Author Interview of Anuradha Singh for The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura.

#AuthorTalks

Anuradha Kunte Singh has done a brilliant job with her book #TheMysteriousWidowsOfMehboobpura. This is one of the best interviews I have done till date, where I enjoyed asking and knowing the Author’s views on drug trafficking, the reasons and the measures that can be undertaken to curb this evil.
Thank you so much Ma’am for your time and this insightful interview.

1. Introduce yourself for your readers.

I am born and brought up in Pune, married to an army officer, teacher by profession, poetess and novelist by passion. That’s me.

2. Did you always aspire to be an Author or was it a series of experiences that turned you into one?

I becoming an author was completely providence. Since young age I always wrote poems, but never thought of publishing them. I was always fond of languages. But publishing this novel was completely a decision taken on impulse. I started out to write this novel as a short story and kept on writing and in 6-8 months it was ready. I gave it to read to few people and they loved it. Then as it is said, the rest is history. I decided to publish it, which was certainly an impulsive step from my side. But then I realized that I love to write, when I am writing I am at peace, I am my best when I write. So, that’s what I should do.

3. How has life been as an Army Officer’s wife?

It’s beautiful, a whirlwind affair of 18 years, full of uncertainties, lots of pampering, moving, living alone, waiting, celebration when he came from long absences………. that’s life as an Indian army officer wife.

4. In your book you’ve mentioned that you came across accounts of drug infiltration while in Punjab. Do you think what you could have done or desired to do regarding the situation there helped you form Ira’s character? Do you think Ira carries a part of you?

In my book I have mentioned, I read and heard of accounts of drug infiltration, personally I have never come across such cases. My husband had three postings in Punjab, so obviously I was there with him on all three occasions. I loved Punjab, it is a beautiful place and the people there are magnanimous. But by the virtue of it being close to the border, it has always suffered, as we know at the time of partition, at the time of India-Pak war and now this. As I said earlier I read a lot, so there has been so much written about it in books, newspapers. There was one particular article, which had come in Hindustan Times which shook me. It was about a pind called Makboolpura, which was known as the Vidhwa Pind. I drew inspiration from that article. But what I have written is fiction, one should remember that. I just took a thread from what I heard or read.
I don’t know, if I am as brave as Ira, but yes I am fiercely independent and you can see a glimpse of me in Ira.

5. Have you watched the Bollywood movie “Udta Punjab”? What are your views or would you like to say something about the movie Udta Punjab and the Chitta economy?

Yes, I have watched the movie Udta Punjab, the makers of the movie have tried to show it quite realistically. I feel sad to see the state of Punjab gripped in such foul play. The people there are full of life, fun loving, brave, helpful and when we see young boys and girls fallen into an abyss of addiction, theft, human trade and few people devoid of any conscious are becoming rich on such money. My heart grieves.

6. What do you think is the main reason behind drug trafficking and abuse? How do you think it can be curbed?

Of course, money is the reason behind all this. I think it should be a two way process, we require internal as well as external policing to curb this down. When I say external policing, I mean, it requires strict actions from the government. The players (pedlars, traffickers, etc) need to be put behind bars at a war footing, strict action should be taken against the kingpins of this business. In short, today’s scene of easy availability of the drugs should change. Now, when I say internal check, I mean, today’s generation has mercurial mentality, they want quick success and if they do not receive it, they are heartbroken very easily. To celebrate as well as to lift themselves from there sorrows, they rely upon new methods. If parents, teachers, social workers, media, all of us start a drive to create mental toughness amongst the youngsters, help them to accept defeats as easily as winnings then we would see a lot of difference in our community. Punjab has always been the state who has given us sportsmen and I firmly believe that a youngster who spends maximum time on track and field would never fall to such adverse addictions. So not only Punjab, all Indian states require more number of sports clubs than the paan ki dukaan of the nukkad, one of the hubs of sale of drugs. There are many other things, remedies, think tanks of our country would come up with many plans and ideas and total eradication can and should happen.

