Friday, September 30, 2016

Blog Tour: CABBING ALL THE WAY by Jatin Kuberkar



CABBING ALL THE WAY
by
Jatin Kuberker



Blurb

Twelve people agree to an idea of running a shared transport service from a common residential locality to their out-of-civilisation office campus. Twelve different minds with equally diverse personalities gel with each other to fulfil a common need. At first, the members collide on mutual interests, timings, priorities and personal discipline, but in the course of their journey, they become best friends, make long-lasting relationships, mentor and help each other on various mundane matters. The journey goes on fine until one day some members try to dictate terms over the group. The rift widens with each passing day, the tension surmounts and finally all hell breaks loose... Will the journey continue? Fasten your seatbelts for the journey is about to begin...

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About the author




Take an ounce full of imagination and a scoop of humour. Mix them well. Now put a few teaspoons of feelings and emotions and simmer until it smells good. Add spices for taste. Put the mixture on the platter of dreams and garnish it with a few peanuts of desires and some herbs of passion – that’s all it takes to be Jatin Kuberkar. Jatin is a software engineer by day and a passionate writer by night. When not tangled in software codes, Jatin likes to express his inspirations in the form of poetry, short stories, novels and essays.

He lives in Hyderabad and adorns polymorphic forms in his personal life as a son, a husband, a father, a friend, a mentor, an observer, a criticand the list goes on… He is an ardent lover of Hyderabadi biryani and is a worshipper of chaai. If granted a boon, Jatin would love to learn magic from Hogwarts and fly around on a broom stick. 

Jatin is the author of two other books. Rainbow Dreams, a collection of poetry and While I Was Waiting, a collection of short stories. This is Jatin’s third book.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blog Tour: FIGHTING FOR TARA by Sunanda J. Chatterjee


FIGHTING FOR TARA
by
Sunanda J. Chatterjee



Blurb
How far will a mother go to save her child?
“I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
But Hansa, a thirteen-year-old child-bride in rural India, refuses to remain a victim of the oppressive society where a female child is an unwanted burden. Instead of drowning her baby, Hansa escapes from her village with three-month-old Tara.
Hansa soon discovers that life as a teenage mother is fraught with danger. But a single lie opens the door to a promising opportunity far from home.
Just seven years later, Hansa finds herself fighting for Tara’s life once more, this time in an American court, with a woman she calls ‘Mother.’
Will the lie upon which Hansa built her life, defeat its own purpose? How can she succeed when no one believes the truth? 
A story of two mothers, two daughters and a fight to save a child, Fighting for Tara explores the depth of love and motherhood.
Read an excerpt of #FFT here:


