Tag Archives: author interview

Interview with Parimal Kalikar

After having read “A Godly Blunder“, I couldn’t resist shooting a few questions to the debutant author- Parimal Kalikar. Here’s it all !

 

From Hotel Management to a Master’s in Human Resource Management; from earning the first buck as a bell boy to selling credit cards- let’s hear about it all from the beginning in your own words.
I joined Hotel Management with a dream of a suave lifestyle and good money but that dream was shattered with my first training at a five star resort in Goa. I ended up pulling luggage for wealthy guests (Yes you call them guests and not clients in the hotel management lingo). Lost my interest in the line as I did not want to spend years becoming a manager and that’s why I pursued a career in business management. I bagged a job even before I got out of college and I was happy. My hunger for growth and money brought me to Mumbai and I danced. I danced to the tunes of the fast local train schedule, to the tunes of my pushing boss and to the very demanding tunes of the elite clientele. The money was good but I was not happy so I decided to do something that will for a change make me happy.

 

 

What got you attracted towards writing? What prompted you to debut with a full length novel?
I left my job and started planning my own business but with the limited capital it was not easy. In the meanwhile I started writing a story that will talk about the way we approach our problems. Slowly and steadily it started taking shape and when the story was about 15000 words strong I could see the potential and I started putting a serious effort and within the next 2 months I was done with my first novel.

 

 

You know, the most difficult thing is to make people smile, let alone laugh. But your book delivers entertainment to the tee. How did you come up with the idea, the plot and the title?
The problem with us Indians is we get used to the problem very easily. If there is a pothole in the streets we very easily learn avoiding it rather than getting it fixed. We would rather lead unhappy lives and avoid confrontations that may lead to a solution. I don’t subscribe to this cowardly way of living. I started writing about the way a strong headed man from a developed country would approach similar problems and the idea itself seemed entertaining to me. For the plot I took problems from everyday life, some of them even faced by my family. The title was suggested to me by the publisher and I liked it.

 

 

When people write / publish for the first time, it is usually about incidents that they’ve experienced or have been related to closely. How easy / difficult was writing this humorous fictional tale? (I’m sure you did not have to experience “life-up-there” or a close encounter with God to write this.)
Imagining things and day dreaming is something I am very good at so the idea of creating a life up there was not that difficult. Creating a contemporary god was difficult and with a science fiction theme in     my mind I somehow convinced myself of the idea of a young, well dressed god. Conversations with god were the most difficult and with several attempts and guidance from my dear friend Abhishek I could bring out the aura of calmness in his conversations.

 

 

What was the first reaction from friends and family when you smiled and told them you were going to write a novel?
I did not tell anyone except my family that I was writing until I signed the contract with the publisher. Even my family was under the impression that I am writing to spend my free time and when the book was accepted for publishing, everyone was shocked.

 

 

An unforgettable experience that you’d like to share that happened before/during/after the writing process?
When I told everyone that a major publishing house has accepted my book for publishing the first question almost all of my relatives asked, ‘Is it in Marathi?’ As I had most of my education in Marathi medium no one expected me to write in English and it was a happy surprise for all of them.

 

How easy/difficult was it to get yourself published? A budding author like you, we’d like to know your opinion on the overall scenario of the publishing industry.
It was not easy to find a publisher for a novel without a love story or without a love angle what so ever. I was used to the standard reply, ‘Sorry we are unable to accept your work as it does not suit our publishing profile…’ and I had lost hopes when Rupa and co. gave me a chance. I think the overall opinion about Indian authors is changing and the place is getting better and better.

 

 

Name some of your favorite all time authors/ books
I love the works of Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson. I love Sherlock Holmes and Satyajit Ray’s Feluda. A couple of my favorite books include Hussain Zaidi’s Black Friday and Geoffrey Archer’s Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less.

 

 

Have you explored social media platforms to market your book? What’s your take on the growing popularity of social media networking sites?
Yes I have used social media to market my book and I must admit it is the most effective way of getting news around. I think social media websites have become an important part of everyone’s life as they give us a chance to connect with friends quickly and new people easily.

