Aastha: No research. I just write about what I know. And other things I make up. It helps that I am a journalist so I am just more informed. But most of it is from my imagination.
tgbc: Does Tall, Dark and Handsome work for India? Or would it be Tall, Fair and Handsome?
Aastha: I think Indian men are great looking and both should work! I think Indian women like all sorts of men – fair, dark, short, tall – just treat them right!
tgbc: Your favorite M&B author or a memorable one you read years ago!
Aastha: Shoma Narayana, because she is really funny!
tgbc: In what way (apart from the Indian characters and Indian setting) are the Indian Harlequin/M&B’s different from their western counterparts?
Aastha: They reflect how India is changing. And there is a lot of stress on family values.