Posted in Author Interview

Author Interview – Ananya Mukherjee

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People who follow me know how much I loved reading Ardh-Satya The Half Truth & Other Stories by Ananya Mukherjee. I wanted to conduct this interview for learning something from the Author both as a reader and a writer, and I learnt quite a few things. She has beautifully used words to paint beautifully in her book.
Do check out the review here Ardh-Satya The Half Truth & Other Stories

Thanks to Leadstart Publishing for connecting me with the author. And a big thank you to the author Ananya Mukherjee.

About Author

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Ananya Mukherjee is a former business journalist and the ex-editor of HRM Asia, a leading business title in the Asia-Pacific region. Ananya is acclaimed writer with more than 1000 publications to her credit. Before moving to Singapore, she had amassed years of experiences in the Indian print and television media. Her journalistic acumen covers a whole gamut of subjects including politics, lifestyle and business.
Born in Jammu, India and having lived across several states in her childhood and youth, she has had very rich cultural experiences through her interaction with the diverse population of her native country.
Ananya is a regular columnist with Bkhush.com and her column Shuddh Shakahari Desi is widely read and appreciated by an international audience. Ananya has also recently edited Amazing Africa, a Corporate Journey, a collection of short stories, written by two of her colleagues.
A passionate columnist, blogger, poet, theatre artiste and trained dancer, Ananya currently spearheads internal communications in a multi-national company. She lives in Singapore with her husband and daughter.

Q/A

Q. Author, observer, dreamer, rebel and thinker; a juggler of corporate life and performance art (as you say), which of these do you love doing the most?

The one that makes me forget pangs of hunger and sleep—writing! Therefore, I guess, the Author, which embodies and expresses the mind of an observer, a dreamer, rebel and a thinker.
 

Q. How did your journey of writing start?

With the autobiography of a broken umbrella! I was in Grade V and was tasked to submit a school homework. I had never written an autobiography before so I sought the help of my elder sister, who blatantly refused. She explained what an autobiography meant and left me to fend for myself. I had but no option than to give it a go. My English teacher was very impressed with what I wrote, though my family and I were quite surprised by her appreciation. However, the foundation of “write what you want to say, imagine and write freely” was established then.

Q. What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?

Being original, honest, expressive and simple. If you have ticked these boxes, there are chances that you will find a connection with people. And people in turn, will find your writing relatable. Readers like to find themselves in the words of others who can perhaps express better. When you ignore that connection, you are writing a private journal no one wants to read. Curiosity about anything that is remote weans over a period of time. It’s momentary in nature; whereas connections stay. Then of course, once you have found that audience/reader connection, you need to find a publisher who will see the value of all this in dollars.

Q. How much time do you dedicate to writing on a daily basis?

I write every day without clocking my time and then there are days when I just don’t feel like putting my thoughts into words at all.

Q. How do you deal with writer’s block?

Just let it be. Neither restrict the spontaneity nor the block. It happens to all of us. We just wait for that one moment of inspiration and hope that there will be a magical impact. And when the wait prolongs, we start looking at the white space in front of our eyes and get frustrated.

I usually spend a lot of time reading and researching when I do not feel the urge to write or my mind goes into a complete blank. It’s also very self-motivating sometimes to read my own work from the past or simply to edit what I have written. On some very bad days when the mind is not receptive to written words at all, I have these long conversations with myself where I randomly record what I am thinking on tape even if I cannot write.

Q. What does your writing space look like? (A photo, if possible)

I write from nearly everywhere. My bed and my writing desk

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Q. What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

I write not to sell, not to win awards. If I have touched you enough, rewards will come anyway. My greatest satisfaction comes from messages/emails from complete strangers, who have no obligations to be good to me, when they tell me that my writing has made a difference to their lives. Let me share some anecdotes. A reader once wrote to me sharing the news of her ailing mother and how she had read one of my stories to her sick mother in the hospital bed. The old ailing mother not only wanted the reader to read it to her again, but she had smiled through her pains after three months of being tied to a hospital bed. “My mother smiled after 3 months today for the first time after I read your story to her. With her, we smiled and cried too,” she wrote. In another instance, I got a call from an unknown woman who had been depressed. She said that she was unable to cope with anxiety and was feeling very low when she found one of my columns on being and staying happy. “I had to find you out because you have changed my life. After reading you, I am feeling so much better. I had to say thanks,” she told me. 

