Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Swapna Rajput


A Karnatak girl brought up in Hospet, Belgaum, and Bijapur, Swapna Rajput is a chirpy girl residing in Thane, Mumbai. Having completed her post graduation in Marketing, she has worked in the marketing sector for 5 years. Writing was her hobby since her teenage years and as a writer she loves to write romance. Let’s get to know her more-

  • Tell us something about your recently published book Amazing Legends of India.

My genre is romance; my books The Beautiful Roses and In search of a Soulmate are romantic novels. Amazing Legends of India is my first attempt to pen history for the reason that I love reading about Indian history and our legendary heroes.

If we wish to know about any legends, we have to either search on internet or read various books, which have vast info and are obviously time consuming, so it is always tough to gather knowledge about Indian legends from various sources. So I thought, why not compose a single book with short and true information about all the legends of India from the time of mythology till 18th century, and composed this book which contains all the important, known and unknown Indian legends stories.

Read my review of Swapna’s books-
Amazing Legends of India
The Beautiful Roses

  • When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was in high school. I wrote shayaries, short storie,s and jokes which were published in Kannada magazines. Later, I took long gap due to my academics, career, and marriage. In 2010, I quit my job and decided to be a full time writer and published my first book The Beautiful Roses in 2011. It is a first Hinglish book, an anthology containing 6 romantic stories. And the rest is history…

  • Interesting! What is the purpose of your writing?

It is my passion, writing gives me wings. I am a daydreamer and writing is my source to make those dreams come true.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

I have published many Shayaries, short stories etc., in magazines previously. As far as books are concerned –

  1. The Beautiful Roses (First edition published in 2011 and second edition 2015).
  2. Amazing Legends of India (First edition published in 2015, and now I am publishing second edition in this April)
  3. In search of a Soulmate- First published in Jan 2017.

I do write articles on various topics @ my blog- www.swapnarajput.in

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

amazing legends of india

It’s a dream come true! I feel awesome to see my imaginations and stories come true in the form of books. Publishing efforts are endless. We, authors have to maintain the patience and keep on writing and promoting, toughest part of this job editing and promotions.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

There is nothing like traditional publisher or self publisher. Both charge money to publish. Traditional may charge less but pay low royalty and Self-publisher may charge more but pay good royalty. Both do promotions on paid basis.

  • Which approach is better according to you and why?

Self publish is easy, no waiting to see your work published.

  • What should the beginners do today?

First of all they should trust their work and publish it, no matter which publisher. Don’t think about fame or earning money, that will flow in one day. Publishing a work is very important as it stays for life and beyond that.

  • What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

Lots of publishers emerging these days; this business is growing fast with several competitions. Earlier, it was not the scenario; only traditional publishers were present in the market and would work on their own policy, but with a bang of self -publishers the market has lots of scope for ambitious authors.

  • True. Sounds intriguing. What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
  1. Uniqueness
  2. Page turning flow
  3. It should have a message for the society
  4. It should be paisa vasool and entertaining for the readers
  • What is your favorite genre and why?

Romance; I am ingenious to narrate romance with all the romantic ideas with my fictional characters.

  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I give different funny answers whenever this question comes up! *winks* Inspiration comes from each and every person, thing or place, so all are an inspiration to me. Although, I observe a lot, and imagine more realistically, take time out from my hectic schedule to write, I don’t compete and write in my own unique way. So, I would say I am an inspiration for myself. *laughs out loud*

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Writing while taking care of my small kid is a biggest challenge ever! Recently, this book Amazing Legends of India has quite a number of editing issues due to negligence by my previous editor; I went for publishing the book as the deadline was close by, but couldn’t do much of marketing and promotion due to the same reason. In the meanwhile, I was busy completing my new romance idea In search of a Soulmate throughout 2016, and now back with this book; I got it done with all the good editing and soon it will be ready with all the freshness.

  • If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I am happy living my own life, as you never know whose life is good or bad from inside. Everyone is living their own life with their own struggles and happiness so there is no point in peaking into anyone’s life or getting into their body! *laughs*

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

This era of stressful life, work, competitions absorb everything from an individual, technology and social media life is cherry on top to distract one from his/her goal. People spend hundreds of hours a week reading forwards, useless messages, jokes and thus, are addicted to their smart phones, which actually are making us dumb!

So taking time out from all this hectic & addictive life of technology, holding a book in your hand to read, you readers are doing a great job! Thank you! And keep it up, hence you read we write!

So that was Swapna for you, author of “The Beautiful Roses” and “Amazing Legends of India“.

Read my review of Swapna’s books-
Amazing Legends of India
The Beautiful Roses

You can get in touch with Swapna directly at: http://www.swapnarajput.in

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/madhurivarmatheauthor
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/madhu_rv

P.S. Please RATE the post. Hover on the stars and mark it. And LIKE the post if you like the interview.

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Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Ayushman Jamwal


Ayushman Jamwal, author of Chameleon Lights, is a 27-year-old journalist, a Senior News Editor at CNN-News18 based in New Delhi. He graduated from the Cardiff School of Journalism, United Kingdom and started writing poetry when he was a student at The Doon School in Dehradun. He lives with his parents, younger brother, grandmother, and dog Leo. Here is small excerpt of my conversation with him-

  • Tell us something about your recently published book Chameleon Lights.

