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The Worm Hole Podcast Episode 87: Radhika Sanghani (I Wish We Weren’t Related)

Charlie and Radhika Sanghani (I Wish We Weren’t Related) discuss having alopecia, healing from being a people pleaser and self-empowerment in general, and her comic novel which includes an ex-fiance turned future brother-in-law, and a father who died, was not dead, but then died – true fictional story. Radhika’s book also includes beloved cats, so we talk about cats too.

Asha Bhosle
Pema Chödrön
Marian Williamson talking about choosing between love and fear
Radhika’s novel 30 Things I Love About Myself

Release details: recorded 10th July 2023; published 27th November 2023

Where to find Radhika online: Twitter || Instagram

Where to find Charlie online: Twitter || Instagram

You can contact the show at books@carnelianvalley.com

Go back to the list of episodes

Discussions

01:35 The inspiration, in particular the theme of healing from alopecia
04:39 The characters, in particular Saraswati in Bollywood
08:14 Satya Auntie, and spirituality, in particular Buddhism and what Marian Williamson teaches about all our decisions being due to love and fear
12:37 On character Reeva’s people pleasing and our own!
15:27 Reeva’s trauma from her accident
17:36 Reeva’s speech at her father’s funeral
19:21 The choices made in regards to Reeva and Nick’s relationship
21:34 The importance of including a second funeral, this time for someone Reeva knew and loved
22:55 Cats! All the cats!
25:52 What Radhika wanted to say about family
27:14 What’s next

Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been edited for legibility and is not a 100% accurate representation of the audio. Filler words and many false sentence starts have been removed, and words have been added in square brackets for clarity.

Charlie: Hello and welcome to The Worm Hole Podcast episode 87. Bringing on an author and talking with them about one, occasionally more, of their books in detail. I’m Charlie Place and today I am joined by Radhika Sanghani, who is a freelance writer for various publications and also a screenwriter; I have to include this, it’s very cool: she’s recently written an episode of Mallory Towers. We’ll be talking today about her fourth and latest book I Wish We Weren’t Related. Reeva works as a lawyer. She is single. Her two sisters are coupled up, most significantly, her youngest sister, social media influencer, Jaya, who is now with Reeva’s ex fiancé who cheated. Yes! But I’ve got one better for you than that: Reeva and her sisters were told when they were very young children that their father had died. Only now Reeva is 34 and she’s just been told to expect conversations with her father’s lawyer because her father has just died. Yeah. So now Reeva has to go for a fortnight to her father’s house to say the Hindu prayers with various relatives she’s never met, along with her estranged sisters. Mum won’t be there, she jetted off to Bollywood a while back and is now a star. So this book sounds absolutely bonkers and it is indeed a comedy, but it is also a book about healing. Let’s welcome the person who can explain it. Hello, Radhika.

Radhika: Hello. Thanks for having me.

Charlie: It’s lovely to have you on. Going to ask, what’s the inspiration for this book?

Radhika: Oh gosh! I think, obviously, as you’ve just said, there’s a lot going on in this book, so I feel like it’s not ever one thing that’s inspired it. It’s lots of different things. The idea came to me, though, around the lockdowns; that’s when I started this book. I knew who all the characters were, but in my mind it was going to be centred around a wedding, which is actually what we get kind of as a flashback, like the wedding where Rakesh cheats on Reeva with her younger sister. But then around lockdown, I just kept thinking about death and funerals, and I didn’t want to write about a big destination wedding – it felt really far away from what I was living, so it ended up centring all around death. The themes are things I think I write about quite a lot, like messy families, healing journeys, bits of comedy. Yeah.

Charlie: Well, can you talk more about the theme of healing? Because it does seem to be a very big factor in the book, especially for Reeva?