7. How has life been as an Author?

Not much has changed for me. I am the same, still have the same routine. But yes, when people come up to me and tell me that they have read my book and loved it, it gives me great satisfaction and motivation to write more.

8. What hobbies do you pursue?

I love to travel, that I do whenever possible and thanks to my husband’s profession, I get to do it a lot. I read a lot and enjoy collecting books, even though I read on kindle as well, I like to collect physical copies.

9. Do you have any quirky writing habit?

No, not yet, no quirks so far. But one thing is there, if once engrossed I can write even if there is a drum beating by my side.

10. Being a Mum, Wife and Teacher, how was your schedule while writing the book?

It is tough to write when one has a packed day, so the night used to be mine. I wrote extensively after finishing the day’s work, after tucking the boys in bed, then I would start writing.

11. Do you yourself read a lot of books?

Yes, as mentioned earlier, I am a voracious reader. Since childhood I have been reading a lot. I read ‘Swami’ the legendary marathi novel written by Ranjit Desai during my tenth board year. My mother used to be aghast, seeing me reading swami instead of some course book.

12. What is your go to genre?

My go to genre would be a thriller. I like to write suspense thrillers, something like Nora Roberts.

13. Are you planning to or already writing any new book? How long before your readers get to read more of your work?

Yes, after ‘The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura I wrote a poetry book, a short 37 pages book, which has Mahabharata in a poetry as well as condensed form. I published it on kindle as part of pen to publish contest. It is titled, ‘Song of Life’ a poetic retelling of Mahabharata, it was a completely new experiment. No one has done it before. People have written Mahabharata in English poetry form but not in a condensed manner. In simple English, which can be read by young students as well. Even ‘Song of Life has received rave reviews.
At present I am working on an ambitious project, for me it is certainly ambitious, as I am writing mythological fiction. I intend to publish it by next year.

14. Any message for your readers?

What message would I give to my readers? Keep reading, discern between quality, originality and plagiarized work. Say no to piracy.

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The Mysterious Widows Of Mehboobpura by Anuradha Singh.

Book – The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura
Author – Anuradha Kunte Singh
Publisher – Notion Press
Pages – 196

“They said the Rakshasas died a long time back, Then who are these at Mehboobpura…”

The Mysterious Widows of Mehboobpura is a fast paced thrilling read which addresses an issue which is equally deadly and rampant in some parts of the country. The Author being an Army man’s wife herself, has done a brilliant job at reflecting the adventure, the need to stand up for social cause, determination and courage that runs in an Army man’s family, in her writing. Although I wish the characters were a bit more polished, they still possessed intriguing personality and could be easily connected with. Same was the case with narration. It was engaging but a little honing is required. The sequence of events leading up to the main scene were quite well plotted and portrayed. The back story of the characters were as gripping as the story itself.

I liked the mastery with which the Author has described the little and beautiful details of Army life. The pain, the pleasure, the longing, the royalty of attitude and approach and the disciplined life style, the chance to explore and the skill of making every place a home.

I liked the plot and the way it discusses about the illegal and lethal activities practiced by people under coercion, poverty, exploitation, illiteracy, helplessness and corruption and undue political influence in fueling offences like sexual, mental and physical abuse, trafficking and smuggling. I don’t want to giveaway the mystery in the plot so I’m keeping certain points vague.
And to know how exciting this story is, you can read the Author’s interview in my next post.

It was indeed a very enthralling read. Must read !

Rating – 🌟🌟🌟.5/5

That Thing About You.

#bookreview

Book- That Thing About You
Author- Abhaidev
Publisher- Write India
Pages- 240
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“One day you’ll realize that the best kind of love is the one that results in the profoundest level of melancholy….. It’s a privilege to feel sad because of love. For it means the love has served it’s purpose. As it evoked the emotions in is that we were never ready for.”