Everyone goes through a unique journey, well lit paths, and dark corners to come face to face with their identity, their spirit. Chameleon Lights is one such journey wrapped in 20 poems. Love, despair, enlightenment, and struggle, these emotions vividly dance on the pages of the book. Everyone can find a part of themselves between the lines.

Read my review of Ayushman’s book “Chameleon Lights”

  • When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was 15 years old, studying at the Doon School in Dehradun. I used to publish short stories and poems in the renowned Doon School Weekly and went on to become Chief of Production of the publication in Class XII.

  • Interesting! What is the purpose of your writing?

Ever since I saw my name in print in the Doon School Weekly, I have been hooked to writing. The joy of creating something worth publishing has been eternal. Beyond that, writing poems has always been a therapeutic way to express myself, even connect with myself. I have learned that the Universe rewards those who live with an open heart. Poetry is a way I express my devotion to the Universe.

  • What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Chameleon Lights as a book?

As a senior news editor of a national channel, ‘negative news’ is my business. Demonetization, dirty politics, and terror, there are seldom uplifting stories that I put on the air. Poetry is my release switch from that world, where I can capture a fleeting sentiment, emotion, and thought in words. The rat race of life made me feel I may lose connection with those words, so I gathered them in a book, to share and keep them alive around me, maintain the link with all those moments — the emotional turbulence, the eye opening enlightenment and power of expression.

  • Is Chameleon Lights inspired from real life?

All literature is inspired from real life, especially poetry. Growing pains, moral struggles, the ecstasy of love, the pain of despair and defeat all have been immortalized in Chameleon Lights

  • What importance do you think love, family, and relationships hold in an individual’s life?

Love binds it all, making family and relationships the greatest of strengths and the most terrible of weaknesses. Yet there is enlightenment, awe, and hope at every turn, under the bright lights and in the dark moments. Relationships rooted in love make us all feel immortal, closer to the divine.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

Chameleon Lights is my first book.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

It was exciting. All publishers had guidelines for sample poems and book descriptions, and it didn’t take me long to prepare them both. I sent my proposal to all publishers, and I got a call back from Authorspress. Moreover, the publisher, Sudarshan Kcherry, is very passionate about poetry. He liked my work and encouraged me to keep writing, and network with other editors, poets and poetry lovers. I was lucky to get a publisher who not only is encouraging and passionate about his job, but who helped me expand my horizons and guide me to new and exciting opportunities.

  • Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?

Traditional approach.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

No matter what approach, every author, namely new authors, need a support structure and intellectual investment from their families and peers, especially their publisher. It helps any author flourish beyond the pages of a book.

  • What should the beginners do today?

If you have an idea, get the bare bones ready. Book description, sample chapters, or poems should be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Once the framework is ready, shoot it to publishers in every direction, but keep working to complete the product. Persistence is key to become an author. Do not fear or dismiss rejection and criticism. Keep working to fine tune your product by reading and re-reading. What you come up in multiple readings will surprise you. At the end, you have to enjoy and savour different hues of life to be a good writer. Always live with an open heart and mind.

  • That is a very useful piece of advice! What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

I feel there are not many opportunities for poets to publish their work as many feel it is no longer a popular form of literature. Like I said I am lucky to have encountered Authorspress, which is one of the few publishers actively publishing poetry. I feel poetry is still a popular art form, but the market is directing the majority of publishers, publishers are not guiding the market. I believe with poetry, they have a unique opportunity.

  • True. What are your forthcoming writings?

I am working on a novel, a slasher thriller involving a war veteran based in New Delhi.

  • Sounds intriguing. What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
  1. Clarity
  2. Emotional punch
  3. Simple language, yet emotive terms
  4. Brevity
  • What is your favorite genre and why?

No favourite genre. If any story can weave a vivid world and a moving human tapestry, then I am a fan.

  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

Love. The greatest of strengths and most terrible of weaknesses.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have ever faced is not being able to express myself. Writing poetry really helped me achieve peace with my restless spirit, become confident to face the world.

  • If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Lord Tennyson when he was composing the poem Ulysses, so I can find out what was going through his mind when he was writing that masterpiece.

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

Live life with an open heart and the universe will reward you with inspiration and strength.

So that was Ayushman for you, author of “Chameleon Lights“.

Read my review of Ayushman’s book “Chameleon Lights”

You can get in touch with Ayushman directly at: ayushmanjamwal@gmail.com

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/madhurivarmatheauthor
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/madhu_rv

P.S. Please RATE the post. Hover on the stars and mark it. And LIKE the post if you like the interview.

Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Sujit Banerjee


Born to Bengali parents in Lucknow, Sujit grew up in Patna. He finished his post-graduation in Psychology from Patna University and ended up becoming a tour operator instead of a Psychologist. His work took him all over the globe and introduced him to the worlds of Mayans and Aztecs. He started getting interested in Shamanic ways, in healing, and joined Pranic Healing courses to become a certified healer. Today, he both heals as well as reads Tarot cards. He continues to work in tourism and lives in Delhi. Let’s get to know him more-

  • Tell us something about your recently published book Rukhsat- The Departure.

Rukhsat is a short story collection. Each story is an alphabet and the lead character’s name starts with that alphabet. It is not for the weak-hearted since most stories deal with the dark side of human psyche.