Radhika: Yeah. So Reeva’s healing in lots of different ways, but I guess the obvious thing is that she’s got Alopecia, so her hair is literally falling out while she’s going through all these incredibly stressful things. And I really wanted to write about Alopecia because I’ve had Alopecia myself – different to Reeva’s Alopecia, but I’ve had some experience with it and essentially, it’s just when you get a bald patch or several bald patches on your head, for no reason. And it can re-heal, but it also might not; there’s basically just no rhyme nor reason to it, nobody knows why it happens or how to heal it. And I just found that horrific, like, completely out of control. And I had no idea if it was going to get worse. I was really lucky – mine has healed. But I will never forget how hard that was, just that whole experience. And I really tried to heal myself in many different ways; kind of like Reeva. I tried to do it physically, emotionally, spiritually, like on every level possible. And I guess that’s a big thing that Reeva goes on that journey. And that is definitely inspired by my personal life. A lot of the book isn’t, but that element is.

Charlie: Well, you said about you have healed from your Alopecia; Reeva at the end, can we assume that she’s going to be okay with that as well?

Radhika: Well, I’ve left it as an unknown. I’ve left it as a hers has kind of got worse. And I think, for me, it was important that I did that because, basically, a lot of people go through Alopecia, but no one talks about it. And I didn’t want it to be a book where happy ending is all her hair grows back, because I just think life is messier than that and it’s not always so neat; I know a lot of people who still suffer from Alopecia after decades. Maybe they use wigs, maybe they don’t, but yeah, this is something that can keep going, and I guess I wanted to show that Reeva can be happy in herself and in her life, even whilst having this condition continue. And yeah, mine healed, but I also got another patch a year ago randomly, and that’s also since healed, but I kind of accept that it’s this random thing that could come back or not come back. So, yeah, I think that’s probably why I left it quite open ended for Reeva.

Charlie: Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s a good idea, and I think whilst, obviously, you’ve healed from yours, which is totally realistic, at the same time that Reeva’s still kind of healing, but then she’s also got it is also realistic and poignant, I suppose, as well. So these are the characters, I believe you’ve got a brother, but you haven’t got sisters – can you tell us about the characters, how you wrote them, et cetera?

Radhika: Yeah, of course. So it’s funny, everyone keeps… like one of my good friends, she’s like, ‘I just don’t understand how you don’t have sisters, because I relate to this so much. How do you understand what it’s like?’ [laughs] Which is a really lovely thing to hear, although I hope not everyone with sisters has such awful sisters as Reeva. But yeah, I guess for me, I’ve always had really close girlfriends. I went to an all girls school, and I’m one of those girls that had girlfriends more than male friends. So my female friendships are really, really close. And I guess that’s kind of what I modelled these sisters’ relationships on – my female friendships. But the sisters just came to me, like Sita and Jaya – these characters just appeared to me and I just knew exactly who they were. I loved writing their scenes; I had so much fun with it, I could just hear their voices in my head. And I love writing slightly mean characters, I just think it’s so much fun; you get to say such awful things [laughs] and they’ve got really strong personalities, I think. I think I probably at times preferred writing them to writing Reeva; I probably preferred Reeva as a character, and as a human, I’d much rather hang out with her. But I had more fun writing these kind of mean sisters; also, I think, because there was a lot of love there, and I guess that’s what I love about writing about family. Often it can be really messy and they can be quite mean to each other; I think family can cross boundaries that friendships tend not to – but there’s often a lot of love there. So I wanted to explore that, these sisters who are so horrible to each other but still fundamentally love each other.

Charlie: Well, I can agree with people who say that you write sisters really well. I mean, I was flabbergasted to find out you don’t have sisters, really, really was. But, I mean, you can just read in the text, you can see how much fun you are having writing Jaya, absolutely. You love that, that’s very obvious. Yeah.

Radhika: I’m so glad that comes across because I do think as a writer, if I’m enjoying myself, hopefully my readers will too. Like, that energy comes, across, I think.

Charlie: Yeah, definitely. I’m going to have to ask about Sarasvati. Oh, my goodness, where did she come from? I’m personally glad that we don’t see too much of her, because she is… a lot [Radhika laughs]. Yeah, tell us about her.

