At 25, Anmol Malik has achieved more than what young women of her age typically would have. She is a successful singer-songwriter, has worked as an assistant director and now has published her debut novel too. Anmol, the daughter of renowned Bollywood music director Anu Malik, has forged her own career path and in her debut rom-com novel Three Impossible Wishes, published by HarperCollins, takes us on a whirlwind journey of Arya Mahtani’s life. Excerpts:
Q: Now that your debut novel ‘Three Impossible Wishes’ is out, how do you feel?
A. I’m so grateful because it’s something I’ve been dedicatedly and diligently working towards all my life. To know that I can add the tag author to my name feels surreal. When I first wrote this book, I didn’t have a book deal in sight. I only wrote it to make myself smile. The book is hilarious and has layers and layers – like cake. It feels surreal that a publishing giant like Harper Collins picked up my debut novel. It’s blowing my mind right now!
Q: From writing music to writing a book is a natural extension in many ways, though the former is quite pithy.
A. I’ve always felt there’s a certain rhythm to writing and there’s a certain narrative to music. So in a lot of ways, they are similar, cut from the same cloth. It’s just how big the medium is – a song is three minutes and a book is 400 pages. I feel they go hand in hand.
Q: Your debut novel is a rom-com about a desi girl studying abroad. Did you have a rom-com in mind, or it just flowed as you wrote?
A. I think it just flowed and I’m also a huge rom-com fanatic. A lot of my writing is influenced by a screenwriter called Richard Curtis who wrote Notting Hill, Love Actually, etc. For me, rom-coms are less about the cheese and more about how charming and subtle they are. When it comes to a good rom-com, I feel it should be a like a real-life love story in that the two protagonists end up changing each other for the better – they bring out the best versions of each other.
Q: Was anything in the book inspired from your own life?
A.There was – the main the thread of the book. I find that when you have to study or work in a city that’s not yours, it’s very difficult because you feel unsettled and disconnected. I felt that that was one emotion that was overlooked. Being an international student, I experienced it first hand and I wanted to address it. There was a mean rumour on my campus that if you failed the exams, you just didn’t fail the year but you got deported! Nobody even questioned it but just believed it. Being an international student, that’s the kind of alienation you feel no matter how friendly people are. There are a lot of serious issues the book touches upon but it’s masked under a lot of humour, feel-good, warm, fuzzy stuff. That’s the kind of person I am – I want to make these observations but through a light-hearted glance.
Q: Your book addresses a younger audience; do you think it’ll inspire more youngsters to read and write eventually? 
A. That’s such a great question. I feel that the tone this book is written in is extremely accessible. It is 400 pages long but once you start reading it, you don’t realise it. I think what that does – hopefully – for a reader is they feel if it’s that accessible, if it’s the way I talk, then it makes writing something even easier. They don’t have to pretentious, they can just be themselves on paper. But I have noticed a shift recently. People love reading still and I don’t think books will ever go out of fashion. Books are like little portals to a different world. I don’t think they die out. As long as we’re human, we’ll find some form or the other to express ourselves.
Q: What are some of your favourite books and authors? Any genre in particular?
A. I read anything and everything – even the back of cereal boxes! I have grown up on Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, Enid Blyton. I’m a big fan of  Archies, Tin Tin and love the classics Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell. I’ve read pretty much up everything. The genre I tend to lean towards – weirdly enough – is sci-fi. I love Douglas Adams; I adore the whole Star Trek and Dr Who zone. Between sci-fi and rom-coms, I’m caught in a very weird space but let’s see how that pans out in the future.
Q: Speaking about romance, you’ve grown up in a Bollywood milieu and your dad has written so many romantic numbers. How much has Bollywood coloured your idea of romance? 
A. A fantastic question! Anyone who has read ‘Three Impossible Wishes’ will see Bollywood screaming out from the pages! The book is actually a movie in a book. Bollywood has been a great influence – the sense of romance being ultra-dramatic has definitely come from Bollywood. It’s been a big influence and I’m proud of being part of the Hindi film industry.