Q&A with Sudha Kuruganti

sudha

Sudha Kuruganti has been writing since she was a kid of thirteen, first starting out by writing fanfiction of questionable quality. She’s now working on a novel. She loves books, anime, coffee, chocolate, manga, Beatles music, and dogs. Not necessarily in that order. When she’s not writing, Sudha works nine-to-five at a multinational organization in Gurgaon, India, dealing with corporate communications. In her spare time, she loves reading, working on various DIY projects, trying out new cake recipes and blogging.

After a nerve-wracking wait of three weeks, here I am, posting this exciting and mellow Q&A with Sudha Kuruganti, author of her debut novel Dark Things Between the Shadow and the Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales from Indian Mythology. She’s a super-cool person and I feel blessed to have read her incredible book and fan-fiction on her blog. Totally made me feel at ease and she freaking watches SUPERNATURAL! (NEED I SAY MORE?)

Let’s dive right into it then, shall we? (Here’s my review of the book.)

How did you conceive the idea of writing contemporary short stories based on Indian Mythology and what did it take to materialize into the book you’ve published today?

The book had its roots in Supernatural, a TV show that I enjoy watching. One of the pivotal episodes in the fifth (and final season to the story arc) depicted Indian gods in modern day USA—and while I enjoyed seeing gods I knew on screen, the ending for their story disappointed me.

I wanted to see more of that—figures from Indian mythology in modern settings, age-old gods and demi-gods dealing with a life where just one little twist had made things different for them. The idea of mythology fanfiction fascinated me.

I started out by writing a story a week, based on a set of fantasy writing prompts from a writing website. I posted the stories on my blog every Friday, and soon I had built an audience. At the end of the year, I decided to collect the best stories into an anthology. When I started out, I didn’t realise how much work it would take to self-publish—and do it well!

The title – Dark things between the shadow and the soul: Fractured Fairy Tales from Indian Mythology is quite intriguing. What made it click? 

The title is from one of my favourite poems, Sonnet XVII from One Hundred Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. The original line is from a translation by Stephen Tapscott, “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved/in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

I think it captured the essence of the book—something that’s not easily defined, a sense of mystery lurking between the known and unknowable. Given that the genre of the book is so fluid—mystery, thriller, paranormal, horror, romance—all based on Indian mythology, I felt it just fit.

What kind of research did you indulge in to write this book? 

I’ll admit that I didn’t do too much research! I tried hard not to fit the mythology to my stories, I wanted the story to flow naturally and not seem like a force-fit.

I’ve always loved stories from mythology, so I know quite a bit about Indian mythology to start out with. When it came to getting a story ready for each week, I would let the writing prompts sit around for a week, which is when inspiration would strike. It would all flow very organically, from inspiration to idea to a link to Indian mythology.

Dark Things is a retelling of the age-old stories from Indian myths and epics with a modern–day twist. Do any of the characters bear similarities to people in real life? 

Not even a little bit. Some of the stories feature gods and goddesses in the modern day world, but some also just twist the well-known myths themselves with one tiny change from the original—what if a hero from the mythology we’ve grown up with was really secretly evil? How would a legend from mythology have played out if it had happened in real life, with human beings? These were the questions I tried to answer with characters I made up for the book—none of the stories have any relation to anybody or anything in real life.

Plunging into the writing/publishing world can be an experience filled with mixed emotions. How did you handle it all since this is your very first book?

I’ve always wanted to have a book with my name on it—and since I live half of my life online, I thought I’d take the plunge and self-publish. It’s not as easy as it looks! There are so many things to get right—editing, cover design, formatting—and then, of course, sales and marketing, which isn’t a piece of cake when you’re on a shoestring budget. I’ll be honest, there is a sense of disappointment when your first book doesn’t do as well as you hope it will, because everyone wants to be an E. L. James or a Hugh Howey!

Then of course there’s that immense sense of pride at finally getting the book out into the world where it can go out and become part of someone else’s life—like it has yours! It’s a wonderful feeling when one gets good reviews—it’s great to know that something I created made someone smile and made them happy.

Juggling your blog and writing projects, how’s that like?  

Not easy! There are days when I come home from work and can’t write a single word. About anything. There are months and months when my blog languishes in the doldrums with no new posts. (Like right now. Eeep.)

And then there are days when words just flow from my mind to my fingers to the screen and I can’t write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. The challenge is to make sure that there are more of the latter than the former.

Your preferred mode of writing first drafts. 