Radhika: Yeah, so this is Reeva’s mum just kind of a terrible character in many ways. She’s just very selfish. She’s a Bollywood singer; she’s in that world of glamour and music and fame – she’s famous and she’s just incredibly selfish and quite narcissistic, I think. But again, she has her redeeming qualities, I think everyone does, right? Like, life is never black and white, you’re never just a terrible person – there’s always more to it. And she’s been through her own stuff as well, and we find out later in the book that she’s been through her own traumas, and maybe just also didn’t have the resources to handle them in the way that her kids now are getting therapy all the time. Like, maybe she didn’t get therapy for way longer; it’s just a different world. Yeah, she’s completely invented, but when I wanted to know a bit more about Bollywood and how that world works, I ended up really looking into a couple of existing famous singers; they’re both dead now, but there were these two sisters, Asha Bhosle, who’s really famous, and I just realised there was this whole world of singers in Bollywood whose voices are featured in all the movies, but you never see their faces. And I kind of found that quite fascinating.

Charlie: You set her up as this Bollywood star, and she’s always far away, which is, well, horrible for her kids, but also realistic. And then she is there at the house near the end with her husband, who is a massive Bollywood actor, and they’re there just playing with the children – I just thought that was brilliant. I did. I loved it.

Radhika: Thank you.

Charlie: So one other character I think does bear mentioning – Satya Auntie. I’ll put two questions together here. Satya Auntie, she was a Buddhist nun for, I think it’s a decade. She says ‘everything we do comes from love or fear’. So I was wondering if you could tell us about Satya Auntie, but also this comment here that you’ve put in for Satya Auntie: how much do you yourself agree with that? That everything comes from love or fear?

Radhika: Yeah. Okay, first of all, Satya Auntie, yeah, I love her. She’s kind of like the wise aunt I wish I had, and instead have just had to learn from various podcasts, books, life lessons, everything along the way. And, yeah, she’s this former Buddhist nun. Buddhism is something that I care about a lot. I guess I identify more as just a spiritual person rather than for any particular religion, but I love Buddhism, the messages really ring true to me. And I guess her being a nun was inspired by a woman called Pema Chödrön, who is a Buddhist nun. But she’s American. She got into Buddhism after a terrible divorce, and now she’s this incredibly famous Buddhist nun, and she’s on Oprah and speaks around the world and has sold millions. It made me realise that anybody can become a Buddhist nun, you don’t have to be born into it. And that’s where the idea for Satya Auntie came about. And this principle of love and fear, I first heard that from a woman called Marian Williamson, I think. She’s a spiritual leader and a speaker. And the first time I heard it, it just rang so true to me – every decision we make comes from love or fear. And that applies to every single thing, like even what snack I’m eating right now. Am I eating this because of the love for this snack I actually want to eat? Or is it a fear that I should eat the healthy snack or a fear that, I feel really rubbish right now, so I need to eat chocolate because otherwise I won’t feel better? For the most minute things, it can come down to love or fear, and also just the big decisions in life. So I love it, I find it really helpful when I’m trying to make a choice to tune in and be like, what’s actually going on for me? What actually matters here? Where am I? Yeah, I just find it a useful tool.

Charlie: Well, I think you had me thinking for at least 3 minutes, if not longer thinking, is that true? Let me apply it to my own life. And yeah, it was completely true, I found. I thought, my goodness, yeah, you’ve really hit the nail on the head there. But religion and spirituality. Can you talk more about this, it’s important in general in the book?

Radhika: Yeah, very much so, and at the beginning, my character, Reeva, I don’t think she’d identify as religious or spiritual in any way. But this spiritual aunt she has really teaches her a lot. And I think for Reeva, religion is something she’s grown up with but not particularly close to. She’s raised Hindu, but she’s not really close to it, she doesn’t know a lot about the traditions. And that I found really interesting because her and her two sisters trying to organise this funeral for their dad, this dad they never knew, and it has to be these traditional Hindu things. None of them have a clue what they’re doing, which I find really realistic because I was raised in a Hindu family – my mum might know what the traditions mean, but by the time it gets to me and my generation, I’ve got no idea [laughs]. And so I found that quite realistic. But, yeah, I guess Reeva’s relationship with spirituality is something that’s new for her. And I think that’s probably quite relatable for a lot of people now. I think there’s a shift in the world as people are starting to embrace spirituality in a way they haven’t before. I use the word ‘spirituality’ because it’s so broad, because I think people are doing it in really, really different ways. Whether it’s kind of more New Age stuff, whether it is something like Buddhism, or whether it’s even just Christianity or things about the divine feminine – there’s stuff everywhere. And I think maybe in our world there’s a general sense that everything is so external and stressful. Like pressures, social media, just the fast pace of our world that people want to go inwards. And for me, spirituality, I don’t follow any particular thing, I’m inspired by lots of things, but I generally believe the answers are inside me, and if I get to a place of stillness and quietness, I can normally connect with the truth and make the right choice for me, rather than getting just carried away in the world. And I guess that’s what I wanted my characters to learn, like Reeva particularly has so many pressures and stresses and she’s just not really okay. So I guess for her, spirituality is finding her core strength her core divinity, I guess, and learning to trust herself.

