Jen: Today we welcome Adite Benerjie back to Romancing the Book. Adite, will you share a short bio with us?
Adite: Adite Banerjie is a screenwriter and published author. Growing up in a home with a filmmaker dad who worked in the world’s largest film industry (yes, Bollywood!) and a voracious reader for a mom, it was inevitable she would fall in love with both films and books.
She turned to fiction writing after a fulfilling and exciting career as a business journalist. When she penned her first romantic short story, she won the Harlequin India Passions Aspiring Authors Contest (2012). Her debut title, The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal, based on the winning short story, was released in December 2013 in India. The e-book is available internationally (from June 2013). Her second title (Trouble Has a New Name) has been published by Harlequin India in July 2014 and comes out in North America in April 2014.
Adite lives in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, with her writer husband, mother and their adorable Irish Setter.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Adite: Trouble Has A New Name is a fun-filled romantic comedy (with a few dramatic moments) set in the beautiful Andaman Islands of India. It’s about a young woman who has to come to terms with her recent breakup and fight off the attraction she feels for the very handsome hotelier she meets at her best friend’s big fat Indian wedding.
The book is written in chick-lit style. If you’re a Bollywood fan, you’ll enjoy it. And if you have no clue as to what a Bollywood film is all about, read the book to enjoy some of the madness! 😉
I have always wanted to visit the Andaman Islands. Having seen a gazillion pictures of the pristine beaches and the aquamarine seas, I knew it would be a wonderful setting for a romance novel. So, I decided if I couldn’t actually visit the islands, I would do the next best thing: use my imagination to travel there. That’s how the idea for Trouble Has a New Name was born.
Will you pretend to be my fiancé for the next few days?
Recently single model RaynaDutt does not feel like flying to her friend’s big fat Indian wedding. But she does—and when a mix-up with room allocation forces her to share a luxury villa on Emerald Isle with the gorgeous owner of the hotel Neel Arora, best man at the wedding, things begin to look up.
Until Rayna’s ex turns up with a new girl on his arm!
Hitting the panic button, Rayna searches for a solution. Surely Neel wouldn’t mind being her fake fiancé…? In an instant the attraction they share is at fever-pitch, but when scandal comes calling Rayna soon finds herself in more trouble than she can handle!
Wasted. The word popped into Rayna’s head the moment she opened her eyes, shot her long shapely legs out of the sheet covering them and rolled out of bed. Only to have her staggering right back onto the soft mattress as her world spun out of control for a brief second. Her head pounded as if a brass band had embedded itself inside her skull and was banging out a raucous beat on tinny drums.
She reached for the bottle of water next to her bed and took a long swig from it before casting a look around her usually spotlessly clean bedroom. It was a monumental mess. Her clothes were lying all over the place and the culprit for her Godzilla-sized headache was right there on the bedside table—a bottle of tequila. She, who was notorious for passing out even if she so much as inhaled champagne, had needed just a couple of shots before she’d switched off like a fused bulb. She should thank her lucky stars the bottle had been less than a quarter full when Sid had left it behind last week.
Sid. The very name made her head pound harder. Sid Verma, the Dumper.
Rayna Dutt, the Dumpee! Dumped, Drunk…
Bang. Bang. Bang. This time the drumbeat seemed to come from a different direction. And it was accom- panied by a hysterical, piercing wail. ‘Madam, please! Aapka f light miss ho jayega.’
…and soon to be Dead!
Leaping out of the bed, Rayna dashed for the door of her hanky-sized apartment—or one BHK as it was re- ferred to in rent-speak in the great metropolis of Mumbai. She still couldn’t believe she’d snagged this cosy little bedroom-hall-kitchen unit in an upmarket neigh- bourhood. Best of all, it had a balcony with a view of the Arabian Sea to die for. And if it hadn’t been for Sid the Dumper’s high-f lying contacts in the city, this would have been way beyond her reach.
The brass knocker went bang-bang-bang and she winced as the noise reverberated painfully inside her head. She undid the safety latch as she yelled out, ‘Hang on for a second, will you?’
A short, thin fellow with bug eyes and a huge handlebar moustache which shrouded his emaciated face stood staring at her as if she was a ghostly apparition.
‘Madam, your mobile is switched off. You will miss the f light,’ he squeaked.
Zombie-like, she shook her head, and even that tiny movement made her head hurt. ‘Oh, no!’ How could she have forgotten? Today was D-day. The twenty-first of April, the day she had been planning for, for more than six weeks. The chartered f light to the Andaman Islands, where Milee’s week-long wedding celebrations were being held, was scheduled to take off at 10:15 a.m. Her eyes darted to the wall clock and she nearly died of shock. Nine-forty-three!
‘Milee will kill me,’ she screeched at the confused man before banging the door shut on his face.
A second later, she yanked it open again. Handlebar Moustache, who had been deputed to ferry her to the airport, looked as if he was about to have a coronary.