With a first draft I just write exactly as I hear the words in my head. I try not to stop the flow of the words when they come. When it’s all down on paper, as it were, that’s when I need to go back and edit, rewrite, redo and fix any errors that jump out at me on the first read.

How do you cope with writer’s block? 

Not very well, I’m afraid. One of my fan-fics has been left unfinished for a long time now, and it took a similarly long time for me to get started on the rewrites of my novel. When I’m in the block, it’s like I’m struggling to walk through wet sand. Every word is a struggle, every sentence a battle. But you have to keep going. Whether it’s a month later, or a year later, you have to start writing again. And one day it will come naturally again.

Some of your all-time favourite authors and books. 

I love all the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, but my favourite is Nightwatch, because I love Sam Vimes as a character. Another favourite is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Coming to the others, there are too many to list—childhood favourites and books I can read again and again, like Daddy Long Legs, Anne of Green Gables, TickTock and more.

What do you do in your downtime?  

Read. Write fanfic. Watch a lot of TV. Read a lot of manga and watch a lot of anime.

What’s your current read? 

There’s a book of Rumi poetry that I’m currently working my way through. It’s beautiful imagery, but it takes some time because the words need to percolate in my head so I can really get what the poet is trying to say.

Are you working on anything right now? 

I’m currently working on my first novel—a paranormal thriller about an ordinary girl caught in a deadly situation. Here’s a short synopsis:

When Bhavani first hears someone knocking from inside her mirror, she thinks she’s lost her mind. Trapped in an unbearable home life, stuck in a dead-end job; she’s sure the pressure has finally caught up with her. But the being from the mirror promises to set her life right, and Bhavani thinks to herself: what has she got to lose?
And at first, everything’s perfect.

As time goes by, though, it becomes clear that Bhavani’s reflection isn’t what it seems. It has needs of its own—and some of them are decidedly bloodthirsty.

You can read more here: http://coffee-clouds.com/upcoming-novel/
~


That’s it folks, thanks for sticking around! You can check out more of Sudha’s work here. Follow and interact her on the social media pages: Facebook and Twitter

Note: The author blurb is borrowed from Goodreads

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Rocks will heal

Summer’s when seas gleam
cerulean folds lick stone,
they beam,
on their own.

Tiny limbs sands greet
make patterns rhyme,

Sway heartbeat
heal wounds with time,

Sea-foam resonates pain
larks stagger moan,
seems like eternal fame
might just turn to stone.


This post is a part of this week’s IndiSpire prompt: Do you like writing poetry? Bring out the poetess/poet in you! Share any of your poems. #Poem

Q&A with Dr. Sandeep Jatwa

vc34Having attained an M.B.B.S. from MGM Medical College, Indore, Sandeep went on to secure a job in medicine and now works at the Government Hospital Sarangpur District Rajgarh.
He has an amazing imagination and spends much of his free time dreaming up stories. He has been writing since 2006 and has completed two novels. The first has yet to be published, but his second one, entitled Second Chance, is an exciting and moralistic tale of how one man comes to realise the error of his greed.
In his free time, Sandeep likes to relax and spend time with his family and friends. He is also a food lover and enjoys trying new and exciting dishes.
Sandeep’s most urgent wish is to be able to educate children who work in the street and have little opportunity to make something good from their lives. He believes that everyone’s childhood should be awesome, and not struggle.

It was great fun interviewing Dr. Sandeep Jatwa, author of Second Chance, his debut novel. To be honest, I was a little jittery about the Q&A, but he was real chilled out and upfront with his response. Here’s my review of the book.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Dr. Sandeep Jatwa, doctor by profession and writer by heart. I am big foodie and I love dreaming up stories.

What inspired you to write this book?

When I’m doing nothing, I am dreaming up stories and this inspires me to write. I feel bad when I see insensitive people, so felt I should write something that inspires people to become more sensitive.

Do any of the characters in the book resemble real people?

No. All the characters in the book are fictitious.

How did you craft the character of Shekhar Kapoor and what made you delve into the realm of the After-life?

I wanted someone who is not a good man and who is unaware of his deeds in his arrogance, and this gave birth to Shekhar Kapoor. Near Death Experience is a real phenomenon and it is believed that it might a door to other world. So I thought to write about the after-life.

Apart from reading and cooking, do you have any other hobbies?

I love listening to songs and making toys and crafts with my nephews.

What is the main thing you want your readers to take away from this book?