 

 

What next are you working on? And how soon do I get to read it??
I am working on a history based modern thriller and I hope I will finish it in a couple of months so it will be out by the year end I hope.

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Interview with Rajiv Kumar

When I started posting book reviews, I wasn’t sure I’ll make it this far. I like it when authors appreciate the reviews (good/bad/ugly) and ask for more!

It always brings in a smile to see a new book awaiting my eyes and thoughts, and when Rajiv Kumar’s Navarasa By Lotus arrived at my desk, I was intrigued. The book definitely is a must read, and to know why I say that- read the review!

I could sense that for a first time author, Rajiv Kumar was nervous being interviewed (even over the emails!)
Don’t worry Rajiv, I understand how you feel (err…or maybe not!)

Anyway, here’s the author’s very first interview! (As confessed by him!)

Beginning with the ever clichéd question: What got you started with writing short stories? What are
your earliest memories of writing (I wouldn’t mind if you begin all the way back from school days!)
My failure in writing an interesting full length novel made me write short stories!
Somewhere in class four or five, the English text book contained a short story by Ruskin Bond. The story was about a half blind person traveling in a train and his beautiful co-passenger. The ending of the story left me in a state which is hard to explain. Even now, I get goose-bumps when I think about it. That is when I noticed the power of narration. But at that age I had no distinction between a short story and a novel. In class ten, I started an ambitious project of writing a story (novel)! Which I consider my first shot at writing, but the idea was immature and the interest faded out. The idea of writing went into hibernation until my
graduation. As soon as I got into a job after college, I started writing a novel based on a fictional illegal bike racing set in Bangalore, calling it “THE RACE CLUB” (does it sound familiar?Yes this name appears in “Seed”). Little did I know that my writing was really bad, however good and interesting the plot may sound. Soon I remembered the short story I had read long long ago and realized that narration is equally important as the plot. I tried to improve on my writing after that.

Instead of eating the entire pizza at once, I thought it’s easy to start by taking little pieces and it turned out that I was capable of cutting them in 9 pieces and still be able to finish it off one at a time.

Would you like to share a few details of your professional (and personal) life?
All my life so far, I have spent most of my time in Bangalore. Right from my kindergarten to my engineering and my current work place, they all have been within 2K.M from my residence! I enjoy walking. Walking  up to my destination gives me enough time and opportunities to observe and come up with story plots! In addition to that I am single, which I believe was a blessing in disguise to spend my weekends in writing and completing “Navarasa by Lotus”!
At office, during the breaks I get into discussions on movies, TV-shows with my friends.

Coming to Navarasa by Lotus – Why such a title? What was the thought behind writing 9 interlinked stories based on the 9 Rasa? (I did read about your contemplation with self, but I need more details on this. Yes, I am snoopy.)
The original title of the book was “Navarasa”. However I felt that the title was not catchy. I thought of renaming it into a vague English transliteration calling it 9emos, referring to 9-emotions. But my conscience asked me if I was embarrassed by an Indian name. In order to have a mysterious title and also to console my conscience I added “by Lotus” to the title though my pen name is not “Lotus”. I always like to keep the readers guessing. The moment anyone see’s “Navarasa” in the title they would get a fair idea regarding the theme of the book. However the rest of the title “…by Lotus” would keep them guessing and curious. The
blurb too starts with saying “every pen name comes with a story…” Though the mystery is unravelled to the readers by the time they finish reading the book!

On why I chose 9 rasas. Let me quote an iconic line from the movie Forrest Gump. My momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s a very simple thought yet pretty much says a lot about life. Similarly I wanted to keep the readers in dark as to what is going to come up next in the line of 9 stories. Also it gives me opportunity to give variations in the mood of stories. I know that when a reader picks my book he or she is spending their most valuable time in reading it through. It becomes my top priority to make them feel redeemed for their time spent, when they finish reading the book (a cryptic message for the story title “Redemption”). A collection of stand alone stories, I felt would be predictable with an impending twist in the end. In order to give a different experience to the readers, I had to re-invent my writing skills to come up with non-linear narration, Rashoman style of narration, add more dimensions to the story with depth, varied timeline and finally link all the stories! I would call them as a hybrid of novel and short stories.

