Monday, September 22, 2014

Author Interview: Swarupa Chavan: A Marathi Girl From Amchi Mumbai: A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER

Swarupa Chavan, a Marathi girl hailing from Mumbai. She works as a DGM and writes in her spare time. She started writing 5 years back. She has published two novels TO ERR IS HUMAN and A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER till now. Her short story THE UNSAID WORDS is a part of the anthology FUSION. She loves to travel and has been exploring the beautiful cities of India. She dreams to tour the world someday.  
It will be nice if one of the question you answer in a video and send it to me along with these answers.

Welcome Swarupa!

Your real name and pen name?

My pen name and my real name are the same… Swarupa J I love it and so haven’t kept any pen name.

About your education:

I have done my schooling from Mary Immaculate Girls High School. Following which I completed my graduation in Science majoring in Physics from Jai Hind College, Mumbai. I then went for Packaging Technology in which I am a rank holder, Computer Technology and MBA in Materials.

What career did you plan during your education days?

I guess I was creative in selecting my career as well J I had many careers in my mind. I wanted to be a fighter pilot during my school days, then I thought of becoming an astronomer. While in college I was thinking of doing Computer Engineering. But eventually I have become a Packaging Specialist.

What languages you can speak and write? 

I can speak and write English, Hindi and Marathi.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life: 

My mother is my greatest source of inspiration. What I am today is completely the result of her hardships.

What hurts you most in this world?

Nothing is more hurtful than when your feelings are not reciprocated or appreciated or when people don’t keep their word and manipulate you for selfish motives. And me being an emotional person I don’t take such behaviour lightly.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I don’t think I would like to live the life of anyone else. I have been given this unique life and I am very happy with it.

What is your favourite genre and why?

I love to write humorous fiction. I think making someone smile is a very difficult task and if you are successful in making a reader smile with your work that is your greatest reward. I feel comfortable writing this style and it comes to me very naturally. I also love writing emotional fiction and bringing out true human sentiments. While writing emotional fiction I feel myself connected with the story closely and actually feel the pain of the protagonist.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I used to write small articles and short write ups. But it was around xxx years ago when I thought of focusing my writing on fiction. I had always wanted to write fiction, guess the right time came with To Err is Human. I purely write as a hobby. To pen down my creative thoughts and channel my energy in writing simply because I love to.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

I have published two novels To Err is Human and A Journey to Remember so far. Both these novels have a flavour of humour.
I would love to share the synopsis of both my novels J
About my debut novel TO ERR IS HUMAN

Are you a die-hard romantic who haste’s to fall in love?
Do you follow your heart more than your head and thereby tend to make mistakes?
Do you have great dreams and aspirations but find it hard to survive in this cutthroat competitive world?
Do you have a funny bone in you to laugh at life’s tragic turns and accept that you are Human enough to make mistakes?
If yes then ‘To Err is Human’ is for you. It is a story about Malini, a girl with big dreams who comes to Mumbai to fulfil them. Malini is compassionate, hilarious, sensitive, emotional and not to forget she is a magnet for errors, attracting disasters all along.
Dealing with her mother who is obsessed to get her married is not her only worry. She merely arrives in Mumbai and finds herself surrounded by eccentric bosses and weird clients. And if that was not enough she lands up getting herself abducted by gangsters. You find yourself relating to her woes and everyday incidents as she unfolds one adventure after another sinking herself in trouble more deep than she can manage to get out of. Yet it allows us to catch a glimpse of her true self and realize that it is a normal human tendency to commit such errors.
Her dream is endangered when one day she commits a vast mistake. A die hard romantic she haste’s to fall in love & trusts Anuj with her dream. This     single error turns her life upside down. Working at her dream job, Malini realizes that her co-workers are not her friends.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world and everyone wants to climb the ladder of success—even if they step on their co-workers like rungs on this ladder.
She learns one can’t always judge a book by its cover. At first, Manoj is annoying with his constant chatter and unkempt style, but soon he proves there’s more to him than meets the eye.
But is it too late for Malini to make amendments? Would Malini achieve her dreams? Would life be divine enough to forgive her?
Find out in this rib cracking funny escapade. Malini’s witty charm will keep the pages turning.

