Radha Thomas was born in Tamil Nadu, grew up in Mumbai and Delhi and then left for the USA to pursue her dream of becoming a jazz singer. She is also a trained Dhrupad singer and currently works for in Bangalore as VP Business Development. She has penned ‘Men on My Mind’ and the just released sequel, ‘More Men on My Mind’.
NAW- When did your literary journey begin? At what age did you discover that you wanted to write?
I must have been six or seven when I first started to write poems. If I remember right, I moved on to writing songs. I didn’t start writing prose seriously till later, and I had no real plans to write a book… or three for that matter.
I used to write a column called ‘Between The Sexes,’ for The Bangalore Monthly, which sort of set the stage for the books.
NAW- Tell us about your book ‘Men on My Mind.’ Were you focussing on a particular market when you decide to write it?
No I wasn’t. I’m not up on ‘markets’ and ‘demographics’ and ‘age-groups’ and other distinctions that I understand are important for business. For me, writing has to be real. I’m not trying to touch anyone’s heart either, only their funny bone. I like writing humour and mildly sexual humour interests me. We take things too seriously around here. Someone has to keep things light or we’ll become a bunch of thud-brains.
NAW- The protagonist doesn’t mind sleeping around before she can find the right man. The book is a pacey and nice read but the ending sort of fizzled out, did you do it deliberately so there would be scope for a sequel?
The point of the book is that the protagonist needs to sleep around so she can find the right man. In fact, in America, where the book is mostly set, it is a legal requirement. They tell you this at immigration when you arrive. “You must sleep around before you get married. We are trying to improve our divorce statistics.”
The ending was deliberate. Not a fizzle but a sizzle. It was a deliberate cliff-hanger if you will, since a) there was another book coming out, and b) how long can you make one book? I didn’t want it to become an eight-hundred page paperweight.
My just-released new book, a sequel, ‘More Men On My Mind’ picks up where ‘Men On My Mind’ leaves off. So there is a definitive method to my madness.
NAW- How did you come up with the title? Who designed the cover?
The title? Hmmm, it kind of popped into my head and the publishers liked it too. The artwork was entirely conceived of by the designers at Rupa. They have a great team.
NAW- Tell us about yourself? What do you do when you are not writing books?
Besides catching a ton of TV, I’m also a jazz singer. Have been for many years. I have a band called UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble. I perform with them sometimes. I also perform with just a piano player at times. It all depends. I just returned from a jazz festival in Romania. I’ve been singing much longer than I’ve been writing actually, so being an author is kind of new for me. When you perform with a band you’re subject to the whims and what nots of the other members of the band. Writing gives you your own space. It’s a different feeling. Aside from my own books I review other people’s books and write the occasional column. I used to work for a publishing house called Explocity, but I’m kind of stepping back from that to focus on writing and singing some more.
NAW- Did you carry out any research for the book? If yes, then how did you go about it?
Oh research is everything. Fortunately there’s Google, where you can dig up anything and everything. The story came from my head, but it’s set in places that I’ve been to but mostly forgotten. So refreshing my memory was a key part of making the story credible.
NAW- What are you reading right now?
I can’t read other people’s books while I’m writing my own. Just like I can’t listen to other people’s music when I’m trying to compose a song. It’s intrusive and there’s every chance that my creativity will be compromised. I’m working on my third book so basically that means research.
NAW- Please name your favourite authors.
PJ O’Rourke, PG Wodehouse, William Safire, Dr Peter Mark Roget. Noah Webster. I am certain all of them have influenced me. Especially Peter and Noah.
NAW- What are your upcoming projects?
My third book. My second album. Hopefully more concerts. But since I’m not driven to compete, I like the idea that I can sit around doing nothing hoping serendipity will fall on my head.