Thursday, 21 March 2019

"My characters lead my story" - Malika Gandhi #AuthorInterview



I recently met Malika Gandhi on an online forum and had an opportunity to talk to her about her books. She writes in the paranormal and historical fiction genres which I think makes for a very interesting combination. A mother of two, she lives in the UK and loves to "escape into the world of words and images". Read on to find out more about Malika....

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer? 

I began to write at a very young age but became serious when I was in my twenties. My debut Freedom of the Monsoon took me four years to write and then a year more in editing. I remember when I held the proof copy in my hand and I felt grateful and so happy to have achieved this!

Since then, I have written two more books, Where the Secret Lies, and Lost in the Haveli.


Apart from writing, I am also an artist and I love to learn. I am doing A Level English & Literature and I hope to do an A Level in psychology afterwards.

I live in the UK, in the East Midlands and I am married with two boys. My life is pretty normal, so to escape into the world of words and into the visual world of images is my way to release my creativity.

You live in the UK but all your books are set in India. Is writing a way of exploring your roots? 

I never thought of that but it could be. I have been to India in my teens and haven’t returned since, although it is on my list of things to do. I was born there but was brought up in London, so India does fascinate me. I suppose subconsciously through writing, I found India.

Could you tell us a little bit about your books and why you think readers will love them? 

Freedom of the Monsoon revolves around five individuals, pre-independence. We see their struggles when Mahatma Gandhi calls the British to quit India. It is a time of confusion and turmoil and the whole country is affected in ways no one could imagine. It is also based around love, marriage and Indian cultures and traditions.

Where the Secret Lies and Lost in the Haveli are both ghost stories with a twist. The first book is set in two different time zones – the past and the present where a girl from today meets a girl from yesteryear. The second ghost story is about a trapped spirit who yearns for forgiveness and we see her past clearly as the novel progresses.

These books are for people who love the genre of history and the paranormal/ghost and I hope they do like my tales.

What is the most exciting thing about writing and what is the most challenging bit?

The most challenging is the editing and making sure the story fits like a glove with no holes at the end of the day. The exciting part is writing it. When I write, I don’t plan. I just let the characters take over and I let new ones emerge. They lead the story and they tell me what they are going to do and where they are going. J

Do share a favourite excerpt from one of your books. 

Extracts from Lost in the Haveli.

He is able to touch me as if I am physically alive, because he does not see me as a threat, he believes that I’m  a normal girl that lives somewhere in the city. He is one of the very few that I trust, and deep down I think if he looked deep inside his soul, and realised what I am, I would like to think that he wouldn’t banish me, but rather he’d somehow try and protect me.  Although, I could be wrong and it is something I do not wish to test, so I must still be careful when I appear before him.

... “What happened that day was not your fault.”
“But she still haunts me on the anniversary of her death, every year since she died. Mama wouldn’t talk to me after the incident when I was alive, and then when I died she arrived to torment me. Can you explain why that is?” There were tears in Aanchal’s eyes.
“I cannot, I am sorry.”
“Please go, I need to be alone. I beg you, please.”
The spirit faded, his image became blurred and smudged once again.
“Please think of what I have advised. Leave the girl alone. It won’t do you any good to pursue her...” The echo of his voice faded as his image did, and at last, it stopped ringing in the dense silence that followed.
Aanchal stood still for a moment, looking over to the space where he had been standing. The shimmer of his existence had illuminated the dark room, and had long disappeared leaving a sense of foreboding darkness.
Why did the spirit come to see her like this? It had been two years since his last visit, and that time, it was to caution her to not frighten the villagers with her nightly walks in the village, or he would have to intervene. She shuddered. Would he have dragged her to the Other Side against her will?


What are you working on currently and what's it about? 

I have moved away from the genres History and Ghosts. I am now writing the first book of a series called The Witches of Panay. It is Magical Realism with witches, shape shifters and other creatures associated with the world of fantasy.