The soft light of the lantern flickered, casting a dim golden glow in the tiny hut, as shadows danced on its windowless mud walls. Thirteen-year-old Hansa squatted on the floor beside a metal bucket and stared at the glimmering water, dreading the task before her. Her baby whimpered on the floor, struggling in the hand-sewn cloth blanket. Beside the door stood the terracotta urn that held the ashes of her husband.
Hansa heard the grating snores of her drunken brother-in-law Baldev, soon to be her husband, as he slept outside on the wood-framed coir cot in the moonless night. She shuddered.
Just an hour ago, Baldev had yelled at her. “I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
She’d begged him. “I can’t do it!”
That’s when he’d slapped her. No one had ever hit her before… not even her elderly husband.
Hansa touched her cheek, which still stung from the humiliation and fear.
She doubted her courage to extinguish the baby’s life. Squeezing her eyes shut, she took a deep breath, hoping that dawn would bring her luck.
Tomorrow morning Hansa would travel with Baldev and all the goats they could load into his bullock-cart, and leave the village forever. She would go to a distant land, become Baldev’s second wife, learn the household chores from his first wife, and bear him male heirs… Hansa shivered, apprehensive about her future.
But before her new life could begin, she and Baldev would take a detour to the river to disperse her husband’s ashes and discard her beautiful daughter’s body.
Somewhere deep in her heart, Hansa knew none of this was fair. It wasn’t fair that in a country with a rich heritage of brave queens, young girls were still forced into marriage, sometimes to men older than their grandfathers. It wasn’t fair that she’d been born to poor parents in rural Rajasthan, a state rife with archaic traditions. It wasn’t fair that she had matured early and was given to sixty-year old Gyanchand Rathore from the neighboring village of Dharni, whose first wife and child had died in a fire.
She turned her face away from the bucket, her heart refusing to carry out Baldev’s orders just yet. A shiver ran through her body as she tried not to imagine life without her baby. Think of something else! Think about Gyani!
Gyani’s absence filled Hansa with a dark desolation, a sense of doom, as if his death itself was a living, breathing, overbearing entity.
She thought of his kind eyes, his missing teeth and graying beard, the massive orange turban which she’d tied for him every morning, and the long kurta he wore, which never looked clean no matter how many times she washed it…
But Gyani was gone. Two nights ago, his heart had stopped beating in his sleep, while she slept under the same blanket, her baby right beside her. When she awoke at dawn to the rooster’s call, she had found his cold still body. She shuddered to think she had slept with a corpse, oblivious, in the comfort of her own youthful warmth. Her first encounter with death. And if she did as Baldev asked, there would be another. Tonight.
Gyani’s death had stunned her, and grief hadn’t sunk in. She had not wept for his departed soul, and her neighbor warned her that if she didn’t mourn his passing, she would never move on. But did Hansa really want to move on into a future that included Baldev but excluded her baby?
According to the custom of karewa, Hansa knew that a young widow would be married off to her brother-in-law, so that the money remained in the family. Her neighbor had told her it was her kismet, her fate.
Hansa was brought up not to challenge the norms of society, but to follow them. If the combined wisdom of her ancestors had determined that she should move to Baldev’s village and begin a new life, who was she to argue? She had no family left, no other place to go.
Baldev choked on his spit and coughed outside, jarring the stillness of the night, reminding her of the task ahead.
But while it was her duty to follow Baldev’s orders, she would trade the impending task for eternal damnation.
Her neighbor had said that killing a baby was an unforgivable sin, even though she’d herself drowned two of her daughters the day they were born. Women are the form of Goddess, she’d said, crying at the fate of her own rotten soul.
But it was a matter of survival. Produce a male heir or be turned out on the streets to beg. A female child was a burden. Even Hansa knew that; her father had reminded her of that every day of her life.
That prejudice was her reality.
Hansa was terrified for her own soul, but Baldev said, “A mother can’t be a sinner if she takes a life she brought into this world.” And then he had gone and got drunk on tharra.
Gyani had been unlike most men in the village. He had allowed her to keep the baby, to give her a name. The baby’s eyes glittered like stars on a moonless night.
She called her Tara. Star.
Hansa looked at her baby with pride and with remorse, as every fiber of her being protested, and her stomach turned and her throat tightened.
Outside, Baldev stirred.
Time was running out.
Tara whimpered again, and Hansa turned to look at her chubby fists cycling in the still air, throwing outsized shadows on the walls. Hansa’s hands shook and her mouth turned dry. She bit her lip, forcing herself to focus on the imminent task.
The water in the bucket shimmered black and gold, reflecting the dancing flame of the lantern, mesmerizing, inviting. Water, the giver of life…

She made up her mind. It was now or never.

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About the author


Freelance author, blogger, and ex-Indian Air Force physician Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee completed her graduate studies in Los Angeles, where she is a practicing pathologist. While medicine is her profession, writing is her passion. When she’s not at the microscope making diagnoses, she loves to write fiction. Her life experiences have taught her that no matter how different people are, their desires, fears, and challenges remain the same.



Her themes include romantic sagas, family dramas, immigrant experience, women’s issues, medicine, and spirituality. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her short stories have appeared in short-story.net and induswomanwriting.com.



She grew up in Bhilai, India, and lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. In her free time, she paints, reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches TV crime dramas.



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Friday, September 23, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: A PERFECT MURDER AND OTHER STORIES BY S.R. NAIR

Name of the Book: A Perfect Murder
Name of the Author: S. R Nair
Rating: 4 Stars

BOUQUET OF GENRES


A Perfect Murder and Other Stories by S.R Nair is more like a potpourri of different genres, rather than one theme. Starting with a murder mystery where the murderer gets away with a crime in the opening story A Perfect Murder, Mr. Nair has set the tone of the novel as an interesting, unusual and a very gripping read. Lust and greed form the background of the story as we see the innocent Hiten going towards his doom. His roving eye lands him in a bad situation. You cannot but praise the ingenuity of this crime and have all your sympathy with the actual murderer. As A Perfect Murder showcases a woman in all her seductive avatar, in the next one Mr. Nair introduces Salma.