Charlie: You say that, I thought it was interesting how you explored – it’s slightly different, but still in the same vein – the fact that she’s the favourite, she’s effectively the golden child, and at the same time, she is the child who is people pleasing and trying to fix people.

Radhika: Yeah. I think people pleasing is just so widespread and not everyone really knows they’re doing it.

Charlie: Yeah.

Radhika: And I think in our society, it’s seen as a good thing, in the way that perfectionism is seen as a good thing. Trying to make everything perfect, trying to please everybody, trying to be well liked. And actually, to me, they’re the most damaging qualities; I think they can be seen as codependent, really. To me, it’s just really unhealthy to be a people pleaser, because you’re abandoning yourself, then. If you’re trying to please everybody, you lose who you are and you lose that sense of self, and that’s kind of what’s happened to Reeva – she’s lost her voice. She doesn’t know how to speak up for herself with her sisters. They’re younger than her, but she still feels like a child around them because she’s trying to please them. But it’s only when she hits that breaking point and she’s like, you know what? I don’t care any more, I am done – only then can she stop trying to please and actually just be her true self. And that’s like a healing moment. That is growth for Reeva because,yeah, she’s owning her story, her truth, and she’s saying it out loud.

Charlie: Yeah, completely, I read that in the text and it is both very true, and it’s nice to talk to you about it as well, because yeah, there is… how do you say it? People pleasing, you kind of become something to everybody, but at the same time, you’re not really anything.

Radhika: Really good way of phrasing it [laughs].

Charlie: Yeah, you’re kind of an object, in a way… I think, when you don’t realise it – hello, recovering people pleaser here – when you don’t realise it, yeah, you think you’re doing a good thing, but it’s not.

Radhika: Yeah, totally, and actually, over time – I’m also a recovering people pleaser [laughs] – I realised that actually, not only was it harmful to me, but it’s not fair to other people because I’m technically lying. My people pleasing is dishonesty, like, if someone asks me a question and I say the thing I think they want to hear, I’m not being my true self and I’m lying to them. Or even things like if a friend invites me to an event… that I once had a really good friend… actually, that’s not true – someone who was a really good friend when we were younger, but no longer is, invited me to her wedding. And if I was a people pleaser, I would have just gone and had a terrible time and blah, blah, blah. But as a recovering people pleaser. I actually said to her, ‘no, I don’t think it feels right to go to your wedding any more, we’re not close any more, but I still love you from afar and I’m really happy for you’, and that felt honest. And she took it really well because it was real. Like for me, I’d rather have someone there who wants to be there than someone who’s just coming along because they feel they have to. So, yeah, lots of lessons there [laughs].

Charlie: I can imagine how difficult that was to say, but I’m glad your friend took it well, that’s good. Yeah. Bringing us back to a different topic on the book because we’re kind of going away from it, although it’s kind of nice at the same time – talking of Reeva, because she is our main character, she has had an accident that she doesn’t remember. It happened when she was very, very young. Can you talk about it, how she’s got the memory of it, how she experiences the memory, why you wanted to include it and explore this idea?

