1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
I grew up in a culture that believes in arranged marriages and was startled by the similarities I found between Indian and Qatari society attitudes towards women, adulthood, and yes, love. Pondering on how hard it is for young people to establish their own identities in these cultures, I brought the two sets of questions together to explore what the modern twentysomething traditionally conscious person does when faced with the choice of family over individual identity.
2. When did you take up writing?
I’ve been writing some version of books since I was in middle school. As an adult I wrote for more than 10 years, first putting out academic work as a scholar of literature and then waiting to get an agent in order to get to a publisher. Becoming an indie, or self published author is the best decision I made (about a year ago). Now I have six books out that readers love.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Setting is pretty key to the stories I tell because they give shape to how the characters react and what happens. If Love
Comes Later wasn’t in Qatar, for example, or you didn’t have the overflowing streets of London during the Olympics, then the dramatic tension would have to arise from another source.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
I feel for them each differently but for Abdulla the most. People forget that in societies where masculine privilege is
heavily emphasized, it disadvantages women but also men. Men can’t be who they want to be if they’re expected to live up to some idealized stereotype.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Write. Every day you can for as long as you can.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
It used to be for three hours on Saturdays. I was then lucky enough to quit a full time job at a publishing company and go back into teaching at the university level which is what I’ve been doing for the last year or so. During this period I was editing, writing, or marketing a book everyday. It was exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. So much so I had
to spend July completely away from the desk in order to
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I have an outline or sketch of how the story begins and where it ends. The complications in the middle are the
surprises to develop along the day.
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
There are so many to choose from! I recently finished Colin Cotterill’s The Corner’s Lunch which is set in the 1970s in Laos. I loved the dry humor of the 70 something old protagonist and how Cotterill brings an unfamiliar place and person right to the reader as if he’s someone you’ve known all your life.
Other reads… Bitter in the Mouth is lyrical in prose and delivery. Anything by Alice Munroe.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I’ve saved August for a massive re-write of the first novel I ever attempted, An Unlikely Goddess. It’s a coming of age story of a South Indian girl in the United States and though the manuscript is complete, it isn’t yet what I know it could be.
Be honest with yourself about why you’re writing.
Love Comes Later Synopsis
Hind is granted a temporary reprieve from her impending marriage to Abdulla, her cousin. Little does anyone suspect that the presence of Sangita, her Indian roommate, may shake a carefully constructed future. Torn between loyalties to Hind and a growing attraction to Abdulla, Sangita must choose between friendship and a burgeoning love.
A modern quest for the right to pursue love and happiness, even when it comes in an unconventional package, LOVE COMES LATER explores similarities between the South Asian and Arab cultures while exposing how cultural expectations affect both men and women. Identities are tested and boundaries questioned against the shifting backdrops of Doha, Qatar and London, England.
About the author
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was good in many ways, since that is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing
as a hobby to making it her full-time gig. She has published three e-books this year: Mommy but Still Me, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, and Coloured and Other Stories. Since she joined the e-book revolution, she has dreamed in
Mohanalakshmi Phongsavan, PhD
Maktaba, Children's Library Project, co-founder