Interview with Sudha Nair

There is no feeling to describe winning the Amazon Pen to Publish contest for my debut, THE WEDDING TAMASHA. It was surreal, to say the least. I couldn’t believe it at all. I was very lucky that my debut became such a hit.

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Sudha Nair is the winner of the Amazon Pen to Publish 2017 contest for her debut novel, THE WEDDING TAMASHA, a sweet tale about love, family and traditions. A techie who wrote code in her former life, she now spends her time writing stories and creating worlds where she lets her imagination run riot and has fun along with her characters. She’s a daydreamer who enjoys reading, singing, and soaking in the view of the ocean whenever possible. She is the author of two novels and several short stories, and is currently working on her next novel. She lives with her family in Bangalore, India. Visit www.sudhanair.com to find out more.
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Tee: How did you come up with the idea of a trilogy based on the lives of three sisters?
 
Sudha: I did not have a trilogy or a series in mind but I just wanted to tell the youngest daughter’s story through the THE WEDDING TAMASHA. After that, I made a natural progression to tell the older daughter’s story, which is titled, PRIYAMVADA & CO. That was how the idea of a series was born. I called it THE MENON WOMEN series. This series is about the Menon family which is headed by patriarch, Prabhakaran Menon. He has two daughters and a son.
After writing about the two daughters, I was undecided between writing about his daughter-in-law, Lekha, and his eldest granddaughter, Ria. Finally I chose to tell Ria’s story, because she was more prominent in the first two books. So the third book, coming up soon, is about Ria.
 
After thinking that this would stop at three stories, I now really want it to go on. Why not have stories about the rest of the Menon women of the family? 🙂 I want to grow the series, and show how the family is shaped through the events over the years. It looks like a pretty exciting challenge, and I’m looking forward to some cool stories for these women.
Tee: Your debut novel was a best seller. How did that feel?

Sudha: There is no feeling to describe winning the Amazon Pen to Publish contest for my debut, THE WEDDING TAMASHA. It was surreal, to say the least. I couldn’t believe it at all. I was very lucky that my debut became such a hit. Shweta’s story seemed to have struck a chord with the sentiments of many. The description of a strict patriarch bearing over his large family, was loved very much, and I’m so glad I wrote this story, even though I was terrified that it wasn’t going to turn out okay. I’m so happy to see the success of the book, and the reviews that continue to come in from all over the world. I’m thankful, and feel blessed.

Tee: How will you describe your writing style?
 
Sudha: My writing style is to plot everything down first, then start writing. I like to have targets for myself. I’m also trying to let go of my perfectionism, and just enjoy what I do, instead of fretting over every single word so much, like I used to. Though, I still have to remind myself every now and then that I should let go, and allow the words to flow freely, at least during the first draft. I try to write every day. I enjoy routines, I enjoy goals, and I enjoy being my own boss. So writing just falls into the perfect circle of things that I call my life and the way I want to live it. I have a descriptive and engaging style, as appreciated by my readers too, and I like to make every story naughty, playful, interesting, and as enjoyable as I can make it.
Tee: What are your suggestions for aspiring writers?
 
Sudha: Gosh, this is a tough one! 🙂 We all stumble, no matter which path we choose, and each path, each fall, each lesson, each comeback, is so different, that it is hard to put all aspiring writers into one box and give them a list of suggestions. But at the top of the line, if there is any such thing, is to write. WRITE. It’s easier to talk about writing, to dream about writing, to plan for writing, and all of that, but unless you actually have your butt in your chair and you’re writing, however crappy it may look like, you’re not a writer, let alone an aspiring one, if you don’t have any words to show for it.
That, and perseverance, is all. You got to do what you got to do. And if you love it as much, and you want it as much, you will do it. There’s no one else who can do it for you.
Tee: Who are the authors or which are the books that have influenced your work?
 

Sudha: The time I looked for influencers in my writing life was around the time I wanted to become a short story writer. I read the New Yorker regularly, as also, the Commonwealth prize winner stories, and tons of popular online literary magazines. I leaned quite by accident, or may be by providence,

towards this author, who was especially well-known as a short story writer. Her name was Jhumpa Lahiri. I was so excited at having discovered her, that I read all her books, collected all her works, and read everything that she had written, or had been written about her online, and elsewhere. As I soon found out, anything about her was hard to find as she spoke very little about herself. So I then turned to the writers who had influenced Lahiri, thereby, reading Alice Munro, William Trevor, etc., and was constantly hungry to discover more writers and more stories. All these influences were starkly different and varied, I don’t think anyone stuck with me as much as Lahiri.
 