Read my review of Sujit’s book “Rukhsat- The Departure”

  • When did you start writing?

Few stories were written some good 10-15 years back and then I had dropped it. I started writing again in 2013, the rest of them, and also edited the earlier ones. But you can say it took me over 3 years to complete the book.

  • Woah! That’s a long time! What is the purpose of your writing?

None! I had never thought of becoming a writer. I was and am happy doing what I do. It will be too much if I said maybe it was divine intervention! That I was always meant to write this particular book!

  • If that is the case then what inspired you to bring forth this idea of Rukhsat- The Departure as a book and be persistent over he 3 years during which you were writing this book?

In this case, ideas. I wrote because something inside me egged me on to put all of them down, get them recorded. When I had over 14-15 of them written, my friends read it and pushed me to make it into a collection and get it published.

  • Is any story from Rukhsat- The Departure inspired from real life?

Almost all of them are inspired from real life incidents. I have met the characters and heard them recount their tales. They were such powerful events that they stayed with me for years. You can say I fictionalised the real life stories.

  • Do you see a movie based on Rukhsat- The Departure being made?

Absolutely! They are powerful stories and can be brought to celluloid. It is embarrassing to admit – I sent copies to Anurag Basu and Gulzar Saheb! For a TV Serial though.

  • Oh! Good luck with that! I am sure it must be your closed ones who would be keeping you motivated at all times. What importance do you think love, family and relationships hold in an individual’s life?

Ah, that’s a tricky one! Let us just say that one does need them to be “whole”, unless you are on the path to renouncing the world. Yet I do admit that these can also be a hindrance in the path of spiritual journey. To manage both Karma and Dharma is a tough act.

  • Well said! Which of your works have been published so far?

This is my first publication. Few poems and stories have appeared in magazines and dailies.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

rukhsat-the-departure

It is a very long and tedious journey for those who take writing seriously; I don’t so perhaps it did not affect me much. Writing is just one part of the process and the trial begins when you want to get it published with stars in your eyes and a firm belief that no publisher can possibly turn it down. And that is what exactly happens. I doubt that many even bother to read through a book before sending out the rejection slip. So you need to have time, a lot of time, to plod through this part of the journey if you wish to see your book in print.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

I would like to believe both. At least that is what I understand from my publisher – Leadstart Publishing, when they made an offer of split cost wherein I put in half and they put in the rest. But then it all depends on how many book you have sold. The maths change if you have not crossed the 500 mark.

  • What should the beginners do today?

Take reality checks. Be brutally honest in accessing your work and have money to put behind the book. Be diligent in marketing your book; no one else does it for you, not even your publisher, beyond a certain extent. Learn every trick of social media to promote your book. And if you are thinking of making money out of your first book – then just drop the idea.

  • What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

Its business and it should be. Publishing houses no longer wish to take a risk with new authors – you get them dime a dozen. Today, self publishing seems to be the only bet for new authors. There are no free lunches so don’t expect publishers to lap up your book unless you are a well-known writer.

  • What are your forthcoming writings?

I have a historical story at the back of my mind – a real life story of my great great grandfather who was part of the 1857 revolt and his love for a courtesan. 

  • What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

I have no such things in my mind. I write when I wish to write and what I wish to write. For me this is not business – it is just a hobby.

  • What is your favorite genre and why?

Oh, I read every genre possible, except biographies as they bore me. I just love to read. Period.

  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

As far as writing goes – Gulzar Saheb, O Henry, Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Premchand, and Ray Bradbury.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

At a personal level, my mother who is totally paralyzed and in bed with only two senses working – sight and hearing. I bleed for her; I have proved everything possible to make her physically comfortable but I just do not know what goes through her head.

  • If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

His Holiness — The Dalai Lama. He is everything that I would have liked to be but just lacked courage and wanted to play it safe in life.

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

Buy the book and read it please. I promise you will not be disappointed. And do post your review on Amazon and Goodreads.

So that was Sujit for you, author of “Rukhsat- The Departure“.

Read my review of Sujit’s book “Rukhsat- The Departure”

You can get in touch with Sujit directly at: skban05@gmail.com

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/madhurivarmatheauthor
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/madhu_rv

P.S. Please RATE the post. Hover on the stars and mark it. And LIKE the post if you like the interview.

Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Ashutosh Dixit


Ashutosh Dixit is a 22-year old engineering student hailing from Pune, the City of the Peshwas. Having travelled extensively within India and abroad since the age of four, he developed a passion for reading and writing fiction and poetry since early childhood. A state-level silver medalist in Taekwondo and skating, Ashutosh is also a fervent foodie, sketch artist, history enthusiast, rock music aficionado, and a devoted Manchester United follower. Here is an excerpt of my exclusive conversation with him-

  • Tell us something about your recently published book The Man in the Trench Coat.

The Man in the Trench Coat is a work of fiction, belonging to the suspense/thriller genre. In 2014, just before India’s massive general elections, a Member of Parliament accused of being involved in multiple scams is shot right outside his residence. ACP Rajeev Shekhar, an honest, upright cop with a tragic past, and ACP Digvijay Raut, a veteran legend of the Delhi Police, are tasked with investigating the murder. However, more such corrupt officials begin to die throughout the country; expertly assassinated by a mysterious vigilante they call ‘The Man in the Trench Coat’. As the political pressure mounts, the CBI steps in to work with the Delhi cops. The vigilante, aided by the shadowy man known only as Control, steps up his game.