The Witches of Panay is about a teenage girl, Pia who is taken on a journey. A journey she didn’t want and didn’t expect. She grew up with her aunt and her cousin and knowing they were witches. Pia and her family live in Robin Hoods Bay, in Yorkshire, and lead a pretty normal ‘human’ life until there are disturbances in the air.

The Witches of Panay are looking for her and the stones and they want Pia. With the help of her friends, Max, Jenny, and her cousin Fleur, the four set out on a quest to find the answers to Pia’s questions. Perhaps this could lead to her missing father, mother, and sister. Where are they and are they still alive? Pia also finds out she is a Fire Witch and this comes with a whole lot of complications and responsibilities. She wonders if she is she ready for such burdens at such a young age?

The Witches of Panay is full of action, mysteries and some romance. As the novel gets underway, it becomes darker but and more mysterious.

Thank you Malika for sharing with us your journey as a writer. Wish you all the very best with your writing.


To connect with Malika, check out her social media links below:

Facebook    Twitter   Blog

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Monday, 18 March 2019

Niche Markets in Romance Writing

Welcome to Week N of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.

If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.

This week it's time to take a closer look at Niche Markets 

A few weeks ago I'd posted about the importance of knowing your Genre as it helps readers to discover your books. A genre like Romance -- which incidentally is the top selling category -- has more than 100-plus sub-categories. These are often called 'niches', a marketing jargon for specialist sub-categories. While some of the more popular ones like romantic suspense, chicklit, paranormal romance, historical romance, etc. are evergreen favourites, as reading preferences evolve, new niches emerge from time to time. For instance, a few years back the super-duper success of E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey sparked off a new niche of BDSM within the sub-genre of Erotic Romance.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Let's take a look at some of the hot new niches in the Romance category.

Clean and Wholesome Romance: It seems like the fiery trail of erotica books that the success of the Fifty Shades series had left in its wake, has begun to peter off. Clean romance or closed door romance, as many people like to call it, is making a return. Here the heat level is tepid at best and explicit sex on the pages is a big no-no.

Science Fiction Romance is a relatively new niche that is rising on the popularity charts. And as the name suggests it is a mashup of the two genres. So you can expect love to blossom between an alien and a homo sapien along with some galactic action. If you haven't yet tried out these books, here are a few recommendations from Ali Williams, Managing Editor of Pink Heart Society : Gideon's Riders series by Kit Rocha, The Galactic Cold War series by Robyn Bachar, and Tales of Inthya Duet by Effie Calvin.

Speculative Romance is a brand new entry which is more like an off shoot of science fiction romance and has elements of science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and romantic urban fantasy. Some best selling titles include In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard, A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper, Off the Grid Trilogy by Alyssa Cole.


Highlander Romance Sparked off by the super duper success of the Outlander series, authors like the hugely popular Maya Banks are spinning off romances set in Scotland.

Diversity Romance There has been a growing trend towards protagonists who are multi-cultural. Alternative sexual orientation (LGBQT) too is another niche. Differently abled characters (such as those with autism, ADHD) are making romance novels more grounded in the real world. Helen Hoang's bestselling The Kiss Quotient with an autistic female protagonist is a case in point.

Romance authors clearly believe that Variety is the spice of romance. So, what is your favourite niche to read and write in? What kind of new sub-genres have you come upon recently? Do share your thoughts.

Don't forget to check out these N posts in the series....

N is for Non-Fiction by Sudesna Ghosh

Names: Do they Matter? by Preethi Venugopala




Sunday, 10 March 2019

Cover Reveal of Devika Fernando's The Indian Prince's Scandalous Bride

Devika Fernando is a prolific Indie author whose romances are a delight to read. She has written more than 10 romance novels. You can check out her books here.

She is also one of the authors who contributes to the ongoing #AtoZAuthorsTips series which you may have read on this blog. 

Today, it gives me immense pleasure to share the cover of  her upcoming romance novel, The Indian Prince's Scandalous Bride...

Over to Devika to introduce her new book.



Ever since I started writing royal romances, I wanted to set one of the stories in India. Now I’ve made this dream come true. “The Indian Prince’s Scandalous Bride” is the 4th book in the Romancing the Royals series, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Here’s the cover and blurb. The book is due for release next month.

