Aditi Mathur Kumar is the author of Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life. The book deals with Pia’s story, a young woman who leaves her past life behind, when she becomes an army wife.
NAW- Tell us about your book, Soldier and Spice – An Army Wife’s Life. How did you get the idea for it?
Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life is my first book, and it tells the tale of a civilian girl’s first year as an Indian Army Wife. The life of an Army Wife is very different from her civilian counterparts, and they are called the Silent Ranks – the brave women who serve the nation along with their husbands. I was a complete civilian until I married a soldier, and realized that the army wife’s life is so much more than what the world thinks. I also realized that there wasn’t much written about this life, which lends itself so easily to humor, romance, tragedy and even suspense. This is why I decided to write it, so that Army Wives would relate to it, and others would know what it takes to be wedded to the olive green.
NAW- How long did you take to finish the book? How did you decide the title?
Honestly, it took me 2 to 3 months to write the book but in those months, I was only writing and writing and writing some more. I was pregnant, had taken a sabbatical from work and literally had nothing to do, so, on my husband’s advice, I started writing. Title was tricky, I started my first draft with the title ‘Confessions Of An Army Wife’ but by the first editing, I had already gotten bored of it. Also, who uses Confessions anymore as a title, right? Ha ha. I then played with a couple of more titles that sounded pretty smart in my head but were not a hit with the editors and my sample readers (consisting of my husband, sister and brother). Finally Soldier & Spice sounded good because of its fit – there’s a soldier and the Army Wife is the Spice to his life. It had to be all about the Army Wife after all!
NAW- Tell us about the character of Pia. How did you develop the character? Did you borrow from your own real life experiences?
Pia is a regular girl – she is a civilian, an ex-TV Channel employee (albeit a lowly paid intern – in my head) and a generally nice chatty girl. She is fun to be with, is very positive and those are her strengths. Pia is, however, not aggressive, nor is she capable to win a bitch-fight – she’d rather be nice and blend in, than stand out and make a point. And oh, she’s madly in love with Arjun.
NAW- What can a reader expect from Soldier and Spice?
Soldier & Spice is a love story, and that is what you should expect from it. The setting of this love story is present day Army life, which makes it fun and serious at the same time. It is a love story that does not end with a ‘Just Married’ board, but continues after it – when Pia enters the new, almost foreign world of her Husband, Arjun’s profession. I have been told a million times that readers loved the Pia-Arjun chemistry and some have written to me asking for more. A few reviews have stated clearly that thought the Army Wife life makes up for almost most of the story, Soldier & Spice is first and foremost a love story. I agree! Apart from this, readers get to experience the mysterious Army Wife life, from juicy army gossip to the possessive buddy (shayak) and everything in between. It gives you a taste of what real fear feels like, what it takes to hold on to strength even when the times are bleak. It’s a fun read though (even if I say so).
NAW- You are an army wife yourself. How difficult was it juggling responsibilities and finding time for writing a book?
Like I mentioned before, I wrote the entire story when I was pregnant, had taken a long sabbatical from work and was doing nothing at all. I was also living with my parents during the last six months of the pregnancy because my husband was at a non family station at the time. So, no juggling, only writing. And I wrote like a woman possessed, day and night!
NAW- Tell us about your publishing journey. How did your book find its publisher?
Now this is nothing short of a fairytale. I finished writing the story and sent the sample chapters to Westland books (primarily because I was reading Secret of The Nagas at the time and loved it). I got a reply in two days, saying they liked it, asking for the full manuscript. I sent it after a night of editing and signed a contract a few months later. Yeah, I know, I got incredibly lucky.
NAW- Tell us about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I am running round with my 2 year old daughter who is a bundle of kinetic energy. I love to read, so I try and catch up on some reading whenever I find time. These days it has gone from real books to ebook, mainly read on the tablet or even the phone because of a toddler in the house, but hey, whatever works, right? I have a full Army Wife life to attend to as well, so there are quite a few formal parties and Ladies Meets. I try to be active on Social Media as well, mainly Twitter. And let’s not forget the finger painting lessons I am currently taking from Gauri, my daughter. Art is important.
NAW- Please name your favourite writers. Are there any who you’d like to name as an inspiration?
Ah, this would be a long list. To name just a few – J.K.Rowling, Nick Hornby, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Sophie Kinsella, Kazuo Ishiguro, Neil Gaiman, John Green, Khaled Hosseini and Gabriel García Márquez.
NAW-What are you currently reading?
I read more than one book simultaneously, which is a weird habit that I can’t shake. I am currently reading two books. One is called ‘My Name Is Memory’ by Ann Brashares and “I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me” by Joan Rivers. Totally different genres and both are extremely good so far.
NAW- What will you be working on next?
Romance, hopefully. There are a lot of ideas in my head, but too little time. I’d like to do a story in the Soldier & Spice series as well, let’s see how that shapes up. Fingers crossed!