The Interview or Friends Hanging out?

Reshma Ranjan with  Live Wire Rubina Ramesh


 Some call her the Head Mistress in The Book Club, some a Warden. She is a powerhouse, of different roles. A mother, a wife, a dreamer, a blogger, a novelist, a writer. But trust me when you get to know her you see the naughty, wickedly humorous, wacky and a little looney side of her as well. It’s easy to fall in love with all her avatars. She is that mother hen of the group who holds us together. She prefers to say it is like a family, an extended family where you fight, you discuss, you have fun, but it is one big family.

Me: Who is Rubina Ramesh?
Rubina: Ohh…I think you have answered me, I am a wife, I am a blogger, I am a woman, and more than that I think I am a mom. First and foremost I am a mom. But coming to your question of being a writer, well that was one of the last things I had ever thought would happen to me. I knew I loved writing. But writing a romance novel was never the part of the plan. I am a software consultant by profession, so from IT to management and then coming to writing-- it has been a different kind of journey for me most definitely. But writing did not come to me like that; you know it was like something clicked somewhere, some incidents happened in my life. It is always the pathos that makes a writer a writer. It is never the happy moments that brings out your deepest emotions. It is always sad moments. So yeah, I had to lose a few people in my life to realize I have to cry on my paper. So that is it I suppose...
Me: What is your fuel?
Rubina: When I am writing?
Me: Yea…
Rubina: Well when I am writing… I am a very emotional person but I generally don’t express my emotions to others unless I am very close to them. So if i am angry I dont express it verbally. Except to my husband, that is a separate issue. HaHaHa :D That doesn’t count. (She winks at me.) But as such with my friends, or if something happens in my life I will not express it. I will rather write it down. If you see all the tales in the Knitted tales: A collection of emotions -- they are all emotionally inclined.
Me: Very much. Very much.
Rubina: Each one came out when I was feeling something, somewhere. It is not related to the story. In fact, it has nothing to do with the story at all. I have not killed a person; naturally, no relative of mine is roaming about posthumously :P. But somewhere some anger has been fused into my stories. 

