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Friday, August 29, 2014

Authors and their Writing Styles... Is it different with Age?

I remember when I was a child of barely four, my grandfather used to take me to the neighbourhood park. I do not really remember too much, but he used to talk of old times... his own varied stories and his love story. I used to think that I would one day grow up and write about him. So, this little piece is for him...

I see a lot of writers about the same age as he was at that time. But, these grandfathers all have a whole new trip. They are all storytellers, in their own right. Whether it is Vithal Rajan or Raghu Srinivasan or even RV Raman and Aroon Raman, they all remind me of my grandfather but their stories are so different and have the same touch.

Vithal Rajan had the same sense of nostalgia that it created when I was reading the book, ‘The Legend of Ramulamma’. There is a slight sense of empathy and a little bit of anger when you read the stories. Buy this book here!

On the other hand, Aroon Raman writes with the adrenaline-charged feel that he had towards the book. Though it took him seven odd years to write, and what a historical fantasy it was... All true, it remains with the history and its correct elements at fantasy was this ‘The Treasure of Kafur’. You can buy this book here.

Raghu Srinivasan leads us on a completely different path. He has the ability to drive the reader through the countries and their geographies. The best thing about this book, ‘The Avatari’ is its detailing. It runs into a page turner by the end. You can buy the book here.

RV Raman also starts off with the reader turning pages and pages of ‘Fraudster’ at jet speed. The basic idea is that the author gets to so many topics all at one go. With ease and finesse, he manages to grip the reader. You can buy this book here.

They had the ability to bring in whatever they could to the book making it truly complete. One notices a sense of honesty and a little bit of personality to each of the books. These authors have managed to grip me, alright. 

The best thing about these authors is that though they have all come out in pretty much the same year, they all have the experience and the intricacies, which only their age and their expertise could bring to the novels. 

So, basically I could be writing about authors and their ages, but I have noticed a change in their writing style. I do not know if I could be right, but I do not think that am wrong either. So, nobody take any offence... :) What do you, my readers think?

*If my grandfather were alive, I sometimes wonder if he would have written too. He used to have a diary. And he had quite a book collection. So, happy reading, Folks...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Editor Interview : Pallavi Narayan, Senior Editor, Penguin Random House India

An interview with Pallavi Narayan, Senior Editor at Penguin Random House gave us an engaging theory, which has everything that she expected of her writers. Her concept is to look for for engaging stories and great narratives, as well as for interesting subjects. So, read on as this editor gives us her thoughts...

What are you looking for in a book, when it first comes to you?

A book needs to catch and hold me as a reader. What I notice immediately is the writing itself and the way it deals with the subject.

There needs to be something that tugs at me – it can be the writing itself, or the author’s passion for the subject that comes across. Clarity is important.

What, according to you are the qualities of an ideal writer?

Great language and story-telling skills, and nuance in thought and writing

Could you explain your process, from writing to editing, and finally, printing and marketing? Is it very different from the traditional book printing?

We provide writers with feedback throughout the writing process, and help them out with suggestions on structure and storyline, as well on the style that would best suit the audience for their book. 

Once the text is finalized, we do a substantive edit and work with the author to enhance and tighten the narrative. Then we copyedit and proofread the manuscript. 

Simultaneously, our design team works on cover options. Our marketing and publicity team works on separate campaigns for different books, engaging in a range of activities from reviews to book launches to social media.

What is the one thing, you would you tell an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many tips as you would like)

Read as much as you can, write with passion, know your genre, do your research, be curious about people and places and keep your eyes and ears open.

Look up the guidelines for submission before submitting your manuscript to a publisher; these can vary from publisher to publisher but the general rule is to keep it clear and to the point. 

Publishers usually require a brief synopsis and a few chapters to decide if they would like to read the entire manuscript.

What do you think an editor can add to the writer’s work?

An editor’s job is to help the author say what he/she wants to in the best manner possible. An author may need help with developing ideas and concepts, structuring chapters, and with dealing with writing woes. 

Once the text is delivered, the editor does structural and line edits, sees how the manuscript has shaped up. Both confidante and critic, the editor is closest to the manuscript after the author.

What are you working on now?

I am working on several manuscripts at various stages, as well as thinking of book ideas and reading book proposals.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a book editor? 


What sorts of project(s) are most likely to get an okay from you?

I am looking for engaging stories and great narratives, as well as for interesting subjects. I don’t go with fixed ideas.

Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles? 

We’re working on some romantic fiction, some parenting books, a couple of diet and fitness books, and some serious narrative non-fiction.

What are your top three favourite books?
Haruki Murakami

The Lollipop Shoes
What is your favourite thing about being an editor? And your least favourite thing?

My favourite thing is that I engage with topical, contemporary concerns and get to know writers as persons, several of whom have become friends. I don’t enjoy too much the administrative aspects that an editor also needs to look into.

