Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Shades of Love: A Flash Fiction Contest

Happy Valentines Day!
It is that time of the year to awaken the sleeping romantic inside you!
Nine popular Indian authors invite you to write flash fictions during this month of love and stand a chance to win Amazon vouchers.
Happy to announce an exciting Valentine-month contest for every aspiring romance author!


To celebrate the festival of love, nine romance authors (Reet Singh, Preethi Venugopala, Ruchi Singh, Devika Fernando, Sudesna Ghosh, Esha Pandey, Sai Swaroopa Iyer, Paromita Goswami & Adite Banerjie) invite you to write a piece of romantic flash fiction of up to 500 words.
Details:

All you have to do is write a story based on any of the listed books’ titles and characters. To know more about the books, check out the Amazon links listed below.
1. You can write the story on your Facebook timeline or blog and post the link in the comments section under the pinned post on the event page stating the 'Title' you have selected from the given books.

2. You can send in one entry or multiple entries based on any of the titles. 

3. Your story needs to be inspired by the storyline/characters of the book(s) you pick. 

4. Maximum word-count: 500 words. 

5. Open for Indians only.

Contest Starts: 14th Feb 2018 

Contest Ends: 28th Feb 2018


Prizes to be won: Amazon vouchers worth Rs 2250/- to be won.

There will be 9 winners and each author will pick one winner. Rs 250 voucher for each winner.
For example, if you pick my book 'A Royal Affair', you will have to write a flash fiction using the title and the main character names, Jane and Vijay.

 Don’t forget to check the Facebook event page of Shades of Love for updates from the authors about their books & characters, inspirational quotes and more…
Happy Writing!

Amazon Links to Books included: 

1) Destiny’s Girl by Adite Banerjie: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B079MJDM3K

3) A Royal Affair by Preethi Venugopala: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B0771V86M8 

4) Tantalising Temptations by Devika Fernando: www.amazon.in/Tantalizing-Temptations-Breakfas…/…/B0769NFLQ5 

5) My Singapore Fling by Sudesna Ghosh: https://www.amazon.in/My-Singapore-Fling-Sudes…/…/B074LBCD72 

8) I will meet you there by Esha Pandey: https://www.amazon.in/I-Will-Meet-You-There/dp/9382536868

9) The Santa's Gift by Paromita Goswami :

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cover Reveal: Destiny's Girl by Adite Banerjie




Five years ago, my first book was published by Harlequin/Mills & Boon with the title "The Indian Tycoon's Marriage Deal". It was an exciting moment for me as a writer and I will always cherish that memory.

Strange thing is that I get to do a re-run of that moment yet again. But this time as a self-published author. I am hugely excited at the opportunity to revisit Krish and Maya's story and bring it to my readers with a new cover and title. There could be no other month more appropriate for the re-launch of a romance than the Month of Love -- February!

The story is now called Destiny's Girl. And it has a brilliant new cover... I am sure you will agree with me!

I did wonder if I should update Krish & Maya's story. But as I went through the manuscript, I realized that my protagonists are now not merely characters in my book, but they have their own fictional lives within the pages of the book. Who am I to change that? So, their story is presented as is, complete with its flaws and foibles -- in real life we don't get a chance to change our past, do we?
If you have read their story, I hope you will enjoy revisiting it again when  Destiny's Girl goes online as an e-book on Amazon (stay tuned for the announcement). And if you haven't read it, I'd urge you to read it!

And now... for the C.O.V. E. R.    R.E.V.E.A.L.  <Drum Roll, please!> :)



So here comes DESTINY'S GIRL....



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........







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Would love to know what you think of the cover.


And wait.... there is some more news. Destiny's Girl will have a sequel soon. It will be the Happily Ever After story of two characters you meet in Destiny's Girl -- Rohan and Natasha.

So, keep your eyes peeled for more updates on the release of Destiny's Girl and its sequel.
May Valentine's Month be full of love and happiness for you all!

Adite Banerjie

On Writing: Devika Fernando and Tantalizing Temptations

Today on 'On Writing', we have Devika Fernando, who besides being a succesful romance novel author,  works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home.

Welcome to 'On Writing', Devika!