Coming to the 9 interlinked stories – the titles for all of them are quite weird, in a different, intriguing sort
of a way. I mean, Seed, Rat, Mutiny, T20, Loop, Wish, Office, N.H., Redemption…How did you stumble upon
them? What were you thinking?
“What’s in a name?” is what I initially thought, but I wanted to leave a mark of creativity in all areas of the book. A book’s each and every square inch according to me is a premium real estate for creativity! Be it the cover page, blurb etc hence I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. Being a title for short stories, it made sense to keep the titles as short as possible. More than a title, they serve as a cryptic one word blurb of the story, which may not be evident the moment one reads the title but eventually towards
the end of the story the name makes sense.For e.g: Seed, the title refers to the seed of hatred sown by the character “Dev” in his nephew’s mind. Also, down the line, the reader would realise that the first story “Seed” is literally a seed for the entire book as the following stories are one way or the other linked to this. Another example would be “Redemption” which I already mentioned previously.

 


Most first time authors end up writing/mentioning about incidents that they have experienced in life. Among the 9 stories, which one is closest to your heart or life?

All stories are purely fictional! Especially the story where mosquitoes wage a non-violent war against Humanity. However there is no denial in inspirations drawn. I would say that all story plots are a result of fantasized projections of my experience. For e.g: Once, my day was ruined because I hadn’t slept well the previous night, I couldn’t sleep well because the dogs were barking and on top of that the buzzing mosquitoes. When I thought about it, I wondered what could be going on with them and suddenly ideas
mutated and fantasized coming up with my theory “Mutiny”! I feel bad for other stories now that I pick “Mutiny” as the one closest to my heart!

Name some of your all time favorite authors/books.
I have been reading this book since maybe 5 years, and I am still unable to finish reading it as it is never ending with its main and sub plots, it’s written by V.Vyasa! The-Mahabharata. This is easily my most favourite book.

In recent times authors (pun intended) I would go with; Stephen King – Pet Cemetery, Matthew Reily – Temple and of course Chethan Bhagat’s classic – Five Point Someone. But it would be cruel if I don’t mention the books I began reading…Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

Any of the new-age young/budding authors that you think have potential and talent to gather more readers?
Err…I am sorry, I am not sure if I can justify by answering this as I haven’t read a book in the last 2 years as
I was writing mine…

What next do we expect from your desk?
Currently am working on a full length novel finally! It’s tentatively called “Once Upon a Time…Revenge of the Poet!” It’s a story set in a fictional medieval time, with cryptic character names such as Jaci, Jenjhan, Panvyr etc. It is to me the greatest challenge as I experiment with a complex story narration and a story plot which deals with Kings, Princess, Ministers, Masked Vigilante, a Poet and a very mysterious condition of the society they live in! I am hoping that I complete the first edit by the year-end.

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Interview with Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”


Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.

 

Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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Interview with Rashmi Singh

 

Love’s Journey is the debut novel of Rashmi Singh, a freelance Personality Development and Soft Skills Trainer at Faridabad.
From talking about her personal and professional life to her take on love, Rashmi gives us an insight on present day society woes and much more. Read on.

Tell us a bit about your professional background. How did you steer towards becoming a Personality Development and Soft Skills Trainer?
I had been quite active during my school/college days- Taking part in Painting, Elocution, Drama, Creative Writing Competitions (both in Hindi and English, winning prizes for Elocution/Recitation from RamaKrishna Pramhansa Society, Ranchi, second prize in dramatics, in B.H.U-.I.T. and from diff. prestigious platforms) and other co curricular activities saw a growth in my Personality. I was very good academically (except Math-ooops!), winning Best Class Citizen Award consecutively for 2yrs in school. My life could not be perceived without these!!!
I connected well with my friends without having ideas that I was better than others or others were better than me….though I wasn’t the partying type. My ability (God Gifted) to connect with friends made me the elected Joint Sec., of my college though just after graduation I got married.

