Two Bollywood themed books made Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014 List! My A Bollywood Affair and Susan Kaye Quinn’s Third Daughter. If that doesn’t call for a celebration and giveaway, I don’t know what does! So, Susan Kaye Quinn and I are giving away lots of Indian goodies for being fellow bestie-listie-besties. (scroll down for the giveaway)
While making the list is fantastic, the other half of this amazing news is that our books are as different as two Indian set romances can be, proving the infinite possibilities in terms of premise and promise of the sub-genre. Third Daughter is steampunk (I know, it’s amazing!) and mine is a family saga set in Bollywood, the actual Indian film industry. Can you imagine the spectrum of stories between those two?
Of course there are common themes, like arranged marriages and complex familial bonds, so Susan and I try to answer some questions about writing Bollywood romance and our take on the inevitable arranged marriages.
To carry on Mina’s Djinn theme of where one can find inspiration for a story, blog…what the hell.. even for life, I’ll take you through my personal “novel” journey.
Don’t know if any of you know, but I pretty much stumbled into novel writing much like Alice in Wonderland fell down a rabbit hole. I woke up one morning, nigh on five years ago now, called my Mom in India. She repeated her lecture on how I was wasting my “brain” and the kids were reasonably grown and I should “do something worthwhile with my life” and not simply be the “housewife” I was extremely content being. (See, my mother’s the busiest bee I know. Not one to sit at home when the world is spinning furiously.)
Most of which was true. Not that I agreed with Mom’s assessment that I was “wasting” away, but something prompted me that day to evaluate where I was and what I wished to be doing. I have long loved reading. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had a book in my hand or a movie that I’m watching. What better option had I than to combine that love of reading with “doing something worthwhile.” For an Indian parent that would mean getting a degree of some sort. Which I haven’t got even now, but I did set out on the path to obtain one…before I stumbled headlong into wonderland.
I scrolled through a short list of online classes on Literature and the Classics at the local community college and what do you know? I found my Djinn…my magic lamp…where I rub rub rubbed and produced a treasure. I stumbled onto a course called “Romance Writing Secrets” and I was so intrigued that I had to take it. It was a short 6 week course, but what it did was remind me how much I loved to create a fable, spin a story, make magic with words. I had homework and that taught me discipline to sit down and write every day, even if it was for just five minutes.
The 6 weeks flew by but I was addicted. I took a grammar refresher course and another course on plotting. I don’t remember much after that expect the day, less than a year later, that I had a finished manuscript on my hands. Like an actual, bonafide, full fledged MANUSCRIPT!
Then came the hard part. Holy hell! I’ve written a freakin’ book! What the hell do I do with it now?
And that, Dear Readers, will be the title of my next blog post. Until that time, stay warm. Stay inspired. And don’t be afraid to jump down a rabbit hole or listen to your Moms.
“Djinn,” can also be spelled “genie” or “jinn” and basically refer to same thing. They are supernatural creatures made from “smokeless flames” with deep roots in Middle Eastern mythology that preceded Islamic culture and spread far into Asia and Africa.
Growing up in Bangladesh (located on the Indian subcontinent), I was surrounded by the idea of djinns. I grew up in a house supposedly built at a crossroads of the djinn and human world, nourished on skin-tingling tales about these otherworldly supernatural creatures with awesome scary powers.
Stories of djinns falling obsessively in love with human women & stealing them away from their families, stories where humans inadvertently insulted invisible djinns and paid dearly for their mistake, and stories of djinns granting wishes and making impossible dreams come true.
Here at Saris and Stories, we’re always thrilled to celebrate our South Asian heritage and writing, and what’s better than meeting a new South Asian author that smashes the two together? I was so excited to meet Annika Sharma, not just because of the obvious, but because she’s freaking awesome! Seriously, you guys, I think I found my long, lost twin sister! She’s talented, she’s friendly, she’ll even go the extra mile to help a sista’ out. So, without further babbling from yours truly, here’s my interview with Annika:
What do you do when the well is empty? When you are a writer who cannot write?
There are many who would say that it means you’re not a real writer, because real writers write no matter what. Every day. As regularly as breathing.
What do you do when you can’t breathe either?
For me, these past few months have been a struggle of creativity vs. grief, with the grief winning by a landslide. Yes, it sucks. I’ve got little in the way of words and even less in the way of inspiration. But I’m not ready to stop calling myself a writer just yet. Here are five things I’m doing to try and stay in the game.
It’s the holiday season, and here at Saris and Stories, we’re busy working on edits, and entertaining our families. Yes, some Indians do celebrate the holidays with families. The most popular question I get every year is “Do you celebrate Christmas?” My answer is always “you mean giftmas?” Why wouldn’t I? We get to give and get presents, eat awesome food, and have days off with the people we love the most! Except, we don’t really do the religious aspect of the holidays. So the next question is, “What do you do to celebrate?” Well, we do a lot! Here are a couple of the things I suggest you can do to make your holiday season more Indian.
1. Buy a tree and personalize it instead of going the Christian tradition route, go ahead and personalize it with ornaments from all of your Indian career and education accomplishments, or travel destinations. Or, if you really want to go the religious route…
2. Use a tandoori paste marinade on your turkey or your meat that is the center piece of your dinner. Why here’s a recipe!
I met author MK Schiller at a writer’s conference last year and we had one of those, “OMG, you’re an Indian romance writer!” moments. And since Saris and Stories is all about the South Asian sisterhood of romance writers I thought it would be wonderful to have her do a guest post for us. So, here she is, MK Schiller!
Hi MK, welcome! Tell us about your books.
The books I’ve written are all varied, but the construction and threads woven throughout are similar. There is typically humor, angst, sensual scenes, and flawed characters with redeeming qualities. My most recent novel, Variables of Love, is a multicultural new adult, which deals with themes of arranged marriages, family relationships, and forgiveness.
10) The extra-long weekend. Which translates into extra hours of sleeping!
9) No school. Which means I don’t have to follow my kids about, sorting out their schedules.
Needs No Caption!
8) Time for reading (due to points 9 and 10), preferably by the fire.
Bootie and the Beast.
Happy November. everyone! I love this time of year because people (including myself) slow down in a good way. We stop in the middle of the mad rush called daily life and count our blessings, we reflect, we express thanks and we hope.
The chilly weather also means we make soup, pots and pots of it, to give us comfort and nourishment and warm us inside out. When people are sick, we tend to make soup, and if we are the one’s feeling under the weather, we are always grateful for soup. When the economy is down or a natural disaster strikes, people turn to soup kitchens. Soup is to make, doesn’t need costly ingredients and gets better over time so leftovers are a boon. When the wind is howling outside and the temperatures are dropping, there’s nothing as gratifying as wrapping your hands around a bowl of warm soup and in the end having a full, warm belly.
Soup represents gratitude and is the perfect food for November. So here’s a recipe for one of my favorites.
Stay warm and happy!
Every year, the last quarter of it, September through November, I go into this strange introspective state. Yes, even farther than the usual “I live in my mind with my characters the whole year” place.
I celebrate my birthday in September, celebrate two big Indian festivals through October – one which has always felt special to me among the hundred or so we celebrate because it’s the goddess that’s taking down the bad guys (according one of the stories) ☺, offer my thanks for everything I have over Thanksgiving, and then it’s time to welcome a new year.
Being an eternally optimistic and ever-evolving (this is my brother’s favorite phrase for me) person, I like to look back on what I have achieved and hope to do better the coming year.