“In reality, Any Woman Who Wants To Have A Meaningful Life Must Find Herself First”

Jane Ainslie, debut author of Chai for Beginners, talks to IBR about her experience in writing, her love for In and of course about people and relationships. Jane lives in Australia and has travelled to and within India several times.

IBR: First, the obvious one – why choose India as a major backdrop for your story?

Jane Ainslie: The contrast between life in Australia and life in India provides Sita, the main character, with an opportunity to see her life from a different point of view. It makes her question her own values and beliefs as she witnesses a culture completely different from her own. Of course, India is far more spiritual in outlook than Australia; so as that is a central theme for Chai for Beginners, it was a fitting backdrop to her story. On a personal note, I love India. I think it is one of the most amazing, wonderful countries on earth so I was thrilled not only to be able to write about India, but also to be published in India, with an Indian readership.

IBR: Who does Sita Sinclair represent?

Ainslie: Any woman who has searched for meaning in her life. It’s so easy to assume that having a husband, children, a great job, a huge house, etc. will fulfill you, but in reality I think any woman who wants to have a meaningful life must find herself first.

IBR: The characters in the book are diverse and yet they have gelled fine in the story.  How did you manage to weave them into the plot so well?

Ainslie: Sydney, and in fact most of Australia, is very multi-cultural so in everyday life most Australians know lots of people from lots of different backgrounds. Sydney is quite a progressive city as well and different lifestyles are well tolerated there. Weaving a diverse mix of characters was easy, because that’s what living in Sydney was like for me.

IBR: How do you connect the title and the story?

Ainslie: To be honest the book was originally titled The Legend of Sita.  Rupa Publications suggested changing the title as it would have given the wrong impression to Indian readers. I liked ‘Chai for Beginners’ as Mrs Sharma teaches Sita how to make chai and this is literally her first introduction to anything Indian. So the title, as well as being quirky, captures the fact that Sita is truly a beginner in discovering anything about Indian culture.

IBR: Broken relationships take a long time to heal.  What helps the persons involved to restore or repair their life?

Ainslie: I have met women (and men) who have never gotten over a love affair and they have destroyed their lives because of this. I think the only way you can really recover from a broken relationship is if you have a strong sense of self-worth. Otherwise you define yourself through that person and when they leave you, your sense of self-worth goes with them.

IBR: How long did you work/research for the book?  And the actual writing of the book, how long did that take?

Ainslie: The crucial research I needed to do for the book was about ensuring I represented Sita’s role in the Ramayana as clearly as I could. I know the Ramayana holds a very special place in the hearts of many Indians, so I was very aware I needed to get my facts correct. That took quite some time and was an on-going part of my writing of the book. The actual book took around two years. Then I decided to completely rewrite the book and that took another year.

IBR: What are your previous experiences in writing like?

Ainslie: Writing a book is not for the faint hearted and you have to be able to handle rejection! I’ve been writing for about 10 years and during that time I’ve learnt a lot about the art of writing, and a lot about the publishing industry. I would say to anyone who wants to write, be patient and write the story you would love to read.

IBR: Which is your favourite sentence in the book and why?

Ainslie: It’s the final sentence – ‘I was going home’.  I love this line because it is so short. In those four words Sita has completed her journey.

IBR: Your next novel?

Ainslie: I have completed a romance that is set in Melbourne and Paris, which I’m hoping will be published in India. It’s a novel to curl up on a couch with and read on an afternoon when you just want to relax and read a sweet love story.

IBR: Besides romance is there any other genre of novel writing you’d like to do, and why?

Ainslie: I’d love to write a murder story. I think it would be so much fun to try and write completely outside your genre, and I’m sure it would be a very gripping experience, if you had a good story to tell. However, I’m not sure I’d want to do all the research needed for such a story!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 9:05 pm and is filed under Interview, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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