Marriage came with so many other regular responsibilities which weren’t easy to shoulder so my studies saw a break. But I am thankful to my very good schooling (Notre Dame Academy, Patna and Loreto Convent, Ranchi) that I got a chance to teach English in a school where my child had taken admission-thence my journey started. Along with teaching, I carried on with my educational pursuits and finally did M.A., M.B.A., C.T.E. In schools I was generally asked by the Principal to counsel students and parents and this idea came up in my mind to hone and polish the personality of others with my own experiences of life-So about 12 years back, I quit schools and started as a Freelance Personality Dev. and Soft Skills Trainer.

What is the one thing that you think is quite important when it comes to communication skills and personality development?
It is confidence coupled with being well-informed. If you have confidence and correct information of things for which a person needs extensive reading, then his/her language defects, dressing sense, etc. could be easily covered up. But not over- confidence- this leads to miscommunication.

Would you like to share with our reader, your earliest memories of writing?
Yes, why not!
Like I mentioned, Creative Writing came to me naturally, I was always into a flight of fancy in my imaginary world. I watched people, their mannerisms very intently. Why people-I even watched animals..clouds..flowers.. My poems and write ups were published in college magazines and local dailies but at that time we didn’t have much opportunities. Moreover I belonged to a conservative Rajput family, though was provided with the best of education but all these were mainly done with one objective-marriage. But the writer in me often fought with the woman in me and I kept on writing in my diaries continually. I have 2 blogs Riviera and Lost Tranquility in the Asia Section of an International website.
But recently these blogs have become a scapegoat of the rules of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting- the write ups are there but the illustration in the form of pictures have been blocked. But this has not deterred me. Actually I am more energized now.

You get to meet a lot many people every day, given your line of work. Did that in any way trigger you to write a story/novel? As in, what brought about the ideation of “Love’s Journey”?
Yes, I meet many. There are many married men/ women who are leading an unhappy life. Though they profess, they love their spouses but actually are not happy. Many want to get out of their wedlock but have certain fears!

And above all the YOUNGSTERS. The no. of jilted lovers are increasing by leaps and bounds these days!!! Progress has come with increased no. of suicides.

Sleeping with one and then moving around with others. Though in such cases often the males do not have any qualms but the females to a great extent are traumatized. Though while narrating their stories, they try to hide their physical relationship but their restlessness and eyes tell all!!!
So I took a backdrop of Bollywood and wrote about the feelings of a woman who has to overcome hurdles of life and I think being a Counselor has helped me a lot in etching the characters.

How would you define “love”?
Love is something which cannot be defined or measured!
It is just a feeling. It rises above physical appearance and mental make up. According to me love is something when you understand a person-give him/her space. Sex is obviously there but in couples where this becomes primary, love cannot stand even a single negative onslaught. Like in Love’s Journey Jennifer falls in love four times… but with Shambhu her love was a platonic and the most strongly bonded one. She knew she was crushing her desires, then too she wasn’t at all feeling bad because the kind of selfless love Shambhu was showering on her was never experienced by her before. And with Shantanu she thought after all she had found the love of her life with her body physically craving for him but eventually it sucked her into a vacuum!!!

Who, according to you, is the epitome of love in your life?
From renowned and known figures, it is Radha- I think Radha, Krishna’s beloved is the epitome of love. She never demanded anything from him…She was married but had the courage million years ago to admit this. And nobody knows what became of her when Krishna left her. It is said Krishna gave her a place along with him to be worshipped but there is no mention of the fact, that where she went..what she did.

Wasn’t this Krishna’s responsibility to see what became of his beloved? Radha had the courage to let the world know she loved Krishna.

How was the experience of having authored a book? Have things changed in anyway? Did you face any apathy from publishers or agents in the publishing industry?
It was great! First time people could know about me-my ability to feel things around me and l
gave them ‘language’ And I for the first time could really let out my feelings to the world. Monetarily it hasn’t changed but fame wise it has!! People now relate to me. As a Personality Development Trainer, I could reach out to a limited people but now I am able to reach the masses!

