It’s many years since I felt the urge to pick up a Mills & Boon novel because there are a lot of books I’d choose over a formulaic romance, which is what these books have to be in my understanding.
So imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying this one. I’d received a paperback copy as a gift so felt it would have been churlish not to read it. It’s good when you can get back to the giver with an honestly-felt ‘thank you’.
The storyline follows the standard scenario of misunderstandings keeping a couple apart and unable to reveal their true feelings for each other. I won’t add spoilers by saying any more about the plot, except to say that it’s about two expatriate Indians, one a globe-trotting super-star model.
There’s more than a hint of the exotic (for me at least, as I don’t know a great deal about Indian culture) which added interest in the form of different cultural mores and the thinking of the characters. I thought of Bollywood, even though I’ve never watched a Bollywood film!
The writing and language were imaginative and the story arc was satisfying, as was characterisation and descriptions. I was sufficiently immersed to easily conjure images. The dialogue was like eavesdropping on real conversations, which is the ultimate accolade, in my opinion, for dialogue.
My guest author today is Indian-born, New York-residing FALGUNI KOTHARI. As I say in my review of BOOTIE AND THE BEAST, I was given a copy as a gift and because of that felt honour-bound to read it. Fortunately, I could report that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a bit off my beaten track in relation to culture and character backgrounds so one of the enjoyments for me was peeking into something new. Let me introduce Falguni and let her tell us about herself and her novels.
Alana: Falguni, welcome, I’ve been looking forward to chatting. You call yourself a hybrid author. What do you mean by that?
Falguni: Hi Alana, thanks for having me on your blog and giving BOOTIE AND THE BEAST a lovely review. I’m glad that you enjoyed reading it.
I call myself a hybrid author for several reasons. One, because I am traditionally published with my first two books, but am going indie this November with the launch of my mythic fantasy series. Hybrid also because I write in several genres: romance, women’s fiction, fantasy and am trying my hand at romantic suspense next. I guess jumping genres would be more schizophrenic than hybrid, but that’s how I write. That’s how the stories come to me. Though, all of my stories have the common threads of South Asia and romance in them.
Alana: Before we get on to your books I want to ask about your dancing. I studied classical ballet as a child but you’re a Latin and Ballroom silver medalist as well as being a semi-professional Indian Classical dancer. Wow, is all I can say! You’re just going to have to give us a bit of background: how you chose the three types and why, and what you mean by semi-professional. Are they in your past or do you continue to practice them?
Falguni: I’ve always danced, and I think I always will. I love dancing as a form of entertainment as well as exercise. I learned Kathak, a classical dance from North India, through my childhood years, and as part of my dance class/study/experience I took part in elaborate stage musicals and international dance competitions with some success. But I never took up dancing professionally—as in paid performances or teaching. The ballroom and Latin dance is a fairly recent development, and I am still learning the craft. Though I seem to be good enough to win medals and accolades at amateur Dancesport competitions. ☺ I say that if I must get off my butt, I might as well dance.
Caption: Falguni didn’t have any Kathak dance photos but gave me these depicting moments in Latin and ballroom performances
Alana: You are Mumbai born and bred but now call New York home. Did you move there with your family as a child or with your husband after you married? Was there a particular reason for the move and are you living there permanently?
Falguni: My husband’s job brought us to New York around fifteen years ago. I’m not sure if we’ll be here permanently. I hope we retire in India.
Alana: Do you return to Mumbai at all? Do you miss it?
Falguni: I have lots of family in India still, and visit there quite regularly. My ties are strong.
Caption: Falguni’s residence building in Mumbai overlooks a small woodland and peacocks come visiting every day
Alana: What do you like about New York?
Falguni: I like the pace of New York. Not so different from Mumbai. Both are fast, busy, sleepless cities. Crowded and frenetic. And then I like the differences between my two homes too—the whiteness of New York with the snow, seasons and people against the colorful heat of Mumbai.
Alana: Let’s move to your books. BOOTIE AND THE BEAST was published with Harlequin Mills & Boon and your first novel, IT’S YOUR MOVE, WORD FREAK was with a New Delhi publisher, Rupa & Co. But you say you’re publishing your next book as an indie author. What’s the reason for that?
Falguni: Oh, there are so many reasons for going indie, but the foremost one is time. Traditional publishing is a long process. It could take up to two years for your story to transition from manuscript to book, and that is if you’re lucky. I began to lose patience waiting for agents to get back to me with sensible publishing offers. And I became impatient with the lack of control a regular traditionally published author has. I figured as I’m still a newbie author (my career just starting) that I should experiment with alternate publishing paths now rather than later. Honestly, I got swept up by the whole indie revolution going on in the world.
Alana: It’s very hard not to be swept up by it, given that it makes publication accessible to everyone. How about tantalising my readers with a bit of BOOTIE and WORD FREAK story lines.
