‘The Zoya Factor’ author Anuja Chauhan says that writing novels gives her a sense of power
One just has to browse through a few pages of any Anuja Chauhan book, and before they know it, they’re already 30 pages into the story. Chauhan’s writing is engaging and funny, and if that wasn’t enough, it is also mischievous.
“I’m so glad I took the plunge into writing my own stories, instead of the stories of products, like I used to do in advertising. Writing novels is amazingly liberating and gives you a tremendous sense of power,” Chauhan says. And the author is not one of those who quit their job because it was not working out, for she had an extremely successful stint in the advertising industry.
However, the decision to change careers did come with its uncertainty. “With great power comes great accountability, because it’s an extremely lonely job. There is no team, no back-up, and no collective responsibility at all. If you don’t wake up and hammer out your word count for the day, there will be no book to show at the end of the year, and you will have transitioned from being a writer to merely being unemployed,” she quips.
It has been more than a decade since her first novel, The Zoya Factor, was published. And today, when she reads it, it is the same feeling for her as it is for an actor watching their first film.
“Of course, I cringe. Zoya feels horribly gauche to me when I read it now,” she says, adding, “But on the other hand, first books have a certain innocent, cocky artlessness which is hard to replicate when you become more practised. They’re raw, fresh and full of low-hanging fruit!”.
She admits that people often call her a “Delhi writer”. But in her very first novel, her writings read out a vivid and evoking portrait of Mumbai.
“I do have huge affection for Mumbai, because I have shot so many ads there over the years. The things I know best in Mumbai are the hotels and the studios, so I stuck to describing only those,” Chauhan explains.
About her favourite books, she says, “I love books that tell a simple story entertwined with a larger, even epic setting that captures the issues of the times.” She names Gone with the Wind, Battle Cry, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the romances of Georgette Heyer as some of her most-loved reads.