About A Journey to Remember:

A highlight of this novel is I have written a beautiful poem in this which is being loved by the readers J
He is a happy go lucky philander who has never taken any relationship seriously in his life.
She believes love to be a hypothetical and highly overrated phenomenon.
Destiny puts them together on a journey to Shimla. Although their destinations are the same their opposing philosophies lead to sparks.
Ananya shares several disparities with her childhood friend Reva who is an impulsive, outgoing and an emotional person. While Ananya is a practical girl who prefers to keep her life uncomplicated and predictable. Reva lives her life led by her heart and falls in love with her childhood friend and neighbour Nikhil.
A phone call from Reva summoning her for her help makes Ananya drop everything and rush to her aid. Ananya embarks on a journey of startling discovery, to Oakwood in Shimla where Reva resides. Her core beliefs and philosophies are challenged when she meets Kunal who is a matrimonial alliance for Reva invited at Oakwood by the General - Reva’s father. Kunal has agreed to visit Oakwood only due to family pressures and does not have any inclination to get married in the near future.  Ananya is unable to fathom the attraction she feels for Kunal and is scared of the outcome. Things get complicated as Ananya’s attempt to bring Reva and Nikhil together results in misunderstandings between Kunal. They turn dangerous when Sam the chauffer- cum- cook at Oakwood tries to sabotage their innocent plan out of his sincere loyalty towards the General. Ananya is faced with a grave question leaving her to wonder what her journey to Shimla would lead to.

My short story The Unsaid Words has been published in the anthology Fusion recently. I have tried a completely different style in this story. It is an emotional story and while writing it I felt a connection with Dr Raksha the protagonist of the story.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I am currently working on my third novel. I believe in doing a good research on the topic and prepare the background before embarking on writing. This time I have selected a completely different genre and topic and I hope my readers love reading this novel as well.

What are your future plans?

Now that I have found my true self in writing I plan to explore myself further. I wish to keep writing some more and connect with my readers.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

A strong storyline which is the soul of any novel and which grips the interest of the readers, strong characters with which the readers relate easily, the narration which flows easily and off course the grammar and language. These I think are the four basic essential elements in any writing.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

I think even though the story might be fictional, the feelings are real. The author has to feel the feelings only then it becomes realistic and interesting for the readers to read it. It is just like making a movie where the author creates a scene in her mind’s eye and depicts it through her words. Weaving the scene through her words making fiction seem real when the reader smiles on a funny scene, cries when there is sorrow, bites his nails in a suspense scene or is excited during a thrilling scene is the true success of the writer. And for that the writer has to pour in her true feelings and connect with her characters herself.
Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?
Definitely! Imagination is one of the key elements for an author. Imagining all aspects of what can happen in and around the lives of the characters in the novel makes the story lively. Without imagination there would be no zest and the story would be dry and drab.

Your dream destination on Earth?

Hahaa now you are asking J I simply love travelling and exploring new places. Though I must say that the current high pressure life style does not allow one to live as one pleases I do make it a point to find some time to meet my hearts desires and pack my bag to go explore another beautiful destination. My dream destination is Switzerland. It is one of the most beautiful place on earth and I do wish to visit it one day.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I am an Indian and have travelled across most of India but still feel there is so much more to this beautiful country which needs to be explored. I loved the north India places like Shimla, Kullu , Manali, Jammu, Kashmir, and Nainital... south of India… Kerala, Bangalore, Ooty, Kanyakumari… J
 I have been to Amsterdam and loved every bit of this beautiful place especially the windmills and long lush green carpets of grass spreading miles after miles with cute little country houses. It almost seemed like a dream town!

Your favourite time of the day?

Early morning when I wake up and at night before retiring to sleep. These two times of the day I love the most as I feel more connected with myself during this time.

Your zodiac/ sunsign? 

I am a Leo… no don’t get scared I am a harmless Leo if such a thing exists J ha-ha

Your favourite colour and why?

I love bright and vibrant colours. Yellow being my favourite. It is so fresh and full of energy.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?

I am a voracious reader and I love reading almost all the books, though to be honest these days due to the work pressure and too many projects on hand I am not finding enough time to read as many books as I normally can read. The last book I read was The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho. I am currently reading I’ll Be Seeing You by Mary Higgins Clark.

Your favourite book and why?