Readers tell me my stories make them laugh and cry. They are spontaneous reactions. But if I am able to inspire at least one woman to feel stronger, teach one man to forgive, influence one child to be kind and brave, I think I would achieve what I want to through my stories.

Q. Are you a methodical writer?

To be absolutely truthful, I am very restless when it comes to writing. I hear voices in my mind all the time and when I hear these voices, I write. I pen the dormant communication from my conscience and give it a life. I have often told friends that like love, words happen to me. They do. Every time I have this insane urge to jot down the scatter-brained ramblings of my mind, I rush to find a piece of paper or a note-book or my phone. I do not rehearse. I do not plot, script or direct my thoughts. I just take dictations from an inner voice expressing word by word till it all starts falling into a pattern of coherence, and begins to have a meaning. 

In my past life, as a journalist and editor, I had known what I wanted to write even before I began. I would compartmentalise my thoughts in columns and word counts. I would know the length of each line, even plan a kicker or be led by it, designing bullet points in my mind, mapping what is intellectually optimal to do justice to the piece.  They are called “stories” in our trade. I no longer do such “story assignments”. And trust me, my love for writing has only grown since I am not bound nor driven by a blurb, page count or managing barriers. I no longer restrict myself to mind maps. I let words embrace me before I embrace them and then together we play an indulgent spontaneous game of delivering an expression that comes straight from the heart. I just spend my thoughts in words.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?

I am an incorrigible optimist, a romantic at heart, a curious learner and a tough cookie when it comes to resilience. I cannot say there was a challenge in writing the book. The real challenge was finding a publisher who saw its worth in dollars. In the publishing business, they say, you have to kiss many frogs with the hope that one of them will one day turn into a prince. I have faced rejection from over a 100 publishers and agents, some of whom found the book to be “too clean” and hence not commercially viable. I was asked to spice it up with all that sold. I knew I would not tread that path. I also knew I did not want to self –publish. I put my foot down and stuck to my belief that if you put your heart into something and are confident that it is the best you can deliver, it usually is. So, after nearly 5 years of rejection, I finally found a publisher who wanted to sign me up.

Q. If you were to describe yourself in one line it would be?

I am Ananya. You know what that means!J

Q. Your favorite place on earth?

Home. It’s where I feel most inspired, contented and creative.

Q. Working on something currently? Is yes, will it be short stories too?

Yes, another collection of short stories in English, some poems in Hindi and am converting some of my own short stories into theatre scripts. One of them will be staged in Singapore in a theatre festival in November.

Q. Last line in autobiography would be?

I am the evening melody of the temple conch shell, the slice of a crescent moon, the hop skip patterns you suddenly stumble upon on lonesome tiring roadways, the intricate motif on a blue baluchari saree, the flower that adorns your loosely tied bun, the sweet fragrance of the moist earth as rains sweep across your courtyard, the caress of a warm blanket on cold winter nights I am revolution, I am speech, I am my favourite me, I am Ananya, and I am invincible.

Q. Finally, if you could pass on a single piece of advice to authors out there reading this interview, what would it be?

Write not to sell, not to win awards. If numbers inspire you, select another trade. Writing is your calling when you write for the sake of writing, because you feel this inexplicable need to express.  Be sincere in your writing because there are a million stories in your mind waiting to be written, a thousand voices waiting to be heard. Once you have your soul in your writing, you will be able to touch a chord and connect with your readers.

Impressed yet?

Go get yourself, a piece of Ananya’s journey Ardh-Satya from here

Connect with Ananya on Facebook

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Posted in bookreview

The 365 Days

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Book : The 365 Days

Author : Nikhil Ramteke
Paperback price(discounted) : 140.00/-
Pages : 178

Story Line

The 365 Days, is a story of a fisherman from Kerala whose life has been bounded-in by sea always. Shijukutty living with his beloved wife and son, is lured by the gleaming global hub of fortune, Dubai. Southeast coast of the Persian Gulf has changed fate and status of his fellow Malayali‘s in community. Shiju also dream of a life where he wants to uplift the status of himself & his family. With anticipation of leaving his wife Dhanya & his son, and dreams in his eye he takes heavy loan for traveling to the city of dreams.
On reaching Gulf, the words

“My dreams began to fade as reality stretched its scaly torso and wrapped itself around me in a bruising clasp”

make it clear what he thought it would be and what actually was there. No one is different their, the story of why they are here are same. All was attracted towards the dream city for money. But they never knew, they would be cheated, cheated by the agent back home, cheated by their employer here. By giving them less money from what they were promised. Befriending his fellow migrants and knowing their story is depicted in other pages of this 365 days journey.