Maybe an article I read, or had a fight with my hubby, or had a word with my daughter or saw something from the outside world. It has always been like that with me.
Me: And it just triggers that? The moment?
Rubina: Those stories I had written it in one go. All of them.
Me: Wow!
Rubina: So when I am in that emotional state I can just write it down. But if I am not, nothing can make me write.  That’s why I am an indie (Independently) published author. Because I cannot follow rules. I hate rules. If somebody tells me this is the way I should write. My mind just shuts off. When an editor wants me to put a  special angle to the story I’m not comfortable with it. I I don’t know that.don't want to change. I don’t know whether it’s a good decision or bad one, but I’m what I’m.
Me: I think it is a good decision as I loved the book.
Rubina: Thank you. ( Her smile brightening up my screen) Especially ‘Finding the Angel’ you know, I had a lot of problem with that, many people wanted the mystery angle while others felt I need to make the villain crueler. But I am writing a romance, I wanted the softer elements there.
Me: But still the mystery was there.
Rubina:  It was just a tiny thread. It was not the main thread. OK, ultimately my goal was to see them happily married. Mainly because I was writing a romance novel.  Being attached to your novels is one of the biggest mistakes a writer can do. Sometimes it hampers your progress also. Right now I am writing a book which is about marital rape and believe me I get so emotional writing it, that I keep on closing it. It’s just that I cannot carry on with it. So some days I think I should stick to happy topics. Or else…
Me: It leaves you completely squeezed out of your energy.
Rubina: Totally, so…
Years and years amidst books reading, blogging, book tours and now she has a successful novel “Finding The Angel” in her kitty along with a collection of short stories “Knitted Tales” and another one soon to be released. (My other two one in white with a halo and pure white wings and the one in black with wicked red horns and I are doing a jig as we got to have this fun session with Rubina) 
When I thought of doing an Interview with Rubina I knew it wouldn’t be fun with few questions emailed and the answers emailed back. I wanted to catch her expressions and her animated self and… tada, Skype came to the rescue. She certainly is a bag of energy. It is very contagious just to see her live all animated and excited.
Me: My next question is what another genre would you have chosen if not Romance.
Rubina: Erotica. Because I am horrible in writing the romantic part of the stories and I want to take it up as a challenge. One day I will write. I don’t want to write BDSM or that kind, I want romance, “romance” to me as a romance writer is very important. Actually, I did try writing erotica, I will tell you frankly and Sundari Venkatraman asked me to throw it away. Do not try it also. Because ultimately I think what authors in the western countries want and what we Indian authors think are two different things.  We think in terms of the butterflies, the heart beats. Here the erotica are more about sex while we like the emotional impacts. We don’t like to see the stark nakedness. We want… I think we still live in the world….
Me: Where the flowers come in?
Rubina: Hahhaah…Exactly, you got it. Where the birds are flying and all. But though I put it in words I would like to get that feeling when I reading the books. So if I ever want to venture out into an unexplored territory, then it would be erotica. It’s out of my comfort zone and I want to check whether I can do it or not. Whether I can use the right words and create those right moments? That will be a challenge to me. I will write it one day I am sure of it. I am sure of that. But maybe when my kids are all married off. This is something I want to do some day.
During our talks, Rubina Ramesh became candid about “Finding The Angel.”
Rubina: You know what, I wrote Finding The Angel four years back actually. It was published as a short story. It was called You Stole My Heart. So in that, I was very hesitant to use Rajasthani words, and Indian words, because the thought process was that I am writing an English book so everything should be in English. I never knew there were so many Indian authors out there who were leaving a mark of their own in the publishing world.  Because of people like you and me --we are not Indian writers actually we are what they call “Desi writers” or NRI writers. We are coming from two cultures. We don’t know our Indian society and the changes it has gone through the last 20 years.  Indian society what we left behind is totally different from what it is now actually. There was a time when a boy and girl could not even meet but today there are live-in relationships; things have changed so much in India. So when I say the father got shocked upon hearing that his daughter kissing a boy, my beta reader asks me a why? 
We both ended up laughing…
Me: I can relate to that.
Rubina: She says, why? Why is the father shocked because they were caught kissing? She is 22 years old, working in a company so why is her father shocked?  Aren’t fathers supposed to be shocked? Why father would have been shocked. You can’t put that. The society has changed in India a lot. So this time when I went to India I have spoken to so many people and have met all the people because I wanted to get to know them and believe it Reshma, it has changed. It is no more what we had when we left India. Totally it has changed. Now a 16 year old is the very confident girl and she is no more a mommy sort of girl who is running after mom and all that stuff  They do their own thing. They are working in Mc Donald’s,  KFC and all those places. As things have changed we have to change our thought process also.
Me: I guess being away from that society we are stuck in old age.
Rubina: And that is coming out in our writings too so I am going to stick to the writing of what I know like an Indian coming to the US. You I know I am going to be more comfortable with that rather than… you know!
Me: I know you love Barbara Cartland books. We have spoken a lot about that. So which one book comes in your mind when you think of Barbara Cartland?
Rubina: Actually, frankly speaking, none. Because all of them were same in their own way. You know what I remember is the era, the time frame she created and the innocence that she retained it in all her stories. Today the women authors will not agree to Barbara Cartland. Today the readers will not agree to Barbara Cartland. But I don’t think so until today we had this modern women chicklet, what we call it, I hate that word though. But what we have today I don’t think they have been able to capture a woman. The woman is not about fighting men, women are not about raising issues and fighting it over. It is getting what you want in your own soft feminine way, but getting what you want. Definitely getting what you want. And I think even Barbara Cartland heroines, even if they were soft and fainted a hundred times, they cried and were a damsel in distress they still got what they what they wanted. Till the end, the hero was macho and cruel and by the time the story ended he was a putty in that girl's hand.
Me: Very true, they used to wrap the men around their finger.
Rubina: Totally. Whether duke or earl or anyone and I think she created them wonderfully. And she was not one of the damsels in distress. Barbara Cartland was quite a woman. 
Me: Very strong.
Rubina: Ya very strong woman. I…I always loved her. One day I like Barbara Cartland, the next day I like Nora Roberts and then Sydney Sheldon. But Barbara Cartland has been always my favourite.
Me: In present era which would be your favourite romance book
Rubina: Present era… they all are dying. I don’t like any one of them. If I have to stick to one romance till today its ‘Love story’. Nothing can beat that.
Me: Wow the classic.
Rubina: And second one if I want a very fiery kind of heroine and all that, I will pick ‘Gone with the wind’. These two are all time favorite. Modern I don’t think so. Nothing that I can carry in my memories.  Indian authors also if I think of it,  I think Indian authors are growing still. They have not reached; none of us have reached that point. Because English is not our language and we write desi English whether we like it or not, how much ever we try to prep it up we are ultimately writing about an Indian society so the words will come in and all these things it is taking you away from the English genre as such. So we have not reached that point. At least I have not found one. Amitav Ghosh is good, he is quite good in his writing. “Sea of Poppies” book is really good. And who else none…Sundari will kill me.   But if I like any book its Sundari Venkatraman. She is one of those writers who give light readers. You can read and forget and carry one with it, without taking any tension. I don’t like any pressure. I like some of the modern indie authors like Sunanda Chatterjee, she is good, her books are coming out quite good. The interview progressed into a fun chat, an absolute fun chat…But now and then we remembered to pitch in to the interview…
The interview progressed into a fun chat, an absolute fun chat…But now and then we remembered to pitch into the interview…
Me: So the next question, a book you wish you had written?
Rubina: ‘Gone with the wind’, always…
Me: Is there something you would change in it?
Rubina: Change? Maybe  the ending. As they don’t have an happily ever after and even if Scarlett was written after that I don’t think they caught the nuances because Margaret Mitchell was not there after that. So that feeling you know I don’t think the next writer could bring in. But if I would have done that, there should have been been a HEA moment. They went through with love in their heart and I think I would have kept it … I would have made them come together. Even if the girl would be begging or the guy would have changed for her. Whatever it was Rhett Buler and Scarlett O’ Hara were meant to be together and I wanted them to be together. Yeah,, that part I would have definitely changed. Or maybe I would have made Scarlett tender hearted a bit more because she was very cruel in some instances but not much. She had that fire, she had that… everything going for her. She was a bad girl during that time.You know at that when women were supposed to be nurses and cure and be gentle all Florence Nightingale. She was the bad one. She hated everything about it. Because I could relate to that, because I hate to do with any house hold works but we have to do it. It’s not that I love doing it. It’s a necessity and I felt during those days and all she was the one who showed me I could fight against the norms of the society. So I think I have learnt a lot from her. I would have given her a happy ending. Definitely! 
Me: When do you think you are the wackiest?
Rubina: I think from the time TBC started in my life, it has been a roller-coaster I mean every day I have a deadline… Every day we are rushing, fighting, arguing, and becoming friends again.. It's quite a great thing you know, the way the people have come together and we are all working together for the same goal some are succeeding some are not but still we all are pushing each other. I think we have found a family outside the family, At least I take it like that. I don’t know how others take it. But I take it like that. So and touch wood I would say that all the members have helped me some way or the other in my writing journey. So from Sundari to  Surabhi Sareen whether it is Sonia,  Dola or Janaki anyone you know, like somewhere.. even you so many times I have shared ideas with you too... so this is something I cannot do in my house. Try having these conversations with your family members and they end up giving you that …
Me: Yaa, the blank expression.
Rubina: “What are u talking about expression”. Because yesterday my question to my hubby was,’ so if I want to divorce you how will I be able to divorce you and still stay in this country?’  He thought I was speaking about us. I was not. I was talking about my character Maya. 
Me: You know this is the second time you have mentioned the way you have shocked your husband.
Rubina: (smiling) Yes, I so love doing that. Now coming to Maya I am like stuck with the legalities of the stories. Cannot say much here but yes research is going on. I have to make her stay in the USA with her husband .. hahahah ..
Me: Wouldn’t that be illegal?
Rubina: Exactly now I have to make it legal. How do I make it legally happen? That is something I am trying to work it out. 
Me: I remember, you had once told him you are having an extramarital affair, just to get his reaction.
Rubina: Ohh Ohh don’t remind me of that. I wanted to see the reaction of a husband so I go and tell them that sort of thing. That is one person I am sure who will not back bite me. I cannot do it with my friends. But sometimes I do a lot of shocking things with people and they literally don’t get me. Ok and some of them have really asked me “ are you really talking to me or are you talking to one of your characters. I have said I am not writing a book right now. And I was really talking to you.  It has happened a lot I suppose. The recent times I have been writing one book after the other. We live in that zone. You will find the difference in you too… all these days you were thinking of writing and now you are writing.
Me: Yes, it makes a big difference.
Rubina: Very big difference. Now you feel professional also.
Me: Yaa, confident.
Rubina: Total! Totally a different experience! I suppose you know one more thing is Amazon has been great in this way it has given us identity we wanted.I think that is the biggest thing… and thing is, it is making everyone angry with me because I am openly declaring it. So I don’t care. Till we can carry on we can carry on.
 
