Is Mehana Usha Rani your real name?
– Yes and no. I asked my best bud, Megan, to help me pick out a name to use as a pseudonym. And her first reply was ‘Megan’. Then we talked about it. ‘Meghana’ was meh. ‘Mehana’ seemed like something I could work with. But I wanted my real name to be part of it too. And here’s the thing, I have legally changed my name before and my previous name had ‘Usha’ in it. It was an endearing name that I had to forsake. So I decided to use it in my pseudonym. As for ‘Rani’ – I wanted a part of my current name to be in my pseudonym too. And there we have it, Mehana Usha Rani.
When did you decide on becoming an author?
– There wasn’t really a ‘I’m becoming an author’ moment. I started out writing simply because I wanted to write. I didn’t intend on publishing or anything. But after I finished the very first draft of my very first book I thought to myself, ‘hey, why not publish it?’. I told my friends I might. And then it just spiralled out of control from there. Even if at some point I thought I didn’t want to publish anymore, my friends didn’t let me quit. I mean, trust me, there were so many instances that made me want to give up. So many reasons to quit. But my friends didn’t let me. So I’ve ended up becoming an author. No regrets tho.
Does your family support your career as an author?
– Lol, let’s just say, my friends do.
Okay, I kid. My family isn’t vehemently opposing it and that’s all the support I need.
Where do your ideas come from?
– It all stems from a single situation – maybe something I saw, something I heard about, something I read on the internet. But once there’s an interesting enough situation, I put myself in that situation and think about what I’d do. Then I’d think about what I wish I’d do, what I can do, what I won’t do and there’ll be a certain action that will just floor me. It’ll make me wonder what kind of person will do that action. What would that person have gone through in their life to be able to do that action. What would this kind of person want in their life. What will they do to achieve it. I build my characters from a single scene and I let the characters do the story telling. It is their story.
Where did the idea for TFYP come from?
– It came from a situation that arised at home. You know how when one sibling is allergic to chocolate but still eats it and gets themselves checked into hospital, so the parents decide no chocolate in the house, so you suffer too? Yea. (No, that didn’t happen. Or at least, it wasn’t about chocolates in my house, but you get the idea.) So, the underlying motivation for TFYP came from seeing how one sibling ruins it for the other but just doesn’t realise it.
Does that make me petty? The fact that I wrote a 90 000 word novel to diss my brothers?
What is your favourite scene in TFYP?
– At the moment, it’s a scene in the middle of Visiting Hours. It’s the point where Om finds out Sara has been lying to him and then he finds out Vikram’s been doing something behind his back and it’s the moment he goes:
Why do I like this scene? It’s cause Om has his mind blown and the scene captures it. He sees the betrayal by Vikram but it doesn’t register in his brain because he’s all caught up with Sara’s lies and then it finally hits him. You can see the transition. And I’m just really glad it was captured.
Who is your favourite character in TFYP?
She’s genuine, sensitive of her and others’ emotions but a little reckless and naive. She literally is the best of Om and Vikram, as sweet as her mum and as impartial as her dad. She cares strongly about the people she loves. But what I really adore about her is that she isn’t aware of her own vulnerabilities. It makes her think she’s strong and it gives her confidence and guts to face her issues head on. So many people, me included, we’re so aware of our vulnerabilities, so aware of the things that can go wrong, so afraid that we don’t even try anymore. We should all be like Srishti. A little reckless, a little gutsy, a little fcukthisshitimdoingthis.
Which character in TFYP will you not get along with?
– All of them. No, really. I can, however, see myself being friends with Sophie.
What was the hardest scene to write in TFYP?
– The conversation between Om and his sister, Srishti, when they were exchanging notes. It was a very sensitive topic between a brother and a sister. I didn’t want to ruin their relationship. It was so easy for Om to say all the wrong things that it was really hard to get the words right.
What is your favourite quote?
‘life is the miracle you’re searching for’
‘somethings are not meant to be, but that isn’t good enough reason to stop you from trying’
I have another one which could be either depressing or positive depending on your mood.
‘All that happens when your dreams come true is a slow, melting realization that it wasn’t what you thought.’ (Mitch Albom)
Any quirky writing habits?
– When I’m stuck at a scene, I go for a run and take a long warm shower after, or I skip the running altogether and just take a longer warm shower.