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Aanchal Malhotra: This Generation's Historian Our conversation with Aanchal Malhotra, the 33-year-old author of three books started with a question - Why did a book about the Partition, which is a chapter in every school history book, bring in so many young readers?

By Kavya Pillai

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Author Aanchal Malhotra

Our conversation with Aanchal Malhotra, the 33-year-old author of three books, started with a question - Why did a book about the Partition, which is a chapter in every school history book, bring in so many young readers? "Every generation needs a historian," said Malhotra. She explained how growing up, her grandparents would narrate to her their experiences about the partition and how she always knew there were so many more stories out there that haven't been heard.

Coming from a family of booksellers, becoming an author was never Malhotra's plan and she wrote her first book Remnants of a Separation now known as Remnants of Partition while working as an editor of a publishing house. She had to multitask between her job, interviews and other research. When asked how she managed her time, Malhotra simply answered, "I just had to prioritize things as most of the people I was interviewing were seniors and I would have very little time with them".

As an oral historian and writer from New Delhi, Malhotra had a lot of responsibilities with presenting people's experiences accurately and in a way to entice today's readers. We could not help but wonder what were the highs and lows of this journey that began in 2013. Malhotra shared that the "Highs, were great when things work out" and how there is a sense of satisfaction when you can achieve what you set out to.

On the other hand, the lows were tough when something you write reads terribly like "sending a draft to a reader and they say, 'O god this is so boring'". But Malhotra feels these are all experiences a writer should have and personally "If I just write one paragraph a day, that is good, then it's a good writing day for me".

Being in conversation with an author, we wondered how they set targets and goals. What are the systems or schedules followed by them? Malhotra clarified that she personally does not keep a word count target. "I have a rough idea about what I want to do but I do not set targets, as not achieving them would demotivate me". Malhotra explained when she doesn't feel like writing she does not force herself to as "creative work can not be willed".

Before ending our conversation with Malhotra we asked her what she considered her biggest challenge to be. "The biggest challenge for me is to keep my own interest in my work". She explained that working on a book is a long commitment and one needs to be interested in their work even when they are on draft number 100!

As an author, Malhotra has two more books out, to date titled, The Book of Everlasting Things and In the Language of Remembering: The Inheritance of Partition. Her advice for aspiring authors is to be easy on themselves, "when you are in the process, you figure it out".

Kavya Pillai

Entrepreneur Staff

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