Our conversations continued through paths so wonderful. My other two and I are having hearts but big huge stars shining in our eyes. One moment which I really loved was when Rubina said:
Rubina: In fact, I went on telling them I am a crap writer, I write crap stories and I love reading my crap stories.
Here the ‘them’ being the publisher.
Me: I like that. That’s going to be my heading.
Rubina: Please don’t kill me as a writer. But yea, I have always been very clear about it.  I am not here to preach.  I am here to entertain. We are entertainers also.. Not that I cannot write meaningful tales. That’s why made a point to make sure that knitted tales came first and then ‘Finding The Angel’. Otherwise, they would have called me a floozy writer. I know that too. I have been in this market for many years. 
Me: OK…I understand what you are saying. Now of all the roles, you are playing a mother, blogger, wife a dreamer. Which part is the most dominant?
Rubina: Dreamer!
Me: Ok, I am not surprised.
Rubina: Always, because as a mother also I am dreaming something for them. Ok, ( with that wicked wink) for a wife I am dreaming of the perfect marriage. We always dream. And if we don’t have dreams we are not what we are. I like dreaming a lot but thank fully touch wood now whatever I have dreamt at least 80 percent I could translate. TBC also was a dream. That time blog tours were not there though I was doing it. But people thought it was a new concept. It was nothing new. I  have been doing it for a long time. 
Me: So that’s your driving force?
Rubina: You don’t have to close your eyes to dream. I dream a lot.
Me: ‘You don’t have to close your eyes to dream’, I believe that.
Rubina: Every fiction stems from a reality. Somewhere I need to have that reality, the base, all, whatever I describe, my surroundings are always real it is not imagination. Most of the time I do describe my friend’s house. The happy feel or sad feel in the house... those things fascinate me as a writer. 
Me: In your novel ‘Finding The Angel’ the story, there is sweetness and there is a softness, a little sadness also. At times…
Rubina: Sadness? Where did you find the sadness?
Me: When she goes back from him the pain she goes through.
Rubina: You felt it?
Me: Yes.(I doubted was I not supposed to feel sadness?)
Rubina: You told me you felt it thank you so much.
Me: I was her you know, I was in her shoes.
 Rubina: That’s the biggest compliment I could have got. That’s the biggest compliment you can give to any writer.  Thank you.
 Me: I felt that I was going through her life with her. So my question is, did you plan some other path for Shefali and Aryan?
Rubina: There when I first wrote the book the sister was the villain. I wanted to carry on with her. Then I found out that I didn’t want a family member so close to being the villain. You know for me family is very meaningful I didn’t want to take away that from him. 
And then again, what started as an interview went on and on and on and became a chat session. You don’t know the pleasure and the elation one feels when speaking to someone who’s thought the process and fun matches to your temperament.
Finally, when I finished transcribing our chat session onto paper it ended up being a twenty pages long. And guys I am not sorry to say I will give you only snippets of our fun chat. I can see you guys getting angry…But my other two and I had a great time talking to Rubin for two hours. If it is meant to be you all will get another dose of The Interview or Friends Hanging out-  with Rubina Ramesh.