As the situation escalates, the investigating lawmen find themselves embroiled in a web of scheming and deceit. Nothing- and no one- is what they seem to be.

Coming soon: My review of Ashutosh’s book “The Man in the Trench Coat”

  • That sounds very interesting! When did you start writing?

I researched the book for 7 months, started writing in October 2014, and completed it in June 2015.

  • What is the purpose of your writing?

The purpose of my writing is twofold: firstly, to entertain the reader with a great story, and secondly, to make the reader think about the underlying themes present in my writing.

  • What inspired you to bring forth this idea of The Man in the Trench Coat as a book?

As I watched the coverage of the 2014 elections, and the constant stream of scandals emerging from the political closet, I began thinking along the lines of the common people breaking the shackles of a corrupt system and taking the law into their own hands. Born out of that idea was the symbol of revolution, the liberator — The Man in the Trench Coat.

ashutosh-dixit-2

  • Is any part of The Man in the Trench Coat inspired from real life?

The story is purely fictional; however some of the events in the past of the lead characters, Rajeev Shekhar and the Man in the Trench Coat, take place during some historic events such as the Kargil War.

  • Do you see a movie based on The Man in the Trench Coat being made?

Certainly. The book has all the makings of a good thriller movie: an honorable hero, a damaged, violent anti-hero, and villainous corrupt organizations. It would definitely make for a good movie, as it also deals with important topics such as corruption, terrorism, and the problems faced by the policemen and the soldiers of our country.

  • Unlike other novels, yours’ is a unique concept book.

Yes. We have lots of romantic novels as well as conspiracy-based or mythology-based thrillers in the market today. However, ‘The Man in the Trench Coat’ is a vigilante crime thriller, which is not something seen often in the Indian market. Abroad, we have such famous vigilante characters such as Batman, Green Arrow, and Daredevil, who have found great success with modern audiences. It is my hope that the Man in the Trench Coat will receive a similar welcome from the people of our country.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

Two of my poems, Walking in the Storm and Searching, were selected for publication in my college magazine. Also, What Men Do, a short story, was selected for publication in an anthology. However, ‘The Man in the Trench Coat’ is my first full length novel being published.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

the-man-in-the-trench-coat

It was a difficult and at times frustrating journey, Madhuri. I had to face rejection from 4-5 publishing houses, before I got the contract from Leadstart Publishing. Even after that, there were problems with the cover and other unnecessary delays due to which it took almost a year to finally get my books printed and into stores.

  • Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?

I have followed a partnership approach in which costs of publication are shared by me and Leadstart.

  • Which approach is better according to you and why?

I have nothing against self-publishing, but I believe the traditional approach is better because there is more competition, and as a result, better quality control over the content being published.

  • What should the beginners do today?

Beginners need to first answer two questions: “Do I have anything to say?” If yes, then “How do I best say it?” Then slowly the process of story formation will follow.

  • What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

As I see it, today there are too many writers and not enough readers. Writers sometimes become so desperate to get their works published that they can then be taken advantage of by unscrupulous ‘publishers’. We need more publishers who care about the content they put out rather than the money they can make.

  • How true! What are your forthcoming writings?

Presently, I am working on a new crime thriller set in Mahabaleshwar, as well as an epic fantasy series called The Legend of Ashton. Also, I have plans to introduce some characters in a quasi-sequel to ‘The Man in the Trench Coat’.

  • I am sure it must be as interesting as The Man in the Trench Coat. What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
  1. Character consistency: You must get into the mind of your character, inhabit it. A character must never act against his or her nature or way of thinking. The characters must drive the story, not the other way around.
  2. Plot consistencyThe plot of the book must be as tight as possible; no loose ends or questions must be left by the end (unless intentionally done).
  3. MessageWhat message you send to your readers based on your characters and their thoughts, is extremely important.
  4. EntertainmentAbove all, the readers should be thoroughly  entertained and engrossed in your story. If you can do that, you are a writer.
  • Having said that, what genre do you enjoy most and why?

My favorite genre is Fantasy Fiction; I love the imagination, the intricate world-building, the layered characters and the epic struggles between good and evil that are represented so well in the best fantasy works.

  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

There are several people. Firstly, my grandfather Shahir Maharshi Raghunath Dixit, who was a renowned folk singer from Maharashtra. Secondly, J.R.R. Tolkien, whose ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy inspired me to become an author. And last but not least, my parents, who have made me the man I am today.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

I was struggling to pass my engineering, with lots of backlogs. Then, I decided that my life was in my own hands, and only I could overcome my problems. So I struggled and struggled and worked harder than I had ever done, and finally became an engineer, at the same time having completed my first novel. Hard work, perseverance, and a never-give-up attitude are the essential weapons to win any battle.

  • Well said! If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Leonardo Da Vinci, the great inventor, painter, and genius. I would love to spend a day as one of the most brilliant minds of all times.

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

Read The Man in the Trench Coat, and think about how we can make our country a better place to live. Read as many books as you can, because it is the wisdom you will gain from them that will change you, and change the world. So 
Read. Dream. Imagine. Create.

That was Ashutosh for you, author of “The Man in the Trench Coat“.