 Follow her on          TWITTER       FACEBOOK    WEBSITE

You are one of my favourite authors and I am delighted to welcome you to my blog to talk about your recent works and writing. I am thrilled that you are bringing out a new series. Do tell us, what is your latest series about?

Gosh, thank you so much for the compliment! It means even more to me as you’re a prolific writer and blogger yourself.
I released ‘Tantalizing Temptations’ in November 2017 and I’m still very excited about it. It’s the start of a new series where each book is set in a bed & breakfast in a different country. TT charms readers with a cottage in England, a courageous single mother, and a charming gentleman who does much more than help her manage the inn.

Is the fact that you are the owner of an idyllic hotel in Kandy aptly called as Idyllic Vista what triggered off this ‘Inn Love’ series?

Yes, it is. A few author friends of mine kept teasing me that as a writer, having guests from all over the world and managing a hotel would surely inspire new stories. And I finally thought – why not? I’ve always been a fan of writing books set in countries all around the world, as with my multicultural romance novels ‘Saved in Sri Lanka’, ‘Seduced in Spain’ and ‘The Prince’s Special Bride’. And there’s something about being on holiday that changes something in people, makes them more willing to let go and live, to take a chance and make new experiences. Which is the perfect set-up for a love story, if you ask me.

Where all will the ‘Inn Love’ series of romances take the readers to? What was the reason behind the selection?

Book 1 is set in a cottage in England. Book 2 (which I’m currently writing) takes place in a log cabin in Canada. And Book 2 (for which I’ve already written a few scenes) uses a villa in Italy as the setting. I’ve got many more countries planned out. I wanted to choose popular holiday destinations because I enjoy offering glimpses of the setting alongside the love stories.

What is the most interesting part and most difficult part when writing a series?

One of the most interesting aspects is finding a common theme that will be reflected in all books, maybe even characters that will feature in each story.
One of the most difficult aspects is making sure that you explain and repeat neither too much nor too little if the books are interconnected. For example, how much of what happened to characters X and Y from Book 1 needs to be explained in Book 2 for readers to remember/understand?

Do you plan the whole series or go one book at a time?

I outline the whole series or at least the first two or three books roughly, with a separate blurb/short summary for each book and with important notes for the series as a whole. I also tend to plan out the titles in advance so they match in a way. And I think about the cover designs that should match each other.

How long did it take to finish writing ‘Tantalizing Temptations’?

That’s difficult to say as I had to put it on hold for a bit after I had written about half of the book. Roughly, I’d say it took me three months.

Please share a passage or quote from ‘Tantalizing Temptations’ for our readers.

(This is an exclusive excerpt I’ve never shared before)



The ghost of a smile crossed her face, gone in a flash. “You’re such a wise man. And my hero. You saved me again. Perhaps you do need a white horse and gleaming armor.”

It was his turn to attempt a smile, though he knew it fell flat. He brushed his lips over her forehead. “I told you I’d always be at your service.”

He drew back to hold her gaze. “I’m sorry he came here and ruined your day, Samantha. And if I could, I’d promise you nobody will ever come barging in to cause trouble, least of all Patrick. You deserve joy, you have a right to celebrate.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh, celebrate…the champagne. The bottle slipped, and…” She broke away to scan the spot a few feet away where glass and liquid had splashed everywhere, and stumbled in the process.

Acting on impulse, Jonathan looped an arm around her back and one beneath her knees and lifted her. He carried her into the lobby and settled her on a couch, kneeling in front of it.

“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll clean it. Sit for a while, get your feet back under you. And this evening, I’ll get us a new bottle of champagne and we will have a proper celebration that nobody can spoil.”

Samantha sank back against the cushions and reached for his hands, clasping them.
“Thank you. You’re an angel, Jonathan. I keep expecting you to unfold hidden wings.”

He wiggled his brows, trying miserably to lighten the mood. “First a knight, then a celestial being. What will I be next?”

She smiled weakly. “You’re you, and that’s magical enough.”

That made him swallow thickly. Even in her state, she was such a wonderful and intriguing woman. She made his heartache in various ways. If she had any idea how helpless he felt despite the bravado, how utterly wrapped around her finger he was…

Have you ever faced writer’s block? If yes, how do you get over it?