Falguni: Let’s start with IT’S YOUR MOVE, WORDFREAK. The book is about two people who connect online through a Scrabble game site, and after several months of competitive wordplay decide to take their ‘game’ offline. Aryan and Alisha go on a blind date and their online attraction explodes into a sexy, wordy and wordly affair.
In BOOTIE AND THE BEAST, two secondary characters from WORDFREAK find their happily-ever-after. Beauty Mathur is an Indian supermodel and a magnet for trouble. Krish Menon, aka the Beast, is a monstrously broody Indian ex-pat living in Dallas, Texas. He is Diya’s (Beauty’s) best friend’s brother (Alisha from WORDFREAK) and also Diya’s childhood crush and ex-fiancé. So when party princess Diya gets in trouble with her boss and needs a place to hide for a bit, Krish steps in out of loyalty and not a small amount of guilt, and offers her his home—or rather, the house he’s house-sitting for some friends. And proximity leads to intense friction and ultimately the fruition of their unrequited feelings for each other.
Huh, describing the gist of WORDFREAK and the BOOTIE has just reminded me how much fun these stories were to write … and read.
Alana: And the new book you’re gearing up to release in early November—will there be a finite number of books in the series or are you envisaging it to be ongoing?
Falguni: There will be seven books in the series. There may be a couple of spin-off novellas or novels about secondary characters, but the main series has a definite end to it. Slow in coming … but definite.
Alana: Would you give us a sneak peak into what it’s about?
Falguni: May I cheat and give you the blurb?
Alana: By all means.
Falguni: ‘On a muggy October morning, as Lord Karna peruses the Times of India on his iPad in his uber-protected Mumbai abode, he hardly expects an unannounced visit from the Gods, much less the cataclysmic tidings they bring him. By noon, Karna is saddled with the task of honing six delinquent godlings into demon hunters like himself—divine warriors duty-bound to rid the Human Realm of all evil asuras or demons. He is further flabbergasted to learn that one of the six is his own hitherto unknown offspring and—Holy Hell—inadvertently sired on a woman he loathes. Frankly, what can one expect in the dark Age of Kali?
In the days that follow, past and present paramours, secrets and mysteries pervade demi-god Karna’s supernatural world and even his tech-savvy sidekick, Eklavya, cannot make sense of it. Until, a centuries-old nemesis reappears with his vicious minions and vengeful intentions to destroy everything under Karna’s protection, especially his powerless human child.
Torn between his heavenly duties and earthy desires, can Lord Karna vanquish the Stone Demon this time around? Or will his flesh and blood—his own child—pay the ultimate price?’
Alana: Whew, I can see why seven books are needed. It’s a hell of a tale! Is THE AGE OF KALI what you will be concentrating on for the foreseeable future or are you planning to intersperse the series with other books?
Falguni: I have a women’s fiction story ready, which will come out sometime in April or May of 2016. I am a quarter of my way through a romantic suspense and will finish that before I spend the next several years finishing the AGE OF KALI series. I may need to write something different in between, just so things don’t get monotonous. Like I mentioned before—I’m a schizophrenic author. ☺
Alana: Have you decided whether to go traditional or indie with their publishing?
Falguni: With MY LAST LOVE STORY (the title of my women’s fiction story) I am definitely going indie. I have some interest from a couple of publishers for the romantic suspense, but no concrete offer until I finish the manuscript. So, we’ll see what happens with that.
Alana: Falguni, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks so much and I wish you much success with THE AGE OF KALI.
Falguni: Likewise, Alana. I have enjoyed answering your questions. Thank you for having me.
My guest today is THEA ATKINSON, author of many books, but for me specifically the VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS series because they’re the books that introduced me to Thea.
Alana: Thea, welcome. Tell us something about yourself: who you are, your philosophy on life, what your day job is—you know, the little things.
Thea: Ah, the little things … they tend to be so big, don’t they? Well, I’m a teacher in my day job, and my students (adults at a community college) always seem to be shocked when they discover one of my books (usually a freebie) and give it a read. They say I seem so quiet and unassuming during the day. Nothing like the person who would write such dark stuff. Grin.
I had an amazing childhood: two loving parents and three brothers. I think dealing with three scrappy boys on a daily basis really defined who I am as a woman. My husband says I’ve mellowed a bit since he first met me, so I guess his influence outweighed theirs. The spitfire comes out every now and then though!
Alana: Home is Nova Scotia, I believe. It conjures up images of a cold and wild Canada for me—no doubt a hangover from my reading as a child, but compounded by the fact that when I contacted you for this interview I found you out camping.
Is it something you frequently do? Why do you do it? Where do you typically go and what do you get up to while you’re out there?
Thea: So glad you get such a romantic image of the place! It’s every bit as wild as you think—and there are spots of such beauty you’d stop breathing for a moment. Cold is relative: we had a day this summer when it was 31 degrees.