Subodh has always been pointed out as an immature and indisciplined man by everyone, but he started taking these remarks seriously when he overheard his love interest ruling out any possibility of relationship with him because of these habits of his.

Devasted by such a revelation he started acting aloof and that’s when he came across a voice so sweet and it’s presence so relaxing that he found a confidant in this supposedly formless woman. But who does this voice belong to ? Was he really hearing it or just hallucinating ? .

The plot is fresh, new and a lot of time insightful too ! The characters were realistic and their beautiful portrayal strengthened the whole story.
This book is enthralling and has got a soothing touch to it. It’ll draw you towards it slowly and then gently push you into the depth, making you think about the deepest aspects of life, keeping you calm yet making you chuckle at a lot of instances. The narration maintains an element of surprise that you’d like to discover and enjoy the journey as well.
The vocabs used makes the narration quite classy and everything just fits right in place. Not even a single thing feels over- imposed.
Although there were very few grammatical errors towards the end, it was still amsuing and made me feel estatic. Overall a really good read. .
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Rating – 🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

Author Interview of Simrita Dhir for The Rainbow Acres.

Interview with Simrita Dhir, author of the historical novel The Rainbow Acres.

1. What inspired you to write your debut novel The Rainbow Acres?

The Rainbow Acres is a historical novel about displacement and migration that unfurls in the early twentieth century. Being an immigrant, I was naturally curious to explore the history of the earliest immigrants who came to California from my homeland Punjab. I was inspired to write The Rainbow Acres after learning about the brave stories of the pioneer Punjabi farmers of California who started their journeys from Punjab shortly after the gold rush. Undertaking perilous journeys, they sailed across two oceans to reach California with the hope of claiming their piece of the golden land. I thought their stories of strife, struggle and fantastic success had all the twists and turns of a fictional story.

Many of these pioneer Punjabi farmers of California married Mexican women, who had been uprooted by the Mexican revolution. As a result, a fascinating Punjabi-Mexican community sprang up in California. It was a beautiful coming together of two cultures, a truly secular, bi-ethnic set-up that came to exemplify a new and eclectic California.

Even though a lot of sociological research had been done about California’s remarkable Punjabi-Mexican community, there had been no attempt at fictionalizing this episode from Californian history. Finding the Punjabi-Mexican community absolutely riveting, I took it upon myself to render the beautiful story of the melding of two cultures into fiction.

2. How does the theme of the novel ring true in today’s time?

Displacement and migration continue to be deeply relevant issues today where thousands risk lives and limbs every day in the search of new beginnings. In The Rainbow Acres, Kishan Singh’s uncertain journey across two oceans undergoing which, he nearly dies, is no different from the tragic refugee deaths that occur on boats today. Only in the last few years, nearly 9000 migrants have been lost in the Mediterranean Sea. Sophia’s story, too, is deeply reminiscent of the plight of the contemporary Central American refugees who undertake hazardous journeys to start new lives in a faraway land. Across the world, the number of people impelled to flee their homelands has increased to 65 million and refugee admissions in the United States have been trending upwards. Immigrant narratives are vital to conversations about displacement and migration and it is my hope that The Rainbow Acres will promote empathy for immigrants and refugees, thereby facilitating a deeper understanding of those issues.

3. There is a great depth in the writings of Toni Morrison. Having done your PhD on Toni Morrison, what would be the one significant influence that Toni Morrison’s work has on your writing?

Toni Morrison is most certainly one of the greatest storytellers of our time. She has had an indelible impact on me to where I began writing The Rainbow Acres after having internalized her famous lines, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Those lines were always ringing loud in my mind during the years that it took me to write The Rainbow Acres. I felt as though it were imperative to lend a voice to the pioneer Punjabi farmers of California whose achievement has been anything but phenomenal in the annals of Californian history. Starting out as farmhands, they gradually began leasing small tracts of land and eventually became land barons in California to where, today, Punjabi farmers farm hundreds of thousands of acres of California’s prime agricultural land. Their success is a manifestation of the great California Dream and I can never thank them enough for serving as my inspiration for writing The Rainbow Acres.

