Popular romance author Ravinder Singh, who has written bestselling novels like ‘I Too Had a Love Story,’ ‘Can Love Happen Twice?’ and edited anthologies like ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’, feels that Indians have a never-ending appetite for love stories.
In a freewheeling chat with us ahead of the launch of a crowdsourced anthology titled ‘You Are All I Need’ that he edited, Singh, 38, speaks about love writing as a genre, writing diverse and representational stories, and a strong connection that readers, especially young ones, feel with love stories.
The anthology by Penguin Random House and Romedy Now features romance stories by 25 upcoming authors mentored by Singh. According to a top Romedy Now executive, Vivek Srivastava, the partnership has led a curation of a diverse anthology of stories that reflects different shades of love.
Edited excerpts from a telephonic interview with Singh:
Q: You have been writing love stories for a decade now. What are your thoughts on the Indian appetite for love stories?
A: (laughs) I think it’s never-ending. When it comes to romance or any genre, in any form of creativity starting from Bollywood movies to romance novels, they have infinite appetite. However, the trend has to change. It need not be the kind of love stories that we used to have a decade or two back. The new age of romance demands a new age of love stories, a new age of challenges and some challenges have remained evergreen also. We need to talk about them. So much is changing around us in terms of relationships, marriages, dating; so much has happened in the past couple of decades and the new age of reading loves to get a new perspective of what all is happening in the world of romance. Authors have to cater to this generation and write diverse romantic stories not just the boy meets the girl kind.
Q: Love writing in India is definitely more than boy-meet-girl. Love obviously has more forms, and is that something the anthology tries to capture?
A: It is capturing that. In fact, you will see a lot of different kinds of stories in the current anthology that I am bringing out. There were a different kind of stories in the previous two anthologies I had brought out a couple of years back. There are stories of same-sex, there is a story of somebody falling in love with a prostitute and there are all kinds of stories. It will be very difficult for me to bring out 25 stories in which there is only stories of boy meets a girl to fall in love. These challenges of these characters and plots are very different in each one of them. It is quite diverse, if I just limit it to a very simple ‘funda’ of a boy meet girl then no one would buy it.
Q: What do you think are the other themes we might see in your next stories?
A: I can speak of every book I have done in the past. Romance is primarily the engine however there are different things to touch upon. Road safety is something I touched upon in ‘Will You Still Love Me’ and at the end of the day, the entire message that the book delivers is about road safety. It is such a boring subject for many of us to talk about. However, for me, it is very important so I wrapped this entire thing in sugar-coated words of romance and I serve it to my audience.
A different love story which is “Your Dreams Are Mine Now”, it is a story of a girl from Patna to Delhi University, it is about why the youngsters are not taking an active interest in politics. Of course, politics may not be an interest for young adults in this country for whom perhaps Cricket, Bollywood, PUBG – which is now gone – is of active interest. At the same time, I felt why the 17-18 year-olds, the youth of the country, does not take an active interest in politics and I wrote a love story which is based on politics in Delhi University and these are the flavours I add in my writing time to time.
Q: Do you think it somewhat challenges the notion that romance is an easy genre to write about?
A: In Lucknow, one of the journalists once asked me ‘aap ye pyaar mohabbat par kyun likhte hain? serious issue par kyun nahi likhte hain? (why do you write on love, not on serious issues), and I smiled and I asked him that “aapko kyu lagta hai ye serious mudde nahi hai? (Why do you think love is not a serious topic).
I said: One of the reasons why people are depressed right now is because their relationships are not going right or something in their personal romantic lives, and look at the number of divorces happening in this country, look at the number of people who want to be in a relationship but are single. My point was that it may not be something that might appeal to you, at the age of 50. Imagine the pressure a boy and a girl facing who is perhaps in 11th or 12th, the pressure of being single.
Why are there so many extramarital affairs in dark and nobody talks about the, why one relationship is not enough, why does attraction come into place – these are some questions which in our society we have always swept under the carpet as hush-hush. I don’t think this is a problem and I think I should write about it, I should question and tell people that these kinds of thought passed by my mind.
My readership age group is young adults and at that particular age group, a lot of us make enough mistakes for ourselves because we are not mature. Somebody has to tell them that – I do understand what you are saying and it is complex and we need to talk about it.
Q: It can be very comforting to find a relatable story in a book at that specific age?
A: People come and tell me that they find comfort in my writing and the kind of pain I am going through, they are too. It perhaps makes them feel we are on the same boat and they are not alone. The whole pandemic was about that, we all are in this together. Not being alone is the kind of comfort people find in the love stories that they read.
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