I LOVE camping. Used to camp far more … even did a three-hour bike run a few years ago to a backwoods cabin in Kejimkujik with my best friend and our hubbies. It’s the best camping trip we ever took despite me falling off my laden bicycle and into a puddle (more like a pond from my perspective) and banged my knee up pretty bad. We still talk about the trip but, alas, no opportunity to repeat has presented itself. Actually, summers here are quite lovely and, if you can bear it, the true outback camping (so folks say) is wonderful. I must admit I glamp more than camp nowadays … the fear of a raccoon slicing open my tent at night keeps me from going all the way so to speak …
Alana: Heavens, I’ve always pictured them as cute little creatures. Are they dangerous?
Thea: Oh no … but in the dead of night, a squirell is considered dangerous when a gal’s mind starts to weave a nice tale.
We have a bunch of friends who pop up their trailers in Keji every third week in August and we spend 10 days or so yakking, eating, swimming, kayaking, biking, and hiking … oh, and a few drinks along the way. I discovered spritz in Italy this summer and I must admit to enjoying a few during our “road parties”.
Alana: Italy! That’s right. I remember you saying on your blog you were there for three weeks in July. I’ve been twice now: once in 2000 with my eldest daughter, and we stayed in a 17th century building a five minute walk away from the Largo di Torre Argentina that you mention—cats by the zillion! And two years ago my husband John and I were back there for said daughter’s wedding and I discovered Prosecco. Loved that you can keep drinking it with no ill effects.
Thea: Spritz is my new favorite summer time refreshment. It brings me right back to Tuscany and sitting on a lovely balcony enjoying the view of the rolling hills. This photo is of me at Lake Iseo in Italy.
Alana: Let’s talk about your books. You’ve written so many! Tell us about them. Novels? Novellas? Series? Genres?
Thea: All of the above! LOL. I started out as what I hoped was a literary writer, but those books just don’t sell so I let them lanquish on Amazon. I have such an eclectic set of tastes and interests that I have a hard time sticking to one genre anyway so I mix it all up all the time—thus my brand of Fiction to the Left of Mainstream. I tried my hand at some light fantasy with hints of romance in the hopes of finding an audience. You’ll find witches and reincarnation themes, ancient Egyptians and black magic, and vampires and voodoo. I write what interests me, basically.
WITCHES OF ETLANTIUM was my first foray into fantasy and I based it on a character I had written for my blog streak a few years ago when I wrote a flash fiction piece for a blog every day for 30 days. The character of a witch being controlled by her megalomaniac father really intrigued me.
CHASING DRAGONS was my last litfic offering, and I wrote it at a time when I was studying a bit about social justice. The character of J had so many dark spaces, I wanted him to find the light ones.
VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS was just fun. It still is. I fancy it’s more suspense and adventure than romance, but Magnus is just too mouth watering to resist adding a little steam. I love how Jade has evolved from a down-trodden, lost-her-self-esteem character into a woman who discovers her confidence was just flagging, not totally destroyed.
Alana: Why fantasy? Why vampires and witches?
Thea: I LOVE love love vampire stories, movies, series, and the like. I’ll watch the cheesiest story if it has a vamp in it. Same for witches … I have a few friends who have accused me of being the latter. LOL. I don’t doubt, if there’s such a thing as past lives, that I was one at some point—witch, not vampire.
Alana: Yep, I knew you meant that; past life and vampire being a contradiction in terms. As well as being prolific you’re also generous. You give away samples of your work on your website. What’s the reason behind that?
Thea: Purely in the hopes folks will enjoy them and keep reading. I’m no Alice Munro or Stephen King, so it takes a few freebies to interest folks in a nobody like me.
Alana: I understand you occasionally lecture on writing. How did you get into that and why do you do it?
Thea: Teacher by vocation and writer by heart. The match just seemed right. I wish I were articulate enough to say there was more to it. I have a feeling the reason has a lot to do with why I love both of those careers in the first place.
Alana: What are you working on at the moment?
Thea: Two things, actually. The next novella in my WITCHES OF ETLANTIUM series and book 3 in VAMPIRE ADDICTIONS.
Alana: I’m looking forward to that one. I’ve become very fond of Jade and want to know where she’s heading.
Thea: … and when I get stumped on one, I switch to the other. It keeps me moving ever forward.
Alana: Well, I wish you ever-productive days. Thea, thank you, it’s been lovely talking to you.
Thea: You’re too kind to say so, but the thanks is all mine. I’ve really appreciated having the chance to meet with you. Your questions were phenomenal and made me dig. I hope I gave you enough to work with; I’m the kind of gal who listens to someone else being interviewed and thinks: Now why didn’t *I* say something cool like that?
Alana: You were pretty cool today.
Take this link to Thea’s freebies | Buy Thea’s books via her website