Please help me welcome debut author, Anju Gattani, to the blog today. Her novel Duty and Desire is available now, the first in the Winds of Fire series.
Author Name: Anju Gattani
Book Title: Duty and Desire
Book Genre: Multicultural Women’s Fiction
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Scarsdale Publishing, Ltd.
Congrats on your new release, Anju! Please tell us a bit about Duty and Desire.
To uphold family honor and tradition, Sheetal Prasad is forced to forsake the man she loves and marry playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj. As her world splinters into a web of lies, deceit and betrayal, Sheetal must find a way to ally with the stranger she married in order to protect their infant son from his family’s tyranny.
What sparked the idea for your book?
The story fell in my lap 19 years ago shortly after we moved from Singapore to New Jersey, U.S. My international freelancing journalism career paused because of the transition—you see the Asian magazines I had been writing for needed writers to live, interview and write on their turf in Asia. Many publications didn’t have established online platforms in 2001/2002 and so a decade-long budding career took a deep setback.
My kids, both boys, were about 1.5 and 5.5 years old at the time and the five-year-old was due back from Lincoln Elementary School one afternoon. Exhausted from the day’s never-ending run of household chores and raising 2 boys while my husband was still learning to navigate our new life in America and his new job—I took my usual afternoon nap. It’s amazing what a 20-minute nap can do for the soul and your sanity!
Thirty minutes later I woke up with a jolt. My heart pounded. My head spun. I had just emerged from a scene that could have been from a movie or a movie trailer. There was so much tension all around and I had to find out who the people in the scene were running away from. Who was chasing them? Why? How did this situation arise? How did I end up in a scene from a movie that didn’t even exist?
That afternoon episode turned my life and world upside down. I began the quest for answers and the search led me to pick up the pen and start writing the story.
What was your process? Did it take you long to write the book? And what about research?
The original handwritten draft (all my first drafts are handwritten by the way… talk about old-school!) *rolling eyes here at myself* took about 18 months to pound out. During that time we moved from New Jersey to Atlanta. Settled in, got the kids in new schools, etc. After I had a completed manuscript (a story map basically) the research began.
I worked with 2 of India’s leading fashion designers, Arjun Khanna and Anita Dongre. The leading characters are from the wealthiest strata of Indian society and for numerous scenes they had to be clothed in designer wear. Their jewelry, mannerisms, choices, habits and perceptions had to fit the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
I also worked with a Pilates instructor because a leading character needed an avenue (one of many) to find inner strength. Then of course I worked with my younger sister in the U.K., a doctor. She helped nail the right illnesses and medical remedies for the huge cast of characters. Don’t worry, they don’t all die… but life has its ups and downs for fictional characters as it does for real people!
What I didn’t know at the time was that I’d written 2 books and had a sequel in my head. So I wasn’t just dealing with one book and one story. I was dealing with one story that had spread out over 3 books (including the one in my head).
That doesn’t even take into account all the research I did on rituals, customs, traditions and festivals of India, toxic behavior patterns that exist between abusers and victims in cases of abuse and domestic violence, alcoholism, mental illness and so much more that I could go on about—but seriously, I won’t. I’ll stop here!
What do you love most about writing?
I love the ability to escape, travel and live the lives of different people. What better way than to experience all these through the written word? What better way than to let another writer or author lead you by the hand on their journey? Most of all I am passionate about other people’s experiences and the stories they have to tell.
With my own writing the experience is very different. The first draft is where I get to *play*, venture out into forbidden territory and experience my characters in their own shoes. As the rewrites and revisions take on, it’s honestly nothing short of grit-hard work. Endless, countless revisions and rewrites. But I LOVE IT! And when I start to see gemstones in all the white noise and sand of words, it’s an incredible feeling!!
Each book is a new journey whether I’m a writer or a reader. There’s so much to look forward to! So much excitement! So much ahead!!
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love furry animals and critters and end up friending almost all the dogs in our neighborhood, which is why every time my husband and I go for a walk and he sees a dog, he secretly thinks to himself—“Uh, oh.” I am a people-person too, but dogs and cats take the cake!
Speaking of which I Iove desserts too… more about that later. We have a lion-head rabbit, MoMo, who thinks he’s a dog and has attitude…so he suffices for a pet dog, I guess!
I’m a huge fitness freak. I workout 5-6 days of the week and honestly think fitness helps maintain my sanity and spurs the creative juices!! Or maybe it’s to keep my weight in check-and-balance.
I love to bake and wish I was a professional baker or cake decorator. So I’m guessing you figured out I love food too! Which contrasts with my fitness routine! Inner Conflict right there! I’ve been a vegetarian all my life, but don’t let that fool you…we veggies always figure out a way to customize our meals, pack on the pounds and bite into that delight! Oh yes, fusion cooking is another favorite. I love to blend recipes and / or ingredients from the east and west. The results can be quite fascinating… other times NOT! But you don’t know unless you try… like with writing!
Are you working on a new project?
I’m exploring a new book in the Winds of Fire series and so my antennas are out regarding research and a story map. Let’s see how far we go this round…
I’m also working on another book project and so my heart is in 2 places at the same time. But good thing is I get to switch hats and hearts with my characters!
Where can readers find you?
Facebook: Anju Gattani Author
Interview with NRI Pulse News, June 5, 2020: https://www.nripulse.com/atlanta-author-anju-gattanis-new-novel-explores-conflicts-between-personal-and-family-honor/
Thank you, Anju! Duty and Desire is out NOW.
To uphold family honor and tradition, Sheetal Prasad is forced to forsake the man she loves and marry playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj while the citizens of Raigun, India, watch in envy. On her wedding night, however, Sheetal quickly learns that the stranger she married is as cold as the marble floors of the Dhanraj mansion.
Forced to smile at family members and cameras and pretend there’s nothing wrong with her marriage, Sheetal begins to discover that the family she married into harbors secrets, lies and deceptions powerful enough to tear apart her world. With no one to rely on and no escape, Sheetal must ally with her husband in an attempt to protect her infant son from the tyranny of his family.
A fiction author, freelance journalist, fiction writing instructor, blogger and former newspaper reporter, Anju was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. She has also lived and been published in Singapore, India, Australia, New Jersey and Connecticut in cover stories, fiction, feature, news, interviews, travel, perspective pieces and more. She finally dug her roots in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with her husband, 2 dashing boys and a rebel lion-head rabbit. Duty and Desire the debut in her Winds of Fire series, is slated for release on June 2, 2020. Anju hopes her books will Bridge Cultures and Break Barriers.