Rubina Ramesh

Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.
Check out her author profile and books on Goodreads and Amazon

Comments

  1. It was a breezy interview. Enjoyed it very much.

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    1. Thank you, Paromita Goswami. It was a fun session. :-)

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  2. Hi Reshma,
    I really don't know what to say. I have never done such a raw interview. Where every action of mine is translated to words. Made me feel humbled by the sheer magnitude of the work you have put in for me. How you transcribed our convo I have no clue but thanks for this awesome job. Heartfelt thanks.

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    1. It was absolutely great chat. Since I had recorded our conversation it was easy for me to remember your reactions and gestures... And trust me it was fun going back to our conversations, as I listened again and again our conversations, the whole thing played in my mind. We have to do this again for your next release. ❤❤❤

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  3. Hmmmm.... I WISH, OH HOW I WISH: That you had posted the video here instead of the transcription Reshma. :P
    Otherwise, this is simply awesome, not just because I see my name there so many times ;)
    Rubina has helped ME realise my dreams, so I know exactly where she comes from. Splendid interview indeed!
    One thing I strongly object to though Rubina. YOU ARE NOT a crappy writer. STOP saying that right now. If romance is crap, then more than a billion people in the world are reading only crap. Our reality is crap. It's so awesome to go into the rose world of romance books day after day. I do it all the time.

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    1. Thank you.❤❤❤Sundari Venkatraman. And I totally agree never say crappy again. Knitted Tales and Finding the Angel are the proof to prove that. And I too love to escape into the rosy world of romance. It can never be replaced by anything else.❤❤❤

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    2. Now I really wish I had learned how to record a Skype call😜. It would have been even more fun.

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