Tarana Khan wears multiple hats: she is a teacher, also the author of I’m Not a Bimbette, and now the founder of the Rampur Book Club. We asked her about her writing processes, and whether her students regularly make an appearance in her novels or not. Read on:
Do you write everyday? When and where do you write?
When I am working, I write in the middle of chaotic school time – in between classes and chasing boys (my dream job!) who, for some reason, want to come to school and run back home. I scribble or type furiously trying to hang on to my thoughts. My real writing happens on Sundays and on holidays at my desk, in the morning, before the domestic to-do list starts clouding my mind space.
Do you listen to music while you write? What’s on your playlist at the moment?
I don’t always listen to music while writing. I prefer to hear the voice of my characters in my head. But when I am pensive or feeling a little low, I put on Mozart’s symphonies, especially Symphony 40 in G minor. It always peps me up and gets the words flowing. My playlist is a heady mix of Michael Buble, Adele, some Blues, Coke Studio and ghazals by Faiz. A recent addition are Persian pop songs by Shad since I am trying to learn the language.
What’s your go-to-site for distracting yourself while you write? Or do you refuse to browse while writing?
The internet is very distracting, but such an amazing resource when you need to do a bit of research. I generally get on to Twitter and read up articles on books and writers. I follow a number of publishing magazines and authors. I also watch and listen to podcasts on writers talking about their books and characters. I find them very inspiring.
Tell us about the Rampur Book Club — how did it come about?
Rampur is a small town with big memories and little learning. We don’t even have a bookshop, but we have the fabulous Raza Library set up by Nawab Raza Ali Khan, and it has a unique collection of rare manuscripts, some of which came as dowry when the nawabs married (the current library used to be the durbar of the nawabs). When I read a book earlier, I could only discuss it with my aunt or my cousin over the phone. But I wanted to talk about books with others, then I came up with the idea of starting a book club. I sent out messages to some friends and that’s how we set up the ‘Rampur Book Club’. Although we are just eight ladies — teachers, homemakers, a doctor and a farmer — it’s just so much fun! We discussed The Cuckoo’s Calling first and went crazy over Cormoran Strike. Right now, we are reading works by Anuja Chauhan – everyone loves her books.
As a teacher, do you think your students often make an appearance in your writing? Does Tamara from I’m Not a Bimbette have a real-life equivalent?
Of course my students are there in my writing! They inspire me with the way they deal with situations and their indomitable spirits. Tamara was loosely inspired by my daughter, Gaeti, who had a ‘Bimbette phase’ which I, like a responsible parent, thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully she got over it and has become too serious for my liking. The incidents in the book, however, were imaginary. I put Tamara in the whole atmosphere of a boarding school and invented situations to make her evolve into a ‘non-bimbette’ with her attitude intact.
There’s a general perception among older people that children don’t read any more. Do you think that’s true?
Children do read but maybe not what we were reading when we were at that age. They want thrilling, light, fun reads with an element of romance. Lit fests are teaming with young readers these days; they attend events, pick up books and meet authors. Students read much more in a boarding school because they do not have TV and internet most of the time. In day-schools, children already have a crazy routine with school and tuitions. After that, they just want to surf the net, chat on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for entertainment. Which is why reading on the phone is so cool — it fits into their lifestyle perfectly.
Tarana Khan’s I’m Not a Bimbette is now available exclusively on the Juggernaut app here.