4. Your book touches the heart and makes the readers experience the emotions of the characters. What emotions did you go through while writing the novel?

The writer lives through the characters. I lived Kishan Singh and Sophia’s anguish and elation every step of the way. Both the protagonists are romantics at heart, which is my personal belief about all immigrants. I believe an immigrant is an incorrigible romantic. I mean one has to be romantic to leave behind all that is familiar and safe and bet a stake on an unfamiliar land. A lot of people, even in the worst of adversities, continue waiting in their land of origin for their luck to change, but an immigrant takes a chance and casts his lot with a faraway land with the uncanny belief that his life will be better in the new place. In the case of Kishan Singh, given the time period, it was beyond brave of him to pack up and undertake the difficult journey across oceans. Never having even seen a picture of the new world, he was armed on the voyage only by the courage of his beliefs and the fire of his dreams. Similarly, Sophia was driven by her hope for more and better in life and it is this hope that energizes her to take the dangerous night journey across the border to start anew along the coast of dreams.

5. Comment on the narrative technique that you chose for The Rainbow Acres.

The alternating narratives of Kishan and Sophia provide unique yet universal insights into the immigrant experience. By choosing this narrative technique, I attempted to focus on the immigrant experience as well on the universal themes of love, loss and moving on. Kishan Singh and Sophia’s journeys evolve along different paths in vastly different surroundings, but both stories embody the quest for more and better in life. Both protagonists are dreamers who tend to look beyond the horizon. Victims of loss and denial, they fight circumstances as well as thought-provoking dilemmas while never losing their nobility. Their uncanny belief in the second chances that the faraway land seems to offer, drives their journeys. I also thought that the alternating narratives of Kishan and Sophia would offer a more engaging reading experience where the reader would be delving in two very different narratives spanning across two different continents. Even as the two narratives run parallel, they promise to converge at some point, which I thought the readers would find intriguing.

6. The novel makes significant comments on the human experience. Was it a conscious decision on your part to do so?

Through history, people have migrated in search of greener pastures. A migrant believes in the promise of the unknown; he is a believer and a doer who takes charge of his life and destiny, someone whose sense of enterprise nudges him to break away from the familiar, take risks and embark upon the new. And while their backgrounds and experiences vary, both Kishan Singh and Sophia embody the immigrant resilience and grit. Kishan Singh loses the most vital aspect of his existence and Sophia’s entire world crashes before her eyes. Their lives are torn apart, they are devastated, but never do their really let go of that inherent belief in themselves and in the world. They pick themselves and move on even as they know that they would face yet more hurdles along new paths. Sophia aptly says in the novel, “The human journey is not the travel of the sun or the moon. It cannot be predicted. One can’t fight one’s story, it always wins.” As their stories unfurl along new roads, Kishan Singh and Sophia continue to discover themselves anew. To quote from the novel, “Everyday was a journey. The odyssey never ended, going on and on instead in a perpetual quest of open roads and yet newer beginnings. And wild ambiguous milestones made it worth taking.”

7. How different are Kishan Singh and Sophia’s immigrant experiences from your own. How much does your lived experience inform the novel?

This is a deeply relevant question. I am an immigrant and a proud one for that. My immigrant experience defines me in many ways and that is the primary reason that I wrote The Rainbow Acres. Having said that, I must mention that the California that I immigrated to in the year 2000 was very different from Kishan and Sophia’s California. The year 2000 was not just the beginning of a new century but also of a brave new millennium. The California that I encountered was an out-and-out multi-ethnic place, the only US state to have no majority race, where everyone belonged, and no one was an outsider, so to say. Unlike Kishan Singh and Sophia, I came to attend university on a F1 Student Visa. Indian students on campus were perceived of as being insightful and intelligent. Generally speaking, being Asian was considered “cool”. I did not encounter any of the confining racial boundaries that Kishan Singh does in The Rainbow Acres. I, however, share Kishan Singh and Sophia’s enamor for the unknown in abundance and find myself invariably drawn to all things new. There are lines in the novel that capture the immigrant mindset. They are as true for me as they are for Kishan Singh and Sophia. “Far horizons were alluring, layered with miracles and romance. And they were always receding farther, arousing the urge to sprint to newer haunts, braver ideas and infinite dreams.”

