For 15 years, advertising professional Anuja Chauhan, 37, “unleashed lines like Yeh dil maange more, Mera number kab ayega, Nothing official about it and Oye Bubbly upon the unsuspecting public”. Two years ago, she decided to see if she could write longer sentences. The result was The Zoya Factor: All’s fair in Love — and Cricket!, a soon-to-be released novel that will make Chauhan, executive creative director and vice-president at J. Walter Thompson Advertising, the latest name on the chick-lit shelves.
“I have worked with Pepsi for 13 years, and given the cola’s close links with cricket the setting of my novel just had to be the cricket ground,” she says. The plot reads like a wacky commercial — Zoya Singh Solanki is considered a lucky mascot of the Indian cricket team. The boys in blue discover that every time they eat breakfast with her, they win the day’s match. And not eating with her results in defeat. They also discover that Zoya was born at the exact moment that India won the World Cup in 1983. Zoya finds herself accompanying the team to Australia for the tenth ICC World Cup on an all-expenses-paid holiday. Romance comes in the form of the new skipper Nikhil Khoda who doesn’t believe Zoya has anything to do with the run rates. “The stage is set for a spicy combination of antagonism and attraction,” says Chauhan.
A mother of three, she wrote after “packing off the children to school and at night after everybody was asleep”. After budgeting her words to fit the 30-second time slot of a TV commercial, the novel offered a respite. “The words just flew. The book became a stress buster and I would write in any spare time I had after ad shoots, in parks and in aeroplanes,” she says.
There was only one nagging doubt: “I have read a lot of chick lit, from Bridget Jones Diary to Advaita Kala’s Almost Single . I purged a lot and I hope my own voice has emerged somewhere in those lines,”she sums up.