Coming soon: My review of Ashutosh’s book “The Man in the Trench Coat”

You can get in touch with Sujit directly at: ashutoshdxt8@gmail.com

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/madhurivarmatheauthor
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/madhu_rv

P.S. Please RATE the post. Hover on the stars and mark it. And LIKE the post if you like the interview.

Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Shashidhar


Shashi, a trained engineering working as an interior project professional, is making a success story with his book Songs of the Mist, whose theme was in his mind for over 25 years! Born in Uttar Pradesh, studied in new Delhi, and currently residing in Chennai, Shashi shuttles around the world on business. Apart from writing on spirituality and Haiku (a Japanese poetry form), he is an avid photographer. Here is an excerpt of my candid discussion with Shashi:

  • Tell us something about your recently published book Songs of the Mist.

“Songs of the Mist”, first part of The Monk Key series, is a spiritual fiction in which I am sharing the story of a young boy, Ashutosh, who leaves Varanasi because of a heartbreak and pain and embarks on a journey of self destruction while another young scientist, Ayan, is trying to discover the connection between science and divinity, working in Geneva, and feels that he will find the answer in a Monk, who has been appearing in his dreams since childhood. Ayan and Ashutosh meet in Himalaya and continue their journey along with a wandering mysterious Monk. On the other hand, two old friends of the protagonist Ashutosh, Vashudha from Varanasi and Calliope from Vienna, get ready to confront their own desires and loss as they all finally meet in Rishikesh.

In this book, I am trying to share the ancient idea of a Karma yogi and the way of life as charted out in Bhagwat Gita. As one of the reviews in Deccan Chronicle puts it, it is a book of ancient wisdom encapsulated in a love story i.e., “A bitter pill with sugar coating” for our young generation who does not want to connect with our unfashionable ancient heritage and culture.

Read my review of Shashidhar’s book “Songs of the Mist”

  • That is so intriguing! When did you start writing?

I had started writing the story almost two decades back, but as I was busy with my professional life, I could only write bits and pieces over the years. After 2008, I had began to get some more time and completed writing 500K words in 2010, including 125K words of the first part of “The Monk Key” Series – “Songs of the Mist”, which in its final form consists of 76K words.

  • What is the purpose of your writing?

Milan Kundera, an author and philosopher I admire, has said that a work of Fiction Novel has to have a purpose of its existence. In 2010, my book had no purpose; apart from the usual one that satisfies one’s ego i.e. to be called an Author. But that reason alone did not push me to get it published. So my manuscript was just lying around in my laptop for many years. One day, as I asked my son who is studying in 2nd year of B-Tech, Computer science, if he has read the Gita? He replied “No, what’s the point?” That gave me a purpose.

My books are my effort to get the younger generation to connect with our own thought provoking cultural and literary heritage and get inspired by it. Until and unless someone makes it a point to let them know that there are powerful thoughts, ideas and beauty in those scriptures, Sanskrit Literature etc. why will they even bother to read it? Specially when there are so many distractions around them with the advent of technology and internet.

So the purpose of my book is to inspire them to get back to our beautiful cultural heritage and ancient literature. If not for the depths of knowledge hidden in those verses, shlokas, at least for the beauty of language itself. I believe that the language alone will change them, if they just read books like Kaldasa’s Shakuntala, Meghdoot, Sounarya Lahiri, Srimad Bhagwatam, Yoga Sutra’s, Upanishads, Puranas, Vedas etc

  • What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Songs of the Mist as a book?

The story, the thoughts, and the characters had been in my mind for a long time but it turned into a concrete form of a book, when I happened to spend a week in Rishikesh, in the year 1987. On the banks of holy river Ganges, it seemed to have formed itself, flowing like the pure and sacred current nearby, descending from the peaks of Gangotri.

Click here to watch Shashi’s book launch.

  • Is any part of Songs of the Mist inspired from real life?

The characters and story are fictional. but then the book is a culmination of decades of my travel in Himalayas, in plains of Ganges, and my own experiences and readings. So I cannot say that it’s not real. Most of my readers find themselves in it, identifying with one character or the other. But there are two very specific incidents from my own life. One in the beginning, where Ashutosh comes to know about what happened to his brother’s family back in Kushinagar (something that exactly happened as such with my father) and then there’s a dream sequence of Ayan in his village which I kind of believe to have happened with me in some form as well.

  • Do you see a movie based on Songs of the Mist being made?

Yes, I have been approached by a Hindi/Bhojpuri Director as well as one popular Tamil Director for the same. This book is a trilogy – The Monk Key Series, so we are not talking about “Songs of the Mist” only but discussing the complete series as wholesome story of a young boy from adolescence to his final enlightenment. Since I have already written all the three parts so it is proving to be easier to go forward on the same lines with the two directors and their script writers.

  • Wow! That is amazing! I can’t wait to see the film version of it given that unlike regular novels, Songs of the Mist is a unique concept one.

 Yes, it is. Firstly, I call it a Spiritual Fiction – the genre is not there in publishing industry as yet (So my publisher Notion Press had to place it under Self Help Book category in Amazon).

