Today I am please to welcome special guest Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, author of Mommy but Still Me and several other titles. I first met Mohana in her first year at Peace College, when I was a junior. After graduation we went our separate ways, taking very different journeys in life. However, out digital paths have crossed in light of the demise of Peace College. (Oh, it’s still there, but it is far from being the place where we once met.)
I had the opportunity to review her book Mommy but Still Me and am extra delighted to have the chance to interview her here. Not only has it been a great way to see where her life has taken her, it proves a wonderful opportunity to share her with all of you.
How did you come to be a writer?
I took the long path to writing, considering it a hobby while in university and even graduate school. Because I couldn’t make up my mind between a PhD and an MFA (which is the degree creative writers pursue) I went the academic route and finished a PhD in literature. Creative writing courses were my electives throughout the four years of graduate school. Then, when I moved to the Arabian Gulf country of Qatar, I had more time on my hands than ever before. Hours and hours at my disposal in combination with some of the most interesting stereotypes about Muslims, the Middle East, Americans, and South Asians (my background) circulating around me. The only way to think or reflect on all these changes was through essays and then later novels.
Given the diversity of your work thus far, how do you choose your subject matter?
I choose what interests me. Usually this begins with a question.
What would someone who wants love, but is raised in a traditional society, do to find happiness was the central question to my novel set in Qatar.
How do friendships fall apart and can they come back together was the idea I toyed with in my first published novel about women who met at Peace College.
When you start with a question, the moment of drama presents itself and then you follow the characters into the story itself to see what comes next.
Which genre do you prefer to write?
I like to have readers J. So this means fiction. Everyone loves a novel or will give it a skim. Non-fiction is much tougher sell.
What can you share about your various books?
They all have strong female characters at the center and they explore a particular aspect of identity that is at stake for modern women. Whether it’s marriage, motherhood, or career choices my books reflect the phases of life I’ve gone through and the issues that are important in each of them.
What else would you like to share?
I’m editing three books right now that will come out at various points in the spring. One is a historical novel set in Laos (East Asia) in the 1970s. Another is the first book I ever tried to write, a coming of age story, about a South Asian immigrant girl growing up in the U.S.
Within a few weeks – just in time for new-to-Kindle readers – I hope to launch, The Dohmestics, my second novel set in the Middle East about expat women and the maids who work for them.
Like my Facebook page so you can keep up to date on all the latest releases and free giveaways (I try to do one a month): www.facebook.com/themohadoha.
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She has since published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace. Most recently, From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. After she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines. Learn more about her work on her website at www.mohanalakshmi.com or follow her latest on Twitter: @moha_doha.