Hey Nerdy people, Welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi’s Author Interview Session. Today I have this most amazing and talented author, Jenny Ashcroft with me. I read her latest novel Meet me in Bombay a few days ago and it is one of the best book’s I have ever read. It was one of a kind, it was so very emotional and I was completely blown away by the experience this book made me undergo. I have also review and talked a lot about it here on Nerdy Bookarazzi, if you’re interested check it out here! Before that let me tell a little bit more about Jenny Ashcroft!!
Jenny Ashcroft is a British author of historical fiction. Having spent many years living, working and exploring in Australia and Asia, she is now based in Brighton where she lives with her family by the sea. She has a degree from Oxford University in history, and has always been fascinated by the past—in particular the way that extraordinary events can transform the lives of normal people.
Today we’ll get to talk a lot more about Jenny Ashcroft, her books and her writings over here. So, let’s get into the conversation right away.
Hi Jenny, Thank you so much for doing this interview session with me. I’m so very excited to have you here. It’s always a pleasure to talk about the books that touched your heart but it’s even more exciting and pleasurable when you get to do that talk with the respective author herself. I feel very happy and privileged to have this conversation with. Thank you so much once again and welcome to Nerdy Bookarazzi.
So my first question for you is, Why particularly did you choose Bombay as the location for your story ?
Quite simple, it’s a city I love and a country I love. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many times – working there, over a period of several years – and am always so excited to return. Some of my favorite books are set in India, and I’ve long dreamed of writing a story of my own based there. With Meet Me in Bombay, I finally did.
Awww that’s really amazing! You said you went on a research trip to Bombay, in the end of the book. Can you please share a little bit about the experience you gained on the trip?
I did indeed go on a research trip, and it’s one I will never forget. As I’ve said, I’ve visited Mumbai in the past, but as soon as I started writing Meet Me in Bombay, I knew that to really do such an incredible city justice, bring it to life on the page, I should re-experience it through the lens of my story. Mumbai – the Bombay Luke and Maddy meet in – is a character in itself in the book, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could there, soaking up every sight, scent and sound, meeting and listening to as many people as possible. As for what I gained, I could honestly talk about that all day! As I mention at the end of the novel, I really did meet some wonderful people, who were so welcoming, and from whom I learnt such a lot. They spent hours walking with me, talking with me, giving me an insight into the city that I’m not sure I could have gained any other way. Every second was a highlight, from visiting the Gymkhana Club, to strolling around the Fort district, to standing in the Terminus and imagining Luke crouched there, writing his first letter to Maddy, to a morning spent wandering up Malabar Hill, visiting the Hanging Gardens – drinking in the spectacular view that Maddy spends so much time staring down at in the book – to watching the sunset each evening, over the Arabian Sea. When I returned to England, I revised almost everything I’d already written, and found myself scribbling scenes that had never before occurred to me. The trip transformed the
book for me, I’m so happy I was able to make it.
Tell us about the research you did for Meet me in Bombay ? How did you collect all the facts and information about the Colonial Period and World War 1 ?
On top of my trip, I did a huge amount of reading, both in terms of works of non-fiction, then archived letters, diary entries – for example of the Indian soldiers who fought in the trenches – and interviews. I pored over photographs, old newsreels, and newspaper articles, all of which were invaluable for evoking the sense of time. There was a lot to cover, from accurately representing the period, to the battles of the First World War, to the experiences of the Indian Army on the Western Front, and it was important to me to be as thorough as possible. Research is part of what I love about writing, and I’ll spend as long as it takes. With this novel though, I didn’t have to start completely from scratch. I studied the First World War in my final year at university, and whilst that’s quite a few years ago now, I fortunately kept a lot of my notes, and books. I also had the privilege back then of meeting some of the surviving soldiers from the trenches. Their voices and stories have always stayed with me, vividly, and were very much in my mind when I was writing this book, especially the chapters in France.
Meet me in Bombay is such an emotional book, it made the readers connect to the book emotionally at whole different level and I’m telling this from my personal experience. So from that I can assume how much connection you must have towards this book. Please tell us your experience while writing this book and how emotional were you while drafting it ?