No. In my opinion, there is no such thing as writer’s block. If you’re a writer, you write. If you don’t feel like it, give it a break or write something else and get back in the groove. These so-called ‘blocks’ are self-created and easily overcome, be it with prompts or sheer perseverance.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

That depends. Altogether (fiction and nonfiction) six to seven hours or even more. It varies day by day how much of it is for romance novels and how much for my job (I’m a German content provider).

What are the three tips you have for readers of this interview who are aspiring writers?
  1. Read as much and as widely as you can.
  2. Write as much as you can.
  3. Don’t just talk about writing or consider it, actually do it, as regularly and dedicatedly as you can.
Thank you Devika! That was interesting. Looking forward to reading more of your books in 2018. 

More about Tantalizing temptations:





Blurb:

Unhappy in a marriage based on lies and control, Samantha decides to start a new life. She leaves London with her little daughter Annie, and opens her own bed & breakfast in the English countryside. Nothing could have prepared her for the suave gentleman who helps her with the B&B and captures her heart along the way.

Managing hotels all around the world makes Jonathan happy – until fate brings him to a cottage that needs attention and a woman who needs affection. Samantha and Annie make him realize that something has been missing from his life all along.

Will their love stand a chance when her tragic past comes knocking?


Other purchase links:

Apple iBooks - http://apple.co/2kICjQn





GooglePlay - http://bit.ly/2xBALhe

Smashwords - http://bit.ly/2xAkhFV


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

First Chapter of His Sunshine Girl


Chapter 1 

April 6, 2014, Sreepuram

When Shalini arrived in Sreepuram, a quaint little village in the northern coast of Kannur district in Kerala, it was six in the evening. She had fidgeted in her seat and bitten off half her nails during the six-hour bus ride that took her from Thrissur to Sreepuram.  Her new job, as a live-in literary assistant to the eminent author Arundhati Mukundan, was the best thing that could have happened to her. Yet, an unknown fear had raised its head and kept her nervous throughout the trip.

A jasmine-scented breeze entered the living room where she sat now and caressed her cheeks. A Gulmohar tree stood in the stretch of the garden visible through the open windows. Shalini felt a kinship with it. Stripped of all colours, it resembled her life.

Gopu, the middle-aged man who had welcomed her into Arundhati’s house, was now pruning the row of decorative bushes near the tree with a pair of garden shears. A child’s wail from somewhere inside the house shattered the silence and Gopu’s shears paused mid-air. He seemed to be pondering whether to go inside when the crying ceased. He resumed his job. Was the child his?

While she sipped the coffee, Shalini wondered if Arundhati would like her. She didn’t have any previous work experience in the publishing world.

“You will love Arundhati. Don’t worry that you don’t know her personally. She is almost like me in her likes and dislikes. We are, in a way, soul sisters,” her grandma had assured her.

Shalini’s grandma, Parvathi, had been Arundhati’s best friend in school. They had lost contact with each other after getting married early on in life. Ten years ago, Arundhati had debuted with a poetry collection that went on to win many awards including the state award for literature. She had followed it up with novels that were hugely popular. The two had met again at a book launch in Kochi three years ago. Calls and handwritten letters had rekindled their friendship. Now they were close like before.

The beaded door curtains tinkled. Arundhati Mukundan, draped in a simple, spotless white cotton saree, entered the room. Her silver hair was gathered neatly in a bun. She smiled at Shalini.

“Did I keep you waiting, child?”

“No, ma’am.” Shalini’s voice trembled slightly as she rose to greet the person whose writing had touched her heart.

“Sit, sit. Don’t be so formal with me.  After all, you are Parvathi’s grandchild. That makes you my grandchild. Call me auntie or Ammamma. No ma’am business from now on.” Arundhati settled in the chair opposite Shalini.

“Yes, ma’am,” Shalini said. “I mean, auntie,” she corrected herself.

“That is better. I hope you had a pleasant journey. How did you come?”

