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Monday, December 10, 2012

Author of the Week, Anju Gattani, Interview & #Giveaway!



 Anju was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. Her Indian upbringing and British education worked together to strongly influence her writing.

Anju’s fiction explores how the distinct mindsets and traditions of different cultures permanently shape people’s values, thinking, and behavior patterns—for both good and evil—despite the “leveling” effects of 21st century communications and travel.

Anju earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature in India and a teaching degree in the United Kingdom. She has also studied creative writing.

Anju has lived in Singapore, Australia, India, New Jersey and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. Anju is a columnist for a multicultural magazine in the USA. She is also an avid guest blogger, who loves to share her experiences in health and fitness, food, self-empowerment and great fiction reads. [Link]


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | 




Anju Gattani writes books to bridge cultures and break barriers.  She hopes to inspire readers one book at a time. 


Holly: Hi Anju Gattani! :)  Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Anju Gattani: Hmm…. Where should I begin?  At the very beginning… I was born in India?   Or perhaps you’d like to hear a little more about the fact that I grew up in Hong Kong (on the southern tip of China) but studied under the British education system?  Or that my parents were afraid of sending me abroad (as corny as it sounds) for further education and sent me to India for further studies - university?  Or that I’ve also lived in India, Singapore, Australia and am now in Atlanta, USA?  Hmm… that sounds a little boring, doesn’t it?  OK!  How about this?  I blend Asian and western cooking styles and ingredients in the kitchen as I do in my fiction?  Is that better?  OK… I’m hungry now :)     

Holly: Can you tell us a little bit about your book Duty and Desire?

Anju Gattani: ‘Duty and Desire’ is the story of a woman’s struggle to choose personal honor over family honor.  It is contemporary women’s fiction and deals with issues many Indian (and Asian) women face in today’s globalizing economy.  Asian women have more options today than previous generations did and don’t have to
accept and live with their circumstances.  However, the choices they make are not always what you expect them to logically conclude and act on.  Family values, culture, acceptance by society and hidden norms, modes and codes of conduct have a huge impact on the decisions women make and the final outcome of their situation.   

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Anju Gattani: As weird as it sounds, I saw the end, of what is now the 2nd novel in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series, in a day-dream.  I woke up trembling, with a racing heart and sweat beading down my face and struggled to understand who the characters in the do-or-die scene were, and asked myself ‘how did it come to this?’  I had to work backward… understanding who the characters were first, getting to know them, writing the story from the beginning to get to ‘The End’.  The initial draft took 1.5 years to pound out.   

Holly: Where can we purchase Duty and Desire?

Anju Gattani: ‘Duty and Desire’ is available worldwide in hardcopy via online order at almost all leading bookstores, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million…  It is available in digital format for: Kindle, Nook, Kobo and all Apple products. Amazon buy link

Holly: Are you working on anything at the moment?

Anju Gattani: I’m currently working on a 3rd novel.  I also freelance for ‘Khabar’, a multicultural magazine, www.khabar.com, blog for www.thoughtfulindia.com  and guest blog for several other websites. 

Holly: Are you reading anything interesting at the moment? If so, what is it?

Anju Gattani: I’m currently reading ‘The Red Queen’ by Philippa Gregory. 

Holly: How much of you or people you know do you think make it into the characters in your novel(s)?

Anju Gattani: I would say the opposite happens.  I write the story and then discover similar issues real people are facing in their lives.  With ‘Duty and Desire’ I learned about another woman who was living the story in real-time (2002-3) during the time I was writing the initial draft.  Let me tell you, that was frightening.  Last year a ‘friend’ on Facebook pinged to say she had read the blurb of ‘Duty and Desire’ and was being forced into an arranged marriage.  She was so sure I had written the story of her life and that the novel was her story.  This was prior to the release of the book and she wanted to know the end… so she could conclude her end.  I was shocked and emphasized ‘Duty and Desire’ is a pure work of fiction and nothing more.  Let me tell you, that was even more frightening.

Holly: Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

Anju Gattani: I’ve been blessed to have worked with New York Times Bestselling Author, Haywood Smith (southern women’s fiction) and USA Today Bestselling Author, Jade Lee (multicultural, historical romance).  Both women are my mentors and golden friends.  I also had A LOT of support in the 10-year journey, from writing the novel to final publication, from other bestselling authors like: Anna De Stefano, Dianna Love, Berta Platas (Latina fiction)… I could go on.  I learned from these talented women what it means to write a professional novel someone else WANTS to read and what it takes to be a professional author. 

Holly: Do you think you will have a follow up book to this novel or is it just a stand-alone novel?

Anju Gattani: The second novel in the ‘Winds of Fire’ series is complete and all the books are stand-alones… including the 3rd manuscript I’m currently working on. 

