I have to begin by thanking my dear friend Feroza Unvala, the creator of all my book covers who introduced me to her writer and social activist friend, Humaira Ghilzai. Humaira I appreciate you inviting me to participate on this blog tour which has impelled me to reconnect with my writer friends and continue the blogging process which I thoroughly enjoy.
My writing process
The culture that you are brought up with to a large extent defines who you are in the context of modern day living. It grounds you and gives you a sense of identity. Added to this is a passion to give a resonant voice to universal women’s issues. That said, 1930?s Colonial India was the natural choice for the setting of my first novel, “When the Lotus Blooms,” which was published in 2011, telling the story of two child brides attempting to find identity in a patriarchal society. the novel includes the entire gamut of women’s issues from infertility to a domineering mother-in-law, rape and substance abuse to abortion and widowhood. Rajam and Dharmu, the main protagonists, are my grandmothers, Kandu, my father and Kamu, my mother.
I am currently working on the sequel which I hope to call, “A Rose from a dream.” The book spans a decade from 1942-1952 and brings in issues which I didn’t cover in the first book, including the institution of Devadasis, (organized prostitution) the Independence movement and the World war as it impacted India. Hopefully it should be out by 2014.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My book falls under the category of historical fiction. While there are hundreds of books on the British Raj, most have a western viewpoint and none have showcased the span and depth of its culture especially from the viewpoint of its impact on women. More particularly, my books speaks about tradition and culture of the Tamil brahmin community.
What has been much more difficult to do as a writer is to speak out against social injustice in a voice of compassion that does not offend the sensibilities of thousands of brahmin women, whose life is defined by this very tradition. To use the pen to create awareness, conversation and perhaps change. The difficulty was in finding the right balance where I didn’t convert the book into a handbook of Indian culture, yet was able to talk about common practices that define the Brahmin community and change that needs to occur.
Most importantly I exist in every page of the book. Hailing from the culture gave me deep insight into the mindset and attitudes of Tamil brahmin women and I present the social milieu in a non-judgmental, participative manner that resonates with women from all walks of life, every culture and every society. Nothing has really changed. Social relationships, male patriarchy, abuse and subjugation; all these issues plague women even today.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write in two genres; spiritual non-fiction and historical fiction. I discovered writing after I learned a special breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. The breathing practices combined with meditation quieted the mind sufficiently for the latent talent to emerge. My second book was written in gratitude to share the happiness and peace I had miraculously discovered. I had finally chanced on writing and through the written word was able to express my innermost feelings and emotions. My earlier anger with the world, the resultant frustration and stress had just dissipated. The book is called “The Present: a Gift from the Divine: and it has been endorsed by my Master H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well as H.H. the Dalai Lama. I have heard that nonfiction is more popular but I prefer the comfort of fiction!
My head is filled with untold stories. I see stories in everything from mundane tasks like drinking milk or going swimming to the more dramatic like child molestation. A small and unimportant task like spreading cow manure on the floor could be converted in a scene of shame and control, to portray the very insecurity and fear that troubled Rajam all her life. It became stimulating to write because I could let my imagination and intuition take over and then watch the drama play out. The journey was much more exhilarating, and I was present right through at every important juncture in the lives of my characters through my writing. I am not in the career of writing for money; I write because that’s what I love to do. Money and fame are a product of destiny. Self-publishing my book brought closure for a project dear to my heart. I am very happy with the end product, and having a small publisher in India has worked well for me to distribute and sell in the land of my birth. The only promise I strictly honor is to be true to myself and maintain my authenticity by writing on subjects I am passionate about, and using the pen to affect change and create awareness. I guess I write because I have no choice. It is natural, gratifying and exhilarating.
4) How does your writing process work?
There is very little planning involved when I write. My writing style is anecdotal and each chapter could stand on its own merit as a short story. I pick a character, take a deep breath and begin typing: the story simple reveals itself without any special effort on my part. This is when I write fiction. For my nonfiction book I interviewed over a hundred people from five continents, after which I transcribed each interview. Following this, I created a spreadsheet using different headings like anger, lust, delusion, karma and so on. I would read the interview and enter the name under each category. Two years later I had 500 pages transcribed and no idea what to do. Then one day I just sat and began writing. I picked a topic pulled the interviews related to it and put it all together. I wrote for 12-14 hours a day for 2 months. I don’t know if this works for others. Research and information just acts a s a guide when I write. My writing is completely natural and intuitive. It’s as they say; there’s someone sitting on my shoulder telling me what to write next.
Meet my author friends
Keith .B. Darrell is a prolific American writer of short stories, novels, nonfiction books, and newspaper and magazine articles. If not for his support and keen critical evaluation of my writing I would not have published my book. Thanks Keith!
Keith B. Darrell was abducted as an infant by evil Fae creatures, who replaced the author in his crib with a changeling doppelganger. By age 24,the changeling known as Keith B. Darrell had earned his A.A. from Broward Community College, his B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida, his M.B.A.from Emory University, and his J.D. from the Emory University School of Law. He went on to become a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Florida Bar.
Darrell is a cross-genre writer of speculative fiction, flash fiction, fusion fiction, fantasy, contemporary fantasy, urban fiction, sword & sorcery, science fiction, dystopian fiction, apocalyptic fiction, horror, slice of life, political and sociological fiction, humor, drama, gothic mystery, children’s fiction, young adult fiction and nonfiction. His short stories have appeared in three collections, Shards, Randoms,and Careywood, as well as in Kindle short story format e-books available from the Amazon.com Kindle store.
Website www.keithbdarrell.com . Twitter @Keith_B_Darrell
Michael Cantwell, CCIM is an author and commercial real estate agent in Florida as well as a published photographer. He was born in Ft. Campbell KY, raised in Trenton, NJ, graduated college at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. He now resides in Palm Beach County, Florida.
In 2001, Dr. Shirley Presswon big in the Florida Lottery. In her book, Dr. Press takes
readers on a tour of her life from a poor girl in Camden, NJ of Holocaust survivor
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PRESSING MY LUCK: A DOCTOR’S LOTTERY JOURNEY
Written by Shirley Press, MD. Published by Re-Spin Publishing Paperback, 274 pages. Paperback and kindle versions are available at Amazon. ePub versions are available at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. For more information, visit http://www.shirleypress.com.
website blog http://shirleypress.com/blog/ –