Pustak Mahal People are very good and extremely co operative to me and hence far I have interacted with them only. I have no agents. I do my own Liaison. But many of my friends with finished work are facing apathy from agents and Publishers. I can’t name them as this may hamper their hard work

What’s your take on the sudden rise in the number of new young authors?
It is really nice to see that now so many young people are getting their desired platform.

What’s your favorite genre? Name some of your favorite authors and books.
Recently I read ‘The Palace of Illusions‘ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni-It’s really gripping.
Paulo Coelho‘s ‘Veronica decides to die‘ is also thought provoking.
There’s nothing like my favourite Genre. I read anything which attracts my attention.

What next do we read from your desk?
Taming The Restless Mind is a very sincere and honest effort from my side to guide people across the world! I know many would be scandalized to see a woman dealing with topics which is considered a taboo in our society-but then someone has to! Topics like confidence development/communication skill is obviously there but topics like Peer Pressure, Job Stress, Dating, Drugs, Internet Porn Addiction, Nudity, Bed Buddies, Sexual Myths and Facts are also there. So you can say it is a complete package to tame restless minds!
Though a non fiction, it is written in a narrative style. The chapters are gripping with solutions provided to the best of my belief and faith.

Rashmi certainly has shown a knack for plotting a good story and etching relatable characters. I look forward to reading her latest non-fictional offering.

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Of loneliness, love and everything in between- Interview With Chitralekha Paul

Reviewers claim that Chitralekha Paul’s writings are similar to Jhumpa Lahiri and Anita Desai’s treatment and writing style. The dilemmas, issues and small pleasures of the protagonist of Delayed Monsoon, Abhilasha, has given critics and reviewers enough reason to applaud this lawyer-cum-writer’s debut venture. The way in which Abhilasha and Arvind fall in love, the anticipation of meeting her beloved for the first time (she fell in love with Arvind online) and the nervousness she faces of him being a person different from the Arvind she has known is written beautifully.

I got talking with Chitralekha Paul, about how she chose this story as her debut novel, about how similar is Chitralekha to Abhilasha and that one instance that helped her realize that people other than family would be interested in reading her novel.


From a lawyer to a writer – what inspired you to take up writing?

The lawyer in me is a professional person but there is also another me who is sensitive and creative. My thought process is never at rest. But being an introvert to the core, I could never share my feelings with anyone. So, I guess that is the reason I took up writing to express myself.

How was life with an Air-Force officer initially? Was there any kind of fear/apprehension about the professional hazards? Did that in anyway bring out the writer in you?
Initially there was lot of excitement. Getting married to an Air Force pilot was a big deal for a girl who was used to a calm and uneventful life far away from any kind of glamour or glory.  I was overwhelmed by the charisma of my husband’s profession. No doubt the profession was risky but somehow I never got apprehensive, except when his flying time coincided with thunderstorm or when he went into hills. Many people have asked me this question “ Don’t you get scared when your husband flies.?” And my answer was “ How can I afford to be scared when I have married a person for whom flying is his life?”


There is quite a bit of loneliness reflected in Abhilasha’s character. How did you think of the entire ideation and plot? How much of Chitralekha reflects in ‘Abhilasha’?

The story deals with the loneliness of Abhilasha at various stages of her life.  If we broadly divide the stages as before marriage and after marriage, then before marriage loneliness is something which is typical  with Abhilasha  but after marriage aloneness is quite a common feature.  My interaction with many married ladies of my time, who could not pursue their career, compelled me to ponder how void they felt from inside when apparently they seemed to be happy. Competent and educated girls who could have easily carved a niche for themselves had not thought twice before sacrificing their ambition at the altar of the family. Because that appeared to be the most spontaneous and natural choice at that point of time. But there comes a stage when family responsibilities are fulfilled, everyone’s interest has been taken care of, but what happens to them? Alas! At the end of it all, a painful realisation dawns on them that perhaps they have messed up their lives, as all their sacrifices earned them nothing more than an inferior status of being termed as a housewife, the most underrated, difficult and taken for granted profession( if it can be called a profession).  I have come into the legal profession at a much later stage, before which I was one among them. So I chose to write for me and for many more not so accomplished ladies who could have touched the sky only if they got a chance to realise their potential.