Radhika: Yeah, so I guess I just wanted to talk about trauma in some way, and the effect that has on us, and especially if it’s a trauma that happened when you were really young and don’t remember it. And I think what’s hardest for Reeva is it’s not just that this happened, but that she was lied to about it. And I think that can often be a second trauma for people if they go through something, but then they’re almost gaslit around it and it could be good intentions – her parents covered it up because they don’t want to hurt her, but actually it creates a lot of confusion for her. And so we have this in the book where it comes out, and she starts getting these nightmares, which are actually memories of it happening, and she completely misinterprets them. And she thinks the accident didn’t happen to her, but it happened to her beloved cat. And then later on she has that realisation that, oh, God, it actually happened to me. I suppose I wanted to include this because I do think it is quite a thing in trauma that often someone who’s been traumatised can’t see it happening to them, it’s too painful. So they can kind of project it and see it happening to something else, like another child or something small and adorable, and it’s caused no harm, like a pet. So I think, yeah, they’re really big topics – trauma, healing, scary things happening – and I guess I have written about them in a book that is primarily a comedy [laughs], but I think I just wanted to touch on quite big things, but doing it in a way that doesn’t have to be so heavy. Because to me, life isn’t just the heaviness, like even if something like that happens, there’s a lot of different layers in between and different ways to see things.

Charlie: Absolutely. I mean, yeah, you say it’s a comedy and it is, but at the same time, when you’ve experienced these kind of things, I think you self deprecate a lot and you do try and make it funny, even if it’s not really, so in that way, it’s completely relevant.

Radhika: Totally, that kind of black humour is a coping mechanism, which I think is very British as well.

Charlie: Yes, yeah, definitely. Definitely. So, I found Reeva’s speech at her father’s funeral somewhat satisfying, I have to say, in that kind of, been waiting for it to happen, come on, you’ve got to let it out sort of thing. And at the same time, it’s the wrong moment for her to speak, completely – it’s a funeral. At the same time, it felt like it was the right moment in a sort of, I want to say, almost a literary fashion, even if her theories were wrong at that point. Are you able to talk about this, why you made this decision to do this when you did?

Radhika: Yes. I think firstly, I just love drama [both laugh]. As much as I’m writing a novel, because I have my screenwriting side as well I always visualise things. I’m a very visual writer, as I’m writing, I can see it all play out in my mind. And I just loved the drama of her being at her dad’s funeral, and that’s the moment where she explodes and it all comes out. So that’s why I did it there, and I think I really agree with you – everything she’s saying is kind of wrong, and she goes too far, and it’s messy, and it ruins things with her sisters, but I think sometimes that has to happen. I really do. I think for Reeva, she spent so long not speaking, that when she finally does speak, it’s not going to be perfect, of course it’s not, she’s not going to get the right percentage of truth and honesty, and she’s going to go too far because that’s human to not do it for so long. She’s going to do it, she’s going to go way too far, and then eventually, later on in the book, she can find that balance of learning how to speak her truth without being actually offensive or rude [laughs]. But yeah, it was really satisfying for me to write as well, because it’s frustrating writing a character that’s swallowing everything, people pleasing, keeping it in, and it is so fun and liberating to write a character that’s like, ‘I am done with this. I am just going to tell you all what I think of you’, at a funeral as well.

Charlie: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I loved it because I’ve had that moment in other books where I’ve gone, ‘oh, come on, it’s time now, it’s time now’ – you delivered at the right moment, definitely. It was very satisfying. Let’s go to something different – Reeva and Nick’s relationship. I thought at the start that he wasn’t going to be the person for her, I thought you were setting us up for ‘oh, it’s going to happen again’. And you do look at this when they break up – and then they get back together. So, it’s a simple question, I suppose: did you consider Reeva remaining single or, effectively, what was important about keeping them together?

Radhika: Yeah, I definitely considered her staying single, because I do think at the beginning, Nick isn’t a great boyfriend. I do think he is generally a little bit unavailable and they don’t have a really honest, safe relationship. It’s not, I guess, the relationship I would want, what they have at the beginning. But the reason I chose for them to get back together is because I think Reeva sees the part she played as well. She sees that it wasn’t just him being emotionally unavailable at the beginning, it was her holding back, people pleasing, pretending to be cooler than she is, pretending, pretending, pretending. And actually, for them getting back together, I almost just see it as them starting again and having a brand new relationship in a way; I don’t think Reeva does, I can’t remember – there’s a bit there in the book where they talk about this, I can’t remember exactly what she says – but for me, looking at it, it was like they had to come back and both be really honest this time. So, yeah, the only reason I think they are able to get back together is because they’ve both consciously decided to stop being so scared. I think in a lot of relationships, there’s often a fear of intimacy, like a fear of being your absolute, truest, most vulnerable self. And so for Reeva, she goes through so much in the book, that by the time her and Nick get back together, she’s able to be like, ‘you know what, this is me – here’s me with my bold patches, my trauma, this is who I am’. And Nick is into it, and he’s then able to start being more real and honest with her and showing up. And I think sometimes, yes, someone’s got to be the brave one to do it first, and this time it’s her.