BLURB

Wedding planner Ashley Davies has left England behind to organize a royal wedding in India. She’s expected a cultural shock and lots of unforgettable memories – but never in a million years would she have thought she’d fall in love. When the mysterious and irresistible Vivaan turns out to be none other than an Indian prince, it’s time for her to make a decision: risk everything for the sake of what feels like so much more than a holiday fling, or resist their forbidden attraction and save her job as well as her heart?

Prince Vivaan of Yogeshpur certainly doesn’t want to get involved in the organization of his brother’s grand wedding, but then a free-spirited and smart redhead from England captures his interest. Suddenly he finds himself eager to get to know a woman who would never receive his mother’s royal seal of approval. Should he give in to his feelings or stay away from the ‘scandalous’ wedding planner?


THE SERIES

Have you read the other books in the series yet? The first three novels are each set in a fictitious kingdom as well as in a real country such as Maldives and Germany. They are sweet contemporary romances and can be read as stand-alones with happy endings. Click on the links to find out more. Book 1 is a free download in most countries!





 Don't you love the cover? I simply can't wait to read it!
 





Saturday, 9 March 2019

Luck -- How Important is it for your Writing Career?

Welcome to Week L of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.
If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing. This week I talk about getting Lucky and whether that is a factor or not in your writing career. 


This post was originally written for the Pink Heart Society and you can read it here...


Luck is the “force that causes things, especially good things, to happen to you by chance and not as a result of your own efforts or abilities”. That’s the definition of luck in the Cambridge dictionary. 

We all do get it that talent without hard work will lead us down the path to failure and eternal damnation. Yet, whenever there is news of ‘something good’ coming our way, we inadvertently hope for a bit of good luck. I wonder what it would be like to have our well-wishers bless us with plenty of ‘good efforts’ or ‘good abilities’. Perhaps someone might just say something like, ‘wishing you tons of good hard work’? 

Oprah Winfrey has famously said – or perhaps she was simply paraphrasing Roman philosopher Seneca? – luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. No truer words have been said. 

It reminds me of the time when I came across one such opportunity and grabbed it with both hands: Harlequin had just launched its Aspiring Authors contest in India and I turned my short story idea into a contest entry. In hindsight, the opportunity itself was something that emerged totally out of the blue—a lucky break. After all, if I hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, the opportunity would have simply sailed past me. I ended up winning the contest and thus began my journey as a romance author. There was another such happy situation of preparation meeting opportunity when I wrote a screenplay for a filmmaker which went on to become a produced short film. 

For me, preparation is all about working on my craft while having an ear to the ground for possible opportunity. But I have learned that in life, there is always a ‘force’ at work. You may choose to call it a combination of enabling elements. Or you may call it luck. Without that special ‘force’ / enabling elements, your best made plans can come to nought. Haven’t we all experienced it at some point in our lives? Just when everything is going swimmingly well, and we’re that close to achieving a goal, one small factor can jeopardise it all. Sometimes you don’t have a clue as to what the ‘wrench’ in the works was! The high moment dissipates as if it never was, as if it was simply a figment of your imagination. Poof! 

Having experienced it multiple times, I have come to believe that there is one more factor at play in all this. Resilience. The ability to bounce back from challenges and setbacks while keeping a positive frame of mind is perhaps just as important as talent and hard work, opportunity and luck.
If it weren’t for that crucial trait, we would never have had the pleasure to read the works of JK Rowling, Stephen King, Margaret Mitchell, Agatha Christie and many others who were rejected multiple times. Resilience is perhaps the ultimate force that can see us through our writing journey. May the Force be with all of us! 

Don't forget to check out these K &  L posts from my author friends: 

Kindle Publishing by Sudesna Ghosh

Kill your Darlings! by Preethi Venugopala

Kill your Readers or Better Not... by Reet Singh


Length - Does it Matter in Writing by Devika Fernando

Writing Love Scenes by Reet Singh 

Creative Writing: A Leap of Faith by Preethi Venugopala