Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guest Post by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar: Between Literary and Chicky

Between Literary and Chicky
By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar


I didn’t control my Muse. Not in a specific way to generate particular ideas. Sure, I sit down several times a week and force myself to produce as much as I can in the few hours I have between kids’ birthday parties and swim lessons. I go away once a year, for a week, (or longer, if I can find a place to stash the kids) to write, mingle with other writerly types, and figure out how I can get better at storytelling.

The ideas for my previous books often began with a central question. One that rolls around and around on deck, waiting for her turn at the keyboard. How a modern person with traditional values finds love is at the center of my first paperback Love Comes Later. The answer is the story.

In The Dohmestics, I explore how well we know those closest to us or ourselves. The ensemble cast in the novel is a composite of people I’ve known while living in the Middle East country of Qatar. Their tangled lives represent the ways in which expats and their domestic help support and infuriate each other.

Perhaps because my books ponder issues, rather than focus on a sequence of events, I resist categorization as a genre writer. My novels can’t really find a home like others, where stories cluster, based on common devices or types.

Yet, for the last year or so, I have been trying to get a handle on myself as a writer and channel ideas instead of letting them lead me into genre-defying projects. N

Not as easy as it sounds.

Crime is what I hoped to get into one year ago: July 2014. Not in real life, as it were, but for my writing. If you can get a believable, likable, empathetic detective type, you are golden. The books seem to write themselves.

Scandinavian writers like Steig Larrson and Henning Mankel had inspired me for years. They took the genre as a venue for social critique and pointed out the failure of Nordic utopia. I’ve seen other places struggle with the burden of wealth and a small citizenry.

I set down a nascent story during National Novel Writing Month in 2015. The premise was simple: a main character living in a labor camp in the Arabian Gulf, one of the kind present in monthly sports news about the 2022 World Cup.

The Migrant Report was my first attempt to research, outline, plan, write, and revise a novel from start to finish. The first manuscript was 50,000 word. The published version, now available at online retailers, is almost double the original word count.

I’m nervous, I’m elated. One second I worry I’ve gotten it all wrong; the next I’m telling everyone this is the best material I’ve ever written. If you’d like to review The Migrant Report and tell me your thoughts, drop me a comment below. What type of stories do you like to read or write?

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had two sons, and became a writer. She has since published eight e-books, including a memoir for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me; a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies; a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories; and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. Her coming of age novel, An Unlikely Goddess, won the SheWrites New Novelist competition in 2011. Her recent books have focused on various aspects of life in Qatar. From Dunes to Dior, named as a Best Indie book in 2013, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 and is a literary romance set in Qatar and London. The Dohmestics is an inside look into compound life, the day-to-day dynamics between housemaids and their employers. After she joined the e-book revolution, Mohana dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohadoha.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.


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