An Interview with Ritu Bhathal
I am delighted to be joined on the blog today by writer and blogger, Ritu Bhathal. Thank you so much for taking time for an interview with me, Ritu.
1 Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
Hello, all! My name is Ritu Bhathal, and I am an author, blogger, teacher, wife and mother, living in Kent, UK. I am a British-born Indian, born to Kenyan-born Indian parents, which gives me quite a colourful background.
2 What inspired you to become a writer/author?
From the moment I was old enough, I devoured books. When I was four years old, I was hospitalized to have my tonsils out, and my treat for being good, was the complete set of Noddy books by Enid Blyton. As I got older, I realized that in order for me to have these amazing books to read, there had to be someone there to write them. That inspired me to want to be able to write my own stories, for others to enjoy, and to hopefully see my name on the cover one day.
3 What is the best thing about being a writer/author?
Alas, I am not a full-time writer, but for me, the chance to share the stories that I have in my mind, and via my blog, to be able to verbalise my thoughts and share them via my blog are the best things about being a writer and author.
4 What is your writing routine like?
I don’t really have a particular writing routine, because my day job can sap me of energy fast. What I do ensure is that at some point, every day, I will try and write words, be it blog post, or part of my most recent manuscript. That is one of the most important things, if you want to be a writer. You must write!
5 How much time is spent on research?
Research is highly dependent on what I am writing. Some aspects are based on personal experience, so I can look inside for the information I need. I will always research places, dates, names and times for accuracy, if using something real as part of my writing. Right now, I am in the process of reaching out to a group of people for some interviews, with regards to a situation in the current book I am writing, so I can be sympathetic in my writing. This could be quick, depending on who replies, or slow, if I find it hard to get candidates happy to talk.
6 How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I tend to have an idea in my head of what will happen in the story. A rough sketch of the plot is created. Then I start writing. I tend to allow my characters take me to the destination by their actions.
7 What do you think is most important when writing a book? Characters, plot, setting, etc
All aspects are important for a good book, I think, but believable characters are a must, and a gripping plot are essential.
8 What is your latest book about?
My latest book is actually my debut novel, Marriage Unarranged. It is a story about a British Indian girl, and her journey of self-discovery, after finding out her fiancé was cheating on her.
9 What inspired it?
I was in the throes of planning my own wedding when the thought came to me: what if something were to happen, and the wedding got called off? (Mine didn’t, just so you know!) Broken engagements have been a taboo in our culture for a long time, and more often than not, the girl is the one whose name is tarnished, along with her family’s, even if the wrongdo-er was the boy.
10 Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
As a British Indian, I felt most comfortable writing about what I know. But I couldn’t find a specific genre for my writing, so I coined my own one – Chickpea Curry Lit. That’s Chick Lit with an Indian Twist!
11 How did you go about getting a publishing deal? Or how did you become self-published?
It’s always a dream, isn’t it, to see your book on the shelf at a major bookstore? With that in mind, I started my journey. Then as I learned more and more about the publishing industry, I realized how hard it was to find an agent, let alone a decent publishing deal. I submitted to a few places, and got what I like to call positive rejections, including some really encouraging feedback. Then, I looked into becoming an Indie author, and after a lot of research, and talking to many authors I know, I decided to go it alone. I have built up a great team of editors, cover designer, and beta readers which have been essential in my publishing journey, and with the backing and support of my blog followers, I have had quite a successful launch of my first book.
12 Any new books or plans for the future?
Oh, yes, indeed! The first book was initially a standalone, then some of the secondary characters shouted that they wanted their story telling too, so there are at least two more to come, spinning off Marriage Unarranged. I am in the middle of writing Book Two as we speak. I have several other ideas too, which I will explore once these two are written.
13 What authors have been an influence on your writing?
I feel that all authors whose books I read influence my writing in some way or another. The books I read in childhood, by the likes of Enid Blyton, and A.A. Milne, for example, ignited the spark to tell stories. As an adult, there are a huge number of authors who I love and admire, for their writing, their productivity, and their inspiration. At the moment, my favourite author is Amanda Prowse.
14 What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
Keep writing. I started my first book in 2000 but it was published in 2020. There were many big gaps in my writing time, when I allowed life to take me away from my dream. If I had been more consistent, this could have been achieved sooner, but then, I have learned so much along the way, I feel that now, I will write better, because of my experiences.
15 What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
No one can write a perfect book straight away. My advice would be to start writing, and keep going. The more words you write, the better you get, and the closer you come to finding what you are the best at. Read plenty too.
16 What has been your favourite book so far this year?
I’ve already read over 60 books this year so that is a tough question! One of my favourites was Dovetail by Karen McQuestion.
17 What is your all-time favourite book and why?
I have to be honest. I get asked this all the time, and I cannot pick one book as a favourite. There are far too many amazing books out there, I’d have a hard time to pick just one.
18 What genre do you read most often?
I have quite an eclectic taste in books ranging from easy read chick lit, to women’s fiction, to thrillers, to YA fantasy. I enjoy romcom Chick Lit where I can lose myself.
19 What are you currently reading?
I have just finished No Place Too Far and I will be starting The Phantom’s Curse by Shelley Wilson soon.
20 Anything else you would like to add?
As a reader, I’d like to thank all those authors who have provided me with such amazing books to read, and the inspiration to write my own.
As a writer, I’d like to thank the readers who have encouraged me, and to request that whenever you read a book, to review it. It means the world to authors to know what you thought of their book, which may have been years in the making.
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems and stories that she writes.
A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a side-line to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, https://butismileanyway.com/ , a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019. And her author blog, www.ritubhathal.com, where she writes about her writing journey.
Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
Social Media Profiles
Mailing list sign up https://www.subscribepage.com/ritubhathal
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Amazon profile: Author.to/RituBhathal
Poetic Rituals Universal URL: myBook.to/PoeticRITUals
Marriage Unarranged Universal URL: http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged
Marriage Unarranged Blurb
‘Chickpea Curry’ Lit — Chick Lit with an Indian twist!
started ended with that box…
Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…
Thank you so much for visiting me today, Ritu