Balancing career, passion & family; ItemTalks with Shoma Narayanan

Shoma Narayanan is one of our favorite SuperMom who happens to be India’s first Mills and Boon author to be published globally – her books sell worldwide and has been translated into French, Italian, Russian, Tamil and Hindi.  She is also the author of her independent writing called ‘It’s Complex’. Other than her writing, she works for HSBC as the Head of Marketing.  Shoma Narayanan lives in Mumbai with her family.

Our discussion included a series of questions and here’s what she had to say about them.

What made you become a writer?

I’ve always loved writing, and when I saw an ad for a Mills and Boon writing contest some years ago, I decided to give it a shot.  The prize for winning the contest was a one-year mentor-ship program with one of their UK-based editors. There was a fair amount of hard work involved as I wrote, re-wrote and edited my first novel, but it was perhaps the most rewarding learning experience of my life.  Best of all, I had fun writing the book, and I was thrilled when it was selected for global publication.  After that, my next few books almost wrote themselves!

From the super boss of Marketing in HSBC to an author; how do you switch gears?

I usually stay focused on work during the week, and write only on weekends/ holidays.  So switching gears isn’t all that difficult, I just need to make sure that I plan my time really well.

How have you navigated your career, family and social life?

My family has been incredibly supportive through this journey, and so have my friends.  I’ve had moments when it’s all seemed a bit too much to handle, and every time, someone’s said or done something that makes it all seem worthwhile.

Being a busy mom, how do you manage kids efficiently and give them ample time?  

My kids always take priority over everything else that’s happening in my life.  When they were younger, I’ve used flexi working options that have helped me spend more time with them.  Now that they’re both in school most of the day, it’s all about making the time we have together in the evenings count.  We go for walks together, bake cakes/ cookies, struggle over complicated homework assignments, start ambitious art projects that we don’t always complete…. Both my kids read a lot, and that’s helped us bond over the years.

Amongst all the contemporary Indian English authors, whom have you read and who is your favorite?

I’ve read many books by Indian authors – I’ve always loved Amitava Ghosh’s writing style and I’m also a bit fan of Aravind Adiga.   I also like Samit Basu’s books as well as Anuja Chauhan’s and Ravi Subramanian’s.

For aspiring authors your career path (as an author) has been inspiring. How did you transition from Mills & Boons to Harlequin to your independent writings?

I’d written two or three books for Mills and Boon when the idea for a slightly different kind of story popped into my head.  Coincidentally, Rupa Publications had reached out to me around the same time, and I sent them the story outline – after a few rounds of discussions, I started writing ‘It’s Complex’.  I continued with writing for Mills and Boon as well, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to write a slightly different kind of book with Rupa Publications.

When can the readers expect your next book?  

Sometime towards the end of 2016

Lastly, any words of wisdom for our mothers who may struggle to find a balance between personal (child, husband, in laws, parents, and relatives) and her own (professional and social) world?

It’s all about getting your priorities right. Also making sure that at least your immediate family understands you and is supportive; In the long run, bringing up a happy, well-rounded child and living a fulfilling life is more important than making sure your child gets perfect grades or that your house is perfectly kept.  Once you start focusing on long term objectives, a lot of the things that we get stressed about on a day-to-day basis automatically fall into perspective.


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