All the characters have a distinct feel and flavor. How easy or difficult was it etching them – the male protagonists as well as the female protagonists?
Human characters fascinate me a lot. We all are distinct persons with various shades. No one is outright good or bad. That’s why whenever I come into contact with any person I try to be non-judgmental so that all his traits, good or bad get painted in the canvas of my mind.  And since I am the one who loves to observe rather than being observed and listen rather than being listened, I find it easy to feel the distinct flavour of each character.

Is there any incident that you’d like to share with the readers that has left an impression in your memory, during the writing process?
Initially when I started writing I was not very sure if people will be interested in the story of Abhilasha who was just an ordinary housewife. My daughter’s remarks that the story makes an interesting read, failed to convince me as I took it to be an attempt by a loving daughter to encourage her mother. Then one day my husband happened to peep on the Microsoft word file which I forgot to close. “It’s amazing!! I have been with you for so many years but I never knew that your grip over English is better than me. With an easy flowing language, you have an interesting story to tell and many ladies would love to read your book,” for the first time in my life I was praised by my worst critique.  And I was on cloud nine.

Would you like to name some of your favorite books/authors?
I find this question a bit difficult to answer. There are quite a few authors  whose writing I enjoy. But that doesn’t mean that I would like all their writings.. May be I have enjoyed a particular book of a certain writer but some other books  written by the same author has disappointed me. But still if you want me to answer the question,  first I will name two famous  Bengali novelists and they are Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay and Sharat Chandra Chatterjee. Apart from them there are many others like R.K Narayan, Paul Coelho, Alex Haley, Jeffrey Archer, M M Kaye, Khaled Hosseini,  Indu Sudaresan and so on. Among the books Pather Panchali, Malgudi Days, Roots, The Far Pavilions, Autobiography of a Yogi and AThousand Splendid Suns are my all time favourite.

What other genres of writing do you wish to explore further?
Umm…I have not thought about this  as yet.

How has life changed after being known as a writer/author?
Well….. life is the same for me, there is absolutely no change.


What next do we see you writing?

May be another fiction which will have nothing to do with my personal experience.

Pearls of wisdom for budding writers…
Be honest with your feelings and don’t let the mind interfere with your heart in the initial stage of writing. Just go with the flow and let the story take a shape. Afterwards you will have enough opportunity to use your mind, be it changing the story line or working on the language.

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Interview with Ismita Tandon Dhanker

A “lesser known poet”, a brilliant author, and an extremely charming young girl – Ismita Tandon Dhanker made waves with her debut novel- Love On The Rocks earlier this year.

BookChums got talking with Ismita and here’s all that we found out.

We saw your blog and it has some real good poetry. So let’s begin with the clichéd one first – when and how did you start writing poetry?
Poetry happened to me at the age of twenty-six when I went sailing for the very first time. A stroll on the deck one evening gazing at the blue sky slowly turning crimson and the wind stroking my face, the thoughts kept flowing until they began to rhyme beautifully. Communing with nature was the turning point in my life.


Your first published book is a romantic-thriller and not a collection of your poems. Why?

People don’t read poetry. Where is the time in this mad rush to pack meaning in their fast paced lives?  And even if they do they don’t buy a poetry book and publishers have a tough time selling it in the market. But it’s my dream to have a poetry book that would sell like hot cakes. The dream has already begun to pay off since I won 50, 000 for my poem ‘I am Beautiful’. Life is much like poetry…beautiful, free flowing, cryptic.

Love on the Rocks had quite a heady mix of characters. What was the thought process while developing the characters? What kind of research did you have to do for the characteristics and the overall plot?
The characters are an amalgamation of all the wonderful people I have sailed with in the last few years. Sailors are quirky, a lot different from the average man you meet back home. Long voyages at sea in the company of colourful sailors, gross jokes, anecdotes, bizarre incidents, the loneliness it all turned out to be one helluva adventure. That’s all the research that I needed to put together a thriller.

