The Writer’s Q&A – Radhika Sanghani
By Jade Craddock
Radhika Sanghani burst on to the scene last year with her debut novel Virgin and this month she’s back with the sequel, Not that Easy. She’s taken time out to answer our 10 questions on writing. ♥
1. What was the first piece of writing you can remember doing?
I used to write stories all the time as a child – I actually just found a poem I wrote aged five about bubbles and how they drift to the ground. It was awful but probably still better than any poetry I can do now (poems are not my forte!)
2. Did you always want to be a writer?
I did but I didn’t really know it was possible. I had no idea how to ‘be an author’ – there’s not exactly a traditional career path for it. So I decided to go for journalism instead as it seemed more accessible, and then a couple of years ago, I managed to become an author too. Now I feel like I have the best of both worlds which is amazing.
3. Who is your writing inspiration?
Oh god. So many people. I love the classics like Austen and Bronte, but also what I think of as the modern women’s classics like Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman. One of my favourite writers though is Mary Elizabeth Braddon – she was a Victorian novelist who wrote sensational novels and wrote more than 80 novels. She wrote huge books in months and was doing it to feed her six children. Whenever I get writer’s block or feel like I have too much going on, I think of her.
4. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Starting. As soon as I’ve actually written a synopsis of my idea, it all comes flowing. But I just struggle to sit down and plan. I really hate planning. I wish I could just make it up as I go along but I don’t think my readers would be so keen…
Books. Free time. Supportive mates. I need books to help remind me of what I’m trying to do, and obviously for procrastination purposes, but to actually get my books written I really need the time and good friends. That way when you’re having a panic that everything you’ve written is crap, someone can calm you down. Yes that’s an insight into my monthly panics when I’m writing.
6. Do you have a writing routine?
I try to write a few thousand words every Sunday. Because I write so much in my day job as a journalist it’s hard to do a lot in the evenings – I tend to just want to unwind – so yeah, weekends in a café is where I get most of it done.
7. How do you go about starting a new novel?
I just doodle notes on my iPhone. I’ve had my two last ideas on an aeroplane coming back from New Zealand, and on the Tube. Apparently I get really inspired on transport, so I just sketch out thoughts and then turn them into a synopsis. I’ll share that with my agent or publishers, then just start writing. I don’t do too much planning, because as I said I hate it, and that way the characters can naturally develop on their own.
8. What is your favourite part of the writing process?
I love when I lose myself in it. So when the characters become real to me and I can just forget about my life completely and just pour out the story. It’s such a nice feeling, it’s almost like meditation and mindfulness because you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that nothing else matters.
9. What is the biggest misconception about a writer’s life?
I think people assume it’s really glamorous – that you get paid loads, you have massive launch parties for books, and you’re kind of a big deal. Only that’s not really the case, especially when you’re just starting out. It’s actually a lot more like an average 9 to 5 than people might think.
10. If you could give your earlier writer self some advice what would it be?
I still feel like an early writer self! But I guess I’d tell myself to not be so attached to my books – sometimes they feel a bit like your babies but really they’re just ideas you’ve created that you’re putting out into the world. You can’t be too overprotective and care too much about the reviews. My best piece of advice to writers is never, ever read the comments.
Radhika Sanghani is a journalist for the Daily Telegraph, where she specialises in writing about women and women’s issues. She has an MA in newspaper journalism from City University London, a BA in English literature from University College London, and recently came in second in GQ’s Norman Mailer student writing competition. Not That Easy is her second novel.