Arundhati scrutinized the frail, dusky girl with doe-like eyes as she talked. Draped in a simple green chiffon saree, she resembled the Radha in the mural painting hanging in the study. Thick black hair cascaded gracefully down her back. The sadness that pooled in Radha’s eyes was reflected in Shalini’s beautiful eyes as well.

A few months ago, Parvathi had beseeched her for help. From what her friend told her, the girl had undergone quite a lot in the past two years. She needed a change. Arundhati required someone to help her with the manuscript she was working on. As Shalini was a post-graduate in English literature, the decision to appoint the girl as her literary assistant was easy.

As an introduction, she briefed Shalini about her work.

“Your primary duty will be to transcribe while I dictate. I prefer my good old pen and paper to create my stories. But age has slowed me down. The computer is an enigma to me. I get lost in the task of hunting for the letters to form words. You understand my situation, don’t you?” asked Arundhati.

 “I completely understand. I am looking forward to beginning my work. It is a privilege to be able to read your unpublished work,” said Shalini.

“Hmmm… let’s see whether you will feel the same a month from now.”

Shalini smiled, sensing a new beginning, a new hope.

Arundhati led her to an upstairs bedroom. The light of the setting sun had tinted the room a pale orange. A few beautiful paintings and sketches decorated the walls. The bed was adjacent to a three-panelled window. A door opened onto a tiny balcony. A writing table and chair stood opposite the bed. The wardrobe was empty and lined with newspaper sheets to store Shalini’s things. The adjoining bathroom was spacious and clean. Adjacent to the room was a small library.

 “Hope you find the room comfortable. This used to be my granddaughter Ananya’s room. Now that she is married and settled in Dubai, nobody uses it. Those are her paintings. She is quite a talented artist, isn’t she?” asked Arundhati with grandmotherly pride.

“Quite.”

“She was a brat, a hurricane during the school vacations along with my other grandchildren.” Arundhati’s eyes sparkled with love.

Arundhati gave her a tour of the house; a double storied, tiled-roof building with four wings and a small open courtyard in the centre. Arundhati’s bedroom was on the ground floor in the East wing. Gopu, the gardener cum housekeeper lived in the South wing with his wife Devi, who was the household help, and their two-year-old daughter Chaitra. The kitchen was in the North wing.

It was in the study that Shalini saw the photograph on the wall. Her heart skipped a few beats and involuntarily she ran her fingers on the framed photo. Five children—one girl and four boys—stood posing with bright smiles on their faces. A perfect shot of childhood innocence. The tallest boy among them and the other one who had his arms around the smiling little girl were the brightest memories from her own childhood. Memories tugged at her heartstrings.

“Ah, the notorious five! Those are my grandchildren. It was taken almost two decades ago, but it remains my favourite photo of them. Kishore, the tallest one was in high school then. The two others on either side of him are Naveen and Navneeth, sons of my eldest daughter. That is Ananya, daughter of my youngest daughter. That is Vishal who is hugging her. She was his pet and still is. Kishore and Vishal are my second daughter’s children,” Arundhati explained.

 “I know Kishore and Vishal. We were neighbours while we lived in Puvattur,” Shalini exclaimed. This was such a pleasant surprise. Her heart was racing. Puvattur, a sleepy little village lying at the northern tip of Kerala, was still close to her heart. Her fondest childhood memories belonged there.

“Ah, the world is such a small place. It is wonderful how these unseen chains connect us. So, you must be the Shalu they talked about incessantly,” said Arundhati.

“Yes. We were very close. Vishal was my best friend. Kishore was a prankster,” said Shalini.

“Kishore and Ananya are now civil engineers. They are both married and live in Dubai with their respective families. Naveen and Navneeth are software engineers and Vishal is a paediatrician. Naveen and Navneeth keep changing their jobs. Vishal is doing his fellowship in London. It is time for the boys to settle down. But they are not interested. They love the freedom they have now,” said Arundhati, narrowing her eyes. She clearly didn’t agree with that sentiment.

That night, while the moonlight bathed her room in pale blue light, Shalini’s thoughts wandered into the realms of the past. Especially to Kishore and Vishal. They had been her neighbours for six long years. Kishore had been the teasing tormentor and Vishal her protector. From the age of six to twelve, happiness had inundated her days and spirited away shadows of sadness because of their presence.

