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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Author Interview : Gayathri Ponvannan, author of ‘Time Racers’ (Part 1)

Gayathri Ponvannan
Read up, Interview with Gayathri Ponvannan, Author of ‘Time Racers’. This science fiction piece, with a blend of history and mystery. We get to explore PP’s characteristics, along with Simha’s histrionics. Why is it all so? We get to explore it and we have Ponvannan giving us a few more details. There is even more to come in part two of this Interview, Folks…

How did ‘Time Racers’ happen? Could you describe the journey? 

Time Racers’ started off rather prosaically, with an email. One of the editors at Penguin got in touch, after reading my work with Disney’s Pitchkiaow contest. I was developing a vague ‘time travel across generations’ idea then – percolating, is the right literary word, I suppose. This took off as a full-fledged manuscript.

The journey could be best likened to a see-saw…there were many back and forth trips between my inbox and the editor’s, as well as a few pit-stops at Siyahi, (the literary consultancy), along the way!

How did the story, especially Pratik’s come about? Did you have a lot of personal experiences to go with it?

Much of this is from personal experience – I have a 14 year old son, who provided the language and style for the character. There is a good deal of  me in Pratik too - I was just such a doofus, when growing up in the early 1990s (the mists of time, as far as the readers of this book are concerned!)

Did any of the incidents happen, how much was fact and how much, fiction?

The time travel, and all related incidents are fiction, of course. The emotions are all factual, however, and so is the village near Chennai.

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

‘Time Racers’ started off with a similarity – I’ve always found my son strikingly similar to my grandfather. And I’ve always bitterly regretted the fact that they never knew each other (my grandfather passed away well before my son was born). This was the germ of the idea that then grew into the story.

Of course, there had to be an aspect of time travel, since this is a relationship between two people who would never ever met, expect in my own head!

What according to you is different about your book?

The book describes an underdog-to-hero journey of a thirteen year old boy – the bildungsroman, a rather common genre. But the inspiration for his metamorphosis comes from the past.

In this book, Pratik lives and learns in the past, and carries his lessons into the future – this, I feel, is an aspect that’s different from the usual coming-of-age books.

You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book here, as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review : ‘Asmara's Summer' by Andaleeb Wajid

I know a little bit of Bangalore. In fact, it remains my favourite place after spending two years doing my masters there. And of course, when I received this book, I was desperate to read it. And Andaleeb Wajid scores again, this time with her latest, 'Asmara's Summer'.

This time she has taken us into Tannery Road, a whole new road for me, at least, considering I had never heard of it. For Asmara too, considering she never liked it too much. But Asmara, who had never really been there, ends up right in the middle of her grandparents’ home and their ways in Tannery Road.

Asmara, who was supposed to go to Canada for that summer, ends up dragging her feet to Tannery Road. She had managed to keep it a secret from her friends, and she did not want to give it away. So, she decided to be off social media for a full month. The jeans and tops wearing Asmara is now compelled to wear salwar kameez by her sweet but kind of strict grandmother. Grudgingly, she agrees. 

As she begins to settle in, she ends up meeting a girl in the neighbourhood, and her grandmother. The girl is sweet, but her grandmother is another story, altogether. She is grouchy towards Asmara, and keeps on saying mean stuff about her mother. Asmara wants to figure out why. She also ends up noticing a young man, who is busy working out. The engineering student ends up showing her a new life and the locality, which she thought she could never even like. 

Asmara goes around the road, and ends up clicking enough snaps, and putting them up on Instagram, with a whole new fake name. She also ends up shopping for loud and blingy stuff at Baithul Maal. She also discovers her friend, the sweet girl, Rukhsana’s talent for stitching and embroidery. Mixed with the with the social and economic issues that, end up rubbing the right way in spite of the economic differences, and lessons in fashion.

Andaleeb Wajid
In between her grandmother’s biryani and firni, the poor little rich girl, ends up finding out a lot more about her own mother and even herself. She discovers love for her curious old grandmother, an affection mixed with sympathy for her new friend, a crush for the hunky looking boy, who ends up being that very girl’s brother, and a dislike for the neighbour. 

Wajid has a bittersweet form of expression, and her way of telling a story, with a few opinions which, end up hitting the point. The religious issues along the cultural ways of the world, is what hits the nail in the head.

 I liked this book, because it made me look at Bangalore with a whole new perspective. And, also because Andaleeb Wajid does have a way with words.


You can Buy the Book, right here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Author Interview : Brian Ditchek, author of 'I am Avhor' (Part 2)

Brian Ditchek
Read up, the second part of Brian Ditchek's Interview, with regard to 'I am Avhor'. In this he tells us the most challenging part of the book, which particular character, he felt most close to, the next book he has planned and also who his favourite authors are, and much more, Folks...