My other love, that of women’s fiction and women’s adventure stories, was fueled by authors like Jojo Moyes, Emma Donoghue, Julie James, Arundhati Roy, Nisha Minhas, Amitav Ghosh, to name a few. In that sense, I have quite an eclectic taste, and I’m always searching for writers where I get lost in the story rather than the style or craft, which, by the way, is the most frustrating thing that gets in the way of an enjoyable reading experience for me now, ever since I turned into a writer and a student of writing.
Tee: When did you begin writing professionally and what are the challenges that you’ve had to overcome as a new writer?
 

Sudha: I started writing out of a need to find creative fulfillment. My journey began about six years ago when I wrote my first short story for an online literary magazine. You must have heard me say this before, but the first rejection, propelled me to try more. Challenges were many. The foremost was understanding the craft, which I realised, as soon as my piece was rejected, that I knew nothing about. Rejections taught me to learn from the writers I considered as my idols, and literally practice and keep writing, and submitting. The only hope that kept me going was the happiness that writing down every story gave me, and the memories it brought to life. Any everyday incident became a trigger for a story and it was a lot of fun as I tried to wrestle with it, and mould it into something by putting my imagination on overdrive. The difficult part was to accept that what I thought was a wonderful story did not necessarily feel the same to the editors that I submitted to. It took a long time to slowly build up my confidence, wade through the rejection, and try not to take it personally. Somewhere within, I believed in myself, and that alone kept me going. Finding and being part of a writing community was tough. To be accepted by other successful writers as one among them, was an uphill task. But, as I’ve learned over the years, I just had to put my head down, do the work, and let the rest fall into place. And that philosophy has helped tremendously. I’m grateful for my optimism, positive attitude, and perseverance. All of these were challenges as I was growing up to be a writer.

Tee: What can readers look forward to in your upcoming book?
 

Sudha: The next book in THE MENON WOMEN series is Ria’s story. She’s a college-goer with a sweet first crush. I have tried to keep this story light, while also touching upon themes that are relevant today.It is set to be an entertainer where I plan to bring back some family members that I had to keep out of the second book. My wish is to write about all the Menon women in the family which fall under a variety of interesting age groups. I hope it will make my readers really happy. Also, I hope to keep the cast manageably small and cute. I’d like to know what you think about it when it’s out there.

Tee: What are your plans as a writer after the completion of this trilogy?
Sudha: My plan is to go on and on 🙂 and not stop at these three books. I’d like to include more of the Menon women–daughters, grand-daughters, and family of the patriarch, Prabhakaran Menon. I hope to never have to stop for any reason, except for not finding anything interesting to say about these smart, sassy, bold women. 🙂 Apart from this series, I plan to continue writing other stories, even short stories, which will have my unique spin on life and its vagaries. And I’m not likely to ever give up on my plan to continue to be a student and improve my craft, and make each book a better reading experience for my readers.
Tee: How can readers reach you?
Sudha: Readers can reach me through the contact page on my website, sudhanair.com. If you want to hang out with me, or have questions about my books, or just want to have fun, you’ll find me at my facebook page – SudhaNairAuthor. I really love interacting with readers, and would love to hear from you.

 

Read the review here

 

Interview with Francisco A Ojeda

Francisco A. Ojeda arrived in Miami, Florida, from Havana, Cuba, in 1968, and lived in South Florida until graduating from Miami Senior High School in 1985. He is a 27 year veteran with combined services of the United States Army and the Florida Army National Guard, retiring in 2011. He served as a Battalion Operations Sergeant during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006 to 2007 and as a civilian contractor during Operation Enduring Freedom, while stationed in Afghanistan, from 2012 to 2013. He taught Military Sciences at Broward College in Davie Florida. He has a Political Science degree from Miami Dade College, a Business Management degree and Certificate of Project Management from the University of Phoenix. He still lives in South Florida. “The Spirits of Al Faw”  is his first published novel. He has also published two collections of poetry, ‘Adore & Lament’ and ‘The Frightful Verses’.