If the book gets picked up for a movie- who do you think will fit the role of Sancha, Capt. Popeye, Aaron, Harsh, and Baldy?

If we are dreaming, we might as well dream big:
Sancha – Amy Adams
Capt. Popeye – Antonio Banderas
Aaron – Christian Bale
Harsh Castillo – Oliver Martinez
Baldy – I think Christopher Nolan can handle rest of the casting

The title, genre and setting of the book is unconventional and not been explored by many new age writers. What prompted you to work along the lines of suspense/thriller/murder…and not take the conventional route of a chick-lit or simple love story?
Everyone has a story to tell and the first book almost always comes from the authors immediate surroundings, experiences. I have always been inclined towards murder mysteries and it seemed like such a thrill to keep the readers guessing. And love is so twisted in this day and age that any story can hardly be termed as a ‘simple love story’. Hence the thriller angle.

What are the challenges you faced while writing the book –maybe in terms of its progress or the characters or maybe with the publishers?
Challenges were plenty. To carry the story forward from different POV’s, exploring their personal crisis while moving on with original plot required that changes be made to the draft very often.
Even after the final draft was ready, my troubles were far from over the difficult task of finding a publisher loomed large. A year long struggle, countless rejection mails and nail biting moments were an integral part of the books arduous journey. And I had to kept reminding myself every now and then ‘Its a good book and I’ll make it’.

Is there an incident that you’d like to share with our readers and budding authors that you encountered while writing the book?
The original manuscript was a grand, elaborate peep into the lives and work of sailors on a ship. Their hardship, the hectic work hours all that had to be pruned to make the plot tighter as editors from various literary agencies believed that the general public would not be interested in reading about the mundane. I differ on that point and today most readers come back to me and say ‘they loved the novel, the plot but a little more description of the life at sea would have made it so much more interesting’.
Persistence is what worked in my favour. It’s a tough call to roam around with a manuscript that doesn’t gel with the standard idea of Indian fiction, the story being narrated by different points of view. And then to be told that Indian writers can’t write good thrillers. Well, I just did!

Given a chance, would you think of giving this story an alternate ending?
Nope but I would prefer to stick to the original/working title of my book which is ‘Almost Lucid’.
How do you think your writing (fiction and poetry) has matured with time?
Clarity of thought and simplicity of expression are now the hallmark of my writing. Practise makes perfect!
Name the authors and poets who have inspired you.

Jeffery Archer, Sydney Sheldon, Kabir, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost.
Tell us something unique about:
Ismita the poet…is restless.
Ismita the author…is an author by default.
Ismita the girl…spends her evenings in the company of Trees.
Tell us:
The one quote that inspires you all the time
To practise any art no matter how well or badly is a way to make your soul grow.

The one character of LOTR that is closer to you than the rest
Manna and his journal entries.

The one dream/aim you still strive to achieve
To be known as a Poetess.

The one poet (and/or author) you desire to meet
Deepak Chopra.
What can we next expect from your desk?
I am half way through another thriller titled, ‘Drink and Die‘, weaved around DND, a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics in a town called Monele near Ooty. The story highlights a social malady, Alcohol addiction, an issue I have always wanted to address.
The plot is a heady cocktail of the different favours of life lust, power, money, incest and vanity. The protagonist of the story is Johnny Will, a man with a high IQ, who runs a rehab and is ostensibly helping the rich and not so sober get over their little alcohol addiction. He has no qualms about blackmailing his wealthy patients too. A crook selling a cure.

What other books/authors of recent time would you recommend our readers?
Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Kabir.

If you had a book club, what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there?
‘The Poetry Night Club’ and would be reading poetry of course!

Well, there’s a lot more to this charismatic young author and we for one, eagerly await her next book.

To know more about Ismita check out her profile page, only on BookChums!

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Interview With Adithi And Chatura Rao

The launch of Growing Up In Pandupur in Mumbai gave us a chance to interact with two very versatile and creative authors – Adithi and Chatura Rao.

Growing Up In Pandupur is a marvelous collection of 13 short stories for children. And parents alike.