It would be difficult to name a single favourite book. To name a few... I love Illusions by Richard Bach, Fountain head by Ayn Rand, Books written by Ken follet and Michael Crichton, Secret by Rhonda Byrne… and a lot more.

Your favourite movie and why?

Dilemma… :) Favourite movie…hmmm…. I love most of the movies of Amitabh Bachhan J
It’s because his personality is very charismatic and strong. His acting very natural and dynamic and all his movies have melodious music as well. In short very entertaining movies.

Your favourite celebrity and why?

Guess … guess J actually nobody in particular.

Your favourite food?

Indian food always. I love our typical Maharashtrian homemade food. I also love Punjabi and Chinese food occasionally.

What comes to your mind when you think of India?

A difficult question…. I am a proud Indian and wish I could do much more to bring back the glory for which India was truly known for - its diverse culture and natural beauty. It is now replaced with rapes, child abuses, politics and terrorism.

Some quickies: 
Sun or Moon - Moon, 
Laughter or Smile - Smile, 
Morning or Evening - Evening, 
Coffee or Tea - coffee, 
Mountain or Sea - Sea, 
Long Drive or Short Drive – long drive, 
Silence or Conversation - silence, 
Water or Fire - water, 
Air or Earth - air, 
Mars or Jupiter – any other choice?, 
Tulip or Rose - Rose, 
Red or Blue - red, 
Left or Right - left, 
Glance or Stare – glance.

What three words come to your mind for each –?

Technology – Progress, fast, growth.
Life – live, love, forgive.
God - friend, trust, guide.
Humanity - believe, spread, nurture.
Terrorism - banish, poor laws, politics
Racism – banish, old fashioned, myth
Childhood Abuse - punish, help, and care
Love – beautiful, believe, and spread
Parenting - noble, difficult task, challenging
Old age – understand, care, love

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote – 

Thoughts become things, choose the good ones.

The last line of your autobiography would be…

I lived the Illusion and walked through this journey called life…  
You can connect with me on:
Twitter handle: Swarupa_c
Facebook page:

Amazon link: 

Author Interview: Amaka Lily: Shifting Allegiances: Main Aspects Of Culture Shocks

Amaka Lily is a Nigerian- American. Born in America and raised in Nigeria, she has lived in Warri, Lagos and Onitsha. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Masters in Business Administration. She is very fascinated by different cultures and loves meeting people from different heritages.  
In her spare time, she reads, travels and hangs out with friends.
Shifting Allegiances is her first book.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.

So, I draw really well. Really, really well. If drawing was lucrative, I would have become an artist. 
One of my favourite memories as a child was when we were asked to draw something for a class project. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old. Anyway, I decided to draw a toothpaste container and I guess I did it very well, because I scored the highest grade for that exercise and my teacher raved to my dad about how good I was. It was at that point that my father realized that I had artistic talent. Soon after, he took me to a store and bought me coloring pens and highlighters to support my gift. Coming from a culture where art was not seen as a viable career and rarely supported, it makes me smile to remember how my dad tried to support me.
But it was never meant to be a “real” career for me, just a hobby.

What career did you plan during your education days? 

It’s funny, I have gone from trying to pursue Medicine, to Media production and ultimately to Business. When I was in Nigeria, I took the Sciences path in Secondary school. This was what people who wanted to be Doctors majored in. So I studied Biology, Chemistry and Physics. But when I came to America, I wanted to do something different. I looked into Radio and TV production, but after talking to a Professor in the field, who was very forthcoming about the financial prospects, decided to study Business.

What languages you can speak and write

English and Nigerian pidgin English

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

Myself- I am very self motivated. I set goals for myself and when I do, I usually tell people which also inspires me to reach those goals. I don’t want to be known as a “talker”. I am a doer.
People- People inspire me. Seeing someone pursuing their goals, doing things that I thought was impossible, makes me want to pursue mine
The past- I use my past experiences to motivate me to do better.   

What hurts you most in this world?

Injustice- It affects me in a very deep way. I usually try to fight it as much as I can.
Liars- You just can’t trust them.
Racism- It’s the elephant in the room that no one enjoys talking about but which causes so much pain. It’s only through dialogue that healing can begin.

What is the biggest challenge you have facedHow did you overcome it

You know, life is a series of challenges. When you think you’ve overcome something, something bigger comes up for you to deal with. I have gone through a lot of challenges in my life, which at the time seemed big, only to look back in retrospect and realize they were nothing.
My prayer to God is to deal with all that comes with strength and dignity.