Charlie: You’re talking here, and I don’t think we need it by any means, but it’s interesting to think of what Nick’s story would be like, and how similar it might be to Reeva’s, in a way.

Radhika: That’s really interesting. I suppose I’d never thought of it in that way, but I do think more and more that anybody who is closed and scared and people pleasing in some way, that’s probably because they’ve got a difficult past where it was really hard for them to be seen. So yeah, that would make total sense.

Charlie: Absolutely, yeah. So Satya Auntie, again, might sound like an odd question, but go with it, I think it could be interesting – was it important to have a second funeral at the end for someone who Reeva actively loved? If that makes sense.

Radhika: I actually really like that question. Yeah, I think it did feel important. I don’t know, the fact that we find out three quarters of the way through the book that Satya Auntie is dying, and I think for Reeva, that’s just so traumatic, that I wanted to show that journey – I wanted to take readers to the end of that journey. I didn’t want to just abandon them with her dying [laughs]. And I suppose the point of that second funeral is that Reeva’s found peace and acceptance, and that first funeral with her dad is so messy and so complicated and there’s so many emotions and there’s so much confusion – and I think the confusion is what makes it hard for Reeva to accept it. But by the second funeral, she’s got all her answers, and she knows who her aunt was, she knows who her dad was, but most importantly, she knows who she is. And I think that’s why she’s able to do the funeral so differently. And in a way, I almost think of it as a funeral for her dad as well, because she speaks again, and she mentions her dad, as well, in her speech for her aunt. And I think it’s like a cyclical element to her healing process.

Charlie: Well, yeah, she’s definitely come to understand her dad more, even if she couldn’t in life, yeah. I think this is a good way of going into this question: this book is dedicated to Coco the cat. And you’ve got FP, who I think is ‘Fluffy Panda’, who is a cat that Reeva isn’t yet getting on with, I think, actually, Fluffy Panda [who] probably loves her, and it’s just one of those things where the cat doesn’t really show it. Of course, then you’ve got Catty, who was the cat during the accident. Tell us about your love of cats, because I’m guessing that Coco is your cat.

Radhika: Coco is my cat. I never used to identify as a cat person, I used to prefer dogs. I was like, cats are fine, no real opinion either way. And then in lockdown, I got a cat, I got Coco. And, I’d never had a pet before, and everything changed, and I was ‘whoa, having a pet is a big deal, having a cat is amazing, I love my cat so much’. But it was a real journey with her. She’s hilarious. She’s just, I guess, a typical cat. She’s independent, she’s sassy, she loves cuddles, but only on her terms. And, yeah, I just find her an absolute joy. She is just the best thing in my life, 100 %. And I just think every time I’m stressed, I just look at her and I’m calm – I think that’s the joy of an animal. They’re so in the present, they’re so in the moment that in a way, they’re our greatest teachers, I think [laughs]. Then I guess I just wanted to write a cat into a book because I’ve never done that before, I’ve never had a cat whilst writing, and I was like, ‘oh, now I’ve got a whole new world of experience to put into a book, I know about cats now’ [laughs]. So that’s why I gave Reeva a cat. And her childhood cat, I think, for people who have a pet, and this wasn’t me for most of my life, it’s like a really different kind of love. And it gets to the point where sometimes I’m like, ‘I would die for my cat’. And I know that’s kind of insane for a lot of people, but when I love my cat that much, that’s where I’m at. And I kind of think that pure love, that’s what I wanted to write about, that kind of irrational love. And some people reading my book, some of my friends, they don’t care about animals or cats, and they’re just like, ‘Why is Reeva so obsessed with her cat?’ And they’re really grateful that Sita and Jaya don’t care about animals because they can feel themselves seen there. And even some people at the publishing house who worked on the book, they were like, ‘the cat stuff’s a bit much, but thank God you’ve got characters who don’t care about it’ And I don’t want this to be a book that alienates non cat lovers [laughs], so I’ve got characters in there who don’t care about them, because I just know it can be divisive – if you’ve got a pet, you get it. If you don’t, you just don’t. And that’s the way it is.

