Milan Vohra, of Mills & Boon fame, talks about her latest novel, Tick Tock We’re 30

“My book simply reflects the challenges faced by the young people of today,” says Milan Vohra, India’s first Mills & Boon author, who has just released her latest novel Tick Tock We’re 30 — a story about friendship, love and finding oneself.

The written word has always fascinated Milan. “I would slip into the back rows of the English literature classes while doing my degree in Economics. In fact, I had a major attendance problem due to that,” she laughs. And though she did sit through B-school entrances, she soon dropped out and joined an ad agency. “I have been in this industry for 20 years now,” she says. This background in advertising did fine tune her writing to an extent, she adds. “Advertising exposes you to different styles of writing and teaches you how to communicate more effectively,”

Her transition from an advertisement professional to a writer was almost serendipitous. A mail detailing Harlequin Mills & Boon’s attempt to find writing talent from India through a short story contest was forwarded to Milan by a friend and she spent her anniversary night frantically typing out her entry. The story was shortlisted and she went on to write a full length novel titled, The Love Asana. The novel is set in India and has the usual mélange of romance, passion and complications that characterise a Mills and Boon novel but it also does have a distinct desi touch to it, “You can’t transpose culture, after all,” says Milan. “I get my material from the things and people around me.”

While she admits that she loves her undiluted romances, she also wanted to experiment with other genres of writing. Unlike a typical Mills and Boon novel, which focuses on an intense, conflict-ridden romance between a man and a woman, Tick Tock We’re 30 is a story of a number of nice, normal, interesting people from varied backgrounds. “I grew up in a little India and had a mixed bunch of friends,” says Milan. This made it easier for her to flesh out the twelve major characters of the novel. “Most people come away feeling that they know these people. I really had a blast deciding what to do with whom,” she adds.

The reunion of these characters that have grown up together and their dynamics form a major part of this novel. But romance certainly doesn’t take a back-seat here. In addition to various other love stories, the novel is devoted to the underlying chemistry between Lara, the protagonist, and Nishad, with whom she has made a pact with to marry if she has not found love by the time she is thirty. Although she finds herself getting attracted to him, Lara doesn’t want to give in to Nishad and so conjures up Perzaan — a gorgeous Turkish man who works as a flame bartender at a local club to pass off as her love interest. Altogether a rather volatile situation that escalates into an absolute laugh riot.

“I like using humour to get through life’s challenges,” says Milan. “I write because I enjoy it and if I’ve done what I have to do right, my readers will enjoy it too.”