Salma’s Fate will leave you with a bad taste as you watch with horrific fascination how a man can murder all relationships just to satisfy his lust. Rape by itself is an ugly word, but when such a heinous crime is committed by someone whom you call your father, this crime has no pardon. And while we are saluting the courage of Salma, Mr. Nair changes the mood completely and introduces, Hira Bai.

In the story iPad, Hira Bai represents the age of innocence. A breather, after the two intense stories. iPad has a lot of emotions but they are that of innocence and love. Where an old and poor woman is ready to sell all that she possesses- just to buy an iPad. Her reason for wanting one will touch your heart.

Mr.Nair has one factor appearing in most of the stories. Immigrants. Indians living in the Middle East and the USA are the main characters of his stories. And in Koya’s Story, he touches the biggest fear that many immigrants have – what if we never return home again? Heart-touching.

Seema brings out a bit of positivity again when Seema, the protagonist, is a victim of a social media mishap. You cannot call the perperator a “social media troll” since he knew her from a long time. A weakling and a fool maybe. But the way Seema’s fiancé, Gautam, stands by her, makes you believe in love again.

She had accepted the abuse as her due and now paid it forward with compounded interest to her daughter-in-law.

This is one profound line from the story The Grandson. To what length we would go to have a son. Lata’s mom is a classic example of that. If you read the above lines you will see that the author has nailed it. What one experiences as a daughter-in-law, one passes on to the next generation as a mother-in-law.  While as a mother, Kanta is blind to her son’s amorous behavior, I found it acutely funny that she extended the same thing to her daughter-in-law as her need for a grandson was intense. Again I feel that the author has given the story a fitting end.

I have a small peeve with this story. Since the topic is that of respecting a girl child, why was the girl child who was actually present in the story not given any importance? Just one scene that would indicate that the author actually remembered her? Like it was done in The Stolen Child.

When Safiya finds out that her blood is not matching with her parents, she starts thinking about her real parents. She meets a lady who had been attacked by her own son and is now in a trauma ward. Do they have a connection? This story had a truly fitting end to this theme.

In an anthology, rarely will you find all the stories written with an equally strong voice. Mr. Nair’s voice faltered a bit in The Missing Wife. While a reader will be sucked into the tale to find the missing Geeta, but the straight path the author has adopted to write this story does not give too much scope for guessing. It’s a tale of deceit and lies told in a simple manner. The author could have used some strong incidents to heighten the curiosity factor in this story like he had done in A Perfect Murder.

Mr. Nair takes away my complaint of too much placidity in his next one aptly named Seduced. I don’t know whether to laugh or sympathize with Adi in this story. This one reminded me of an anecdote from the Bollywood movie, Dil Chahta Hai. How we develop a friendship with strangers is very important. Adi thought he would get free sex with a British lady. What happens is a series of funny anecdotes (not so funny for Adi) But at the end of the story, I could not but think that it served Adi right. Didn’t it?

Total Eclipse has one of the most uncalled for ending. Ramu, who is an ordinary laborer, works very hard to keep his wife and dog happy. He has some grief hidden in his heart which he could never tell anyone. So on the day of the eclipse, he does such a cruel act that brings out many secrets. But Total Eclipse left me with many questions. How did Ramu find out the truth and what happens to the characters after the secret is out. But I can assure you that the ending is the least expected one.

In Visa for America, we see another age old question arising. When someone marries a green card holder or citizen of USA, what is the real motive? Is it for marriage or going to the USA? Sam met Sandhya through a matrimonial site. After reaching the USA, she goes missing, leaving a note in which she states that she is in love with someone else and that she had only married Sam to get to come to the US. So what happens to Sam? Does he get the love of his life back and if he does can he really forgive her?

Visa for America has some unconnected dots. There is a mention about Sandhya’s parents and yet that which is supposed to form a crucial part of the story is widely neglected. As in the case of many of the short stories that you find in anthologies, many such small things are often left unsaid, leaving much to the imagination of the readers.

If I had to choose one story which I did not like, that would be The Soothsayer. It’s a story told over generations and it had nothing much to offer. Attukal Ravikrishnan was an astrologer, whose prediction could never go wrong. Now this astrologer read his own chart and came to the conclusion that he would die in a road accident. From that time onwards he had imposed a self-curfew and refused to go out of the house in any vehicle. So now the question is will he be able to prove his own prediction wrong or death has a way of finding you even when you are hiding from it?

