Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man was the winner in the ROMANCE category of the 2023 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.
Following find an interview with author Reenita M. Hora.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
The book is called Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man. It was published in August 2022 by GenZ Publishing.
What’s the book’s first line?
First line: It all began with Deepali wanting to experiment with her sexuality.
What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.
When you try to set your mom’s life right, be prepared to have your own life turned upside down. Seventeen-year-old Ila Isham has serious problems. There’s the angst of being an Ali Zafar groupie, for one. Then there are the extra layers of fat she owes to her part-Punjabi roots. Add to this, parents who have separated; an enthusiastic best friend whose idea of variety is dating three guys at the same time; and her mom’s best friend, Aunty Maleeka, whose good intentions and savvy ways throw up more problems than solutions -and Ila’s got her hands quite full. When her mother flips out over her plans to stalk Ali Zafar, Ila decides she has had enough and sets out to create a few distractions to keep her mom busy. With a little help from BFF Deepali, Aunty Maleeka and Dev of the inviting chocolate-pool eyes, Ila will have to brave everything from Lagan.com and OKCupid profiles to meeting handlebar-moustache colonels and middle-aged psychos, as she tries to set up the perfect parent trap for her unsuspecting mother.
What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
‘Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life and a Man’ takes inspiration from the badass cast of female characters that have been front and center all my life — my female friends and family members…and of course the males among them who cannot get in a word edgewise! I also wanted to bring readers to Mumbai, the city of chaos that molded my own young adult adventures and has shaped my identity as a storyteller and a citizen of life.
What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?
The beauty of fiction is that you get to create characters and storylines by picking from the bits and pieces from your vast buffet of real-life experiences. My protagonist is some combination of my mother, my daughter and most definitely me…narcissistic as it sounds!
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
If you are looking for a young adult romcom that is more com than rom, then Operation Mom is the book for you. I wanted to bring to readers young adult women’s fiction set in contemporary Mumbai; to introduce a bunch of zany female characters inspired by my own family and friends. But I am SO sure they will remind you of the crazy characters that you know and love in your own world. This is a story for someone who wants heartwarming comedic relief by taking a deep dive into the beautiful messiness of family dynamics. You’ll find yourself immersed in a world filled with humor, warmth, and moments that tug at your heartstrings. Like in my favorite TV show, ‘Friends’, I wanted to create characters that you feel are like your own buddies going through the ups and downs of life. And I wanted to provide a fresh take on the coming-of-age genre, exploring the fascinating dynamics of familial relationships, especially the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. You know, in India, it’s usually the moms playing matchmaker for their daughters, but this time, the daughter’s taking charge and turning things upside down! Finally, if you’re yearning to visit India, this book is like a little slice of Mumbai, sprinkled with humor, love, and a whole lot of heart.
If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?
Oh I have been thinking about this!
If this were set in Mumbai like in the book, I would like to see Kajol play Mom and Tara Sutaria play Ila. and Aditi Mittal play Aunty Maleeka.
I have written a screenplay setting the story in Hoboken, New Jersey. If this were produced, I would LOVE to see Mindy Kaling play Mom, Kumail Najiani play Pops, I’d like to see Liz Koshy play Ila and Ben Stiller play Commander Weiner!
My first book was published in 2005 – a non-fiction book about Ayurveda, called ‘Inner Beauty‘. But I had decided to be an author way back when I was a child. It just took me some time to getting around to writing fiction.
Is this the first book you’ve written?
No, I have written four non-fiction books before this. I also technically wrote the draft for ‘Shadow Realm’, my fantasy fiction story, before this but that one is yet to be published!
What do you do for work when you’re not writing?
My last full time job was Head of Marketing and Communications for SRI International, Silicon Valley’s pioneer science research institute. But I gave up full time work mid-pandemic to focus instead on developing my own IP.
How much time do you generally spend on your writing?
As much as I possibly can. I write every day – sometimes just for an hour and sometimes all day.
What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?
The best part about being an indie is that I get to do exactly as I like, develop my stories the way I want to without worrying about established rules or ‘formulae’. The worst thing is not having an agent, and so not being able to be seen by a Top 5 publisher who has relationships with the NY Times Bestsellers list!
Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?
On one hand, absolutely yes, I would love to focus on just the writing if a traditional publisher can help me out by picking up the slack on publishing and distribution. But I want someone who is really committed to the success of my work — as much as I am, and not a publisher who will just let my work ‘sit there’ while focusing on other authors in their portfolio. It takes two to tango…maybe three when it comes to books – writer, agent and publisher!
Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)
Story. It is the only true legacy that we have and carry down the ages. This is what has always driven me — as a journalist, book writer, screenwriter, podcaster.
Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?
Oof this is a tough one! So many! Lewis Carroll, Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, RK Narayan, Rudyard Kipling, Charaka, Gerald Durrell, David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Rick Riordan, JK Rowling.
Which book do you wish you could have written?
I am writing them – Shadow Realm Part 1 of the Arya Chronicles series 😊