Delhi-based author and blogger Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan wrote a bunch of short stories in the hills in the Summer of 2011 that eventually took the shape of a novel, Cold Feet . Although the “fun and light” novel follows the lives of five girls, Meenakshi says that she wanted “to write about Indian women and marriage and the pull between the traditional and modern.”
Meenakshi, daughter of Malayalam writer and IAS officer N.S. Madhavan and journalist Sheila Reddy, was in the city for the launch of Cold Feet at Oxford Bookstore. Her first book was the semi-autobiographical best seller You Are Here , followed by Confessions of a Listmaniac .
The book is an exploration of each girl’s relationship with their respective partners. The girls don’t have much to do with each other until the end of the book. “They drift apart and come back together in the end. The novel shifts back-and-forth in time as well.”
Said to be India’s answer to Bridget Jones, Meenakshi doesn’t approve of the term chick lit. “Novels are universal. I object to the gender classification of books.” Which character did she like writing the most? “I can’t choose any one character, but I enjoyed my lesbian character. And I liked writing the parts I set in Goa. It was a bit like going for a holiday myself,” says Meenakshi in a clipped upper-class accent.
“The character who gets married gets some cold feet before marriage. You also get cold feet before any major decision, before a new job, a new relationship,” Meenakshi explains the title of the book.
Meenakshi is a spontaneous writer. “I do a little bit of plotting in advance, but not lots.” Her blog the Compulsive Confessions , in which she writes under the pseudonym eM, has quite a following.
“In my blog I can play around with form and content. It also helps me to see how readers respond to my writing.” Cold Feet has appealed to a slightly older age group and reached a whole new audience, something that has come as quite a surprise to Meenakshi. “I have also matured as a writer. As an angsty 19-year-old I have written poetry like ‘this is for the boy with the Labrador eyes’”, she laughs.
Meenakshi admits that she spends a lot of time on social networking sites. “Social media makes a lot of people more open, but a certain kind of person more private.”
Meenakshi feels strongly about women’s rights, particularly in the wake of the recent horrific rapes. “Someone asked me you can change a lot through your writing. I think the more we talk about such issues, the more people who make decisions can make the change. I just hope people don’t get exhausted talking about it.”
Meenakshi’s next book will be non-fiction work, a collection of personal essays about Feminism. “You could add a disclaimer that it might turn out to be something else,” she concludes.
Cold Feet has been published by Penguin Books India and is priced at Rs. 250.