It’s wonderful to know you connected with the story in this way, thank you. As for me, yes of course, there were times when I was very emotional writing it. I don’t want to say too much, in case I give something away, but I still cry when I read certain parts. There’s so much love in this book, in so many forms; for me, that love underpins everything, and it was impossible to write that depth of feeling, to take the characters on the journeys they go on, without shedding a tear or two – happy though, as well as sad.
How did you formulate the idea for this book in the first place?
I’m afraid I never know where my ideas come from. Normally, a scene will spin into my mind when I’m least expecting it, and then the rest of the story will follow. With Meet Me in Bombay, I was struck one morning with this picture of a woman in the middle of a party, staring in silence at a man staring at her – oblivious to everyone else around them – and that was it, off I went.
Of all the three books you have written, which is your favorite book that you ask people to read without fail even if they are a non-reader? And why that book particularly?
I honestly don’t have a favorite. I love them all, for different reasons, and I know that readers will always have different favorites, for their own reasons. I’m always so grateful to a reader for picking up any one of my books, and love hearing their thoughts.
Of all the characters in Meet me in Bombay which character is your favorite and why ?
Again, I don’t have a favorite. Sorry! They are all such real people to me, living and breathing in my mind, and I just can’t pick one in particular.
Have you started working on your next book ? And if so, can you share what is it all about with us?
I have actually just finished my next book, Under The Golden Sun, which will be released in the US in 2022. It’s set in the Second World War, and is about a young woman who answers a London newspaper advertisement to escort a five-year-old orphan home to the family of his parents, on a cattle station in Australia – where nothing is as either of them have been led to expect.
How does your ideal writing day look?
Oh, my ideal writing day would be in a lovely quiet room, with no interruptions, and definitely no one asking me for snacks, or the washing machine bleeping that it needs emptying. In reality, I normally write at my kitchen table, squeezing in as much as I can before the school run (trying to ignore the washing machine).
As I told you before, for me, as a reader Meet me in Bombay is one of the top two most books to have made me cry very badly. So likewise, do you have any book that made you cry for so long and the thoughts of the book kept on lingering on your mind forever ? What book is that and tell us a bit about it ?
Many, many books have made me cry. It’s hard to think of one in particular… But, I will never forget reading the end of Atonement. I was on a plane, from India as it happens, and the person across the way from me leant over to ask if I was all right. I tearfully said, ‘Not really,’ and he asked what I was reading. I showed him the cover, and he nodded knowingly and said, ‘Ah, yes.’
How do you develop your characters ? Are they inspired from someone you know or they are totally fictitious ?
Totally fictitious! And, they tend to develop themselves. I’d love to say I have some brilliant method, but I don’t tend to plan too much at all. I start writing, with a rough sketch of plot and cast, and the characters spring to life as I go (often surprising me in the process).
How often do you hear from your readers ? How does it feels to connect with your
I hear from readers quite often, and – whether they have a question about a certain book, a story to share of their own past, or an opinion they want to pass on – I’m always grateful to them for making the time to get in touch. It’s a huge privilege to have a book published, only possible because of the people who read them, and I love nothing more than hearing what one of my stories has meant to someone.
What is a genre you want to experiment with in the near future?
I don’t see myself doing that. I really do love writing historical fiction. I think there’s so much we can learn from, and experience through, books set in the past – I just can’t imagine wanting to write any other kind of story.
Do you want to say something special to your beloved readers?
Thank you, truly. You are the reason I write.
Finally, how do you feel about this interview session ?
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for all your wonderful words about my book, and for having me on your blog.
Thank you so much Jenny!!!!!! It was complete pleasure in talking with you. It gave me a lot of insight and inside information about you and Meet me in Bombay. I’m so eager to read all your books and also all your upcoming ones. Thanks so much for sparing me the time to have this conversation. It means a lot. Thank you!!!
Get in touch with the author :
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads |
Check out the Book Review of Meet me in Bombay!!
Hope you liked the session!
Until next time,
Check out this super-duper Author Interview session hosted by Nerdy Bookarazzi with Jenny Ashcroft, author of “Meet me in Bombay”Tweet