Options of going back to previous life is not possible for all, as all that is left back there is a BIG loan and their shattered dreams in heart. All can’t take it.

Writing

The narration is very good, and the depth of author’s knowledge for the plot conceived is impressive. Author Nikhil has written novel from a malayali perspective, and have used certain malayali words which is apt for narrating the story from protagonist’s mind.
I found the plot to be a constant line, there were no ups and down that couldn’t be foreseen. Only last few pages, shook me.
Also there were certain things which weren’t anywhere supporting the plot.
For example : watching that bhojpuri film, or those random retold of Jabbar’s life stories.

I could related to book more, as one friend of mine is Malayali and is from Kerala. And her brother-in-law’s are working in Gulf for so long for the same reasons, as in the book. I loved the naration where author has given each day to day references of labour class working and life. However, I got sadden by the end. I loved the little cartoon animations at almost each chapter giving apt meaning to chapter. My little 2 yrs nephew used to turn pages of the book, and show me those cartoons and asked me to narate a story to them that included us the family members (yup, the book got personal to me 😛 ).

Also I loved how the Cover of book is given Matt finished. I haven’t seen any book with this finishing yet.

Cover: 4.5/5
Title: 3.5/5
Blurb: 3/5
Theme: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Overall: 3.6/5

Received a review copy from the author and publisher for an honest review.

find me at my Bookstagram page @night.bibliophile

Posted in bookreview, My Words

Spells of Love

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Spells of Love- A Collection of Soulful Poems

Publisher: Artson Publishing House
Paperback price :199.00/-
Page : 121

‘Spells of Love’ is a compilation of poems on Life, Hope, Remembrance and Melancholy.

Writers across India, have submitted and are being part of this art turned into book.

The book was released on 12 Sept 2017 and is already among top 50 best sellers in poetry section.

Book is available on Amazon.in, link Spells of Love

Posted in My Words

Her Life -.-

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PC : @shainadaina
When midnight stucks, we find our vulnerable self sulking at same old stuff.
The people who left us, or may be forgot about us.
Our stupid mind, keep strumming those chords, of OLD TIMES.
and our eyes knows all our pain.
Heart, it can’t be seen by everyone. But eyes, ahh !!! By night crying, in morning all ready with mascara to Shine On !!
.
.
.
.
It was my birthday day before yesterday, and I still feel so SAD.
That one of my closest friend didn’t remember it !!!!!!
Its frustating, yaa he got married n got busy ??
Or may be the date just slipped by his mind ??
.
From others it doesn’t matter sometimes, but when people close too doesnt even remember, then we tend to ignore our birthday ourself too !!
And thats what I did 🙂 It was just an ORDINARY DAY, like other 364 days 🙂

Posted in bookreview

Book Review – The Mahabharata Code

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Book : The Mahabharta Code

Author : Karthik Rao
Paperback price : 158.35/-
Pages : 214

First and foremost Thanks to TBC for sending me a copy of book in exchange of an honest review.

So me being honest, the book completely lost me in first 30 pages. I didn’t knew what the author was writing. It was too confusing to read so many “I”‘s being narrating it, and then there were so many “worlds”. This made me consider myself miserable that why did I said yes to this book.

Seeing reviews on goodreads, everyone giving it 4-5 stars I thought it’s definitely a 4 star on an average. The Blurb and goodreads rating was my reason to say yes.

I don’t regret it, but was definitely too confusing for me the whole time. Author has played with minds, by mixing events together. One page we are NR in Bengaluru, other page we are NR in alien world. That didn’t worked for me.
There were certain questions that keep peeking my mind, how did it even happen because earlier page was just to small to happen it. For E.g.

In Chapter 8, NR was on spiritual journey in India. Talking to Shristi about the religion and other sensitive topics. And suddenly Chapter 9, NR is on some other planet with his team mates. In which few pages down, Shirti is also there. How did she came there ? How they got a child ?
All are unanswered till last chapter.

Also what I couldn’t digest was the language used by author for/by Mythological characters. It looks like the author wanted to IMPRESS the new generation, instead of giving any literature to his readers. Reading words like below WAS NO FUN, instead a BIG TURN OFF !!