Secondly, it is based on Indian scriptures and the underlying current is Bhagwat Gita. So to begin with, you read the book as a simple love story, but when you dig deeper, you find the characters are more than they are depicted in the book. You relate to them at deeper level as you go along reading it the second time. Most of the reviews I have had at Amazon, says that one needs to read it in depth to understand its underlying intent. The famous author, script-writer, and director, Timeri N Murari, advised the readers at an event organized by The Leela Palace Hotels and Apparao Galleries that-

“Many of us here yearn for something more in our life. Shashi has provided a spiritual release in his beautiful book, “Songs of the Mist”. It’s unusual and thought provoking book. The book answers questions that we struggle to frame in our daily lives… Not a book to be browsed at glance and to reach books full potential demands commitment and investment of time to savor its subtlety”

Then there are the songs that the mysterious Monk sings in the book to make Ashutosh understand life and its various aspects. The verses of the song are actual transformation of the Bhagwat Gita Shloka’s into Haiku (The world’s most popular poetic form from Japan, which paints picture with words three lines of 5-7-5 syllables).

In the end, it is also a journey to the Himalayas. I always tell my readers, if you have not been to Himalayas, read my book to be transported into the serene surroundings of high mountain peaks and valleys.

  • I see. What importance do you think love, family and relationships hold in an individual’s life?

Personally, I think the reality of love is when we look at the world, relationship, and emotions not as an individual but as two people, looking together with one vision. This togetherness changes our perspective (kind of creating a 3-D effect). The whole world becomes more beautiful, fresh and inspiring; very different than having an individual perspective. The same is true for any kind of love, family or relationship.

In fact I believe that the love is absolute; the divine feeling of bliss without any limiting attributes. It remains same in every kind of relationship i.e. between friends, lovers, husband / wife, brother / sister or family or our relationships with all the things around us, only the way of its expression changes in its different form and style.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

This is my first book. My Haiku poetry has been published earlier at various platforms.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

song of mist

The journey to getting published has been a roller coaster ride till now. From the incredulity of my publisher as he did not find the right genre to fit it in – ultimately we had to coin a special category for the book – spiritual fiction, which was not available in Amazon at the time. So the publishers had to put the story of love, heartbreak and pain into self help book genre.

Songs of the Mist hit 2000 Plus rank at amazon within 9 days of its publishing and two digit rank in April, 2016 again, which made my publisher believe in the genre I was writing in, so he agreed to publish the next book as well, which is coming out in Oct 2016.

As the book gained its traction, Apparao Galleries, Leela Palace Hotels, and Odyssey Book store took it upon themselves to launch it to the readers. For this I am really grateful to Sharan Apparao and T Ashvin. During the recent Madras Day celebration in Chennai, my book was introduced as a book that’s creating waves in literary circle by the famous Odyssey Book store as well as listing me as Namma Chennai Author. So it has been quite a satisfying journey.

But most importantly, what gives me the greatest pleasure is the fact that it’s being read by young generation and through their word of mouth, slowly its achieving its organic growth across India as well as in Europe and USA market.

  • Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?

I had been approached by some traditional publishers but the timelines were vast so I decided to go through my publisher, Notion Press, who was able to publish it within three months, before the year 2015 ended.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

For me, the self-publishing route was better as it was faster. The other reason for me to self publish was to have the control over every aspect of its publishing – editing, cover page, book trailer etc. as I wanted to do everything on my own. I wanted “Songs of the Mist” as my complete creative output, not as some one else’s thoughts of it, about it.

  • What should the beginners do today?

My first advice is to ensure that they have a purpose. They should know why they want to write the book. And once they have written what they wanted to say and share with the readers, they should give it to someone to read – not to friends or family but someone who can give an unbiased opinion. Even if the comments are bad, it is a good thing as one can go back to rewriting it. Nothing kills an author faster then a bad first book.

Second advice is to hire a good editor, even before pitching it to a publisher. Then keep on editing it. And then again edit. Make it crisp and concise. No line should be without a purpose or a reason in the book.

Third and the most valuable advice, I believe I can give is to read – read a lot. Anything, any genre, in fact one should read all kind of books, it helps you to create some distance between you and your own work. Even today I read lots of books and I enjoy reading comics as well.

  • That is a very valuable piece of advice, especially about editing; I can vouch for it as I am myself an editor and know what importance it holds in the success of a book. Since you have witnessed the norms of both traditional and self-publishing, what is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

The publishing scenario is great for good books. I think the self-publishing industry is the place to be for a new author. Kindle is another way to look forward to publishing industry. If you are writing a good book, go ahead and publish it on Kindle as one can do it oneself easily, without the need for a traditional publishers or distributors. Everyday, new and innovative traditional publishers are emerging with new ideas and ways to get the books to the right readers. I think the publishing industry is in for a churn now. At the end of this, only good authors and good publishers will remain standing. So, as a new author, place your bets on publishers that are supporting good writing, not famous names.

The other interesting trend that is emerging is that people are reading more books nowadays and looking for more and more. So if you have something good to share then go ahead publish it on your own, or with a new traditional publisher, or on your own blog; just ensure that it is worthwhile the effort of a reader.