 

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Tee: How will you define your professional career as a soldier?
Ojeda: Overall, it was very satisfying. Besides the benefits of earning college funding and personal savings, travel throughout the world, receive specific education and training, and many other quantifiable rewards, there was also the cooperation and camaraderie of working with others, developing professional and personal relationships, and involvement in cultural experiences I would not have otherwise go through at home. It started out simply as the means to go to school. It later became apparent that the military was a route towards greater opportunities. In the beginning, basic training taught me more than just how to be a soldier but that I was really capable of doing what I wanted if I applied myself. I became much more grateful for the opportunity to serve my country. Even though there were many setbacks and challenges, I was able to work through them with determination, and at times with the assistance of others. I was able to travel to Europe, Asia, Central America, and throughout the United States, meeting many different people of various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. I learned many technical, tactical and strategic skills, the ability to work with others and to be led by experienced and proficient experts, and how to lead others to complete tasks and mission but also support soldiers in their careers. My career was very fulfilling in ways that go further than can be described.

Tee: Being a writer is a completely different field. When did you decide you wanted to write professionally?

Ojeda: I had been writing as a means to express myself since early in high school. I used writing as a simple way of recording events, people I met and things I experienced. It was a way to be imaginative in a tactile way. It also allowed me to revisit my experiences in detail. I felt that I was collecting a historical composite of my life. It eventually grew into expanding my thoughts into a much more entertaining aspect. Unfortunately, I was uncomfortable sharing my thoughts and writings with others. I did not have the confidence early on to allow others to see my efforts. As I gained confidence as an adult, particularly through the military, I was able to write comfortably professional. Over time, I was able to develop my abilities to write but in a more technical fashion. It was when I arrived in Iraq for my tour of duty, that I began to record my experiences again as I did when I was younger. After a few months and reviewing what I had written, the plot seemed to develop on its own. Being in a combat zone, like in Iraq, one experience the unique, the strange, and the absurd that I could only really be expressed in a fictional story like my novel.

 

Tee: What difficulties did you encounter in your writing process?

Ojeda: When it came to writing my novel, I had no real experience in writing fiction much less a thriller. I had already written short stories as classwork but those were simply to meet a curriculum requirement. Most of my experience in writing was in essays in accordance with established and acceptable writing styles. After reviewing my notes, I quickly realized that I needed a system to further build upon my ideas for a book. It was then that while I continued compiling notes that I studied plot development, styles of dialogue, and other required aspects of writing. Luckily, I had always enjoyed reading. Since my favorite genres of literature were mysteries, horror, and thrillers, ideas came to me regularly. Furthermore, due to some personal experiences I had with mental illness, emotional and physical disabilities, and the stressors that came with not only dealing with combat but conducting one’s duties and responsibilities at the highest level of professionalism and expertise, it suspected that a thriller with psychological and paranormal perspectives was in order. I further researched for literature that combined the elements that I wanted to include in my story. I discovered some but not much of military fiction that included the other elements I mentioned. Subsequently, with further research and much trial and error, it took nine years to complete my story.

Tee: How do you think your book will be able to influence readers into understanding the lives of those in the military?

Ojeda: In the development of the story, I set certain rules to allow me to continue writing but also to be effective in building the story. One particular rule was to write for both military personnel and civilians. I wanted the story to share aspects of what veterans can relate to while not alienating civilians who do may not have a background or understanding of military experiences and jargon. In addition, I did not want to take away from the rich and at times the ironic and seemingly illogical reasoning of both combat and the military as a whole. Thus, I needed to find the proper balance of representing the military, yet write the psychological and paranormal aspects in terms non-military can appreciate. There was also the consideration of not “dumbing down” the story to both military and civilians. This was a particular problem concerning I was attempting to find that balance I mentioned early. It was also a consideration of describing a combat zone solely from my perspective to others who experienced it in a much different way. Ultimately, the strategy of the story was for it to be written with a “storytelling” delivery that would be understood when the reader reaches the end of the novel.

 

Tee: How did you come up with the idea of a supernatural element in the plot?

