I’m quite happy to be hosting well-known food writer Monica Bhide today to chat with her about her debut novel, Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken.
Monica Bhide is an internationally renowned writer known for sharing food, culture, love, and life with a lyrical voice and universal appeal. She has built a diverse and solid audience through the publication of three cookbooks, her collection of short stories, her website, MonicaBhide.com, and articles in top-tier media, including Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, The Washington Post, Health, The New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, AARP The Magazine, Parents, and many others. In April. Mashable.com picked her as one of the top ten food writers on Twitter. Monica frequently teaches at the Smithsonian. Her seventh book, Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken, released this year.
Welcome, Monica. Please tell us about your current release.
This is my debut novel! Book seven but first novel. I am so excited about it as I have always wanted to write a novel. I am a recovering engineer and I left a lucrative career to follow this crazy idea of becoming a writer. Now, here I am, twelve years and six books later with my dream: a story about the healing power of food.
What inspired you to write this book?
My friend Chef Jose Andres has done more to end world hunger than anyone I know. I wanted to write a story inspired by his hard work. This story follows a young boy as he tries to manifest his desire to feed the hungry. But he has no means, no money, no influence and is haunted by massive internal demons. The story follows his path as he learns that in order to succeed, he first has to truly believe in his own dreams.
Excerpt from Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken:
The novel is filled with poetry that the lead character writes. I would like to share one of those poems here
Of sizzled cumin
Of roasted mustard
Of charred eggplant
Of boiled rice
Of sweet puddings
Of pungent garlic
Assault my nose
Seep into my skin
Bleed out as my sweat
I pretend to respect them
I pretend to adore them
Make me weak
Drain my resolve
Make the bile rise up
I try to stop
I beg it to stop
I pray it stops
It isn’t the smells, he tells me
It is you
How does he know, how does he see
I am a prisoner of my own memories
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on a magic realism book set in Washington, D.C. It is a book about unrequited love and sacrifice.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always wanted to write. However, I don’t know that I still consider myself a writer. I always feel like I am still learning to become a writer! It is a strange imposter syndrome that is hard to define!
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Indeed, I do write full-time. I am up early, around five am, to meditate and journal before the kids wake up. Once they are in school, around 8:00, I write for about two hours. Then, I spend the next few hours on marketing, PR, invoicing, research etc. The kids return at 2:30. Once they are home, they take over! It is all about homework and soccer and dinner and catching up on the day. I used to write at night but now the nights are reserved for reading. I read at least a book a week if not more.
I do like to write alone. I don’t work so well in coffee shops as I tend to get distracted very easily.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If I get stuck on a word, then I know I have lost the writing day! I will obsess over some silly word that doesn’t seem to fit into my sentence! I have learned that it is a way of resisting the writing process but I do it anyway! I am getting better at it!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Eat more chocolate.
Thanks for being here today, Monica.