The writing is mature and stable, but at no place does it feel commanding or overbearing. So kids will have no difficulty breezing through the stories.

Talking to the author-sisters would really make you feel as if you are talking to a friend…a mature, responsible and a really caring friend, who will always guide you through difficult times.

Yes, the book in a way brings to light certain topics/issues that kids face but are unable to communicate with their folks. The book comes as a friend and a guide to not just children, but parents too.
Well, the sisters are good at hearing you out as well. No wonder kids and parents wouldn’t leave a chance to strike a conversation with them, at the launch. Their observation and insight to finer things, usually overlooked by most, is admirable.
I got a chance to interview the sisters and here’s a bit of the conversation:

How did you chance upon the title of the book?
There is actually a small town by the name of Pandavpur between Bangalore and Mysore. We passed through it many a times and it is quite scenic. While we were penning out the stories, we modified the name to Pandupur.

How did you think of writing a short story collection for kids?
Between us sisters we have three kids. And we discuss every issue our children are facing or undergoing. There are a lot more challenges you face as a parent. There are times when kids cannot really express what they feel, and this (writing stories of different themes that revolve around kids) was a way of connecting with them.
We already had a few stories around the theme of growing up, and we added a few more to complete the book.

Broadly, what would you say are the diverse topics the stories touch upon?
From sibling love-rivalry, to the loss of a family member, to child sexual abuse, to growing up –most of the stories cater to topics any child can relate to. For that matter, any parent can relate to.

Amongst the stories in this book, which ones are your favorites?
Grandfathers and Trees
Sister’s Song
The River Came Home
The House Painted Blue

Could you name a few of your favorite books?
Chatura: I like fantasy-science fiction work by Ursula K. le Guin, novels by Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck.
In children’s fiction, The Bridge To Terabithia, the Earthsea novels by Ursula K. le GuinJ.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan, and Winnie the Pooh, and Huckleberry Finn.
Adithi: I like the work of Harper Lee (To Kill A Mocking Bird). Her ability to get into the psyche of a child is commendable. I also like R.K. Narayan’s  Malgudi Days and The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Toomey.


What were your growing up days like?
Charuta: We had a typical middle-class childhood. Grew up in south India, moving between Chennai and Bangalore. Played a lot with large groups of kids. Cycled, went for music classes, stole mangoes, befriended stray dogs and adopted their puppies, ran a book library from a friend’s garage, spied on crabby old neighbours, got together and put up plays and dances at Christmas in our grandfather’s garden…
Adithi: Pretty much as Chatu described it! Bangalore was my Pandupur, complete with the magician grandpa and a grandmother who was never too tired to read, cook, feed, sing, play, talk or listen when it came to me…

Would you share an incident (from childhood) that has stayed with you till date?
Chatura: I used to be petrified of having my nails snipped by my grandfather. He was an ex-armyman and believed in crew cuts! So I’d hide around the house, sneak around quietly, until inevitable he’d shout for me, and then i’d go to him like a lamb to slaughter! I remember the undersides of beds and tables a lot because i was often playing behind/ under them with my dolls, and also hiding from people. One time my sister got an injection and while she yelled, i hid behind the bed and cried too :-)
Adithi: “About Grandfathers and Trees” pretty much tells of my most poignant childhood memory.


What next do we see from you – individually and / or together?

Chatura: I’m working on a collection of stories for adults in the style of magic realism. Nothing being co-written with Adithi right now.
Adithi: Together we haven’t planned anything yet, although we’d love to do a “Pandupur Too”! Individually I’m sure Chatu will come out with a book. As for me, it has to be a film or I’ll burst!


If there was one advice you could give parents today, what would it be?

Chatura: Listen to the kids.
Adithi: That if it’s happening with your kid it is probably happening with lots of others as well, so it can’t be that bad. Let it pass with a sense of humour, things do have a way of working themselves out. This is advice for myself as well as for parents out there… I too forget, more often than not.
Psst: For people who still haven’t picked up a copy of Growing Up In Pandupur, “fie fie!”
Get it here!

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