The challenge in writing a romance in an Indian setting

In response to a question posed by poet and author, Madhuri Maitra:

The romances I grew up reading revolved around dashing Englishmen, debonair French nobles, ruthless Arab sheiks, swashbuckling Australian ranchers and the like. The stories unfolded in exotic locations. Therefore, when called upon to write a romance in an Indian setting, I imagined it would be difficult. How would I get an Indian hero to do what Englishmen and Frenchmen had been doing in the Mills and Boons of yore?

Once I started writing, however, it was not as awkward as I had expected; especially when I realized there was nothing stopping my Indian Hero from being suave, debonair or swashbuckling; or my Indian heroine from being smart, sassy, or determined.

The realization was liberating – in any case, it was easy to identify with my protagonists because they were people I understood; the festivals, the places I described were familiar; the cultural milieu, strong family bonds, these were things I had grown up with. It was fascinating to encourage the genre to adapt itself to the Indian context.

Intimate scenes, an integral part of a romance novel, were not that daunting to craft either. I have it on good authority from the many young people I know that they consider it tame when intimacy between the main characters leads them up to the bedroom door, but no further. This little snippet of information helped me settle on a heat level in my novels that wouldn’t disappoint my readers and that would sit comfortably with me too.

The biggest challenge, therefore, in writing a romance in the Indian setting was only in my head. Once I got that out of the way, the process was most enjoyable.

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