If the characters were more involved with each other it would have made a wider impact. Or why the astrologer is behaving in a peculiar way is revealed to the family members as a mystery, it would have made more of an impact. After reading  the above stories written by Mr. Nair, I expected more.

Moving on, I did not quite understand what the title The Lost Son had to do with the story. It was a story about friendship. But the title shows that it had more to do with Ram becoming what he had become. While that is not the nucleus of the story, I could not quite place the title along with the story. It is a story about a Hindu and a Muslim, whose friendship transcends over time and many riots. But when they enter into the business world, the failure of one and the success of the other bring the crack in their friendship. Soon small incidents join up and how they part and make their way back to each other forms a beautiful story.

And the winner is Zubair. I enjoyed this story thoroughly. If the author had planned that the readers would close the book with a smile,  he has succeeded. The feminist in me cheered for Sahana as she adapted to the lifestyle of USA. What brought a smile on my face was the reaction Zubair was having. I could almost imagine Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval in this role. I think I can truly call this my favorite in the lot.

Crisp writing and the free flow of the stories make this anthology a wonderful read.

WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?
If you like stories that bring out the basic human characteristics and make you feel emotional – this one is a taker.

LINE THAT STAYED WITH ME
The kindly gentleman suggested that he write to the Honorable Prime Minister of India and helpfully provided him with the mailing address in New Delhi.  Zubair was not sure whether writing to the Prime Minister would help.  Nevertheless he planned to write to the Prime Minister. He had nothing to lose.

I couldn't stop laughing. 

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blog Tour: MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA: BOOK #1: THE SMITTEN HUSBAND by Sundari Venkatraman


Marriages Made in India
Book #1
THE SMITTEN HUSBAND
by
Sundari Venkatraman



Blurb

Ram Maheshwari is a successful jewellery designer who has a huge showroom on MI Road, Jaipur. He’s tall, dark, handsome and a billionaire to boot. He’s twenty-nine and falls in with his parents’ wishes when they try to arrange his marriage.

The lovely, stormy-eyed Sapna Purohit is from Pushkar. She’s managed to finish school and makes a living by doing mehendi designs during weddings. She’s always dreamt of a Prince on a white horse, sweeping her off her feet.

One look into Sapna’s grey eyes and Ram is lost. Only, Sapna’s unable to see her Prince in Ram. Being from a poor family, she has no choice but to go along with the tide when the Maheshwaris offer to bear all expenses of the wedding. 

Does that mean that the feisty Sapna is all set to accept Ram as her husband? She puts forth a condition, after the wedding. Will The Smitten Husband agree to it?

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.

Read an excerpt...


“Good morning!” said a sleepy voice. “What are you doing so far away?” called out Ram, before reaching out with a long arm to pull her to him.
A startled Sapna gave him a shocked look that was lost on her husband, whose eyes were still closed. His arms went around her waist like steel bands, his breath hot against her cheek. “Sapna...” he whispered in her ear as his hard lips pressed into her petal soft cheek.
Sapna tried to pull out of his arms, only to have them pull her closer. Her breasts were flattened against his solid chest. Her traitorous body seemed to enjoy the pressure as her nipples perked up. She did her best to hold on to the control that was slipping fast.
“Ram,” she called out loudly, hoping to wake him up. She couldn’t free her arms that were trapped against her own body, as he held her in a crushing grip. His mouth was busy exploring her face, moving inexorably towards her lips. His eyes continued to remain closed, while his hands moved restlessly at her waist. “Ram...” her voice came out in a whisper, as she felt his tongue trace the edge of her lips. Tortured, she made the final move to capture his roving lips, breaking free her hands to hold his face steady.
“Sapna...” sighed Ram, kissing her gently, his tongue first tracing her upper lip and then her lower one. He gently bit the luscious curve. Sapna instinctively opened her mouth to let him explore the velvety cavern with his tongue. Shyly, her tongue reached out to mate with his, making Ram groan with need.
His hands moved restlessly on her body, her nightie bunching up. His muscular legs tangled with her slim ones, making her sigh with pleasure as his hard and hairy skin brushed against her soft and silky one. His hands cupped her lush bottom, caressing it lovingly.
Sapna suddenly became aware of his hardness pressed against her belly. Coming to her senses, she turned her face away, breaking the kiss. “No Ram.”
His wet lips continued to caress her, his tongue exploring her shell-like ear. Even as her heart thudded loudly, Sapna pushed against him. “Ram, please, will you stop it?”
His black eyes opened a slit, desire and slumber at war in them. “Sapna?” If he hadn’t been fully awake before, he was now, as he stared at her lovely face that was so close to his. He slowly recalled what had been occurring over the past few minutes. He had at first thought he was dreaming about kissing the luscious woman in his arms. How had she landed there in the first place?


