I was delighted to be invited to join the panel of judges for the 7th Annual Short Story Challenge 2013, organized by NYC Midnight. It was an honor for me to accept. Continue reading “7th Annual Short Story Challenge 2013”
Month: February 2013
Until this morning, I hadn’t. That is I hadn’t heard of the Diagram Prize. A small item in today DNA newspaper caught my attention. It said “Judge The Book By It’s Title.” It went on to speak of an annual award run by the trade magazine, The Bookseller for the oddest title of the year. Apparently, in the race for this year’s award are titles like, ” Was Hitler Ill”, “How Tea Cosies Changed The World”, and “Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop.” Continue reading “Have You Heard Of The Diagram Prize?”
“With a little bit of trimming here and there, and a good run-through over some details, this book can be one of the best in its genre in the country. Prem Rao has the making of an interest-creating thriller writer.”
I am happy that my second thriller, “Lucky For Some, 13” was recently reviewed in the popular site Indian Book Reviews.
Please do leave your comments on their website. Thank you.
In December 2010, my debut novel, ” It Can’t Be You” was published. A friend of mine who is a highly decorated retired Service officer with an impeccable reputation told me that I shouldn’t have portrayed Col. Belliappa in my story as a psychopath. He said psychopaths aren’t allowed to continue in the Indian Army. I said it depends on what you mean by the term psychopath. For me a psychopath is not a raving lunatic, rapist or serial killer as sometimes people understand one to be. There could well be some part of the psychopath in me and in you as well, if you go by my understanding of the term.
Recently, more than two years after the book was published, I received a mail from the same friend Continue reading “Remember Col. Belliappa?”
Abhijit “AB” Bhaduri is quite easily one of the most talented persons I have come across. Here’s a disclaimer. Before I am accused of partiality in saying this, let me say that AB and I have several things in common. Continue reading “Second In The Series: “Meet The Author” Abhijit Bhaduri”
It was around 7.45 a.m. yesterday that I saw on Twitter that President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the mercy petition filed by Afzal Guru, who awaited the death sentence for his role in the attack on India’s Parliament way back in 2001. A lot of people, including me, felt the Government of India had dragged its feet in executing Afzal Guru fearing a back lash in the Kashmir Valley. It was well-known that the ruling UPA-II feared it might alienate sections of India’s large Muslim population by hanging him. I was surprised to see just a little while later reports emerge that he had been hanged to death in Tihar Jail at 8.00 a.m. Continue reading “About Terror and Terrorists”
I have been an admirer of Shobhaa De for long. I say so unabashedly. I follow her blog where I particularly like her tongue in cheek comments on anything and everything, especially celebrities in India and she knows more of them than most. Continue reading ““Sethji” by Shobhaa De”
If you have read my second thriller, “Lucky For Some, 13” released in December 2012, you might like to try this quiz I have put together for you about the characters in “Lucky For Some, 13” on Goodreads.
In earlier posts, I have introduced you to some of the characters here and here.
But where do these characters come from? The author’s mind and what he/she has observed over time. You may remember someone you knew years ago or someone who you met recently. It could be someone you know or merely some one you caught a fleeting glimpse of. That’s what makes crafting a character so fascinating for me.
Here are some snippets and thoughts that went into my mind while creating these characters:
- At a wedding reception, I saw an American lady with mehndi on her hands and dressed in a sari. She actually carried it off very well and you will find some of this in a description of Alice Hatchman.
- To make Mohini a stronger character, I had to tone down Dash’s character in describing their relationship. He has his own strengths but they do not include physical combat!
- Many of the aspects of life for the “support staff” in luxury apartment complexes such as the drivers, nannies and the like come from my own observations and stories I have heard.
- I like to think that all my characters are totally believable and there is nothing unrealistic about even one of them. I lay great emphasis on having credible characters, be they in ” good” or “bad” roles.
If you haven’t read “Lucky For Some, 13” yet, order it from Flipkart, where it is currently sandwiched between titles by Lee Child and Karin Slaughter to be #631 out of the 17857 titles listed in the category: Suspense & Thrillers.
This is the first in the series: “Meet the Author.” This is Andaleeb Wajid.
Many authors write very well when it comes to the stories they tell, but falter when it comes to telling their own story! This talented young lady is definitely one who does both well. Hear what she has to say about herself. I am sure you will find the “About me” section in her website as charming and well-written as I did. To me, this is so typically Andaleeb whose sense of humour is always to be found just below the surface.