Ojeda: While I was stationed in Iraq from 2006 to 2007, which was during the height of military operations, the environment was very stressed, volatile, and surely weird. Military combat is unpredictable no matter how much planning, training, and rehearsals are involved. I can admit that my lack of understanding allowed for imaginative perspectives and possible explanations.  An example is while reviewing my notes, there were times which no logical explanation for why something had happened. Many experiences were random, sudden, eerie and unexpected. Even established rules for safety and security created an atmosphere of uncertainty. Light and noise discipline, which are best described as the mandated requirements to reduce the opportunity of the enemy identifying friendly targets created an environment of mystery, confusion, and ambiguity. Even the daily work discussions and personal conversations gave credence to opportunities for examining supernatural elements, like superstitions and religious beliefs.  There were also personal feelings, such as loneliness, fear, and paranoia led to the opportunity to use paranormal and supernatural themes to give some explanations for the unknown. The story explores examples of what is hidden in darkness or under the surface, and the circumstances of when one does not have all the information for what may be happening.

 

Tee: Were you whimsical about anything in your debut work?

Ojeda: I attempted to address some of the strange aspects of military life in a combat zone with some humor. Some were purposeful at times, lighting up the atmosphere and other times to promote a sense of absurdity. The characters would observe events that did not contain fearsome elements but still had illogical considerations that one may only laugh at. In other cases, I examined the occasional clumsiness in carrying a weapon, wear of the uniform, and even traversing the landscape. There were situations depicted which one reacts in an exaggerated fashion and not relative to the situation. Those were to point out how the uncertainty of what is actually happening and required protocol can come in conflict. As a new author, I was cautious not to promote any overt sense of humor when it came to the possibility of psychological trauma. I tried to keep any wit away from describing or otherwise connecting to the possibility of mental issues. Otherwise, I tried to maintain the tone of mystery that went along with the possibility of the paranormal.

Tee: What are the other writing projects that are lined up for you in the future?

Ojeda: Six months prior to publishing the novel, I published my first work of literature. It was a collection of love and sadness poems titled “Adore & Lament”. While publishing the novel, I also completed various frightful poems and published them into a titled collection called “The Frightful Verses”. These two poetry books have motivated me to explore additional areas of literature such as non-technical essays, plays, letters, and even more poetry. During Hurricane Irma, my son Daniel and I wrote a screenplay for an action-comedy. The work has been registered through the West Coast Writers Guild. In July 2018, a collection of sensual and sultry poems will be published under the title “Our Sensual World”. The novel and poetry collections were all self-published through XLibris. In addition, I have begun several stories in themes of science fiction and the paranormal. One in particular addresses the current political environment and how it would react to an all-powerful mysterious entity. Another project discusses how the modern military and geo-economic consideration may come in conflict with religion, mysticism and the supernatural. I am very motivated to write a story without paranormal or supernatural elements that may include a love story. I would also like to create a collection of humorous poetry, which has been a challenge for me.

 

Tee: How can readers reach you?

Ojeda: Messages may be sent to me at francisco.a.ojeda@gmail.com or to post on www.franciscoaojedabooks.com. In addition, I may also be contact through XLibris.

 

Read the review of The Spirits of Al Faw Here

Interview with Roy Aronson

If you want to read about the veterinary profession read a book written by a vet. The insights vets have about their profession is irreplaceable. Most vet books written by vets, that I have read, have got it spot on.

Roy is a veterinary surgeon in a private practice and has had extensive experience with both small animals and wildlife.

He has worked in the city and in the wild African bush. He was the presenter of a series made for TV, called “Dr Roy’s Vet Safari” which was also documented in his first book: Tales of an African Vet. In 2009 he published It’s a Vet’s Life – Adventures in the City and the Wild.

Roy is interested in African mysticism and ancestral worship and communications, and has made a study of this subject, collecting information and firsthand experience and documentation about this subject as well as interviewing indigenous peoples and visiting some sacred sites where African mysticism and alchemy was practiced.

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Tee: Jamie James and the Curse of the Ancestors is a unique blend of the old and the new. How did you come up with the idea of this book?

Roy: The “curse” is based on a curse that is well known in the area. There is a farm about seventy kilometres from Cape Town known as “Boontjieskraal”. The English name for the farm is Bean Farm. About two hundred years ago the owner of the farm whipped a slave to death and the slave’s mother placed a death curse on the males of the family. The last male member died violently in 1986 in a motor cat accident. I wanted to write a book about a young boy who wanted to be a vet. I am also fascinated by the Boontjieskraal curse. It then occurred to me to combine the two ideas and thus Jamie James was born.

