7 Days, 7 Interviews
It’s time for our 3rd interview in the series. We’re overwhelmed with the kind of response we are getting for this project. Thank you so much for your support guys. And don’t worry, we won’t let you down because this time we’ve with us, the charming and witty, Reenita Malhotra Hora. Reenita has authored 6 books by now which includes 2 fiction and 4 non-fiction books. She recently launched her second fiction book, Operation Mom.
So let’s see what Reenita discussed with us. Enjoy!
- So Reenita, let’s start with a brief introduction of yours.
Born and raised in Bombay, I grew up in a classic ‘Bhel Puri’ culture. One in which the end product tastes only as good as the sum of its parts… meshed together with a bug or two for good measure. So here I am – a compound of experiences that define the Mumbaikar in San Francisco and Hong Kong, A superiority complex about my Bambaiya Hindi coupled with feisty Punjabi genetics have stood me in good stead as I traverse the continents before looking to settle back home.There is of course my passion with Ayurveda, India’s ancient lifestyle medicine. As an Ayurveda Clinician, it has become an integral part of my blood and no amount of leech therapy provides any relief. In my early American life, I founded, built and subsequently sold Ayoma, an Ayurvedic self care product line and the Ayoma LifeSpa, a premier Ayurvedic wellness spa. I have provided Ayurvedic spa therapy training to top spa wellness retreats all over the world and have taught clinical and CME programs to health care practitioners in the USA and in Hong Kong.Asian Threads, my story-telling show I present on RTHK Radio 3 about the tales of Asian cultures and communities recently won a gold award at the New York Festivals International radio programming awards. I also produce and co-present Money For Nothing, a business/finance focused live radio show, and more recently the 123 Show at lunchtime and Yanto Yan – an exploration of Hong Kong’s Indian community. I contribute regularly to the South China Morning Post family sectionas well as other print media.I have written 6 books already – four non fiction and two fiction, and am currently working on my seventh.
- You recently published your book ‘Operation Mom’. What inspired you to write it down in the first place?
There is plenty of inspiration I get from the dysfunction of my daily family life. We are an opinionated breed of Punjabi women with feisty genetics and plenty of teen drama. The Mumbai setting was a no-brainer, this is the place I know, love and grew up in.Here is a video link to an interview I did that talks about my inspirations behind this book:
- Any difficulties you faced while writing this book?
I could always do with more time…for this book or any other!
- Your favorite character from the book?
This is a hard one. While in many ways I myself identify with the plight of Ila and her mom, Veena, it’s hard not to fall in love with the wild and wanton Aunty Maleeka or Deepali. They are the very antithesis of the classic Punjabi woman and in many ways they are who Veena and Ila live vicariously through. Truth is, I think we all need a bit of Aunty Maleeka or Deepali in our lives!
- What’s the reaction from the readers? What were you expecting?
I had no idea what to expect but the reaction has been fantastic. Readers, both male and female, love the humor of the novel and all the fun I poke at the Punjabi community. I think as Indians we have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously, so they appreciate a story in which the characters themselves are the butt of jokes. And the story bucks other trends too — traditionally, it’s the mothers who set up the daughters rather than the other way around. And never through the online dating world.
- Where does writing fit in your daily schedule?
Two hours solid every single day. The schedule changes based upon my working shift and family needs.
- So which is your favorite book? And your favorite author?
This is another tough one. I love Dave Sedaris, I love American classics and of course our Vedic literature. I recently wrote an article about my Top 5 all-time favorite books. You can see that here:
- We’ve heard that you’re planning to pen down the sequel to ‘Operation Mom’. Is it true?
I have gotten a series of requests already for the further adventures of Ila and Deepali. I am indeed in discussions with the publisher about a sequel. Of course much of this depends upon books sales and how much you enjoy the first book. So readers, please send in your feedback.
- Tell us something about your upcoming book ‘Arya’s Chronicles’.
This is the first piece of fiction I wrote even though it is still yet to be released. It was challenging on every level – making the transition from writing non-fiction to fiction and then creating characters that were so intrinsically part of my own life, yet trying to maintain writer’s distance from them.Arya’s Chronicles is very different from Operation Mom – How I got my Mother a Life & a Man. It is about Arya, a twelve-year old boy in San Francisco who falls though a crack in the floor to find himself in Ramayana land. He has with him the very last copy of the ancient epic which Ravana, the king of demons, want to destroy so he can rewrite history from his own vantage point. A classic coming-of-age story, this is about how Arya must come to terms with death and demons (and not necessarily the kind you are expecting to see in Ramayana land) in order to truly accomplish his hero’s journey.I would love to tell you more but hey no spoilers, right? Fantasy-fiction lovers, please stay tuned for the release from Om Books International later this year.
- So you’re a broadcast journalist. What is exactly the job of a broadcast journalist?
I work on radio. For me this is the perfect job more many reasons. For one thing, with my face, you generally want to avoid cameras at all costs. For another, I’ve got the gift of the gab – I love chatting with my radio guests about their fascinating stories be it on a live or a recorded show. I grew up listening to radio in the kitchen and really believe that this is one of the greatest formats available to us for story-telling.
- Many of the characters in your book hold the names of your friends and family. Is it just the names or part of their life is also reflected in the characters?
It’s fiction folks! My characters and settings are heavily inspired by my own life scenes so people who know me are always looking to relate a particular character to one of my family members or friends. And while there is plenty overlap with thing that have been, as a fiction writer you have the luxury of twisting situations or characters into what you want them to be. None of my characters are truly one person but more an amalgamation of different people I have come across at different times of my life.
- If you’re left on a deserted island, what 3 things would you like to keep?
Omigosh – you really provide an onslaught of toughies. I gotta say that as much as I collected ‘stuff’ in my younger days, over the years I have come to the realization that I don’t want to be bogged down by useless baggage. We come to this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. So stranded on a desert island, I will have with me already a collection of stories in my head…so many more than three and the curiosity to discover more!
- Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
George Michael of course! I stalked him as a teenager and a fictional version of that story has made its way into my book, Operation Mom. Arguably, he may not be that famous anymore but that can easily be fixed by casting him into the role of himself in the movie version. We have an entire audience of women who grew up in the eighties who will dive to the theaters on the opening weekend just because they used to be die-hard George Michael fans once upon a not-so-long-ago. Filmmakers please take note!
- You published your book with Harper Collins. How was your experience?
Harper Collins is a great publisher. I really enjoy working with them, especially my editor. I am now working with them on another non-fiction book – an Ayurvedic diet/cookbook.
- Would you like to deliver a ‘word of advice’ for budding & emerging writers?
Just write. Don’t worry about refining and re-refining your first drafts. The best thing you can do is to ‘spit’ them out. There will be plenty of room and time for refining and polishing.
- Any words for us, i.e, The Author’s Blog?
Thanks so much to the Author’s Blog for doing such a marvelous job of getting the word out there. If you are up to it, I would love to come meet with your audiences in person. If you have opinions for where these characters venture to in the sequel, I am open to ideas.
So this was all from Reenita’s side. She is a wonderful person and an amazing author. You can connect with her via facebook. We hope you guys enjoyed this session as much as we did.
You can buy her book, Operation Mom, from the following links :