Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s new novel, penned under a different name, is for younger readers

After the candid account of the life of a 20-something wading through life in the big city in her debut novel, “You Are Here”, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan continued in the same vein in her next, “Cold Feet”, which describes the lives of five women living in Mumbai. For her latest novel though, she has changed more than just her pen name, producing her first book aimed at the young adult audience. “The Life And Times of Layla the Ordinary” chronicles the life of Layla, a 16-year-old trying to cope with the pressures of teen-hood, who suddenly becomes popular.

In this interview the author gives interesting insights into the writing of the novel. Excerpts:

Why did you decide to adopt the nom de plume Minna Madhavan?

I wanted to differentiate between the books that I have written for adults and the ones that I write for younger audience. I do not want someone to pick up a book because it has my name on the cover, expecting the type of read they got from “You Are Here” and “Cold Feet”. Minna has always been my nickname, so it was the perfect one to use.

How did the idea for “The Life And Times of Layla the Ordinary” come about? What influenced the journal style of the novel?

I used to read a lot of fiction intended for young adults, I still do. So I always wanted to write this sort of fiction, but I was not sure if I could. I wanted to be able to put myself into the shoes of a teenager before I wrote it. I read through the diaries I used to keep in school to get into the right frame of mind to write the book. The journal style was a direct influence of the diaries. I liked the way I had written them and decided to write the book in the same vein.

What changes did your writing style undergo to make the novel palatable for young adults?

The change was not one merely of writing style. Reading through my diaries, I got into the mind of a teenager again. Once you are thinking like that, you write that way too. The journals were the template for the writing style that I wanted.

You also write a very popular blog. How are the claims of blog writing and novel writing different?

Writing a blog is easier. In a blog you do not need to consider making a plot move from A to B with a middle part. You have more freedom to write an entry without concerning yourself about the overarching framework of the plot. A book is more satisfying though.

What are the plans for Layla’s future?

I am working on another novel aimed for adult readers at the moment. I may write a separate book on one of the characters from the Layla universe, although I have no exact plans for that.