Tee: Was it difficult to write from the perspective of a 15 year old boy? Is Jamie based on anyone?

Roy: The most difficult thing is finding the words and rhythm of a fifteen year old, as I am quite a lot older than that (ha ha). My son was 15 at the time and his name is Jamie. I watched him carefully and modelled Jamie James on the characteristics of Jamie Aronson.

Tee: What do you want readers to take away from this book?

Roy: If the reader takes away a sense of wonder at African mysticism and a sensitivity for African wildlife and a realisation that black and white can thrive if they cooperate and learn to love each other, then I have done my job.

Tee: What authors/ books do you enjoy reading?

Roy: I love Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I love Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces, and everything in between. My reading preferences are eclectic but if I am pinned down my best read is a novel based on historic fact.

Tee: How would you describe your writing style?

Roy: I am not sure that I have a style that is described in any classic sense. I want to be a story teller. The story is paramount. No use writing a book that is wonderfully written if the story is thin. Better a strong story weakly written than a weak story strongly written. Of course if you can do both, tell a great story and tell it well, then that is first prize. It is what I strive for. But more than anything else, I am a story teller.

Tee: Being a veterinary doctor is a job of massive responsibility. Do you feel that vets are largely misrepresented as comic or eccentric characters?

Roy: How vets are represented depends on what you are reading. If you want to know what vet does, ask a vet. If you want to read about the veterinary profession read a book written by a vet. The insights vets have about their profession is irreplaceable. Most vet books written by vets, that I have read, have got it spot on. Make sure that the person does not just claim to be a vet. Use the internet to actually prove that the author really is a vet. Then that author will be all the more credible.

Tee: How can readers reach you?

Roy: I can be reached via email royaronson@gmail.com This is probably the easiest and best way

I really hope that the readers enjoy my book. It has been a great pleasure writing it. There are three more Jamie James books already written and in the process of being edited for publication.

Book 2. The Horn of Africa, with Jamie James

Book 3. The Great white shark, with Jamie James

Book 4. The Shaman of the forest, with Jamie James

Watch out for book 2. We hope to release it either late this year or early next year.

Read the review Here

 

Interview with Rich Marcello

I write every day for five or six hours, mostly in the morning.  I find I do my best work when I go from one kind of dream time ( sleeping) right to another( writing). 

Rich is a poet, an accomplished songwriter and musician, a creative writing teacher at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative, and the author of three novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and the forthcoming, The Beauty of the Fall, due out in 2016. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

The Color of Home was published in 2013 by Langdon Street Press, and melds together honest generative dialogue, poetic sensory detail, and “unforgettable characters who seem to know the complete song catalog of Lennon or Cohen.” The Big Wide Calm was published in 2014, also by Langdon Street Press. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall will be published in 2016. Faulkner Award Winner Mark Spencer commented, “Few novels are as intelligent and relevant as The Beauty of the Fall. Almost none is as eloquent, compelling, heartbreaking, and ultimately, uplifting.”

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet.

For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts on a lake with his family and two Newfoundlands, Ani and Shaman. He is currently working on his fourth novel, The Latecomers.

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Tee: Firstly, talk me through the exquisite book cover.

Rich: Well, for my other book covers, Langdon Street Press did most of the work, but for this book, I had a clear idea of what I wanted.  Several years ago, I acquired the rights to the photo that eventually became the cover.  What I loved about the photo was the image of connected branches opening up to the sky.  I thought that image mapped well to the theme of The Long Body That Connects Us All, so I submitted it to Langdon Street and they took it from there.  I love all of the covers to my books, but I am particularly fond of this cover.

 

Tee: What does the title of the collection actually signify to you?

Rich: In general, I tend to not talk about the meaning of my titles mostly because titles can mean different things to different people, and all of them are equally valid.  Of the people who’ve read the book, the title has signified a number of things.  One interpretation is that we are all connected by the long history of the human race, and though we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture, there’s wisdom in our connected history if we look for it.  Another interpretation is, at its most fundamental level, being human, being a good woman or man, is about learning to see another person clearly and about being vulnerable enough to be seen by the person you are trying to see clearly.  If we could all do that not so simple thing, the world would be a fundamentally better place.  I like both of those interpretations.

 

Tee: How long did it take you to compile this collection? Which are your favourite poems from it?