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About The Author


The Smitten Husband is the eighth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #1 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books have been on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK & Australia many times over.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

VARSHA DIXIT, AUTHOR OF RIGHTFULLY WRONG WRONGFULLY RIGHT, SPEAKS TO SANCHITA SEN

Interview with author Varsha Dixit about her latest romance 'Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right'

Romance found her. Yes, it did! Here's the author who weaves magical tales of love, especially by the night when there's pin drop silence, and here she talks about love, romance, stories and how they all happened.

Sanchita: Is Varsha Dixit a romantic at heart? How did you happen to choose ‘Contemporary romance’ as your genre?

Varsha: Heck yes! Varsha Dixit is a romantic at heart but only when she is plotting her stories. Otherwise she is just downright silly and sunny. I think the genre chose me for when I sat down to write my first book, I had planned a murder/horror story. But then Nandini and Sneha’s character popped in my mind and I wrote about them instead. I abandoned my ghouls and killers. 

Sanchita: What was the story behind getting started with your first romance novel? That one signal which made you conclude that you had to be a romance writer?

Varsha: There was no signal as such. When I wrote my first I was grappling some big emotional changes in my life. My father, whom I was very close to, passed away suddenly. Writing helped me fill the big void to an extent and helped me overcome depression.

Sanchita: According to you which genre sells the most and why?

Varsha: I really have no idea which genre sells or why? What I believe is that a good story sells because those are the books readers get attached to.

Sanchita: As a bestselling author, what would be your best advice to upcoming/ debutante authors for marketing their books?

Varsha: Don’t give up on your dreams, don’t whine and don’t be shy from being your worst critic.

Sanchita: What time of the day are you most romantic? In other words when is the best time of the day for you to sit down and pen magic in the world of romance?

Varsha: I’m most creative in the night. Once everyone has gone to sleep, and the house is quiet, is when I like to write.

Sanchita: What would be your one-line definition of love?

Varsha: Love cannot be limited not even by death.

Sanchita: Who is your favourite couple that epitomizes love? And why? Could be anyone, real life, reel life, known personality, friends or family members?

Varsha: I don’t have one but three favourite couples, Nandini and Aditya, Sneha and Nikhil and now Gayatri and Viraj. For their love is based on acceptance, unconditional adoration and is sexy and supportive.

Sanchita: Sneak peek into your next project?

Varsha: Another book which will primarily be about romance and something else. Will have to keep the readers guessing for some time..

Rapid fire round (First thought at the mention of these words):
a.       Stem glasses: Wine
b.      Red: Blood
c.       Valentine’s: February
d.      Pen: Yes, please!
e.      Plot: Scratch my head

Varsha Dixit's book 'Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right' is available at:





About the interviewer Sanchita Sen
Sanchita Sen is a journalist who has worked with several leading national dailies in India. Currently, based in Phoenix, Arizona she is finding her space in the world of authors and has co-authored two anthologies named 'Crossed & Knotted' and 'Rudraksha'.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

SUTAPA BASU, AUTHOR OF DANGLE, SPEAKS TO SANCHITA SEN

The realist, yet magical writer

A writer whose stories don't seem like stories, rather they seem like real life happenings. That is the power of her pen, she pens stories that are so realistic and close to your heart that they will live with you forever. An author, poet and publishing consultant, Sutapa Basu also dabbles in art and trains trainers and is a compulsive bookworm. During a thirty-year old professional career as teacher, editor, and publisher, she travelled the Indian subcontinent, Nepal and Bhutan. She has visited UK, USA, Dubai and Singapore while working with Oxford University Press, India and Encyclopædia Britannica, South Asia until 2013 when she decided to start writing seriously. Recently, her short story was awarded the First Prize in the Times of India’s nation-wide WriteIndia Contest, under author, Amish Tripathi.