She had loathed summer vacations as Kishore and Vishal spent the summer holidays at their granny’s place in Sreepuram. In a bizarre turn of fate, she was now in the same house that she once hated. For her, this house had been the reason why she had spent many miserable vacations alone.

An owl hooted somewhere nearby and her thoughts began to cloud. As was her nightly routine, Shalini sat on her bed and prayed. For strength. For peace. For a new beginning.



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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What are the precautions to be taken while cleaning your child’s ears?





Cleaning children’s ears is a normal routine in many households. Though, sometimes it becomes necessary to clean the earwax because of the discomfort it causes due to its excess production or for few other reasons, taking few precautions is extremely important for the health of your ears. For this, we need to understand more about earwax, its functions and care to be taken while cleaning your child’s ears.

What is earwax?
Glands in our ear canal produce earwax which is also called as cerumen in medical terms. It also consists of our sweat, skin, and sebum. Many people think that earwax is gross or bad. On the contrary, earwax is very useful for our ears and plays many important roles.
Functions of earwax
  • Earwax provides natural lubrication to our ears.
  • It protects the ear canal skin from dust and dirt.
  • It safeguards our ear from water, insects, bacteria, and fungi.
  • It is a natural mechanism to clean our ears as ultimately, it finds its way out of our ears along with the trapped dust particles.

How to clean the ears?
Doctors advise ignoring the ear wax as much as possible as it will finally come out of your ears by itself. They strongly discourage the use of a cotton swab or hairpin, as by doing so, you are more likely to push the wax further inside the ear and moreover cause injury to the delicate ear canal and eardrum by using pointy things like pins inside the ears that may result into an infection. Also, a strict no-no to hydrogen peroxide cleaners and ear candling as they don’t have any clear benefits and are risky.
However, sometimes, it becomes imperative to clean it when your child’s ears produce excess wax that may cause fuzzy or muffled hearing or sometimes get hardened to cause discomfort and pain. Excess wax accumulation can also block doctor’s view to the eardrum for identifying potential infection.
If it is unavoidable to clean your child’s ears, you can use 2-4 drops of mineral or olive oil to soften the hardened earwax. Following precautions can be taken while cleaning them –
  1. Take a small amount of oil in a container and warm it to the skin temperature.
  2. Make your child lie down with the affected ear facing upward.
  3. Apply 2-4 drops of the oil to the affected ear using a dropper and leave it for a few minutes.
  4. When your child gets up, the wax will work its way out.

Repetitive use of the above process for 3-4 days should give relief from the stubborn wax. Remember that you can use a soft washcloth or a cotton swab to clean around the outside of your child’s ears. However, never try to insert anything inside the ears.
However, in case of ear-pain, fever or any discharge, pus or blood from the ears, it is always recommended to visit an ENT specialist in Bangalore for a thorough ear-examination. These can be the symptoms of injury or infection and needs to be treated by the professionals.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cover Reveal and a Contest: His Sunshine Girl

'Without You', my first book was published in June 2015. It brought home so much love that even before the month was over, I was thinking about writing a sequel to it. 
Then one day I came across this quote on Facebook.

 “Two damaged souls healing each other is love.”

It planted the seed of a story inside me and 'His Sunshine Girl' was born. A lot of things happened in the interim which saw me almost quitting writing, attending the famed ‘Anita’s Attic conducted by eminent author Anita Nair to hone my writing skills, and also a lot of hustle in between.
I am very grateful to Anita Nair ma’am, who was kind enough to evaluate my manuscript and give valuable feedback. The very fact that she loved the book gave me enough courage to go ahead and publish it. 
I have borrowed lots from the world I have seen and experienced to create this love story. 
Many of you might find traits of yourself in Vishal and Shalini. 
Arundhati Mukundan, the much loved 'Ammamma' from 'Without You' comes with a bigger role this time. Ananya and Arjun appear alongside a few other characters whom my beta readers have loved. 
This is a standalone story and will make sense even if you haven't read 'Without You.'
It is also a story where I talk about an issue that is close to my heart. Discrimination based on skin colour.