  • How true! What are your forthcoming writings?
  1. My next book based on “Inner Peace and Haiku” is being published in Oct 2016.
  2. The Hindi Translation of “Songs of the Mist” – as “Tushaar Geet” is getting published by the Delhi based publisher Story Mirror by November, 2016.
  3. The Essence of Divine Song – Based on the 9 songs of the mysterious Monk from the book “Songs of the Mist” is going to be published in January 2017.
  4. The second part of The Monk Key series is going to be released by March 2017 and the third part in Dec 2017
  • Interesting!! What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
  1. Flow and simple words.
  2. Thoughts in alignment with the characters.
  3. Rewriting (I wrote Songs of the Mist almost 20 times)
  4. Editing, editing, and editing. (‘Songs of the Mist’ was brought down from 125K words to 76K words)
  • What is your favorite genre and why?
  1. Spiritual – as it helps me on my own journey of self-discovery
  2. Psychology and Philosophy – as that’s what life is all about
  3. Poetry (Haiku) – as it distills my thoughts and awareness into powerful words and images
  4. Love Story (Not Romance) – as after all love is all that we have in living a wonderful life.
  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
  1. Bhagwat Gita, as this is the one book which tells you that you take this and this step and you will get this. A step-by-step guide to proper living, if you can leave aside the things that were specific to Vedic era of living.
  2. Karma Yoga – because it is the most practical way of life.
  3. My father, as he was the foremost Karma Yogi I have ever come across.
  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Writing this book *Laughs*. I overcame it through sheer perseverance and hard work. Writing, whether you believe or not, needs lots of discipline and will power.

  • I second that. If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Nietzsche – because he, I believe, understood life in its true essence.

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

We are all divine, it’s just that we don’t know it yet. But the good thing is that we can, only if we look deeper within. I usually sign my books with a message, “May you find the divinity within”. So here is to all my readers — may you find that mysterious monk to guide you on your own journey within.

So that was Shashidhar for you, author of “Songs of the Mist“.

Read my review of Shashidhar’s book “Songs of the Mist”

You can get in touch with Shashidhar directly at: 

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

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Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Vikram Balagopal


Vikram Balagopal is the author of the award-winning graphic novel Simian. Following his training in the New York Film Academy, he worked in India with various film-makers. His screenplay was chosen for Meera Nair’s Maisha Screenwriter’s Lab. Currently residing in Delhi, Vikram is a published poet, illustrator, and cartoonist in magazines. Below is an excerpt of my candid conversation with him post the publishing of his second book Savage Blue!

  • Tell us something about your recently published book Savage Blue.

Every one of us knows what it is like to feel trapped by some seemingly indomitable force in our lives that keeps us down through no fault of our own. It can come in many forms, like family pressure or strangling debt or tradition or discrimination or exploitation. I wanted to write about a character’s struggle to break free because we are all in that struggle. My novel Savage Blue begins with a dream that has haunted Shyam since he was a little boy.  He meets Akila, the little girl from his dream, after twenty years and now they are both very different people. Their lives have changed them. Their first date doesn’t go very well, but they are still drawn together, because of that eerie dream. Shyam has to peel past the layers to discover more about this person he is falling in love with. Akila is an enigma at the start of the book and as the story unfolds we learn of the crazy adventures she has had on surreal worlds in another realm with a malevolent power at the heart of it. She can only meet Shyam because of a mysterious connection they share and soon she shows him the other worlds. My aim was to write a contemporary fantasy that we could all relate to as adults who have had these feelings in our lives and in our relationships, and through it take the reader on a wild trip. Akila is a character with great reserves of strength and her struggle is at the core of the story.

Read my review of Vikram’s book “Savage Blue”

  • Wow! That sounds very interesting! When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was around 9 years old.

  • What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Savage Blue as a book?

I had been developing the idea for some years and I knew that its structure best suited a novel. It can of course be adapted later into other forms, but this was how the story came to me.

  • So you do see a movie based on Savage Blue being made?

I saw the entire book in my head as I wrote it so I can easily see a movie being made based on the book.

  • Is any part of Savage Blue inspired from real life?

It is a total fantasy adventure with some connections to my life. The male character is a malayali like me, but the story is more about Akila.

  • Unlike regular novels, Savage Blue is a unique concept one.

I wanted to push the fantasy adventure genre to its most exciting and at the same time tell a compelling story and romance about these two characters.

  • What importance do you think love, family and relationships hold in an individual’s life?

They take a lot of work to maintain them. Nothing is unconditional. They have their highs and lows, and the highs alone make it well worth the effort.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

My first book was a graphic novel called Simian which was released in 2014. Savage Blue is my first novel.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

savage-blue

It is wonderful to become a published author and I feel privileged to have people reading and commenting on my work. It has been a long journey and every book is years in the making with many hurdles along the way.

  • Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?

Simian and Savage Blue were both published by HarperCollins Publishers.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

We are in a time when the difference between traditional publishing and self publishing has diminished a great deal in regards of production standards and distribution. Ultimately, the logo on the spine matters only to few readers as long as the book is good. Although to some, it is that expectation of quality that still differentiates the two.

  • What should the beginners do today?

They should read as much as they can.

  • What is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

It cannot fight the change in our landscape regarding the role of technology in our lives. The delivery methods for books will change with time but what will always be important is the story.

  • What are your forthcoming writings?

I’m taking a short break now but I’ll be getting back to working on some new projects next year.

  • What is your favorite genre and why?

I read books in every genre and my list of top books is eclectic. My favourite genre shifts every few years. At the moment it is non-fiction and biographies.

  • What / Who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

The women in my life have always inspired me. That’s why I dedicated Savage Blue to my infant niece, my grandmother, mother and my sister. Akila manifests their strength.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

I have faced challenges but I have seen others close to me face and overcome far worse and that strength in some people to still treat one another with love and respect in trying times never ceases to inspire me. We are all just trying to do the best we can in our lives.

