Are you in the mood for romance? Some lusty, red-blooded desi romance? Then Chennai-based Pageturn Publishers have just the thing for you. Two things, actually — the first two titles of their Indian romance imprint “Red — Full Blooded Romance”.
The two books “Dewdrops at Dawn” (by Sahana Sankaran) and “Together 24 X 7” (by Sunita Suresh) were launched at Full Circle bookstore at Chamiers recently, with heart-shaped brownies and chocolates and a panel discussion on romance and relationships that featured actor Abbas and his designer wife Erum Ali, VJ Paloma Rao, and designer husband-wife duo Vivek Karunakaran and Shreya Kamalia.
The panel discussion tended to veer off course a little, dealing not so much with heady romance and passion as with the trials and tribulations of marriage and relationships in the urban Indian milieu. But the books, luckily, stay right on course, reproducing those escapist romantic formulas so familiar to Indian readers raised on a steady diet of Mills & Boons and Harlequin Romances. Only, these fantasies have a decidedly desi twist.
“Sunita (Suresh) and I both love reading romances, and a couple of years ago, we met over coffee at Sangeetha and got talking about how there were no romances for Indians, and how we were always reading romances set in another ethos,” said Sandhya Sridhar, who started Pageturn along with Sunita and R. Venkatesan last year. “So we started thinking, why not do it ourselves? And, idea took root.”
The first two titles — slim pastel-coloured volumes priced at Rs. 89 — hit the shelves in mid-November, with two more to come this month and every month after that. “We’ve received e-mails from people asking about where the books are available and such, but overwhelmingly, the query has been — ‘Can I write for you?’ ” said Sandhya with a smile. “And, not just from women either; we’ve had quite a few men asking!”
Over the next couple of years, Pageturn hopes to branch into different genres of romantic fiction, such as teen romances (“we already have a couple of teen writers working on books”), historical romances (“we’re always reading Victorian romances — think about how much potential there is with our history!”) and graphic romance novels. Later, the plan is to diversify into graphic novels in general and mass-market travelogues.
For now, though, the focus is finding quality writers for their desi romance imprint. “Our aim to get as many new writers as possible on board from across India, so our books are reflective of our country today,” she said. “We want our readers to be able to identify with these stories, and feel like, ‘Hey, this could happen to me!’. That’s what romance fiction is all about — pure escapist fantasy.”