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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' (Part 2)'



Read up, the second part of Utkarsh Patel's Interview, with regard to 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' (Part 2)'. In this he tells us, whether the storyline or characters took more precedence, what the most challenging part of writing the book was, how he came up with the concepts and developed them and also gives us information on the next book, he has planned. He also tells us what he's reading currently, among others, Folks...

Between your storyline and your characters, which takes precedence?

Both. For me, the characters make the story and building the characters personality as the story moves is important. 

In this book of mine, my central character grows with her friends and the storyline ensures that this is depicted throughout the story.  

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

How much is enough! One tends to get carried away on a topic, which is very dear or important to one’s heart. How much is enough on that subject is a tough decision to make. 

The author might be very passionate about something and might and to write a lot more on something, but the reader might not emote with him on the same. So, how much is enough on a subject is quite challenging. 

How do you come up with the concepts and develop them?

Utkarsh Patel
Well, I go with the flow. While, I do have a basic storyline thought through at the inception, many things are acquired or imagined on the flow of the narrative. 

Can’t say that everything that has gone in my book was pre-decided.  

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

Well, this has to be my wife! When I first discussed the Shakuntala storyline, it was her idea to see if I could write a novel. Till then, all I had written were articles for my Blog (www.utkarshspeak.blogspot.in), which were quite well received. 

But then, they were articles and I wasn’t sure if a novel was my cup of tea, till I was asked to give it a shot, and sure enough it did turn out to be a novel!  

What book is coming from your desk, next? 

Presently, I am working on a novel form of a lesser-known Tamil epic. 

This too is a woman-centric novel. Should be out in about a year or so. 

Your advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published in India? 

One should write and try and get published. One should not be deterred by rejections, as many a times they get rejected because the publisher is unsure of its marketability, not because of its literary merit.

Also, be open to criticism, as they will only strengthen ones writing. It also gives an alternate view-point by a third person, who could take a dispassionate view to it, unlike we who have written it.

I don’t think it’s very tough to get anything published today, as there are so many avenues of getting published. Besides the traditional publishers, we now have self-publishing, etc., which will enable anybody to get their work published. 

Just write! 

Who are your favourite authors and why?

Ayn Rand
At present, I read a lot of academic mythology, which aids me in my research for books and lectures and speaking engagements.

However, at one point of time, I used to read a lot of different authors, with Ayn Rand and Irving Stone, being my favourites. Ayn Rand was an ideological favourite and Irving Stone was a marvellous writer of biographies, which told the life story so beautifully.

Which book are you currently reading? 

Presently, I am reading the English translation of Sanskrit plays by Bhasa.   

What do you do on a day to day basis, besides writing stories?

I read, write and speak, when I am not writing stories!
  
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Social Media links of Utkarsh Patel for readers to find/follow/like:
Website   www.utkarshmp.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shakuntala-The-Woman-Wronged-703922499751102/
Twitter    @utkarshmp
Blog        www.utkarshspeak.blogspot.in
Email:       utkarshmp@yahoo.com
 
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You can Read the Review, and the First Part of this Interview right here, and Buy the Book here, as well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review : 'Golden Boy Bailey' by Erin Frew

Erin Frew’s 'Golden Boy Bailey’ turned out to be a book, which left me with the widest of smiles. Firstly, it is about dogs, and although, I am not a fan, but I must say, I really liked the illustrations in this book and even the tiny bits of adventure was fun to read. The book was illustrated by the author, herself!


Well, it is about a happy go lucky dog, Bailey Boy and his friend, Sable, and their two other friends. It is also about the wonderful adventures and the super ideas, they all get involved in. I loved the idea of a beautiful morning, with a lovely sun and a breeze, too. And the birds, up in the trees and the flowers, in full bloom. Wow, it sounds like an adventure, straight from one of the children’s books, which we had read as kids. 

But to have four dogs involved, is a piece of cake. It tells a story of these dogs, a golden retriever, a pit bull, a Labrador and even a German Sheppard. I can’t think of a bigger adventure without most of these big dogs, because all the adventures I read as a kid had dogs, but rarely had them doing it all by themselves. So, this was a book for super fun reading.


Four of them get together and are set to go to the Blue Pool on a special adventure. When they are at the big blue pool, they see the sparkling waters, surrounded by pointed rock formations.


Suddenly, Sable is distracted by a dragonfly that keeps buzzing around her. So, excited is she; that she chases after it. Meanwhile, the other big dogs are busy having fun at the lake, splashing and dunking around it.


But suddenly, Bailey notices that Sable is missing. They notice her near the cliff, still trying to catch the dragonfly. But, suddenly they all catch a glimpse of her, jumping off the cliff. Bailey, who tells the others that Sable cannot swim. So, they make their way across and Chewy jumps in, trying to save Sable. He does manage to bring her to the shore, but then, she is unconscious and does not wake up.


Erin Frew
So, will they manage to wake her up? Will the three of them save little Sable, at all? Read this, fun little adventure and find out, what happens next… Sounds exciting, I think I’d take on this little exploration! As it is a good read, and easy to understand too. And the illustrations are really good, and one can see the effort it took. 

You can Buy the Book, right here.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Author Interview : Utkarsh Patel, author of ‘Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged' (Part 1)



Utkarsh Patel
Read up, the first part of the Interview with Utkarsh Patel, author of 'Shakuntala : The Woman Wronged'. The books is probably the most honest version, of who Shakuntala was as a person, considering that it was taken from the version that Maharishi Veda Vyasa, himself wrote. In this Interview, he tells us the kind of research that was put into this book, what the challenges were that went into its writing, why Shakuntala was chosen as the subject, how his book is different from everyone's versions and how he would relate the book and its two main characters, Shakuntala and Dushyant, to the lives today, and much more, Folks...