The author gets talking:

Sanchita: When and how did the seed of Dangle get planted in you?

Sutapa: It’s difficult to pinpoint when the seed of ‘Dangle’ was planted. After shunting around the country and beyond it for about 20 odd years as an army spouse, I finally took root in Delhi. Here, my work, travel and interactions with people gave me the opportunity to observe many urban neuroses. It set me thinking and wondering why such intelligent and obviously talented people gave in to their own devils or remained dangling, strangled by their own indecisions. But they were not the only ones. I also met people who had decided to come to the big city to find their destiny. Many of them had come from small towns and adjusting to the demands and restrictions of the city was overwhelming for them. Many had to deal with barriers of an unfamiliar language and unprovoked dissonance so typical of Delhi. Yet they stayed, worked and found their feet. As I had attempted to look under the surface, I found in them the strength of determination, undaunted tenacity and unwavering faith in themselves. I wanted to bring all these different and often contradictory elements together on one stage. Gradually, the seed of ‘Dangle’ began to grow until it took over all my waking and sleeping moments. So in 2014 when I sat down to write this novel, I was putting into words a multitude of thoughts that had been fermenting inside me for a while. Drafting it was like a catharsis for me. Often I would be at my laptop well into the wee hours and sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night as a phrase or an idea would occur to me. I would key it in before it passed from my memory. So it was not ‘Dangle’ that was planted in me. It was I who was planted into ‘Dangle’!

Sanchita: While character sketching your lead female protagonist who was your inspiration?

Sutapa: Several smart, gorgeous, independent and outspoken people were role models for my lead female protagonist. As I mentioned, many of them were women I interacted with in my daily life at home, on the street and in my work place. Still there were others…personalities who left me with indelible impressions such as my sister Sanghamitra Bose who I saw growing from a toddler to a highly successful international corporate honcho and yet remain grounded as a wife, mother and friend. Debarati Sengupta, a colleague and friend, proved to me now you can build edifices from nothing. My daughter, Priyatna Basu who never fails to remind me that the world can be improved through a little compassion and my niece, Ipshita Bose who is just learning to fly her nest. My vignettes of life in the army and much of the protagonist’s emotions about the life in Manipur and its trauma of insurgency are from my own experiences in the Forces as a child and being the woman behind my soldier husband.

Sanchita: I always like the layers that you add to the characters in your stories, gives that realistic touch. The characters are not all black or all white. Is it a conscious effort or it just happens in the flow?

Sutapa: I seriously believe that Literature reflects Life. So during my own readings, book characters that appealed most to me were have ones who were like real people. And living, breathing people are never black or white. Whenever I write, I consciously make my characters grey. While aspects of their personality could be inspiring, the flaws must be there. How else will readers identify with them? I love it when my readers say, ‘I felt I was reading my own story.’ And this is true for all stories I write not just for ‘Dangle’. Also I don’t stop at this perspective. I always throw the gauntlet at myself. Can I make the character, despite his/her flaws, appealing to my reader? Can I arouse empathy in the heart for a character who may have gone against established norms, ideologies or social boundaries? And when I succeed in doing that, I congratulate myself. I go over and over my drafts until I believe I have been able to create the layers that need to make my characters 3D (three dimensional).

Sanchita: Which is your favourite genre, be it reading, writing or watching?

Sutapa: Relationship dramas played by realistic characters. The stories could be placed in any setting, historical, contemporary, satirical or fantastical but the ones that I love are those that prove that relationships are complex, intriguing and human whatever the story, whichever the period.

Sanchita: How did fiction writing happen to you? Where do you trace the beginning of it?

Sutapa: That’s a difficult question to answer because I wrote my first drama/story when I was around 8 years old. I believe I wrote plays those days because acting plays was a game I played with my brother and friends and we needed scripts to act out. So I just sat down and wrote them in old school notebooks. My mother found them flying around the room when we finished with our games and preserved them for posterity. Ever since, all through my school and college days, my jaunting around with my husband, raising children, working at teaching, training and publishing I have been writing fiction, poetry and features. A lot of school textbooks that I designed, developed and published at Oxford University Press and Encyclopaedia Britannica, South Asia carry my stories and poems. I would write them on the spur of the moment when we could not find suitable stories for the textbooks to teach English language to students. It was 2013 when I decided that now I cannot but listen to all those voices chattering in my head and focus on giving birth to their stories.

