Left Her High Salaried Corporate Job To Become A Full-Time Author: Commonwealth Short Story Special Prize winner, Lavanya Shanbhogue.


People often drop out of their settled and active careers to pursue their dreams. But there are some people who live by their stand doesn’t matter how late it has come to them.

Take Mumbai-based Lavanya Shanbhogue, for example.

She is somebody who left her established a high salaried career in banking and financial services at the age of thirty-two to become a published novelist and Commonwealth Short Story Special Prize winner.

However, all of this did not happen overnight.

Brought up in the exclusive company of her grandmother, who used to be an English teacher, Lavanya was a voracious reader since childhood.

But what she pursued initially was MBA in Finance which diverted her on the path to a never desired corporate career.

But she reached a point of conflict after the birth of her son in 2011.

Hee choice to leave her regular day job was driven by the desire to do something that she always loved and enjoyed.

Lavanya says:

To be honest, it’s not that my academic pursuits and writing work have not been demanding. But there is so much satisfaction that I derive from it that it doesn’t bog me down and allows me to have unblemished quality time with my son as well.

Lavanya did a master’s in Creative Writing from the City University of Hong Kong in 2013.

Later when she opted for the post graduate degrees, Lavanya’s course clashed with her son elementary day school, which in turn gave her the time to attend regular classes.

Going back to college was a nostalgia. Just that I was now learning something I loved.

Lavanya’s first literary achievement was when she has chosen as the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Special Prize in 2011 for the theme ‘Women as the Agents of Change’.

Her maiden novel was The Heavens We Chase, which is set in colonial India and she self-published the paperback edition under the imprint of Roli Books in 2016.

The book revolves around a fragile and turbulent relationship between a father and daughter.

Though her writing is impeccable, Lavanya humbly admits that she is still carving her craft and has a long way to go.

She admires writers like Amrita Pritam, Kamala Das, Mahasweta Devi, Amitav Ghosh, Jeet Thayil and Amit Chaudhury. She firmly believes that literature has to be contributed to quality content and not coffee table stories in form of pseudo-fiction.

Lavanya loves playing with different writing genres.

She says:

The academic space demands a very different kind of writing and I enjoy academic writing as much as I enjoy creative writing in the literary fiction genre.

Lavanya’s short stories have been published in both Indian and international presses, including the Griffith Review, Australia, Blink and New Asian Short Stories.

She has also written columns for Huffington Post and Hindu Business Line.

Till date, Lavanya has written on gender equality, sexuality, feminist economics, and women’s engagement with the law. And as having a rare quality of a writer she feels home at both fiction and non-fiction.

She says:

I consider myself a fairly disciplined writer. I set small but realizable writing goals for myself such as writing anywhere between 300-1,000 words at least three or four times a week.

Being a hardcore feminist, she bravely intrudes in the sections of writing that explores the sections of structural gender inequalities.

Those who say they believe women are equal to men but wouldn’t describe themselves as feminist sound as ridiculous as somebody who treats skin conditions but wouldn’t describe themselves as a dermatologist!

Lavanya feels that feminism is much interpreted nowadays and once people realize how feminism also address men being the victims of patriarchy, the term will reflect its true meaning.

And finally when asked about her journey she notes the conclusive premise as:

I have done something instinctive and I don’t know where I end up. Writing is financially vague yet very alluring to me. I have got recognition and have achievements That help me to hold a self-built identity for sure.

And the end statement of my venture is- yes, I am a hundred percent satisfied with what I am doing.