Daughter by Court Order – Ratna Vira

by | Jun 8, 2015 | Woman of Influence | 1 comment

Ratna Vira holds a masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as a masters in English Literature from St Stephens College, University of Delhi. She also holds an MBA.She is the daughter of senior journalist, Nalini Singh, and SPN Singh.Ratna juggles her corporate career with her writing and love of art. She lives in Gurgaon with her daughter and son, where she is at work on her second novel.
In candid conversation with Ratna Vira at I INSPIRE 15

Q1. What does Daughter by Court order mean to you?

\"rvDaughter By Court Order is my debut novel and is very close to my heart. Aranya, the protagonist of the book, is a modern Indian woman, with aspirations and a mind of her own. She is overly trusting, despite having exposure to the reality of the world and has an excellent education.There are so many women like Aranya that I have come across and identify with. I am absolutely delighted by the reader reaction to both the book as well as to the character of Aranya.

Q2. How has the book changed your world?

The response to the book has been astonishingly good!

Numerous women come up to me with tales similar to that of Aranya, with situations that I could not and did not imagine when I wrote my novel. The book portrays a message of hope, courage and standing up for ones rights, and that is what readers have picked up and commented upon. The general reaction has been of overwhelming support for the ideas raised in my novel and this has opened up a new world for me. I have been spoken to at the University of Oxford in their Two Cultures Seminar, at the Said Business School, Oxford, at Kings School Canterbury and more recently by womens organizations and FICCI FLO.Also, I have spoken to school children and more importantly at some of the best all-boys schools about changing mind set. I was invited back to my school, Convent of Jesus and Mary as a Chief Guest and that was very special, for me.

My book has been featured in the New York Times and has been written about widely. Some of my readers have become personal friendsso; life has changed and continues to do so.


Q3. What are the challenges of being an author in the digital world where a lot of he content is for free?


Yes, it is true that the digital world has a lot of content and most of it is for free, however, some of this content is also of very high quality; there is a readership that looks for an author-publisher commitment, such as I have.

The digital world is also one where a first novel, such as mine, can be read from Japan to Brazil, and readers are willing to pay to buy physical books or download digital ones.

Thus, there are both challenges and opportunities that the digital world offers.

Q4. What have been the biggest challenges in your journey as a writer?

The idea for a negative mother-daughter relationship is highly unusual and therefore, was a challenge. I knew I had a story of interest when I was able to combine this thought with the traditional and joint family systems. Some nuances of relationships are hidden and not spoken about; I felt that this would be a good central theme for a novel and the story was waiting to emerge based on this relationship.

I have also grappled with myself because writing is a lonely process. There have been days when the words would come easily but on other days, writing was a difficult and tedious process. It took immense perseverance to get through those stages.

The biggest challenge and a worry, was to find a publisher given the context and content of my book but now, luckily that is in the past,

Q5. What has been the biggest success?

I was greatly honored and happy when Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a strong supportive message for the book, saying that whenever there is any instance of harassment against women, we are overcome by a sense of despair. It is nothing but a national shame.

Q6. Your book will be made into a motion picture; could you tell us more about it? Who is making it and what about the cast?

Yes, it is correct that the book is in the process of being made into a motion picture. A leading LA/Indian film producer has bought the rights to make a film out of my book. He has short-listed a director and is in the process of casting for the lead roles.

Just like you, I am also waiting to know more!

Q7. What is the next in pipeline? Is there another book that you could tell us about?

I am working on my second book. All I can say right now is that it deals with people, relationships and society. I also have a strong idea for my third novel and for my first non-fiction book.

Q8. What is a typical work-day for you? Any productivity tips you would like to share?

I write during the day. Mid-morning to early evening are most productive. Writing can be lonely and some days I miss the teams I worked with while in a corporate job. I find setting goals for myself is difficult and my word targets stretch me.

Writing is creative and there can be great days and bad days. Accept it and dont fight yourself is my advice. Take time off and watch a movie if the ideas dont flow. Watch your weight in case you reach for comfort food when stuck.

Q9. What advice would you offer to women starting out their careers today?

Writing, like art, has no start or stop date. There is no retirement or superannuity.

I would strongly urge women to explore their potential and to define for themselves who they are and where they want to be.

Q9. What is that one change you wish you could see in India or in Indians?

India is my country and I love it, warts and all. I do recognise that much needs to change but so is change required in most other countries. What I would like to see is greater respect in India for people who are different from us specifically, a true understanding that men and women are equal and should not be treated any differently.

Q10. If you could offer any advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say? Anything you wish you\’d done differently?

I write for the younger me and hope that among my readers there are young people who realize that the strength to change their lives is within them and within their reach. I sincerely believe that I would have had more self-esteem and confidence if, ten or maybe fifteen years ago, I had known that I would survive the challenges life threw at me.

Q11. Which is your favorite book and why?

I read a lot and across genres, so I wouldnt want to single out any individual authors. Indian writing in English has come of age. As a student of Literature, I can see the evolution and maturity that has emerged in Indian writing. We are now well beyond the post-colonial literature stage and into a new era of writing, which is wide and exciting in its scope.

Q12. What do you like to do to unwind and spend your free time?

Writing is a big part of my life and only time will tell whether I can be a full time writer or not. Perhaps, I will go back to the corporate world, as that too is a part of what defines me.

I also paint and exhibit. I do believe that I have at least two more novels in me!

Q13. Who is your inspiration? Why?

My children, who are my immediate family, were and continue to be extremely supportive. They have seen me develop the characters and helped provide their teenage perspective to the issues of patriarchy and kinship in families.

Through the writing of this book, my daughter and son understood the complex relationship and inheritance issues of Indian families. My children are my greatest inspiration and my book is dedicated to them.



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