  • And finally, any message for the readers?

Thank you for keeping stories alive! Explore my new novel, Savage Blue, available on ebook and paperback.

So that was Vikram for you, author of “Savage Blue“.

Read my review of Vikram’s book “Savage Blue”

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
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Posted in Author Interviews

Author Interview: Mona Mohanty


With a passion for short stories right from childhood, she recently published a collection of 22 short stories titled “Betwixt Twists And Turns“. Having served as an officer of the Indian Revenue Services, she currently resides in New Delhi. An intriguing personality, my dear readers, my guest for this article is Mona Mohanty.

  • Welcome to the literary world, Mona!

Thanks Madhuri.

  • Tell us something about your book Betwixt Twists And Turns.

My book is a collection of short stories dealing with everyday life but ending with a surprising twist.

Read my review of Mona’s book “Betwixt Twists And Turns

  • When did you start writing?

I have been writing, well, since the time I learnt how to write. 

  • Nice! What is the purpose of your writing?

My purpose in writing is to reach out and entertain my readers and at the same time keep a grip on reality.

  • What inspired you to bring forth this idea of Betwixt Twists And Turns as a book?

A book is a storehouse of an author’s mind. I wanted to present this to the world and hence, published this in the form of a book.

  • There are multiple stories in the book. Are they all fiction or is any of it inspired from real life?

To be honest, each story has some part rooted in real life. But, there is also the fictional element. And, I will leave it to the readers to guess which part is fact and which part is fiction.

  • What is your idea of literature?

My idea of literature involves a simple narrative style and bringing to the readers a complete picture of people, places, events, as well as the life and times of the period that the work is based upon.

  • Which of your works have been published so far?

Betwixt Twists And Turns is the only book that I have published so far. Hopefully, there will be another one out next year. Having said this, I would like to add that I have published articles in various magazines and newspapers earlier but this is my first book.

  • So how was this journey of becoming a published author?

betwixt-twists-turns

The journey has been immensely satisfying. So much so that it has infused me with the enthusiasm to keep on writing.

  • Good to hear that 🙂
    Have you self-published your book or followed the traditional approach?

This book is self-published.

  • Which approach is better according to you: traditional or self-publishing, and why?

In my opinion, the traditional approach is better. Although it is time consuming, the editing, packaging, as well as marketing, are way ahead of the self-publishing mode.

  • What should the beginners do today?

Beginners should never be in a hurry to finish off what they have undertaken. It helps to write, mull over what has been written, and re-write, if required. It is , indeed, time consuming but the attention to detail is what sets a book apart from the thousand publications thronging the market.

  • That is a very valuable piece of advice. Being an editor myself, I know the importance of refining one’s manuscript before taking it to the next stage. Now that you have gone through the entire process of getting your book published, what is your take on book publishing as you see the current scenario?

There are too many publishers in the market. Especially with self publishing being the norm these days, attention to quality has gone for a six. I feel that companies engaged in self-publishing should pay attention to this aspect rather then unleash substandard stuff on the readers.

  • Agreed. Along with a good publisher, every successful author has personal aspects on what makes a book successful. What are the four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

It is difficult to scale it down to 4 things when there are a host of things one has to take care of while writing. However, I shall try and pick the four most important important items which need to be a post in an author’s mind.

  1. Simplicity in language
  2. Attention to grammar
  3. A plot which is not too complex
  4. And last, but not the least, make the reader feel as if he or she is part of the story even if it is in the role of a spectator.
  • Amazing! No wonder your book was a delight to read 🙂
    Speaking of reading, what is your favorite genre and why?

My favorite is genre is the short story. For, in my view, it is much more difficult to write in this style; given a limited space, one has to convey succinctly the  scene, the plot, as well as drawing up the characters being played in a particular story.

  • An in implementing such a tedious task, what / who is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

The biggest source of inspiration in my life was my paternal grandfather; a voracious reader who loved writing. I think I am the inheritor of that genetic element from him.

  • What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge to my writing that I have faced and continue to face, albeit in a reduced manner now, is my laziness. It is very easy to post pone writing for another day. I have sought to overcome this by keeping my writing materials right in front of my eyes from the moment I get up so that I do not forget to berate myself on the days that I do not write.

  • If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

If I had to live my life as a dead personality, it would have to be Fyodor Dostoevsky. What a mind! And to have lived in times which were not easy and yet come up with such classical works is truly the sign of a brilliant mind. In fact, I always feel that writers who wrote in the preceding centuries, without the benefit of the technological progress that we are used to, were people who were admirably focused and also hard working.

  • How true! And finally, any message for the readers?

My message for the readers continues to be the same, read, read and read. I do it too.

So that was Mona for you, author of “Betwixt Twists And Turns“.

Read my review of Mona’s book “Betwixt Twists And Turns

You can get in touch with Mona directly at: monamohanty66@yahoo.co.uk

Contact Madhuri for your author interview and getting your book reviewed / edited: writermadhuri@gmail.com

Follow her reviews on-
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/madhurivarmatheauthor
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/madhu_rv

P.S. Please RATE the post. Hover on the stars and mark it. And LIKE the post if you like the interview.