I first came to know Andaleeb in 2009 when her first novel “Kite Strings” was published. I was then writing my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You.” We had our debut novels published by the same firm and exchanged notes, then and later. This reminds me of a line in Wodehouse where two writers working in the same publishing firm, Lord Tilbury’s Mammoth Publishing say to each other that it makes them almost like fellow serfs!
Blinkers Off, Kite Strings and More Than Just Biriyani are some of her books and she is busy with more in the pipeline. It made me quip, “Now that you have the Blinkers Off, you can pull the Kite Strings to have More Than Just Biriyani.”
Curious to know what Andaleeb meant because I loved the sound of the name, I began by asking her the question she has been asked many times before.
1. I love your name. What does it mean? Tell us a little bit about yourself. What events in your life shaped your choice to become an author?
Thank you! I love my name too especially as it’s so unique and rather hard to forget. It means ‘nightingale’ in Persian and I really hope you won’t ask me if I can sing! (Because I can’t).
I was born in Vellore which is my hometown as well but I’ve lived all my life in Bangalore.
I can’t really recall any specific events that led me to becoming an author. I’ve always loved listening to and telling stories and I just took it forward with writing. When I was around 16 or 17 and everywhere around me, my classmates were choosing careers, I used to feel left out because I knew that having a career was not on the cards for me. My mother had plainly told me that I would be getting married as soon as I finished my degree classes. That was when I realised that writing was something that I could pursue without it getting in the way of my personal life.
2. Who were some of the authors you admired? Who, in some sense, influenced your writing style and choice of subjects?
There are too many to name here but I’ll just try and list a few – Martha Grimes, Jodi Piccoult, JK Rowling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve tried hard to develop my own style of writing but the closest I can come to inspiration would be Martha Grimes’ Hotel Paradise which kind of kick started me into writing Kite Strings.
3. You have a hectic schedule as I can imagine. How do you find the time to pursue your passion for writing? What would you recommend to so many people out there who would love to write but fear they “don’t have the time.”
I’m afraid it’s a bit simpler for me than it would be for others. I know, you’re surprised to hear that, but writing is my ‘only’ job. I don’t have any other day job. So I sit down at my desk every morning, jot down notes, review what I’ve written the previous day, and dither for a little while before I get down to writing. When your only focus is on writing, it is quite easy to be prolific. However, I admit that you have to be dedicated too.
For those who ‘don’t have the time’ but want to write, I’m not sure what advice I can offer as I have all the time in the world to write! (There! I just made a lot of people envious I guess!) Nevertheless, if you’re serious about writing, you have to try and find even a small window of time to get it done. It may just be a few scribbles in your notebook or some character sketches but it all builds up when you sit down to write.
My schedule is simple. The moment the kids are out of the door for school (which is why I hate weekends and vacations), I make tea and then promptly sit down at my desk at 9 am. It’s not a 9-5 job but yes, having that kind of regularity makes me feel good about it. I may not sit there for even an hour, but actually sitting down makes a difference.
4. Tell us briefly about your books. Which was your favourite and why?
At this point, I’ve finished writing 8 books and the 8th one was completed recently.
Kite Strings, my debut novel was about growing up and making choices and decisions. Blinkers Off (Rupa) had a much lighter premise and was a breezy romance.
My Brother’s Wedding is being published by Rupa in May 2013. As the title suggests, it’s about a wedding in the family and the kind of upheaval it causes at home.
More than Just Biryani is being published by Amaryllis in April 2013.
The Big 3-Ohh!!! is a fun chicklit kind of book about the apprehension that women have about turning 30.
The Sum of All my Parts is an intense love story focused around a crochet class run by an old woman.
Sepia Dreams and Sepia Blues are two books of a three part Young Adult fantasy series about a present day teen who travels back thirty years in time to her mother’s teenaged years.
Favourites are hard to choose but it would have to be More than Just Biryani. It’s got my favourite topics – food and love.
5. What would you say as parting words of advice to new authors, budding authors and the many who would love to see their work in print?
Find a schedule that works for you, stick to it and write. Don’t stop writing when you’ve written one book and are looking for publishers. I made that mistake and wasted four years while I waited for someone to publish Kite Strings. Also, develop a thick skin. Not everyone will love your book and like your characters. Be prepared to hear criticism about angles you may not even have considered. Once the book is out there, it’s a bit like free for all for everyone to say what they want. Only you know how much hard work you’ve put into it.
Famous last words? Don’t give up. No wait. Make that ‘Don’t stop writing’.
I have no idea of the current size of her fan following but she can count me as being one of them. I am sure this will grow to be huge with each successive book from Andaleeb. And no, I didn’t ask her to sing, but if you like this interview, maybe some time later we should persuade her to give it a try!
To catch up with her, you can follow her tweets.