What is the kind of research that has gone into this book?

Since this was going to be about a time period which is not modern, a lot of research on the times, dressing, norms, protocols, etc. had to be researched. Also, since I was writing about a different version than the popular one (i.e. Kalidasa’s version), I had to read Abhijnanshakuntalam (in English) too. 

A number of academic essays on the subject and also other characters of my book had to be studied before I used them for my book.  

How much of the story is based on the research and how much is imagination?

While the research was more to get the details right, a lot of it is imagination, and quite a few characters are a part of the imagination, like Narada Muni, and many such characters, who have been added for the sake of the narrative.

Also, a number of incidents are imaginary, just as many characters and episodes that are brought in from time to time are imaginary. While the basic theme has been kept close to the original, many of the episodes have been imaginary. 

Why did you choose Shakuntala? What is the difference, you expect in the opinion of Shakuntala before and after the book?

Personally, I felt that Shakuntala has been a woman, wronged and I could feel that not much has changed in the modern times. I also feel that the original Shakuntala as envisaged by Ved Vyasa was a much admirable character and not many knew about her, since majority of us had been brought up on the Kalidasa’s version. Thus, I felt it made sense to write about her.

After reading this version, many might be able to change their opinion about the character. Today’s woman might be able to relate with her much more than before. Also, she could be a beacon of hope for many women, who have been left in the lurch by men in whom they had vested all the trust.

How do you think your book was different from everyone else’s?

My book, though a fiction has not strayed away from the original 
story. Also, while telling one big story, it also tells you many more myths which many might not have known earlier, but find interesting and worth knowing.

It is also one of the few novels, which begins with a Foreword by a scholar, and an Introduction and a long-list of further reading if anybody is interested.

Any challenges you had to face while writing this particular book?

Well, this was my first novel, so there were the usual doubts of whether it would get any publisher, to begin with. 

Also, in certain episodes, the desire to get authentic was often over-powering and thus could stall the entire writing process.

How would you relate this book and its two main characters, Shakuntala and Dushyant, to the lives today? Any similarities?

What happens with Shakuntala is not something that is alien to many women in modern times. Even today, innocent women are left in the lurch by men. 

As far as the other two characters are concerned, they have had to bear the brunt of a patriarchal mind-set, which too is not very uncommon today. While the same things might not be happening today, I won’t hesitate to say, that similar things to take place in many parts of our country.


You can Read the Review, right here and Buy the Book, right here, as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Review : 'Destiny Embraces... : A tale of two hearts and one soul (The Destiny Series Book 2)' by PG Van



Destiny Embraces’ is the second after 'Destiny Decides'. It opens from the point where it had left us, the last time. It basically ran with the love story, which almost felt like it was destiny between Sameera and Nikhil. The story, which began with the two of them meeting again, after many years to them falling in love. Sameera comes to India, to discover that Nick has followed her.

The story begins with Nick and Meera sitting at their wedding, when she wanted to stop it. Nick is visibly upset with her and wants to know why. Basically, Meera wants to finish a ceremony, wherein the two of them are present before Nick’s parents, and perform the ceremony, in which the entire family is present. This ceremony would quell all problems, which have haunted the family that makes them unable to conceive a female child. 

But due to certain circumstances, Nick, who has already proposed and wants to get married to her, immediately. So, the two end up having a double wedding, with Nethra and Srini. Nethra happens to be Meera’s sister and Srini is her boyfriend.

Incidentally, a mysterious incident happens, wherein Meera ends up with a child, who was kidnapped. She finds out that the kid is also named Sameera. When, the baby’s mother and grandmother return, with the police, they are given back the kid. This was only a beginning to the mysteries, which flow, in this book.

So, Meera ends up wishing for a Rajput wedding, so she can conceive the family’s female child. There was also the story of RajaRam and Jasleen, which has a lot to do with these two getting married. The story will be told in parts through the entire rigmarole.

But the Rajput style of wedding is now delayed, and the two make their way back to the US. Once back in California, the two of them settle into married life, as Meera wants. Meera wanted to live in with the entire family. So, the two of them move in and now, we are shown a few other problems.

Firstly, the mystery of Meera’s father’s chain. Suddenly, people seem to be looking for it, and Nick who was presented it by Meera, does not want to get rid of it. Therefore, we are put through, Nick and his security detail, Mitch, managing to escape the entire  situation of people trying to lay their hands on Nick and grabbing the chain. Nick has the chain, under his protection and has even incorporated it to himself and his children. 

Then, also the return of Meera’s ex-boyfriend. Of course, there is also Nick’s brother, Sam and his girlfriend, Reetu’s story. Will they ever get married? What is stopping them? Who was Roy Shankar and how was he involved?

Basically, there was no end to these mysteries. The confusion, which I was feeling, was a little too much. This, with the love story, which seems stronger between Meera and Nick, also there was little too much of love-making, between the two.

Also, the Rajput wedding, which has to take place, does that happen  then will both of them settle in? Why does RajaRam leave Jasleen behind, in this enigmatic part to the story, and what does it have to do with Nick and Meera? Will the historical part find its end now, in the present time?

I hope it solves some problems, in this part and some more unidentified portions in the story, which will find their end, in the third part of the story. The bits about their entire story, and the mysteries, which were created was good. But again, the love and sex bit was a too much for me to take. A decent effort!

 You can get the book right here...