8. The novel poses a question- Is the journey worth the struggle? How would you respond to that question?

That is a question for the readers to ponder on and come up with their own answers. The journey motif is integral to the story. There are lines in the novel about the course of journeys, “Stories are no one’s slaves. They follow their own course, not anyone’s wishes or dictates.” Long journeys, such as the ones that Kishan Singh and Sophia undertake to reach the fabled land, are bound to be difficult and unpredictable. Along the way, even the most optimistic of voyagers, like Kishan Singh, is bound to reflect upon the question, “Is the journey worth the struggle?”
Both Kishan Singh and Sophia take difficult journeys across unfamiliar terrains, separated from family and everyone who is familiar. In battling hardships, both protagonists are rescued by complete strangers who feature only for brief moments, disappearing immediately after rendering help, but the reverberations of their acts of kindness continue to echo through the length of the novel. Essentially, the novel depicts that in life, one has a choice – either to be dismissive and indifferent or to be kind and thoughtful. Kishan Singh and Sophia are compassionate because they have known suffering and have received kindness from unexpected sources. The representation of strangers in fiction has, more often than not, tended to be one of distrust. So, I wanted to shift that stance and show how in their limited roles, strangers have the ability to leave a lasting impact, gradually leading the protagonists to becoming the finest versions of themselves.

9. Which is your favorite character in the novel and why?

Kishan Singh has lived the longest in my mind. I began reflecting on his character much before I even started work on The Rainbow Acres. Having said that, there are no favorites. All characters whether it be the protagonists Kishan Singh and Sophia or the supporting characters – Jaspal, Roop, Amy and Isabel – are all integral to the evolution and success of the novel. I relate to the struggles, beliefs and mindsets of all characters. There is something of me in all of them.

10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

To me, writing is deeply energizing. When in the throes of writing, I can work tirelessly for days at a stretch and then take a break for a day or two only to start again with vigor.

11. What is your favorite genre? Is there any other genre that you would like to explore?

Besides literature, I am also a keen student of history and hence, historical fiction is particularly fascinating to me. Historical fiction brings history alive, helps us identify with voices, views and concerns from another time. It also builds empathy, compassion and an appreciation of differences. The way I see it, historical fiction is a wonderful way of associating history with emotion and also serves as a great tool to imbibe life lessons.

12. What is that one most important thing you learnt while writing this book?

Researching and learning about the Punjabi diaspora in California has helped me tremendously in coming to terms with my own journey across oceans. Even though the California that I inherited is a lot different from Kishan Singh’s California, learning about the struggles of the pioneer immigrants from Punjab has strengthened by ability to empathize with people and their struggles in a time that would have otherwise been completely foreign to me. I am glad that in internalizing the strife of the pioneer immigrants from Punjab, I have been able to lend them a voice while being deeply benefitted myself. The stories of the pioneers have urged me to keep going, to find my place in a fast evolving California and be conscious of my actions at all times. I would like to believe that writing The Rainbow Acres has made me a better, more nuanced person.

The Rainbow Acres by Simrita Dhir.

Book- The Rainbow Acres

Author- Simrita Dhir

Pages- 287

Simrita Dhir has crafted an exquisite piece of literature. Full of love, dreams, kindness and courage, this book gives sheer pleasure of relishing varied human emotions.