What are the main skills, an editor would need to do their job well?

As an editor, it’s important to read both widely and deeply. It is also critical to look at both the big picture of the book as well as the finer details.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Convincing our team that a book idea or manuscript I love is worth pursuing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review : ‘The Pashtuns: The Unresolved Key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan' by Abubakar Siddique

Having almost next to no knowledge on the Pashtun question, this book attracted me because of its title, ‘The Pashtuns: The Unresolved Key to the future of Pakistan and Afghanistan’. So, I picked it up, hoping to understand something of why it is actually unresolved and probably have a little insight into some of these critical, possibly violent issues.

In this book, Abubakar Siddique starts off with the words, ‘This book is a lifelong quest to understand my people and homeland, and a desire to see lasting peace to finally come to our valleys and mountains'. Siddique is a special correspondent for Radio Free Europe with special focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. His attempt to understand the people of the region, to know the reasons and the factors in the disorder between Pakistan and Afghanistan forms the crux of this book.

In this attempt, Siddique sets out to establish that the reluctance of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to absorb the Pashtuns into their states, both in the political and economic factors of both their countries. This has probably led to the rise of militancy, as the undercurrent of both these relatively younger nations is probably misunderstood and thereby, misinterpreted. This could be a fault that lies with the elite of the nations.

There has been little done to understand the Pashtuns, he feels. Siddique begins to tell their story, interconnected with Taliban’s history. He does this story telling with substantial details, going into the groups and the leaders of the nations and groups. One cannot miss the fact that the entire issue has been written personally, therefore having the eye witness edge. The author also seems to have an extensive access into the region in question.

It is an attempt to understand the Pashtuns both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and how their destinies can blend into understanding the future of both these nations. This, he says could possibly work towards reaching a solution to the entire Pashtun question and therefore, a state of regional peace.

He says that an entire community cannot be blamed for the radical ideas of a few militant groups. This was his attempt at exploring the Pashtun community and getting an insider’s version of these past conflicts and understanding how they have led to the present ones.

One can read this for a variety of reasons, but I read it out of plain curiosity, which has met its match. The language is simple and easily understood and one can read it as a completely non-judgmental reader. 

Author: Abubakar Siddique
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
ISBN: 978-81-8400-607-0
Price: Rs 499 /-

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Author Interview: Madhumita Bhattacharya, author of 'Dead in a Mumbai Minute' the Reema Ray Mysteries

Madhumita Bhattacharya
In this Interview, we have Madhumita Bhattacharya, talking of what really drove her to writing this murder mystery. Picking up from the first part of the series, 'The Masala Murder', this book, 'Dead in a Mumbai Minute' goes ahead with Reema Ray's detection and adventures.

In this interview, Bhattacharya tells the storyteller in all of us, to explore storytellling in all its forms. Do read, My Review of 'Dead in a Mumbai Minute' right here and also pick up a book from Here.

How did ‘Dead in a Mumbai Minute’ happen? 

I had conceived Reema Ray as a trilogy, and it is the second part of Reema’s journey. Sort of her coming of age.

What kind of research did you put into the writing of the book?

To the best of my ability, I have tried to ensure that what is meant to be true to fact actually is. Particularly all the tech stuff.

I also did a fair amount of reading about the security industry. The rest is all imagination!

How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?

It was, for me, a logical extension of Reema’s journey. In ‘The Masala Murder’, she is alone in a failing private practice, handing small cases. She is a talented investigator with everything going for her, so naturally she would not be confined to that situation.  

How would you relate the book and its characters to the lives today?

I hope that all of my characters are believable. Of course, they lead more adventurous lives than most of us do!

What is the most fulfilling part of writing a book?

Watching an idea that exists solely in your head come to life on paper. Being able to iron out all the little kinks so it works.

How did you manage to blend in technology and love into your story?

Technology happened to creep into this story. I try to approach it as a lay person, and restrict the information to what any other lay person might understand. Everything in my book is real.

Love for me is an essential element to a good story. I am a sucker for it.

What pushed you to write a murder mystery?

It is a genre, I love to read.

Your third book is coming up. How do you expect to develop it?

It is Reema Ray part 3! The groundwork has been laid in ‘Dead in a Mumbai Minute’. I can tell you that it is set mainly in Goa.

When do you see it released?

Sometime next year.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

I don’t think anyone really did. I was a journalist. I loved to write, and it came naturally to me as a form of expression. I started writing fiction and realised it was where my heart lay.

Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published?

It is very hard to break into the market. My advice to young people is to explore storytellling in all its forms. There are so many ways of telling a story that simply did not exist when I was young.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
I love the works of Margaret Atwood. I love J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie too. So many others. I enjoy reading quirky books of non-fiction a well.

Which book are you currently reading?

What do you do on a daily basis?

I am a full time mom who tries to sneak in work whenever she can!