Rich: I worked it for two years, and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I love many of the poems, but if I had to name three,  I would say, “Passing,” “The Blue Line,” and “Belong to No One.”

 

Tee: What are your previous books about?

Rich: My books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. My goal is to fill my novels with rich characters and ideas, to continually improve my craft as a storyteller, and to tell my stories with the eye and the ear of a poet. For me, writing and art-making are about connection and making a difference to a least one other person in the world.

 

The Color of Home was published in 2013 by Langdon Street Press, and melds together honest generative dialogue, poetic sensory detail, and “unforgettable characters who seem to know the complete song catalog of Lennon or Cohen.”

 

The Big Wide Calm was published in 2014, also by Langdon Street Press. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.”

 

The Beauty of the Fall was published in 2016. Faulkner Award Winner Mark Spencer commented, “Few novels are as intelligent and relevant as The Beauty of the Fall. Almost none is as eloquent, compelling, heartbreaking, and ultimately, uplifting.”

 

Tee: When did you decide you wanted to venture into poetry?

Rich: I’ve written poetry all of my life, but I didn’t get serious about until a few years ago. I had a dear friend encourage me to publish, and I took it from there.

 

Tee: How would you describe your writing style?

Rich: I write every day for five or six hours, mostly in the morning.  I find I do my best work when I go from one kind of dream time ( sleeping) right to another( writing).  My style is an interesting question.  I’m most interested in writing in a way that emotionally resonates with my readers.  Sometimes that means writing poetic passages. Other times it’s about character voice. Other times it’s about the story itself.  But overall, the more psychologically honest and emotional work is, the better. So I guess that’s my style.

 

Tee: How do you go about the process of writing poetry?

Rich: Typically, I get an idea for a poem or a single image, and then I develop it from there.  If I started with the idea,  I spend my time making the poem more physical and concrete.  If I start with an image, I spend my time working on the poem’s thematic payoff.

 

Tee: What are your upcoming books about?

Rich: The Latecomers is about aging in America and about how we as a society have systematically devalued the pursuit of wisdom.

 

Tee: How can readers get in touch with you?

Rich: The best way is through my website www.richmarcello.com

Alternately, people can find my work on any of the following websites:

Amazon

Goodreads

Instagram

 

Read the review Here

Interview with Zeenat Mahal

Honestly I can never really recall how I started thinking of any setting or novel but my clearest memory is usually of my main character’s voice.

Zeenat Mahal has written 7 books. All of them are available on Amazon. She has an MFA in creative writing and all her books have been in the top ten Amazon bestsellers list. Her book She Loves Me And He Loves Me Not debuted at number 1 on Amazon Asian books category in 2015. Her books have featured in Bookriot lists of must-read books and also in other must-read lists in magazines and online platforms. She has also been featured on Mangobaaz.
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Tee: When did you begin writing and in what genre?
Zeenat: I began writing seriously in 2012 when I finished my first novella Haveli and it got published with a Canadian e-publishing house. I have written contemporary romance so far. The Historian and the Hunter is my first urban fantasy novel.
Tee: Who are the writers that inspire you?
Zeenat: I enjoy reading Barabara Tayor Bradford, Judith McNaught, Julia Quinn but my favourite is Nora Roberts. She is super savvy and inspiring as a writer and as a business woman.
Tee: How did you come up with the idea of The Historian and the Hunter?
Zeenat: Honestly I can never really recall how I started thinking of any setting or novel but my clearest memory is usually of my main character’s voice. TH&TH is about the relationship of the sisters as well as monster hunting.
Tee: Who are the writers of recent day who you feel stand out amongst the others?
Zeenat: I really enjoy Reet Singh, Falguni Kothari, Sonali Dev, Adore Banerjie, Jazz Singh, Preeti Venugopalia and Sara Naveed.
Tee: What are your previous books about?
Zeenat: Haveli is about a young woman who resists an arranged marriage and a greedy father. It’s a coming of age, what distance does to lovers book. The Contract is a second chance, marriage of convenience plot. She Loves Me and He Loves Me Not is a contemporary take on Beauty and the Beast. The Accidental Fiancee is a short story of what life does to lovers, a pair of university fellows who meet after years. Twice Upon a Time has two stories. One from Jazz Singh and one from me. They’re about young love and growth.
Tee: What books are you working on next?
Zeenat: I am working on a series of wedding and marriage theme based novellas. They will be five books in the series. The first one will come out is September. Their themes will vary from second chances to revenge and marriage of convenience. These are some of my favourite romance tropes.
Tee: How do you describe your writing style?
Zeenat: I think it’s contemporary with a heavy mix of irony and humour. Some books are less so, of course but I really enjoy writing banter between my protagonists.
Tee: How can readers reach you?
Zeenat: Readers can find me on https://m.facebook.com/zeenatmahal.author/
Read the review of The Historian & The Hunter Here