Charlie: That’s definitely it, yeah, I mean, that’s why I asked the question, because I totally got it. It wasn’t obvious from the start where it was going to go, and she wasn’t sure about FP, but just within a couple of chapters, I think it was, I was like, okay, you like cats. I know this author likes cats, so yeah.

Radhika: Funny thing is, though, I guess I do like cats, but I basically just like one cat. I just like Coco a lot and that’s it.

Charlie: Can totally relate to that, yeah. I’ve got a couple of rabbits, I love them, I don’t know about other rabbits, but my rabbits, oh my goodness, yeah.

Radhika: It’s like, I guess, being a parent – you’ve got yours and that’s what matters, yeah.

Charlie: Yeah, that’s definitely a thing as well, I’ve heard people say that. So, rounding this up – what did you want to say about family?

Radhika: I guess my big point about family is what I spoke about earlier, in the sense that I wanted to write about a family that’s not black and white, that’s kind of in that grey. I wanted to write about a slightly dysfunctional family, a family where things go wrong and there’s messiness, there’s secrets, there’s lies, there’s betrayal, but there is also love. Because I think probably that’s the most realistic portrayal of a family, maybe this is much more dramatic than normal people’s lives, but that element that it’s not always perfect or it’s not always completely terrible, it’s somewhere in the middle. So yeah, the messiness. And I guess there’s a lot of acceptance there that the characters have to go on, they have to go on a journey of accepting that they don’t have the perfect mum, the perfect sister, the perfect dad, and, a lot of just making their peace with what they did have rather than the family they wished they had. And I guess that’s the title as well, right? I Wish We Weren’t Related – that element of, ‘oh, God, why are you my family?’ [Laughs.] But then slowly accepting, ‘okay, you are my family, and as annoying and infuriating as you are, I wouldn’t want you any other way’. So, in a way, it’s a love story, I suppose, to family, family members who are really annoying, but we kind of love them anyway.

Charlie: Yeah, turned up to eleven because you’ve got a Bollywood star and you’ve got a music agent. There’s something very interesting in the differences between the regular life and the superstardom. What’s next book wise?

Radhika: So I’m actually starting to write for children and YA, and I’ve just finished a children’s book that’s for nine to twelve year olds, focused around a people pleaser, so I think you might like that one [laughs].

Charlie: I will give it a go!

Radhika: And I’m also writing a YA book now. I’ve also got adult ideas for a next book, but somehow things have just led me in this direction, maybe writing for Mallory Towers has actually shown me that I can write for children and I’m enjoying it. So that’s the next immediate stuff, and then more adult books in the future, I’m sure.

Charlie: Alright! So Radhika, is there anything that you would like to mention before we finish?

Radhika: I guess the only thing is probably that if people are into this theme of self love, spirituality and growth, then I also have another book that came out last year called 30 Things I Love About Myself that really focuses on a character’s self love journey. But you don’t get the cat stuff or the sisters or the family drama [laughs].

Charlie: That’s a good disclaimer [laughs]. Well, I haven’t read that one, but I have researched it and it does sound really, really good. Ironically, a good follow up if you’ve read this book. Radhika, it has been lovely having you, it’s been quite a laugh, it’s been great. Thank you for being here today.

Radhika: Thank you so much. I’ve loved speaking to you.

[Recorded later] Charlie: Thank you very much for listening. Please do share this episode with anyone you think would be interested in it. The Worm Hole Podcast episode 87 was recorded on the 10th July and published on the 27th November 2023. Music and production by Charlie Place.

Photo credit: SEBC Photography.

 
 

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