I want them to take away the Love from the book. Don’t waste your life in hatred and live life with love, it is the only way to a good life.

Your all time favourite book that you want to share with your readers.

Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game, especially the inspiring story of Jamie MacGregor. I love it. It teaches is – never to give up.

Any writing rituals you’d like to share with us?

No, I don’t have. I write when I have time and  I feel like to write.

If your novel was to be made into a movie, whom would you cast in the lead roles?

Shekhar Kapoor – Aamir Khan, Mr. Perfectionist (my favourite actor).
Unnati Sharma – Nidhi Agrawal
Kailash – Anupam Kher
Manohar – Anu Kapoor
Ashutosh Upadhyay – Neil Nitin Mukesh
Manish Kshirsagar – Mohnish Bahl
The bookkeeper – Rana Daggubati

A word of advice to the budding authors out there?

I am no one to give them advice. But if I have to, I would say — Stay consistent and the result will follow.

 


Do check out Dr. Sandeep Jatwa’s social media pages: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Note: The author bio is borrowed from Goodreads.

Left with half a heart – #HalfGirlfriend

This is the story of a beloved friend of mine who knowingly lost the most precious man she ever knew. Her name is withheld for obvious reasons and the other two characters in her life have been given fake names. Hope you find her story to be agonizingly painful, just like I did.  

  

Pain pierced through her like fire licking her nerves, she stayed still for more than a minute and that disconcerted those in her company. James, her brother’s best friend since childhood and her unsolicited crush. He sat there in all his glory, with a dusky beauty on his arm and basking in new found loveClearly, he had moved on or she had become insipidShe blew her chance with the one man she cared about because she never had the balls to consecrate their relationship.  

Sleepless nights of wondering what they were and if it could remotely turn into something more were incinerated to nothing. She chose to remain devoted to being his half girlfriend although countless scenarios played through her mind. Now, she could cross it off the list as there was no more a significant ‘other’ to begin with. Her blanket of joy and comfort was stripped. Nothing would come close to the feeling of Jimmy‘s arms around her. He was no longer her human shield laced with love and ferocity. The dam of tears will break free and there would not be a single soul to wipe a drop away 

James Woods was man of honor, full of life and so much love to give. He was there for in her when she was in dire need of a shoulder to cry on, drowning in misery. A shield of protectiveness when her own brother had abandoned her. He was there to catch her fall, he was the one who pieced her family back together when all went to shit. The bridge between her wretched brother, Anthony and her bastard self. Why did he blame her, she had no idea! Their father was the one who opted adultery over a beautiful family he could have saved and cherished. When blames were being thrown around like dodge balls, Jimmy was always there, her half-boyfriend and the silver lining.  

Years of having indulged in a half relationship, she never once stopped to appreciate the bond she had with the exquisite man. He was a giver and she just gobbled everything he had to give. She had been his half girlfriend and she soaked in the comfort of that thought. The solace of his kisses and words were no longer hers to bear. Having beheld the sight of another woman fortified in his warmth shattered her soul. Alas, she had been as blind as a bat.

“I am sharing a Half relationship story at BlogAdda in association with #HalfGirlfriend” 

 

 

#9 3WW – Abandoned, Babyish, Cunning

This week’s writing prompts for Three Word Wednesday are:

Abandoned, adjective: deserted, forsaken, cast aside/off; jilted, stranded, rejected; informal dumped, ditched, unused, disused, neglected, idle; deserted, unoccupied, uninhabited, empty, uninhibited, reckless, unrestrained, wild, unbridled, impulsive, impetuous; immoderate, wanton.

Babyish, adjective: childish, immature, infantile, juvenile, puerile, adolescent.

Cunning, adjective: crafty, wily, artful, guileful, devious, sly, scheming, designing, calculating, Machiavellian; shrewd, astute, clever, canny; deceitful, deceptive, duplicitous, foxy; noun: guile, craftiness, deviousness, slyness, trickery, duplicity; shrewdness, astuteness.

Fingers tugging at your hair,

seamless, needy, fragile,

the pads revelling rhythmically,

a cocoon of comfort,

abandon the night terrors,

bloody punches and purple bruises,

close your eyes,

think of me,

I am right here, darling,

focus on my fingers,

encase your babyish face,

kissed by the sun

beneath the sporadic clouds,

hear my sweet song,

lull you to sleep,

know peace, my love,

you are safe,

away from the cunning hands,

no one can hurt you now,

you are safe, with me.

This post is a part of  Three Word Wednesday (3WW)