So without much ado, let me reveal the cover...




Blurb:

Shalini is dusky and has faced body shaming throughout her life because of it. She has gone through a lot in her life, including a failed marriage and divorce, and is at a crossroad when the story begins.
She arrives in Sreepuram as the live-in literary assistant to Arundhati Mukundan, an eminent author.
Dr.Vishal, the prankster cousin of Ananya from 'Without You', has seen love and loss at close quarters.
When the two meet in Sreepuram, it is a reunion of two childhood friends who were once inseparable.
Will their friendship help them heal?
Can the two damaged souls heal each other?
Isn't friendship turning into love the most beautiful thing on earth?


This beautiful cover is courtesy, my two wonderful cousins. Siraj Kannada, the photographer, and Naveena T.V, the pretty model.
Siraj Kannada, who has worked in the movie ‘Bonsai’ as still photographer is also a much in demand wedding photographer. 
Check his Instagram Profile to see more through his lens: Siraj Kannada
Check his Facebook page to contact for assignments: Chameleon
Naveena is graduating in English Literature and is a talented dancer herself.

Thank you dears for this wonderful photo.

CONTEST:

Dear readers, what do you think about discrimination based on skin colour? 

Comment below and the two best comments will win a free copy of my book.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Interview with Sudipta Mukherjee: Writing and The Crossroads

Today on 'On Writing', we have author Sudipta Mukherjee, who entered the world of words with her novel ' The Crossroads'. 
Sudipta in her own words is on a path to explore life, is a lover of music, an avid reader, and a traveller for life. She is a recluse by choice.She trusts this journey of words would lead her towards that greater something, which she is seeking through her fictional narrative.

Welcome to 'On Writing', Sudipta!




Follow Sudipta on : Twitter Facebook Profile Facebook Page: Sudipta Mukherjee




Was becoming an author always your dream or was it a particular event or incident that gave birth to the author in you?

Once I heard the literary genius Amitav Ghosh saying, “I think there never was a time when I did not want to become a writer.” I was sitting close and couldn’t take my eyes off, to the point of making him uncomfortable, perhaps. I marveled at his statement. ‘What an unimaginable focus,’ I thought.
How I wish I could say the same today. Unfortunately, I cannot. And my heart breaks into a thousand pieces.
Writing came to me, much later: as a function of two factors - avid reading and life. Books taught me how to write, and life taught the rest. Books told me stories of distant lands, and life took me to some of those lands to feel those stories myself. Books opened my learning faculties, life opened my mind. Books made me erudite, and I am a perennial student of life. An ever curious soul who crawls and crawls, fumbles and falls, enjoys it all, but never quit it calls.

How important are the names of the characters in your books to you? Do you spend agonizing hours deciding on their names?

Agonizing? Well, I am not sure I would tag that word with anything related to the process of creating a story or a book. Everything I do, during the making of a book, especially the writing part, is a joy to me. I love it, totally. Enjoy every single bit of it. Whether it is naming the characters or framing the structure – the basic skeleton I mean (I believe in the organic creation of a story and not an engineered one). Doing the research work, writing the first draft, its subsequent typing into a laptop, repeated editing, night after night after night… its pleasure to me. Pure, intense, pleasure. A state in which I would love to remain suspended and forever if there is one. I can simply not have enough of it.
Getting back to your question, yes I do spend some time and sincere thoughts on naming my characters. Because to me, a name is an identity which never totally deserts us. The first and the biggest impact of all, and of course, remaining alive long after the possessor perishes. For example, the moment I hear Apu, immediately my film-philic mind conjures up with that little lad of Pather Panchali: large eyes blinking wonder. That’s the power of a name.
While selecting a name for my characters, I reflect on the nature of character it portrays, and try to make it in sync. A name should not be too distant from the essence of its character. I delight in naming my characters. It’s like the joy of naming your child. Only that, if you are a storyteller, you do it over and over again. But that certainly does not rob you of its pleasure.

What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a favourite place to write?