To be young and in love, to dream a life of togetherness and lose it all to a storm, to your Eden being a massacre ground, to leave your motherland and embark upon a deadly voyage, to find a brother in a sea of strangers, #TheRainbowAcres is an ode to all the raw and extreme human emotions.

The characters were unfailingly kind even in the darkest of times, their unwavering faith in their soil and their preservance was extraordinarily portrayed. The narration was smooth and the flow was paced as to touch all the raw sentiments and the let the story sink in word by word. Even though two different stories with different timelines and geographical locations were simultaneously in progress, it didn’t create any confusion. The connection was superb. I liked Kishan and Sophia’s story individually as well as when they were merged together and bringing together such different stories as one was brilliantly plotted by the Author.

Love, friendship, brotherhood, migration, defying racism and class barriers, “the quest for land and identity, set against the backdrop of old Punjab, early California and revolution-torn Mexico”, escaping death, disease, hunger, poverty and near prostitution experience, #TheRainbowAcres won’t let you down even for a moment.

Rating – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟/5

Kaikeyi- The Mother Of A God by Suresh Kala.

#bookreview

Book – Kaikeyi – The Mother Of A God

Author – Suresh Kala

“This life is a path of duty, and no one knows which turn is going to be their last. The only treasure we take away is the contentment that not once did we leave the path our conscience told us to follow. Let people say that human is a plaything at the hands of fate; I will not surrender to the fate till my last breath.”

She seemed an incarnation of Durga. Her body was an art of a heavenly sculptor. She was the goddess of war as said by many. She is the beautiful, valiant, daughter of king of Kaikeya, Kaikeyi. For the people who follow mythology keenly ,these virtues might be highly clouded amidst of her other emblazoned characteristics. The ancient notion of Kaikeyi being involved in quite a bit of schadenfreude when she deliberately sent lord rama to exile making her own son the emperor, is highly crushed upon reading the book: kaikeyi, the mother of a god.

The magnificent narration by the author, Suresh Kala is highly laudable. Starting from the depiction of the exceptional architecture of Ayodhya to slowly merging into the past and present circumstances and then accelerating towards the contemplation of the events, this book would definitely take you through an emotional turbulence. The elucidation of the various human relationships was methodically woven into a string whose beauty is unfathomable yet the events are so well versed that these teachings stick into your mind in a subtle manner.

The hero of the story was undeniably kaikeyi. The book never missed any chance to lionize her action validating her every move with proper precision. She was both fierce as a tide and quiet as placid lake. She set an example for every woman by conquering every arena she placed her foot onto. The story drew parallel to the shackles that bound society of Ramyug albeit the mythological significance it held. The social stigmas like casteism, patriarchy, prejudice not only prevails in today’s society but has a deep rooted history dating back to the satyuga.

This summation of this book definitely left me fangirling over this ancient mythological character who gave the true meaning of feminism in a time where women were merely considered as diamonds in the crown.

Sniper’s Eye by Mainak Dhar.

#bookreview
Book – Sniper’s Eye
Author – @dharmainak
Pages – 238

Aaditya Ghosh quit his position as a Major under certain vexed circumstances and swore to lead a life as a commoner and not reveal the details of that fateful dispute for good.

After few years of leading a life of apparent normalcy, a shooting in a mall in front of him while he was out with his girlfriend Zoya, ultimately leads him back to the place which he least desired.

Aaditya’s endeavor to lay downbeat went into vain when he was all over the news for his heroic act of catching the sniper involved in the mall shooting.

The story proceeds with a series of sniper killings across the city, a whole master plan and an even larger hand instigating it.

This book has war, terrorists, international disputes and corruption at the higher-ups and a whole lot of mystery, thrill and action.

The writing style and narration is great. But the repeated use of certain dialogues is kind of annoying. The characters were well developed and the pace was just right. The sequence of events were beautiful set and the mystery revealed layer after layer surely made it an amusing read. I really enjoyed reading this book. Absolutely recommend for mystery/thriller lovers. .

Rating- 🌟🌟🌟🌟/5