When she was done with her last novel, Mistress, about the world of kathakali artists in Kerala, author Anita Nair decided she would write “a light, easy book”. Researching Mistress involved a lot of arduous digging into an esoteric subject and it had taken a lot out of her; she wanted to try her hand at writing the sort of comfort novel we often turn to when we don’t want to be emotionally or intellectually taxed, something she succinctly calls “refined chick lit”.
She discussed it with her editor, and got down to it with relish. It was not to happen. “A few months into writing this novel, which never saw the light of day, I realised that if I were to put in three to four years of my life researching and writing a book, I wanted it to have a certain heft and weight,” says Nair a trifle ruefully. “I love reading books by, say, an Alexander McCall Smith or a Maeve Binchy, and I would love to write something like that — easy, relaxing and yet extremely well-written. But I came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of time; it wasn’t me,” she adds.
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