Prem Rao

Stories from a Story Teller

Opening Sentences in Fiction

In this blog, I try to share  posts and articles I found interesting. They relate to the writing process, the lives of writers and the business of books. They say that the opening sentence is one of the most important parts of a book. Legend has it that famous authors have spent months sharpening that one sentence to perfection. The Guardian has this wonderful collection titled, ” The 10 best first lines in fiction.” You might or might not agree that these are the 10 best, but they do make  good reading. Mark the variety of these opening lines which underlies the point that there is no one way to score an ace. Read more…

#Writing: A Hashtag to Follow on Twitter

Most authors are on Twitter these days. You have to be, to tell the world about your writing and learn from others how they improve their writing skills. I follow the hashtag #writing very closely. I must confess that I have gained a lot from simply reading the links provided after the tweets with this hashtag. I have also developed my social network in the process. More than anything else, I love the learning bit as we come across interesting information and perspectives linked to this hashtag. Read more…

On Literary Magazines

A confession: I haven’t really paid much attention to literary magazines. Till now. To be honest, I never even knew so many of them existed, jostling for attention in a crowded market place. It was this article by Joe Bunting in The Write Practice that captured my interest. In an interview, Linda Swanson-Davis, co-founder of Glimmer Train speaks of “How To Get Published In Literary Magazines.”  Read more…

Military Characters I Have Admired From Fiction

I gave a talk recently on “The Joys of Writing.” In this I dwelt on the immense pleasure, which is hard to describe, that an author gets when he creates a character in a work of fiction. There are so many memorable characters from the pages of fiction: Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain,  Jeeves and Bertie Wooster ( and indeed a host of others) from P G Wodehouse, Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell and closer to our times, James Bond from Ian Fleming spring to mind. Read more…

Ordering My Books

It’s been a while since I took stock of the convenient ways in which readers can order my published books. After all, they were written and published at different points in time, and by different publishers, and in different formats.

  • “It Can’t Be You” was my debut novel, published in December 2010. You can order this from Amazon’s Kindle Store.
  • ” He Sees Everything & Other Short Stories”, published in 2011,  can be downloaded from Smashwords.
  • “Lucky For Some, 13″ published in December 2012 can be had from Amazon.com if you are residing out of India.  In India, you could order it from HomeShop 18 or Flipkart or Amazon.in
  • ” Let The Dead Stay Dead” published in 2013, can be downloaded from Wattpad. 

Do let me know what you thought of my books after you have read them.  Your feedback and reviews would be much appreciated.

“Return To India” A Memoir by Shoba Narayan

I have always loved reading memoirs and was delighted to come across, ” Return to India” by Shoba Narayan. Here she writes of the angst caused in most Indian-Americans caught in a within the mind crossfire between the country where they were born and bred as children and their adopted country which has given them more than abundant monetary and other worldly conveniences they would not have got in the Old Country.

Shoba was highly focused on her goal as a teenager growing up in Madras ( as Chennai was called in those days) and her goal was to go to the United States away from the protective, cloying environment provided by family and friends. She imagined being free of all constraints and living a life of her own where she could start afresh and do whatever she pleased in a land of endless opportunity. Read more…

The Captainship: First Gen Entrepreneurs

Anya Gupta, author and alumnus of MIT Sloan, has edited this book, appropriately titled, “The Captainship: First Gen Entrepreneurs” published by Bloomsbury.  The title is inspired by the famous line from “Invictus” the poem by William Ernest Henley which goes, ” I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” The structure of this book is unique in that nine first generation entrepreneurs speak in the first person narrative to tell their own stories. They speak of their childhood experiences which  helped fashion their thinking, the lessons they learnt from family and others, and how they invariably had to overcome adversity to achieve the goal they set for themselves.

Read more…

“Dead Like You” by Peter James

Finished with all 643 pages of “Dead Like You” by the British crime fiction writer, Peter James. This is the first book I read by this author, who has written a series of books featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. I was intrigued by the book’s title as I like titles to be short and crisp. To start with, some names of the characters in a book appeal to some readers while some don’t.  I for one didn’t much like the name “Grace” as I associate it with the lady’s first name though I do know that the Father of Cricket, Dr W G himself, had graced the name “Grace.” Read more…

“Lucknow Boy” by Vinod Mehta

I have seen Vinod Mehta often on television programs where he holds forth on a variety of issues. I have known him to be a strong supporter of the Congress Party and a self- proclaimed “pseudo-secularist.” It was with considerable interest therefore that I read his memoirs titled, “Lucknow Boy” published by Penguin India. The book gets its name from the fact that Mehta grew up in Lucknow and stayed in touch with the city of his childhood and youth. Read more…

“The Ladykiller” by Martina Cole

This was the first book I read by Martina Cole, a British author of crime fiction. That I intend reading more of her work indicates my recommendation for this novel which is set in a small town in England.

In “The Ladykiller”, Detective Inspector Kate Burrows finds herself in the middle of a storm as a spate of murders takes place in her jurisdiction. There are a few common features about these murders. Without exception, all the victims are women. Without exception, the bodies are terribly mutilated. The signs point to a sick mind and a pervert roaming free in this hitherto peaceful town. Burrows has come up the hard way in the Police force and is now seen to be a successful officer. However, some men who are her subordinates still do not accept her leadership not able to stomach her rise in the police force only because she is a woman.  To add to the stress caused by this case Burrows,who has been separated since long, is attracted towards Patrick Kelly, a man well known in the underworld.

Despite all that he does in the underworld, Kelly cares more for his daughter than anything else in the world. When she is found murdered, Kelly starts his own investigation to nab the murderer. He wants the murderer to suffer as much as his daughter did. He is frequently in touch with DI Burrows ( who is dealing with his daughter’s case) and finds himself falling in love with her. They both have the same goal, to catch the murderer but have opposite opinions on what to do after the man has been caught.

George Markham has had an extremely unhappy childhood but is today as nondescript as anyone else in town. He lives in a world of fantasy for most of the time.  This story traces events which made Markham the man he became. A simple accountant in a firm during the day and a hungry predator capable of the worst violence at night.

The book is gripping  in most part but I did feel it was too long at 625 pages. There was also some element of repetition. Several of the characters are mentioned to have had the grace to look away when accosted by the truth. This mannerism  appears several times in the book  in several characters, which I found rather strange.

All in all, a good read. I shall look out for more books from Martina Cole. I find she has written a dozen thrillers so there are many more to be read.

 

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