Interview with writer Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Today we get to find out a little about Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar (Mohadoha), and her book Mommy but Still Me as she travels along a virtual book tour.

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a writer who has lived in Qatar since 2005. She has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine based in Doha and a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. She has been a regular contributor for Variety Arabia, AudioFile Magazine, Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, Expat Arrivals, Speak Without Interruption and Qatar Explorer. She hosted two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio.

Currently Mohana is working on a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and a novel based in Qatar. She believes words can help us understand ourselves and others. Catch up on her latest via her blog or follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

Welcome, Mohana. Please tell us about your current release.
This is the modern woman’s guide to switching from jet setter to incubator, Mommy but Still Me retells the story of a first-time mother with humor and honesty. From sex with a purpose to ankles swelling into cankles, this is a no-holds barred look at the all the changes, big and small; from knowing “hipster” as a term that describes your generation to using it describe where you like to carry things.

What inspired you to write this book?
I didn’t want to forget anything because of the sleep deprivation in any of these stages so I searched for a way to hold on to some of the funnier, difficult, joyous moments. I kept a blog for about two years to record the process of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and then having and raising a baby.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m dipping myself completely into the world of fiction and the inner lives of people that often don’t appear as mainstream characters. I can’t wait to share these unique individuals with my readers!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About a year ago

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?
I write probably one day a week and a few hours scattered between picking up a child from nursery, exercising because of said child, and teaching undergraduates how to avoid bad prose.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I work on more than one project at a time (3 novels are in various stages at the moment, and one collection of essays).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An American football coach. No idea why. Football just seemed so exciting!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope you relate to the struggles my characters go through to find happiness and see in them parts of your own journey.

I wrote this book as I wrestled with the idea of becoming a mother my way. I started a firm conviction that I would not disappear into a creature with applesauce in her hair, unable to sustain a conversation about anything other than sleeping schedules and teething remedies. And I ended— well you’ll have to read the book! For those starting the journey, I hope you know you’re not alone in the worries and dreams that plague you while contemplating the biggest change of your life. And for those who are second, third, or multiple timers, I hope you find aspects of my story that resonate with your own. If these anecdotes do, or don’t, drop me a note and tell me why.

Here is a book trailer for my book, too.

All tour dates and blog stops are here.

Thanks for being here today, Mohana!

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