Amulya Malladi: How I Write

"I am a character-driven writer, and I believe that once you define a character, they tell their story."
By Allison Futterman | Published: May 22, 2018


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Amulya Malladi

A House for Happy Mothers is Amulya Malladi’s sixth novel. Born and raised in India, this international writer currently lives in Copenhagen, where she balances family, writing, and her work as a marketing director for a medical device company.

According to Malladi, “A House for Happy Mothers is about paid surrogacy and the story of two women, the biological mother Priya, a well-off woman from Silicon Valley, and the surrogate, Asha, who is from a poor background.” As with all of her novels, the narrative comes to life with a relationship- and character-driven story in which culture(s) plays a prominent and important role.

Writing in Copenhagen

 I feel isolated from a literary perspective in Copenhagen as I don’t know many other English writers in the city. However, as a reader my needs are met, as Danes are prolific readers. The Louisiana Museum holds a literary festival every year. Many books are translated into Danish to cater to this reading market, even one of mine that was set in Denmark.

Relationships

I am a character-driven writer, and I believe that once you define a character, they tell their story. Characters are defined not just by their personality but also by their relationships to other characters. So it’s no surprise that relationships are central to my stories. And relationships are not always smooth and easy – they have edges and help me know my characters and their edges better.

Culture-driven narrative

I feel like a citizen of the world. I have now lived outside of India, where I grew up, longer than I lived in India. I have picked up traditions and even accents from India, the United States, and Denmark. I struggle with my cultural identity – where do I really come from? And even harder, where do I really belong? Everywhere or nowhere? Since many of my stories are about women trying to find their place in society, their cultural identities play a major role in driving their narrative.

Process evolution

 Part of the change in process or philosophy is aging. I wrote my first five books in my 20s and my sixth book is coming out in my 40s. Maturity has changed one major aspect of writing – I’m not rushing to the finish line anymore. I take my time getting to the end. I’m also harder on myself. I’m not demanding perfection, but I am tougher on what I write. I think it’s because I’ve now lived longer, read more books – hopefully, I know a little more than I used to. One thing that hasn’t changed is plotting – I still can’t plot, mostly because just like the reader, I’m curious and excited to see what happens next; it’s my motivation to write.

 Real-life inspiration

 My characters are my own but have traits of people I meet and know. The situations my characters find themselves in are sometimes imagined, sometimes based on real life, and sometimes a combination. But if you tell me something and it sticks with me, there’s a good chance it may end up in a book.

Finding writing time

There’s no mystery to it. I make time. I think when you really want to do something, you find the time to do that something. I also have a very understanding family – they don’t mind that I write for five hours a day during holidays or that I’m up until 5 in the morning writing on weekends (and sleeping in, missing the basketball runs) or that I often say when disturbed, “What? I’m in the middle of a sentence.”

 

Allison Futterman is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

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