She stuttered, ‘Sorry, sorry, bhaiya. Wait for me downstairs. I will be with you in two minutes. And, please, could you take my suitcases?’ She waved in the general direction of the luggage she had so meticulously packed. There were four large cases—three of them contained Milee’s trousseau, while one had her own stuff.
Oh, dear… If she missed the f light and those suit- cases weren’t on board, Milee’s big fat Indian wedding was doomed. Whoever had heard of a bride at a luxury boutique resort minus her bridal finery? She had painstakingly coordinated every little detail with two top fashion designers in the city. She wanted her best friend’s trousseau to be beyond perfect but it seemed like her hard work was about to go down the tubes.
She raced to the bathroom and speed-showered, throwing on the first skirt and blouse ensemble she could lay her hands on. It was a good thing she had her standby make-up kit ready for just such an emer- gency situation. Stuffing it in her large handbag, she grabbed her dead-as-a-dodo mobile phone and charger from the table top, lunged for the house keys and shot out of the apartment.
As she emerged from the building lobby, she looked for the familiar yellow and black taxi but there was none. She heard a honk behind her and spun around to find Handlebar Moustache behind the wheel of a gleam- ing black Mercedes-Benz. Well, at least she needn’t worry about the taxi breaking down en route to the airport. In the Rayna Book of Immutable Laws—also known as RBIL—anything that could go wrong usually did!
She piled into the car and impatiently instructed,‘Chalo…chalo… Hurry. Let’s go.’
The Mercedes soundlessly swept out of the driveway and raced down the road skirting the seafront on its way to the airport. Rayna looked out anxiously, praying they would not get stuck in a traffic jam. Thankfully, being a Sunday morning, the streets were devoid of the usual weekday bumper-to-bumper traffic. If all went well— fingers firmly crossed—they should cover the distance to the airport in twelve minutes, tops. She glanced at her wrist and realised she’d forgotten to strap on her watch. Shoot! Her eyes strayed to her feet and she froze in horror. Holy crap! She was still wearing her f lip-f lops with the cute f luffy pink teddy bears on them.
RBIL #1 had kicked in: Footwear gaffe equals a disastrous day ahead.
Not only would she arrive late for a f light transporting some of the Who’s Who of the city to the grandest wedding of the decade, but she was also set to make a cringe-worthy entrance. She hoped there would be no press photographers around to shoot hotshot model Rayna Dutt boarding a chartered f light to the Andaman Islands in pink teddy-bear-topped f lip-f lops. Maybe she should just hop off, hail a cab, go home and fall uncon- scious with the help of some more tequila shots? What if Handlebar Moustache delivered the trousseau suitcases to the aircraft?
No matter how tempting the thought, she knew she would never be able to do it. She couldn’t ditch Milee, the only true friend she’d ever had. The one who had stood by her through thick and thin back in the days when she was a scared, scrawny kid with a bunch of emotional issues that should have made her the perfect candidate for non-stop therapy.
Flip-f lops and paparazzi be damned; she would put her haughtiest foot forward. First, she needed her ar- mour on. She pulled out her compact mirror from her handbag and set about doing up her honey-coloured, almond-shaped eyes. On any other day, they were eas- ily her most attractive feature but today they were red- rimmed and blotchy from the torrent of tears that had come before the tequila had finally knocked her out. Sid had dumped her but, if she’d anything to do with it, it would be the best kept secret in the world. She would make a grand entrance…f lip-f lops and all!
Jen: Favorite food?
Adite: Depends on what I’m in the mood for. If it’s Indian, I love chicken biryani and a spicy, hot prawn curry. I also enjoy roasts and pasta. Actually, I’m a bit of a foodie and will try anything that looks delicious and interesting. J
Jen: Favorite holiday tradition?
Adite: The anticipation of an upcoming holiday is the best part of it. Looking at pictures on Internet, dreaming of where to go and what to do, before whittling down the choices. The least favorite part: tailoring my holiday dreams to my budget!
Jen: Favorite flower?
Adite: Oh, every kind of flower is a joy. Seeing the petunias burst forth in vivid rainbow like colors in my little garden is absolutely delightful!
Jen: Describe your life in one word.
Jen: Bad habit?
Adite: My internet addiction.
Jen: How neat is your work environment?
Adite: It’s horrendously messy—with books, notepads, pieces of paper with random notes, pens strewn all around my laptop. I dream about a neat working desk. But I wonder if I ever get one if I will be able to write in all that pristine neatness. Sigh! J
Jen: You’re stranded on a desert island, what one thing do you want to have?
Adite: My Kindle.
Jen: Print or ebook?
Jen: Do you have any writing rituals?
Adite: Starting a fresh idea in a new notebook. Now you know why my writing desk is such a mess! 😉
Jen: Coffee or tea?
Jen: Warm weather or cold?
Adite: I love the Indian version of cold weather (18-20 degrees Celsius).
Jen: Favorite season?
Adite: Indian winter
Jen: What’s next for you?
Adite: I’m currently finishing up a romantic-suspense, tentatively titled No Safe Zone, for Harlequin which will be releasing in end-2015. To stay tuned, do visit my website.