Let me introduce Ananth by saying that he is one of the very few Indian authors who have ventured into writing erotic fiction successfully. His debut book, Play With Me has already hit the bestsellers list and receiving rave reviews. Published by Penguin India where Ananth has spent a major part of his professional life, I got an opportunity to interview him and here is what he had to say
Answer : It came out of a conversation during an acquisitions meetings; my publishers asked me if I’d like to write an erotic novel. We were talking about the success of EL James, and wondered why India hadn’t produced a good erotic novel.
Question : Your book has been receiving rave reviews from everyone who has read the book and has also entered the bestsellers list, how does it feel?
Answer : It does feel great. I was a little worried about the response, given the genre, and how it is difficult to write something that everyone finds enjoyable!
Answer : Play with Me, is a no holds barred novel that explores the relationship between pleasure and love, and what pleasure can do to love. I have always been fascinated with probability of things that can happen between two people who are attractive and attracted to each other – and what if they let go! what if they let their heart rule, and what if they were unapologetic about what they want from their body.
Question : The book belongs to a series, how many parts have you planned? What should we expect from the next part of the series?
Answer : I am going to write a sequel of sorts, called Think of Me. No it won’t be a series. In the next book, I pick up on an un-resolved relationship and incomplete sentences – there are certain aspects of sexuality that I’d like to deal with in that novel.
Question : Was it tough to write the erotic parts of the book? Did you ever fear that it might get a bit over the top for readers?
Answer : Yes, it was tough because I wanted the book to be enjoyable for women readers too, especially since the book is a first person man’s narrative. Over the top, no. I think the physical intimacy in the novel, is real and electric!
Question : Who got to read the first draft of your book? And more importantly, what was your reaction when you read the first draft of your book yourself?
Answer : I sent the third draft to 5 people whose opinion I trusted and I accepted some suggestions while rejecting some. By that time I had read the book so many times, as a whole and in parts and was fixing and re-writing all the time.
Question : What was the one fear that kept crossing your mind while you were writing your first draft?
Answer : Fear, no. I was worried, again, that the women in the book have to be etched well. Cara and Nat are diametrically opposite characters both of whom have a relationship with the narrator, and it was important that the distinction and especially, the treatment of both characters in respect to their sexuality was done well.
Question : You are always surrounded with authors because of your job. How does it feel to be on the other side of the business?
Answer : Honestly, weird.
Question : Who is Ananth Padmanabhan? What does he do in his life, in his free time apart from selling and now writing books?
Answer : I spend as much time as I can at home, with our five dogs. Hemali and I watch a lot of movies, which we love the most, besides reading of’course. I am also a photographer, so I spend a lot of time on that.
Question : What would be your advice to the people who are trying to write their first book?
Answer : Write what comes naturally, if you force something – it shows. Be disciplined, laziness shows too. Try not to be self-indulgent. And have fun in the process.
Question : Why should one read your book? Anything that you want to tell a potential reader that blurb of “Play With Me” doesn’t tell him?
Answer : Play with Me takes relationships and love beyond emotions, making them sensory as well and celebrates the power of touch, the power of physical intimacy and embraces the joys of sex.
That was Ananth with some crisp answers. I would like to thank him for taking time out for the interview. Play With Me is available at all the bookstores and online portals and here is my review of the book, just in case you wish to know what I thought about it.