Holly: What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?

Anju Gattani: The re-writes.  ‘Duty and Desire’ has been rewritten a total of 25+ times.  This is counting all the elements of learning the craft, writing techniques and more.  But I must add here… you can’t do it unless you love writing.  It’s got to be in you to not give up.  Filtering your novel down to some basics like: synopses, 1-sentence blurbs, selling blurbs… they are not strictly ‘writing’ the novel but parts of the whole writing process which are HARD, if not HARDER. 

Random Quickies!

Holly: Pepsi or Coke?

Anju Gattani: Coke – definitely!

Holly: Favorite book?

Anju Gattani: ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ and ‘Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini.  2 favorite books ;)

Holly: Favorite genre to read?

Anju Gattani: Women’s fiction.  Commercial or literary – both work.  But I love to read about women’s struggles and their stories. 

Holly: Favorite book to movie?

Anju Gattani: ‘Kite Runner’ – best adaptation I’ve seen so far!

Holly: Cats or dogs?

Anju Gattani: Dogs – definitely!  We have a Shih-Tzu puppy – Scruffy!  He’s vanilla & milk chocolate or perhaps, I should say caramel!



Books by Anju Gattani

Winds of Fire series

#1: Duty and Desire

Awards and Recognition

Endorsements:

  • “A compelling glimpse into clashing influences affecting the wealthy in modern Indian culture, Duty and Desire offers intrigue, romance and growing spiritual awakening.”  – New York Times Best Selling Author, Haywood Smith.
  • “Duty and Desire draws the reader into a culture of fascinating contradictions. A moving story of a girl’s transition to womanhood while forced to choose between family and self. Anju Gattani’s compelling debut captures the imagination.”—Shobhan Bantwal, award-winning author of The Dowry Bride.
  • “Duty and Desire immerses us in the larger-than-life, decadent world of modern India’s ultra-wealthy families—a place sizzling with secrets and lies, love and betrayal. An intriguing, compulsive read.”—Anjali Banerjee, author of Haunting Jasmine and Invisible Lives.

Newspaper / Social media Reviews: 

  • “Contrary to stereotypical portrayals of Indians, Gattani’s characters offer a glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of the super wealthy.  The author, however, manages to weave the elaborate descriptions within the confines of the storyline so it never feels deliberate or forced… there is plenty of room for universal appeal… The highly apt and befitting cover packages Duty and Desire into a desirable read, indeed.” – NRI Pulse (April 2012)
  • “Anju Gattani has a mission for her writing and maintains a dynamite website. The premise of DUTY AND DESIRE sounds inviting for a summer read… many women will at least be able to relate to some degree to the main female character’s transition from independent single woman to married woman who must consider how her actions may affect her relationship with her new family.  Through their similarities, readers may be drawn to learn about their differences.” – Danbury News Times, (May 31, 2012)   

Blog reviews:

  • “I wasn’t prepared to love it like I did.  The pacing and the plot, the characterization and the conflict, the storytelling and the setting and sexual tension were impeccable. I didn’t want to put it down.”—The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales.
  • http://www.petitfoursandhottamales.com/2011/10/29/9196/
  • http://chelleang.com/2012/03/13/duty-desire/
  • http://www.susanbkason.com/2012/07/11/book-of-the-week-duty-and-desire/comment-page-1/#comment-10309

Press:

  • Voices News, June 20, 2012
"A nuique blend of East and West, Anju's fiction explores how cultural mindsets and traditions shape people's values, thinking and behavior in their struggle to find meaning in life... She views international fiction as an opportunity for readers to inhabit a world ver different from their own."
  • Danbury News Times, Thu, May 31, 2012
http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Author-explores-idea-of-shrinking-world-3600267.php
  • NRI Pulse, March 2012
http://www.nripulse.com/CityNews/AnjuGattani_AtlantaAuthor.html
  • The Sacramento Bee, Feb 12, 2012
http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/12/4252677/between-the-lines-authors-on-the.html
  • The Milton Herald, Nov 28, 2011
http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-COMMUNITY-NEWS-c-2011-11-28-190291.114126-sub-Milton-resident-pens-novel-with-international-flair.ht



Enter below via the Raffleocpter to win a Duty and Desire SWAG pack! :)

Each winner's set will consist of:
1 gold-color wedding invitation, made in India, inviting readers to the fictitious wedding of Sheetal and Sanjeet Dhanraj in Duty and Desire. The silk wedding invitations are hand-made and the color of Sheetal's designer wedding trousseau in the story.  These exclusive invitations are giveaways from the author only and cannot be purchased elsewhere.
1 post card of the cover of Duty and Desire
1 book mark with the cover of Duty and Desire
a Rafflecopter giveaway





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