She resides in Texas, USA with her husband and son, and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, spending time with her family, and learning and raising awareness, in her small way about Autism and invisible disabilities, in her circle of friends and family. She believes in following dreams, making choices, making mistakes, and continuous learning, continuously and relentlessly.
TBE: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Mamta Kashyap: One of the best things about the book, in my opinion, is character of the protagonist. She is a person you meet every day, she is not perfect, she is not a victim, she is not an amazon, she is self-doubting, confused, yet determined person. She is you and me! I could not include those features of her in the blurb.
TBE: You talk about some difficult topics in ‘An Unusual Honeymoon’ and yet manage to make readers laugh on every other page. Where did the inspiration come from for this extraordinary novel?
Mamta Kashyap: Thank you! While the setting and premise of this novel is ‘absurd’, as in illogical and unreal – you do not accept a random proposal just like that, yet there are some part of it which rings true. I had read some redditt posts about how a bride was jilted at altar and she decided to not sulk, she decided to celebrate, to go ahead on her honeymoon on her own. One of those posts were my inspiration, I though those women were brave to take it in stride and go for a ‘uni’moon and awesomely lucky to have escaped a broken marriage in future.
TBE: What I loved about your book is the authenticity of the characters you create – they feel like they could jump right off the page! How do you come up with these characters? Do you model them after people you’ve met?
Mamta Kashyap: Yes, I have met Mahasweta, all of us have a Mahasweta in our hearts – scared, doubtful, anxious and with all this, in spite of all this, brave, courageous and strong. This is a romantic comedy, a chick flick with an ‘absurd’ setting, but it’s so much more than that. I personally love Mahasweta, not because I wrote her, but because I identify with her and because I have been told that many others do too.
Rest of the charaters – Rahul, Naani, they are larger than life, too grand, they exist only in the book!
TBE: Your book has been entirely told in the point of view of your female main character, Mahasweta. Why do you think you gravitate towards this way of telling a love story? Have you ever thought about writing from the perspective of both halves of a central couple?
Mamta Kashyap: I know that using the first-person perspective is full of bias and I did not give the readers a chance to peek into the minds of other characters, however, if given a chance, I would not change that. This story belonged to Mahasweta, revolved around her, was about her and for her. Everyone else played secondary or tertiary roles only. Would I always write a romantic genre with two perspectives in my mind – I am not very sure of that, but I think yes. May be because, I am a woman and I can imagine, visualize and think what would go on in a woman’s mind much better that I can do for a man’s perspective! Also, it would be unfair for me to figure out and put words to a man’s feelings a thought process!
TBE: Speaking of perspectives, there is a lot going on in Mahasweta’s head throughout the book. How did you get into her headspace?
Mamta Kashyap: If there is one thing that I would like to change, it is that! In hindsight, I think I focused too much on giving words to her feelings and made it all very crowded. Instead of ‘telling’, I should have ‘showed’. Having said that, we all do that, we say something, but mean something else. Our minds cautions us against saying what we want to, fear of rejection, social appropriateness and politeness govern those caution.
TBE: In your writing, what is your secret for creating and holding onto romantic tension?
Mamta Kashyap: Even if the premise of the story is absurd, the tension and chemistry is real. Its filmy but not a fairy tale. I think it stemmed from seeing observing my own life and life of other couples around me, having seen love, and beauty of it makes you want to put it on paper with a fair amount of addition of flair!
TBE: What do you think readers are looking for in a romance novel? What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
Mamta Kashyap: I have grown up on M&B and Harlequin Romance, hidden between the academic books and/or covered with the jacket of textbooks. Most of us are, I guess. We lapped up the drama, over the top romance, turbulence, chemistry and larger than life characters, damsel in distress, knight in shining armor. But I think as I grew up, that kind of romance took a beautiful spot in nostalgia. Today I think most readers want at least a part of it to be real, and when it comes to female protagonists, they don’t want a distressed, disappointed, victimized heroine, they want a fighter, they want to read about someone who knows what she wants. I think our taste is evolving with the society.
I hope that readers connect with Mahasweta, feel what she feels and know that those feelings are real.
TBE: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Mamta Kashyap: Oh yes, I read. The more I read, the less I know, and the more I want to read.
Stating that any author is my favorite would be wrong. From Ruskin Bond to William Dalrymple, Jane Austen to Margaret Mitchell, JKR (only for her writing skills and not her opinions) to Sidney Sheldon, Premchand to Mannu Bhandari, Mahasweta Devi to Dushyant Kumar – they are what guide me, teach me, and make me want to learn more.
I have learned that If I want to write, then I have to read and read good, quality books, look at what and how they are writing, and their research methods. I have to learn from them.
TBE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Mamta Kashyap: I am a full-time mother, first and foremost. That is why I started to take action towards my dreams and started writing. Something, just for me.
I am also an advocate for inclusion and neurodiversity, in my own small way I want to make more people, at least in my circle, aware about Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and invisible disability.
I also love cooking and experimenting in my kitchen.
TBE: Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
Mamta Kashyap: Not many would believe it, I am not a big fan of romantic genre. But I love thrillers and my next work would be one such attempt. I am working on it, on a little slower pace than I like. But I am hoping that it would be worth it!