Ashwini Rudra was born and raised in Arrah, a small town sixty kilometres from the state capital of Bihar, Patna. He received his elementary education in Arrah and Patna. In 2007 he completed his Engineering Degree from VTU and moved to the U.S. (Groton, Connecticut ) thereafter, to work with a pharmaceutical company to develop applications for life scientists. Living in solitude for more than a year, he started creating and weaving stories for killing time. Later, it became his passion.
Delhi via Lucknow is his debut novel. His first book, a Hindi story collection, Amerikistan, was an Amazon bestseller. Currently, he lives in Matawan, a small town in New Jersey. He claims to be a simple man with a small-town attitude for life which he intends never to shed.
TBE: I absolutely liked the book! It is such a beautiful story about friendship, love, loss and second chance. Can you tell us a bit about your book ‘Delhi via Lucknow’ and what inspired you to write it?
Ashwini Rudra: I grew up in a small town and have seen many stories where young at heart folks were torn between making a career and the distractions caused by infatuations or love. ‘Delhi via Lucknow’ is an inspired, dramatized, and exaggerated version of what I had seen or heard from others. I just knitted them using a story thread and weaved a novel.
TBE: Delhi via Lucknow explores themes of second-chance romance. It is fresh and well-paced, and its characters are beguilingly complex. Can you tell us about your main characters, Himanshu and Rimjhim?
Ashwini Rudra: If you read the novel, you would know that Himanshu’s affection or love was one-sided, and Rimjhim never liked him. But it is also a story of realization that any unrequited affection or unfulfilled love in life is okay. We need to learn how to let it go. We get attracted to many people. Every attraction is not love. The character arc of Himanshu depicts this theme. Himanshu is very vocal and pugnacious. Rimjhim is the opposite. She is an introvert. She shunned her desire and ambitions and succumbed to patriarchy. But eventually, she shines due to the love and path shown by another protagonist, Bechu Mishra.
TBE: The Lucknow airport plays important role in the story. Tell us a bit about why and how did you choose the airport over other places to have your characters accidentally encounter one other. What do you love about the setting of your book?
Ashwini Rudra: I think, in our middle-class society, airports show progression. In the early phase, we use bus or train for our travel needs and later when we do good in life, we switch to airlines because we can afford it. I wanted to put this notion to readers that both characters are established and financially sound. The airport in the background shows that the characters are successful professionally, but are they excelling in their personal life too? For that answer, readers need to read further. The setting is in Lucknow and Kanpur during the late 90s. I love Lucknow’s tehzeeb and Kanpur’s rawness. I have tried to bring these colloquial flavours through a few Hindi dialogues and characters’ nuances.
TBE: Beyond the satisfaction of the happily-ever-after ending, in your opinion, what else does reading a romance novel offer its readers?
Ashwini Rudra: Romance novels are emotionally intense while depicting human behaviour. I don’t think it is always happily-ever-after. The Great Gatsby or Devdas do not have that ending. But, if life is a journey and romance is like a season in our young, adult or silver ages, these novels offer a zest of nostalgia with a sweet pang of pain. We always crave connections, and we all love it to know that others have gone through similar feelings which we encounter.
TBE: What does your writing process look like? Do you map story out from start to finish or do you begin with an idea and see where it takes you?
Ashwini Rudra: My style is a mix of both: plotter and panster. I prefer an omnipresent storytelling structure. I outline my story first, create a map then write the scenes like a panster. Then, I connect the dots for plausible characters’ arcs and logical plot twists. I do multiple passes. I add humour, emotions, and sensory details at the end. In the writing process, I also ensure that I’m not deviating from the outlined point-of-view and theme.
TBE: Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Ashwini Rudra: This was my debut novel, so every step or process was a learning moment. Initially, there were many rejections. I took guidance from established writers. I learned what mistakes I was making in my synopsis, cover or proposal letters. Later, I fixed them and received acceptance by a few publishers. I was mentally ready for any adversity, so I did not find any surprises. I don’t live by my pen; therefore, I was able to keep my anxiety under control.
TBE: How was your publishing experience with Leadstart?
Ashwini Rudra: The processes, from manuscript evaluation to marketing plan, are smooth and transparent. They take the author’s input at every step, including cover design and type-setting. I enjoyed working with the editor, cover designer, publishing manager, and marketing and sales team. They all are very professional.
TBE: Ultimately, what do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Ashwini Rudra: It’s not a preachy book. I think there are no takeaways like non-fiction. I hope readers can relate and connect with the characters and learn that falling in love is okay even if it feels wrong. And I want them to smile when they read the last line and put down the book.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Ashwini Rudra: Yes, I’m working on my next novel. This time, I’m venturing into a different genre and writing style. The setting is colonial India and the theme is man-animal conflict.