Sanchita: When not writing, what do you love doing?

Sutapa: When I am not writing, I am usually reading. Other than that, I love travelling. Seeing new places gives me great pleasure and I always discover people, tales, art, places in nooks and corners that are not the usual touristy stuff. Eventually, they become part of my stories. Music, especially Tagore stimulates, inspires and calms me. I often go to sleep with a CD softly playing in my room. Designing interiors is also a hobby I indulge in whenever I get the opportunity.

Sanchita: Who is your favourite author and why?

Sutapa: There are so many favourites but if I name a few, they would be Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Divakaruni, Indu Sundaresan, Thomas Hardy, Margaret Mitchell, Irving Wallace, Harper Lee, Phillipa Gregory and Michel Moran. Their writing absorbs me because their characters are alive and whatever may be the context, they live lives that have inspired me immensely.

Sanchita: A sneak peek into your next project?

Sutapa: My next project is a long fiction whose protagonist believes she is so strong that she can fly without wings. That is all that I can say right now.

Rapid fire: The first thought that comes to mind when you hear the following words

a. Emotions: make the world go around

b. Stories: make you soar to reach the stars or collapse in a storm of tears

c. Ambience: necessary as it makes all the difference

d. Air: my son, daughter and my grandson. I need them to breathe

e. Dangle: never…I refuse to sit on the fence

Sutapa Basu's book 'Dangle' is available at:




About the interviewer Sanchita Sen:
Sanchita Sen is a journalist who has worked with several leading national dailies in India. Currently she is finding her space in the world of authors and has co-authored two anthologies named 'Crossed & Knotted' and 'Rudraksha'.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

USHA NARAYANAN, AUTHOR OF THE SECRET OF GOD'S SON, SPEAKS TO SANCHITA SEN

Interview with author Usha Narayanan about her latest mythological fiction 'The Secret of God's Son'

Meet the author who writes across genres, and does it with panache! Here she talks about writing, her love for it and unveils many other 'secrets' about her latest book which is a mythological fiction.

Sanchita: Was it a conscious choice to write in multiple genres or did it just happen?

Usha: Conventional wisdom dictates that you stick to one genre, as it is more difficult for the publisher and you to reach a new audience with every book. It is said that when you jump genres, you could end up building multiple smaller audiences rather than a larger, more committed reader base. However, on the flip side, writing just one kind of book may cramp your imagination, preventing you from following an exciting idea. As you can see, I have not made the conventional choice! In fact, I did not even plan any specific course of action. I think that being inspired by an idea is more important than worrying about which genre is in the news or whether readers who liked my thriller will read my myth. I believe that I can keep my story going for some 80,000 words only if I am passionate about my subject. And it is this zest that I need to convey to my readers. I am happy to have escaped being stereotyped and hope that my readers will continue to follow my writing adventures.

Sanchita: ‘Mythological fiction’ is the recent fad and it has caught on like wild fire amongst readers. I personally love this genre. As one of the prominent authors of this genre what do you think could be the reason behind the new found interest in this genre that dabbles in the ancient?

Usha: There was a time not too long ago when people believed that science had the answers to all questions and that it represented the absolute truth. We were told that there was nothing beyond the reality perceived by the senses and nothing greater than material success. Soon however, this approach was seen to be too simplistic to explain the complexities of the world. People then began to focus on philosophy and metaphysics in order to understand the larger issues of the meaning of life, the cause of suffering, etc. They looked to the ancient scriptures and epics to shine some light on these questions. The original myths and their retellings began to garner attention. Then followed more creative interpretations of the old tales, transforming them to suit modern sensibilities and needs. And the fever caught on.

In ‘The Secret of God’s Son’, for instance, Pradyumna arrives at an active philosophy of life that will help us tackle the present world when the corrupt prevail and virtue is losing ground rapidly. He addresses many distressing issues of today ― the wrongs meted out to women, the weak and the elderly; the tyranny of the rich and the powerful and the apparent victory of the wicked. The gods in my book may exhibit human traits, but I have tried to elevate our thoughts to their realm rather than bring them down to our base level. And of course, this subtext is interwoven into a story that is spectacular, thrusting you headlong into terrifying worlds and stunning adventures.