Interview with Jen Fisch

I want to continue to bring people easy recipes, they may not all be 5 ingredients, but they will all be delicious and made with easy to find ingredients.

Jen Fisch, creator of the blog Keto In The City, is passionate about offering simple solutions for following the ketogenic lifestyle. She is a single, working mother who has battled autoimmune disorders for 20 years and has turned to the kitchen to find simple, delicious ways to make the ketogenic diet work for her busy lifestyle.

With a loyal Instagram following on her page @ketointhecity_, her growing YouTube channel Keto In The City, and hundreds of thousands of visitors to her blog KetoInTheCity.com, Jen is one of the top influencers in the ketogenic space.

She is not a nutritionist or trained chef, just a determined mom who searched high and low for a way of eating that would reduce the inflammation caused by her autoimmune disorders and allow her to feel like the very best version of herself. She lives with her daughter in Hermosa Beach, California.

 

jenfisch

 

Tee: When did you decide you wanted to write a cookbook?

Jen: I had been playing around with some different ideas on how I could share keto with more people and the opportunity came to me to write this book and it seemed like the perfect fit! I’m a single, working mom so I knew that I wanted to share tips on how to make keto work for a busy lifestyle.

 

Tee:  How has your journey been so far as a cookbook author who specialises in keto?

Jen: The writing process was a lot of fun for me. Creating 5-ingredient recipes that also taste really good is not easy, but it was a great challenge. I just really wanted to show people that keto can be easy and yummy at the same time.

 

Tee:  Your latest release The Easy 5 Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook is a #1 best seller in the Canadian Cooking, Food and Wine industry. How does it feel?

Jen: It feels amazing and it was such a great surprise! I am constantly blown away by how wonderful and supportive the keto community is and it is really amazing to hear from people all over the world who are making recipes from my book!

 

Tee: What is the keto diet all about? Can it be taken up by anyone who’s health conscious but without any health issues?

Jen: In short keto is a high fat, moderate protein, super low carb diet. It is called “keto” because when you drastically restrict carbs your body will begin to burn its own fat or ketones instead of sugar/carbs. The high level of healthy fats (avocado, salmon, grass-fed meats and butter, etc…) keeps you full and satisfied.

In my experience a lot of doctors aren’t super familiar with keto, but there are lists online of doctors and nutritionists who are educated on keto. I would recommend people look there for resources. Personally, I began keto to reduce the inflammation in my body caused by 2 autoimmune disorders that I suffer from.

 

Tee:  What other books do you intend to bring forth in the keto series?

Jen: I want to continue to bring people easy recipes, they may not all be 5 ingredients, but they will all be delicious and made with easy to find ingredients.

 

Tee: Though you’re not a nutritionist or a trained chef, what do you believe makes your book stand out and appeal to audiences?

Jen: I hope it is because people can relate to my journey as a busy mom. Keto can seem intimidating at first and I just try to break it down in super simple terms and show how it can work for real life.

 

Tee: How can readers reach you?

Jen: They can find my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

 

Read the review of The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet Here

 

Interview with Rob Widdicombe

Ultimately, though, the process of writing the book was liberating and empowering.  Revisiting that creepiness forced me to confront and process those old feelings once again which is a big part of the healing process, in my humble opinion. 

Rob Widdicombe was born on the Virginia banks of the Potomac River in a military hospital on a typical Wednesday. A former singer, guitar player and songwriter for Richmond-based bands The Wiggins and Flying Shovels, Widdicombe has held a variety of both day and night jobs over the years, including gas station attendant, landscaper, encyclopedia salesman, cab driver, truck driver, maintenance man, cook, dispatcher, piano salesman, catering captain and paralegal. He received an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and his interests include staring out the kitchen window and falling asleep on the train. He also likes monkeys, clowns, robots, thunderstorms, chocolate, cheese, coffee, thrift stores, existentialism and tiny things.