As a writer, I am bit indiscipline, I admit. And I need serious chastisement, I admit that too. My schedule is extremely erratic; my working hours are totally unearthly. When I read, I don’t write. For days together I read, read and read. I eat, sleep and live books. When I write, I cannot read. That interferes with my thinking process and it becomes difficult to focus.
But yes, if I start something (to write), I don’t stop until it is completed. If I start working on a novel, or short stories, I don’t drift. I finish it in a go and then pause. If you call that a process, then that’s what I follow, diligently. That’s how I work.
Generally, I prefer nighttime for writing, that’s the time when I think best. Nightly silence soothes me. It makes me contemplative.
Not favourite, but yes, I read and write in my study. I think better if I am sitting on my ‘thinking chair’ (that’s what I like to call it) and not on a couch. But again, that’s another way to telling that I am not a couch potato but a thinking bum. Bum? No, I rectify, thinking mind.   

What is special about “The Crossroads”?

Ask me, everything. Right from the first day, I started scribbling till this very moment. And I don’t think this ‘feeling special’ will ever desert me, not in this lifetime. Anything and everything about The Crossroads, is very dear to me. The characters, the narrative, the fact that it marked my official entry into the world of words, my readers who read and loved my book; the fact that it taught me not what to write but how to write as well; the process of learning; the delightful truth that it helped me grow - as a writer, as an individual. The person who wrote the first few pages of The Crossroads, and the person who is writing this line, is entirely different. And I am happy to be the change. It reminds me of caterpillars that crawl, casts skin, molts… transforms, in a frantic desire to change.

Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Favourite character? Well, all my characters are my favourite, in one way or the other. I like Aparajita’s simplicity, Arinuddha’s ambition, Raunak’s wit, Guiliana’s warmth (and of course her pizza), Ragini’s selflessness, Tathagata’s wisdom….
But yes, if you ask me to choose someone with whom I would like to spend my entire life with, it would be Raunak Gupta. He is the dearest of them all. He is sharp, he is witty, he is sensitive, he is kind, he is generous. Adorable, in one word. He has all the qualities a woman would love to see in her partner. One would never get bored of Raunak. That’s his beauty and unicity.

How long did it take to finish “The Crossroads?”

2 years exactly. I admit that I took an unreasonable amount of time while writing The Crossroads, given the simplicity of its story. Now I take much less time. Two reasons which I feel contributed to this delay: my total lack of experience as an author. And my daughter, who was very small then, and sucked up quite a bit of my time and energy. Writing was the worst sufferer.
Please share a page or quote from the book for our readers.

THE CROSSROADS

Chapter: 15 (Travelogue)

Life is one crazy affair.
I started my journey with a loss and separation, but ended with a reward. My first expedition gifted me a new friend, gifted me Raunak Gupta. Perhaps life is like that, one never-ending battle of triumph and defeat. I knew whatever I had lost was too hard to get back. Of course, I prayed for it silently all the time, but a part of me was already aware that I would never get it back. But I cheered up, rather consoled myself with the unexpected I got in return. And that was Raunak.
His presence, if nothing, had a rattling impact on my westward bound journey. Somewhat akin to those clouds that my plane propelled through. Shook me, stirred me, but delighted me in the end.
At times, I wonder, had Raunak not been our company that evening, had he not boarded the same flight with us, how our journey would have been like? How my journey would have looked like? Would I have cried the entire time? And then tired of wallowing and lamenting, slept the remaining? Or would I have passed the journey in a stiff mood, impassive to everything happening within and without me. Or would I have been happy still? Would I have smiled? I had reason enough to be one; after all, my dream was coming true.
But again, the moment my thoughts conjure up with that one word, smile I know at once, if at all I could bring out that curve on my face, no one but Raunak was to be credited. It was not that I treated him as a joker, who used his own witticism to entertain my melancholic soul. No he was not. His company had more dimensions than one. Perhaps, more than I could grasp at that point of time, with the level of understanding and maturity I was perambulating with.
Now, as I recollect all those events, one after the other, like turning pages of an essay book I had written in school, I smile at myself, smile at the person I was. And regret.
I hear a faint voice inside me saying, I wish I could. I wish I could see rather suspect more to the world and its inhabitants than I actually saw them with my nascent eyes.

Which do you prefer as a reader? Ebooks or Paperbacks?