KLPD
scumbag
MC ! BC !
Blind king
Dummy king

Author tried to bring in BIG guns like, religious Hindu-Muslim issues, Nirbhaya & the final spiritual journey which was nothing in any sense. Because, Uhhh..!! all I could read was same words from different angles.

Bharma Laboratory
God Program
THE GAME
Cloning
Environment
Testing
Bug
Four Yuga’s into Environments
Malware-infested souls

Ahh..!! too MUCH TO HANDLE!!

Being an Indian origin and a NASA person NR is shown too DUMB in The Revelation chapter :-/

The talks between Shristi & NR were so monotonous and some discussions were question after question. For e.g.

So was this onsite just an illusion which provided temporary happiness? Was it just an outlet for making more money as their dollar value happens to be stronger than our Indian rupee? How much is more money then? Will more money buy me permanent happiness and bliss? Should I have followed the crowd and gone abroad for my higher education like all my friends? Will holding fancy degrees give me permanent bliss?

I mean why SO MANY QUESTION MAN!!!!!

Only thing that “kinda” worked out for me, was few of things that was technically connected to mythological scenes. Like Ravana having 10 head, how only few could pick the Bow etc.

Mythological Stories are one of my favorite kind of genre, but this book just couldn’t give anything like that. There was nothing related to mythological relation with the story, instead it was YO PEOPLE TRYING TO INACT A MYTHOLOGICAL STORY.

Cover: 4/5
Title: 4/5
Blurb: 3/5
Theme: 3/5
Story: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Overall: 2.6/5

The book was provided by TBC for an honest review.

find me at my Bookstagram page @night.bibliophile

Posted in bookreview

Book Review – ARDH-SATYA

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Book : ARDH-SATYA The Half Truth & Other Stories

Author : Ananya Mukherjee
Paperback price : 243.00/-
Kindle (discounted price) : 191.69/-
Pages : 230

This was my first read by Author, and WHAT A BOOK. I am really impressed with the writing of author.

This book is bounded with 20 beautiful and some amazing stories, and divided in four parts :
-> The Equation
-> God Must be a Mother
-> Between Divine & Mortal
-> Life Positive

“In beginning, there were only a few words, then sentences. Then songs happened; then poetry. What remained of me became my story”

I have loved how author Ananya Mukherjee has expressed her stories in words blended beautifully. Since the very start, dedicating book to her parent, she had me captured. I knew it, it will be greatest of reads.

Being an Indian and knowing different places is what had worked for the Author. She has captured different states of country and their culture. In the book you can find, stories from all around the world and some are very much embedded with Indian culture from Mumbai, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Calcutta (Kolkata).

The biggest disadvantage of book compromising short stories is, all can’t be 100% your likeable. Same happened to me while reading Ardh-Satya. There are some stories, which I felt like was far too much stretched in the middle.

Also I read a lot of Indian authors, and I have NO SHAME in saying. Ananya’s writing style and language used is one of the finest I have read.
The author has a way of describing things like a simple sunrise

“I grew up watching the sun trickle its first rays through the round-headed glass windows with coloured motifs above the doorway on the porch, and sunshine slipping in through the large Venetian window at the East-end. It overlooked the blue mountain in the distance and the emerald green valley below.”

Didn’t those words just made a beautiful painting in your mind, of what the person feeling,viewing. And there are many such places, that author has done this beautifully.

I know, authors tend to do that. That’s why they are authors, but go and read other Indian authors and you will know what I am saying :3

Also what more I liked about the stories were they started off like a first person format. And we try to imagine its a man or woman, but after first page or few paragraphs it turns out Ouchh.!! the first person was someone else. I really liked that kind, and usually went backwards to see if I missed seeing it at the first time.

Ananya Mukherjee has included amazing words/poems at the starting of each parts and some of the stories, that blend amazingly with the parts/story.

My favorite part will always be God Must be a Mother, because that’s the part where all 4 stories are heart touching ❤

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Cover: 5/5
Title: 5/5
Blurb: 4/5**
Theme: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

**Correct me if I am wrong to say, the blurb doesn’t justify what the book consist 🙂

The book was provided by Leadstart Publishing, in exchange of chocolates, money, ice creams (NOTHING LIKE THAT) only honest review.

You can buy book (paperback or kindle edition from amazon) from following link

ARDH-SATYA The Half Truth and other stories

If you would like me to review your book, please feel free to get in touch with us at www.facebook.com/ReaderWriterCafe

or find me at my Bookstagram page @night.bibliophile