Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
Leena Varghese is a freelance illustrator who dabbles in writing among a few other crazy, creative ventures. She loves to experiment with various media including oils, watercolours and pastels. She is a post-graduate (Eng.Lit), a B.Ed and a Diploma holder in Fine Art. She lives in Mumbai with her husband and two kids.
tgbc: The nicest gift you have received from a loved one!
Leena: The gift of trust…it is rare and priceless. All things material, pale into insignificance.
tgbc: Who is your favorite character in your book/books?
Leena: All my characters are precious to me. Every tiny character helps to build a story. In my debut book, A Perfect Mismatch, both Zara and Armaan have powerful personalities and are equally matched in temperament, emotional strength and passion.
tgbc: Difference between love and lust?
Leena: Emotion is the difference between the two. Lust is transient. Love is not love, if it does not encompass trust and compassion for the other, along with desire.
tgbc: Does Tall, Dark and Handsome work for India? Or would it be Tall, Fair and Handsome?
Leena: No truly evolved person would be influenced by the colour of the skin! Indians are blessed with a range of skin-tones that starts from porcelain whiteness to dark bitter chocolate. And every single shade is beautiful! Personally, I believe that however handsome or beautiful the protagonists may look, if the characterization has no depth, the story would fail to impress a discerning reader.
tgbc: Your favorite M&B author or a memorable one you read years ago!
Leena: I read ‘A Spanish Groom’ by Lynn Graham some years ago and was amazed by her ability to weave beauty, humour, love, passion, grief and courage into a story. I still have it and have read it a million times since then, among many of her other books. Sandra Marton is another gifted writer. Both have been my favourites. Such a fantastic sense of humour and beautiful characterization with finely defined protagonists.
tgbc: In what way (apart from the Indian characters and Indian setting) are the Indian Harlequin/M&B’s different from their western counterparts?
Leena: Every book is an opinion of the writer and it reflects the ethos of the nation or community that the writer belongs to. A modern Indian romance would obviously have all the aspects of our lives and concerns in a contemporary setting. Love means different things to different people and yet everyone wants to be loved. In that sense we are no different from our western counterparts because we want the same things that they do…that special someone to tell us that things would be fine…someone to hold on to in bad times.
tgbc: What would you cook up for a romantic dinner?
Leena: After years of rustling up fancy recipes, I have come to the profound conclusion that romance and dinner cannot be clubbed together. Since my hubby is a confirmed foodie, everything on the menu would be appreciated. But then it would not be a romantic dinner, because the food, most certainly would be given more attention than me!
tgbc: On a date – would it be a chiffon sari and bindi, or a long sexy gown?
Leena: Anything that defines understated classy elegance that one can wear with confidence.
tgbc: Your favorite fragrance.
Leena: Lavender! Having said that, nothing to beat a natural, fresh scent.
tgbc: What’s your personal brand of romance?
Leena: A genuine heart-warming tale with loads of humour, a bit of mystery, pure idealism and searing passion.
tgbc: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Leena: Life! There are stories strewn around everywhere. And, of course, the vast reservoir of Imagination and creativity that binds it all together!
tgbc: How do you do your research?
Leena: Books, internet, and so many helpful people.