As a reader, which I honestly am, beyond everything else and every sliver of doubt, I prefer paperbacks. I mean, given the spacial constraints and logistic issues, e-books are a fantastic replacement, a marvelous piece of discovery, I agree wholeheartedly. But I personally am not much a fan of e-books. The difference reminds me of seeing a digital painting in your i-phone and seeing a real one in front of you. Where is the delight in holding a Kindle in your hand or reading from your iPad? It’s strangely mechanical.
I like holding a book in my hand, feeling it with my fingertips, smell its paper. Its weight on my chest, as I drift into sleep while reading. The colour, the composition… everything. I am a romantic and in eternal love with books, paperbacks of course.
Reading a book electronically betrays you of all that joy. It’s like kissing your special one in a chat box… muah, mmuuuaaahhh (if you intend to express a passionate one), a pair of red lips, or a curled up one with a crimson heart flying. Where is the joy? And the touch? The unadulterated pleasure of being held and cherished… being loved.

How important do you think is marketing in today’s world for any book?

With reference to the current scenario – regional, national, global, universal - marketing has turned out to be THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR. Sad but true. If you know how to market, you can even sell shit. And in millions. I have observed, and not too infrequently that poorly written novels doing extremely well, or rather selling like hot cakes, only because of its aggressive and successful marketing. Selling has become more important than content or context. This shouldn’t be, at least in the literary domain.
Real literature is an analytical, intellectual and intelligent reflection of a society, a time period, and an ethnic group. Although expressed through imaginary settings and characters, but there is always something more to the story than the story itself. Facts hidden in the cobweb of fiction. Three hundred years hence, we would be remembered exactly the way we are being portrayed today. An inaccurate or poor portrayal could delude future generations. A commercially successful book with improper and imprecise depiction could be hazardous if considered from that point of view. Because in the end, we will not be remembered for the bestsellers we churned out, or even the millions we minted. We would be remembered for what we have thought, and how we have written.

What are the three tips you have for readers of this interview who are aspiring writers?

  • If you aspire to become a writer, two things you have to do above all; read a lot and write a lot.


That’s not me, but what Stephen King has said, and I believe, quite rightly said it.
I think I should stop here. Reason: I am a pathetic teacher. I have a long and outstanding chronicle of failures, as a teacher of course. All my students used to fail miserably, and I am not at all proud of it. Every time I meet this type of question, I remember their lean and long faces at once. Immediately I restrain my desire to teach (or give tips). Scared, I don’t teach my own daughter a word. I remind her, self-help is the best help. ‘You teach yourself one time and remember it a lifetime’. Bewildered, she looks at me, she blinks. And then forgets her homework. When her teacher demands an explanation for the lapse, she says, “Mama didn’t help. I am only a child, what can I do?” Smart kid!
Preaching I can still manage, but teaching is an absolute no-no for me. I don’t dare trespass. Teaching terrifies me in a way nothing does.
So my dear aspiring writers, if you follow my advice, I am quite certain you would reach nowhere. Krishnamurthy had once said ‘truth is a pathless land’. I believe the literary world is more or less the same. Make your own path, follow your own instincts, dream your own dream. Successful or otherwise, happiness is bound to be yours.
Hey did you notice, unwittingly though, how I started preaching? I apologise with all my sincerity and I stop.


Thank you for your time.

Thank you, Sudipta! Loved your passion towards writing. Wishing you the very best in 2018!

About Crossroads:




Blurb:
"The Crossroads is a story of Aparajita Basu, a girl from a humble household of Kolkata, who tears away from her family to settle her roots in America, with her childhood friend, Aniruddha. To Aparajita, he is everything she ever wanted. Love dwindles slowly. Fate turns in a blink. Dishearten, she returns, not to her hometown but to a different city, where she finds herself a stranger. Haunted by her disturbed thoughts, obsessed by that one name, she finds no escape... until she discovers herself standing on a new crossroads. An ordinary girl, who loses herself to love. A lover, who turns out to be a betrayer. A friendship born on a stormy night. Wisdom bred out of miseries. A homecoming that completes one full cycle. Three Cities... Two Friends... One Girl... One Story. "

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