Rachna Singh is back with a new book very different from her previous ones; nevertheless the humour remains

Rachna Singh believes that her sense of humour is inherited, “My dad was a very funny person and I see it in my son as well,” she laughs, adding that while all her stories are bursting with humour, it is not as easy as it seems, “Humour is a tight-rope act. If you don’t get it right, it tends to either sound too vapid or overtly sarcastic.”

She certainly seems to have got the balance right. Both her earlier novels, Nuptial Knots and Dating, Diapers and Denial offer observations into life that are hilarious, refreshing and entertaining. She adds that her latest novel, That Autumn in Awadh is rather different from her previous books.

Talking about it she says, “It is a love story but not a traditional sweet one. It has a volcanic, seething, simmering core—almost like a thriller with plenty of twists. It is set in places like Awadh, Lucknow, Allahabad and Mussoorie in the early nineties before the age of cell phones and the internet. It is the story of a couple Samar and Sara who fall in love and the external and internal struggles they go through.

“There is no real villain here—the only villain is a deep psychologically constructed element called Izzat, loosely translated as shame , which is deeply entrenched in the culture of India and is a primary device in controlling and managing a social order in the system. There is also a bit of humour, mostly workplace humour.” The book does have elements from her own life in it, says Rachna, who like the protagonist Sara Shergill stumbled into the corporate jungle almost serendipitously. Perhaps it is that tryst in the corporate that translates into the way she views her writing, “Most writers believe that their writing is a creative outlet but I also think it means attuning yourself to the reader’s needs. It is perhaps part of my corporate exposure but I know we exist because of the customer. I am extremely conscious of keeping the reader engaged and making him crave to know more,”

Surprisingly, writing was never something planned, “I first started a blog and asked friends for feedback on it which helped me fine tune my writing. And then I thought it would be fun to write a book, so I did,” she says. She says, however, that writing the book came with its fair share of challenges, “My earlier book was an anecdote of things I saw in my life. This different because it is a single story, not anecdotal humour and the plot needs to be choreographed like a dance. Also, I was educated in a convent so writing about love and passion wasn’t too easy for me,” she says, mentioning however that she is planning to write another love story soon.