Sanchita: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes them so special?

Usha: Pradyumna is the son of Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu. Krishna’s son is human like us, struggling against temptations in order to transform himself into an ideal husband, son and leader of his people. His story is fascinating, his exploits are spectacular and his past lives provide enough colour and excitement to fill up many tomes! And finally, he is almost all mine as no one else has written in such depth about this forgotten hero. His beloved Mayavati is the beauteous Rati reborn, waiting to be reunited with her Kama who had been burned to ashes by Shiva’s wrath. She is Pradyumna’s inspiration and his battle flag. Her unflinching devotion to her people inspires us to hope that love can vanquish darkest evil and transform the world. Finally, the loftiest and most lovable character in all the puranas ― blue-hued Krishna, born on earth to restore dharma and to impart the Gita to guide humanity through Kali Yuga. He straddles two yugas and my two books ― goading and guiding his two sons and mankind to make the right choices and to write their own destiny.

Sanchita: Is there a message in your novels that you hope readers will grasp?



Usha: I think that authors must spin a good yarn and leave the message embedded in the story to be discovered by the reader if he is so inclined. Novels are like portals that let you escape your everyday life into an enchanted world. Here you encounter powerful passions, stirring adventures and dark enemies whom you must battle and defeat. You bring back new skills, new weapons and new ideas that can transform your real life. And that is a wonderful thing. So my message to readers is to enjoy the book, the characters and the journey they undertake. Beyond that, if you wish to look deeper, you will find thoughts that will help you better understand your culture, your world and yourself and achieve your full potential. This underlying meaning is what makes a book hard to write and difficult to forget.

Sanchita: What inspires you to write?

Usha: Writing a novel is a humongous task. It is not just the intense effort that goes into each word,
sentence and chapter and in crafting the overall structure. It is also the struggle you face in catching the eye of a good publisher, then ensuring that your book is not lost in the clamour of the marketplace. So you need to be truly motivated to even begin writing a book. I have always had a penchant for creative expression and for challenges. These inclinations led to a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications, until one day I realized I had grown tired of writing to suit a client’s brief. I then decided to write for myself and came up with books in three different genres: a thriller, a romcom and two myth-based fantasies. My journey still excites me, though at times when I hit a rough patch I need enormous will power to keep going. But the travails are all forgotten when I read reviews that appreciate my final creation. For instance, here is what author Devika Fernando says about ‘The Secret of God’s Son’: ‘Indian mythology at its fiercest and finest’! What more can I ask for?

Sanchita: When you are not reading or writing, what do you love doing?

Usha: “Travelling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,” said Ibn Battuta, medieval
Moroccan scholar. I have traveled widely, sometimes on cruise ships, and seen many beautiful places across the five continents. I love meeting people from other lands and watching how they too reciprocate, reaching out to capture the memory and the moment in a snapshot. Cobblestone streets, cathedrals, iconic bridges, palaces, monasteries perched on hills, the ancient Colosseum or Angkor Wat…I have enjoyed them all. I have a particular fondness for lakes, rivers and seas with all their beautiful flora and fauna. These journeys free my imagination to travel beyond the mundane and the routine. They leave me with a sense of wonder and an understanding of how trivial we are in the overall scheme of things.

Sanchita: Sneak peek into your next project.

Usha: My imagination flits at high speed like a hummingbird, sometimes hovering over one idea, only to be distracted by a more colourful one. Again, like a hummingbird, the only kind of bird that can fly backwards, my mind returns to the earlier thought and delves in, looking to see if it is worthwhile. At the moment, I have ideas for a romance, a myth and even some that would make for interesting inspirational books!

Sanchita: Your word of advice to upcoming authors.

Usha: Read more. Write more. Suffer more. Aspire more. Even if you get knocked down by rejection or
criticism, come up swinging!

Rapid fire- first thought that comes to mind on hearing these words
a.       God – Peace
b.      Ancient - Wisdom
c.       Karma - Inevitable
d.      Ideal - Dream
e.      Justice – Voiceless

Usha Narayanan's book 'The Secret of God's Son' is available at:





About the interviewer Sanchita Sen
Sanchita Sen is a journalist who has worked with several leading national dailies in India. Currently, based in Phoenix, Arizona she is finding her space in the world of authors and has co-authored two anthologies named 'Crossed & Knotted' and 'Rudraksha'.


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