An Interview with Richa Gupta: the Author of Amazon Bestseller Novel ‘Skeins’

Richa Gupta has authored three books that are mostly women-centric and explore the views and feelings of women. Her debut novel Phoenix is inspired by the plight of women in India who face discrimination after a failed marriage. In September, 2018, she published her second novel Skeins, an Amazon Bestseller, which is set in the light-hearted mirth of a travel environment but explores serious existential issues. Recently, in June 2020, she published her third book, Slices of Life, which is a collection of varied short stories.

She speaks to NEWS WORLD INC about her writing aspirations, inclination towards feminism, and much more.

NWI: What inspired you to write books centred on women and their issues?

Most women in India still face discrimination due to a patriarchal society that disregards their aspirations and feelings. She has to sacrifice her individuality and be governed by her partner’s family else she becomes an outcast and has to face financial and social inequities. Women face a slew of challenges, so it’s interesting to explore their various predicaments. She is also far more invested in life than men and has a high intellectual and emotional quotient.

NWI: Which is your favourite book among your three books?

I feel I am learning and enhancing my craft with each book, so I always identify most with my latest publication.

NWI: How did you feel when your book became an Amazon Bestseller?

People developed an interest in ‘Skeins’ after a year and a half of its publication when I published ‘Slices of Life’ recently in June 2020. They suddenly discovered me as a writer and wanted to read my previous book, which pushed ‘Skeins’ into the bestseller list. Of course, I was glad that the book had gained an audience.

NWI: How do you see yourself as an author now?

I am still maturing as an author and have only scratched the surface so far. I have so many books inside me that are yet to be written.

NWI: What books or authors have been your greatest influence?

I have been influenced by my cumulative reading of varied authors. Some reading that influenced me when I was young include ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand, ‘Gone With the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell and ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ by Irving Stone. Some recent books that influenced me include ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini, ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles, ‘Pachinko’ by Min Jin Lee and ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak.

NWI: Is feminism a good aspect in literature?

If by ‘feminism’ in literature, you mean identifying with a woman’s viewpoint and advocating her right to equality in one’s writing, it is a good aspect. However, I don’t believe in bra-burning virulence that denigrates all men and disowns the womanly qualities of tenderness and maternal love.

NWI: How did you do research for the book Skeins?

In 2016, I had joined a group tour to Spain and Portugal though, unlike the all-women’s group described in ‘Skeins’, my group was a mixed lot of people of various nationalities. So, the places and sightseeing described in the book are based on my own trip and I confirmed some facts related to the countries by browsing the net. That was all the research required.

NWI: What are some of your favourite Indian authors?

I used to love R.K. Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand; then my favourite books became ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ and ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri. Recently, I also liked ‘Jorasanko’ and ‘The Daughters of Jorasanko’ by Aruna Chakravarty though it is in a different genre from fiction as it describes the Tagore household.

NWI: Which character did you like the most from your book Skeins and why?

I like the character of Vidya the most. She is the only character that cannot find a way out of her dilemma and succumbs to the status quo due to her maternal instincts. I feel she embodies a fairly large percentage of Indian women.

NWI: Why did you put so much detailing into each character?

In contrast to the norm of one or two protagonists in a novel, ‘Skeins’ has 16 women characters and each of their stories is equally important. If I hadn’t detailed the characters, readers would have found it difficult to distinguish between them and keep up with 16 individual strands. Most readers do not like to step out of their comfort zone or tax their memory to decipher a different format.

NWI: What are you working on next?

I am working on a few ideas but I haven’t finalized anything yet. Most probably, I will bring out another collection of short stories.

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