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘I Am Avhor’?

The story has multiple storylines throughout.  It was a challenge to build them, weave or interrelate them and then unwind them towards a climax all the while seeming realistic.  It was also challenging to make sure each word and each scene added to the

I don’t like stories with superfluous words. Each and every word must contribute to the story.   

Which particular character did you feel most close to?  Why?

Without a doubt, Urvak.  For me, he had the right combination of youth, innocence, strength and wisdom. 

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

Honestly, I surprised myself when I finished the story.  I don’t feel that anybody really pushed me to author this story.  I just really enjoyed creating each scene.  

That is really the bottom line.  Each scene I created from scratch encouraged me to write the next. 

When will your next book be out?  Who are your favorite authors and why?

Numerous readers have requested a sequel.  I even received a request for a prequel.  But I don’t have a date for a follow up book.   
Ken Follett
I have developed some potential new storylines, but have not put pen to paper so to speak.  In fiction, my favorite authors have been Ken Follett, James A Michener, Dean Koontz and John Saul.

Which book are you currently reading?  

‘Vessels’, but Brad J. Boucher, an independent author of horror stories I have recently discovered.

What else do you do on a daily basis? 

I am retired but enjoy long walks, reading and learning.  I am currently a member of Harvard University’s Institute for Learning in Retirement.  Interestingly, many of the members are also writers.    

You can Read the Review, and the First Part of this Interview right here, and Buy the Book here, as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review : 'The Suitable Inheritor' by Pushpendra Mehta

Pushpendra Mehta’s ‘The Suitable Inheritor’ is an almost lyrical book. By that, one can say that it is an inspirational work. That is something, I do not personally enjoy, but this time, I had an excellent author, who knows his way with words. 

Let’s get down to the story. The first few pages of the book, leads us to the Pacific Ocean and a beautiful woman, who helps discover the true destiny of Michael Elliott. Michael is a Chicago based relationship coach, who himself ends up discovering his own particular relationships, and what he would end up holding on to.

He is invited to Lima, to speak to younger clients of a relationship-coaching enterprise, by Andrew Smith.  Andrew, who is the owner of this particular enterprise and who has been in this particular business longer, does have a few words to share. Andrew’s particular business is inspired by a former employee of his. Dorothy, who is no longer in contact with Andrew, did have a few words to say herself, and a lot of expertise to provide to him. These particular bits of knowledge allowed him to become the famed relationship coach, he is today. But, in his revelations, Andrew tells Michael of his illness and his wish to see Dorothy. But where is Dorothy? Why and where did she go to?

Trying to find answers, Michael sets out to find her. Michael, who had come here on business, and to see, whether his dream was going to come true sets out to find her. So, the dream, where his life is transformed, and his dreams come true, finds a solution when he ends up meeting Dorothy, quite by chance.
He introduces himself to her, but does not reveal to her of ever meeting Andrew. Dorothy and Michael hit it off, and she has a few insightful and wonderful words to say to him, as well. But during another meeting, Michael opens up to her and tells her of his meeting with Andrew and his illness. At this, Dorothy breaks down. Dorothy and Michael, brought together by Andrew, end up together for the night.

But his meeting with Dorothy is short lived, as well. Dorothy as one notices, is an expert at relationship advice and sacrificing herself, for the greater good in particular situations. She believes that true love does not bind or impede and does not come in the way of progress. And she felt that Michael, just like Andrew would end up staying behind, if his love came true. And she would become a weakness, just like she did for Andrew.

Michael takes both their advices and goes back to Chicago. In Lima, he found his weakness and gets down to make it different in Chicago. He found his weakness, and he sets down to repair it. To market the book, he himself had written, he hires a PR firm. His career makes remarkable progress, but what about love? He finds someone; could she possibly be the one? Does he end up enjoying the work, he does? Does his work become his passion? But he ends up going back to Lima? What will happen there?

Okay. The book came to an end, but left behind a few questions for ourselves.
Pushpendra Mehta
Dorothy came and left in a whirl, so her character seems to me as if it served its purpose. But does she truly leave? How does it finally end? The book was full of questions. It also strove to pose the answers, but gave us newer questions, with which to try and find answers, ourselves.

So, it is not a self-help outlet, because it gives us, only so much before it takes the form of a novel. It’s a mixture of both. A novel presented to us with strategies, advice, success and happiness. Read up, because it probably will touch some part of you… because we all need some advice at some point in time.

You can Buy the Book, right here.