Rob Widdicombe's Face

 

Tee: How did you come up with the idea for this novel?

Rob: There was a news story some years back about a grown man who went on a quest to confront the pedophile who molested him when he was young.  But instead of having a satisfying, cathartic confrontation, he ended up getting arrested for stalking the pedophile guy.  The idea of that type of confrontation appealed to me and the idea of it somehow going all wrong and backfiring really appealed to me.

TeeHow long did it take you to write it?

Rob: About fourteen years, on and off.

 

TeeWhat kinds of books do you enjoy reading?
Rob: Old noir crime fiction, magic realism (really just Marquez), short stories by Thom Jones and Tobias Wolff.  Anything that has some life to it, some truth and humor, really.  I don’t care much for pretty, literary writing unless it has some raw honesty underneath it, something you can really sink your teeth into.

 

TeeYour book revolves around the theme of paedophilia. What made you come up with such a theme. How difficult was it to deal with this theme in your book?
Rob: Like so many others, I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, which is the true “inspiration,” (for lack of a better word), for the novel.  I found writing the book to be highly therapeutic.  It wasn’t difficult to deal with pedophilia as a theme per se, although the pedophile character in the book is based on the real pervert who molested me, so writing him felt creepy at times.  Ultimately, though, the process of writing the book was liberating and empowering.  Revisiting that creepiness forced me to confront and process those old feelings once again which is a big part of the healing process, in my humble opinion.

TeeHow did you go about your research for this book?
Rob: Aside from fleshing out some minor details, (e.g., the exact type of motorboat owned by one of the characters), I did not conduct any research.  I lived the life of these characters in Richmond, Virginia, where the novel mostly takes place.  And as I mentioned earlier, I was sexually abused as a child like the main character, so I had that experience to draw on.  So, you might say that my biggest source of research was my own mind.  And of course, I made a lot of stuff up.

Tee: What are you writing next?
Rob: I’m writing a comedic novel about a perfectly harmonized futuristic society in which there is no disease, the water is sparkling clean, sadness is illegal and death arrives painlessly as you sleep on the night of your 86th birthday.  Of course, all is not as wonderfully utopian as it seems…

TeeWhat according to you are the pros and cons of the indie publishing industry?
Rob: I’d say the number one pro is independence.  I had the absolute final say on what went into my book and onto the cover.  My wife and I designed the cover ourselves.  I have a great indie publisher, Saltimbanque Books, and its owner/editor Jim Boyett had very helpful and extensive input, but I ultimately had the final say on everything.  Another pro would be the feeling that your destiny is in your own hands.  That could also be a con, though, of course!

I think it’s safe to say that some of that independence might be compromised if you were signed to a major publishing house that provided manufacturing, distribution, advertising and marketing support, but it’s really hard to know what’s going on nowadays exactly.  Those big houses seem to want you doing a lot of this stuff yourself, anyway.  Everything is changing so fast, what might be considered a pro of indie publishing today could be a con tomorrow, and vice versa.  Right now I think it would be a pro to have the support of a big publishing house, but it would also be a pro to be a billionaire, have wings, everlasting youth and clear skin.  These opportunities aren’t falling off of trees, which leads us to one of the big plusses of indie publishing: it’s there for you when those apples are out of reach.  And for all we know, indie publishing of the future could be the dominant force and what used to be known as big publishing houses could either disappear or serve as a kind of support system for independent authors and small publishers.  Kind of like Planet of the Apes, where in the future, the apes take over.  But who knows what will happen.  The only thing you can say for sure is that media in general is changing at supersonic speeds – the way content is created, distributed and consumed.  People are trying to keep up with it all but it’s an almost impossible task.  I think you can say with some measure of certainty that 10 to 20 years from now, the world of book publishing will look quite different than it does today, as will probably everything else.

 

TeeHow important is a catchy title for any book?

Rob: I guess it depends on what you want the title to do for you and your book.  If you want the title to grab a prospective reader’s attention and inspire them to purchase the book, then I’d say a catchy title is very important.  If you don’t care so much about sales and marketing and attracting a readership, etc., and you just want the title to reflect what the book is all about, then thoughtfulness and relevance become more important than catchiness.  I suppose that the perfect title would capture both ends of that spectrum.

Read the review of Cold Plate Special Here.