What is your favorite genre and why

I don’t have any. I read everything.

When did you start writingWhat is the purpose of your writing?

I read voraciously as a kid, and around 13, started keeping a journal. After I graduated from secondary school, I started working and I became exposed to a lot of people and experiences that I felt compelled to document. From there, it grew to writing fictional stories.
My purpose is to inform and entertain.  With my book Shifting Allegiances, I felt that there was a disconnect between what Nigerians, and truly many immigrants are told about what to expect from America versus the reality. Watching friends, family members and even myself go through the stages of culture shock, from joyous celebration at arriving in America to depression and disillusionment was something that I felt should be more widely know.
When you know what to expect, you will not be disappointed

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

This is my first novel. But in college, I wrote for the student’s paper.
Amazon allows viewers to read an excerpt of my work. I will include the link below.

What are your forthcoming writings

Nothing planned for now. I just released Shifting Allegiances and I’m focused on promoting it.

What are your future plans

To be at peace in my life. To be happy, successful and to have achieved all my goals.   

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

For Shifting Allegiances, I wanted to ensure that it captured the main aspects of culture shocks. There are so many types of culture shocks one can experience but I could not fit all of them in the book.
I also tried to ensure that my writing was clear and accessible to everyone. I wanted a grade school kid, all the way to someone in their nineties to be able to read and appreciate this book.  
Lastly, I wanted the book to be impactful. I based it  on real life experiences so that people could relate.  So far, the reaction has been very positive.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing

I think most fiction writing is inspired by real life.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Absolutely. From a young age, I daydreamed a lot. I remember my mother telling me a bunch of times to stop daydreaming and prepare for school. I also have a very good memory and remember a lot of things.

Your dream destination on Earth

I want to go to Hawaii. I want to visit more Caribbean and Latin American nations.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.  

I was born in the U.S, but I grew up in Nigeria. I have visited Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

What best things you liked in these countries around the globe

I am fascinated by diversity, culture and history. I love the fact that by being in America, I have easier access to more countries.

Your favorite time of the day? 


Your zodiac/ sunsign


Your favorite color and why

I don’t have a favorite color, but I find that my closet has a ton of black and white.

What is the last book you finished readingWhat is the current book you are reading

I am currently reading Emergency Sex and other Desperate Measures. The title is very misleading. It is actually a fantastic book written by three UN workers about their humanitarian efforts in Haiti, Somalia and Cambodia and what really goes on behind the scenes in UN work. There is fear, cover-ups, failure, death, fun and more. It is very enlightening.

I wouldn’t have known about this excellent book if not for Goodreads.  

Your favorite book and why

There are too many, but I like Maps by Nuruddin Farrah.

Your favorite movie and why? 

I really enjoyed Captain Phillips. That was the best movie I’ve seen so far. Tom Hanks was amazing and so was Barkhad Abdi .
Your favorite celebrity and why

I don’t have a favorite.

Your favorite food

Anything hot and spicy

What comes to your mind when you think of India? 

A place with so much history and culture. I would really love to visit one day.

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon- Moon
Laughter or Smile-Laughter
Morning or Evening- Evening
Coffee or Tea- Tea
Mountain or Sea- Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive- Long scenic drive, with someone else driving so that I can enjoy the view J
Silence or Conversation- Both have their place. I like to have silence a lot to think. But I also enjoy a good conversation.
Water or Fire- Water
Air or Earth- Both
Mars or Jupiter- Neither
Tulip or Rose- Both
Red or Blue- Both
Left or Right- Both
Glance or Stare- Stare

What three words come to your mind for each –  I don’t know if I’d have three words for each. I’d just share what I have in my mind.
Technology- Wonderful, Connects people, Double edged sword
 Life- Glorious, Filled with ups and downs, Contains Lessons
 God- The Divine
Humanity- Good, Bad, Evil
Terrorism-  Horrible
Racism- Unnecessary in this day and age
Childhood Abuse- Horrible
Love- We need more of this
 Parenting- One of the greatest sacrifices if you do this correctly
 Old age- Wisdom

I am giving away 20 autographed copies of my book, Shifting Allegiances. Enter to win via Goodreads.