Falguni Kothari: Wordfreak? Oh, yeah!

I first noticed Falguni Kothari because of the fantastic titles of her books. Bootie and the Beast, much to my delight was also a spin on a fairytale I had just finished working on ( no points for guessing which one!) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! What’s not to love?

I requested Falguni to read my latest book and give me a quote if she liked it. She generously agreed and gave me a wonderful quote. I am thrilled to have her on my blog today. Turns out she is just as interesting a person as I thought she’d be! Thank you so much for giving me your valuable time Falguni. image

1. What has the journey of being a writer been like so far?
Mostly fun. I love the process of creating fiction: the ideas, the research, the coming together of so many snippets of thought in one cohesive (hopefully coherent) novel. What I can’t stand is the after: the querying, the waiting, the unreliability of the publishing industry.

2. What is the toughest part of writing for you?
The middle of the book. I am super fast with the beginning and the end, but the middle is when I feel like burning my laptop to the ground and becoming a yogi.

3. What other interests do you have apart from reading?
I am a semi-professional dancer. I did Kathak for around 12 years in my youth. And for the past two years I’ve taken up ballroom and Latin dancing. I take part in dance-sport competitions and…have managed a silver medal or two. It’s completely freeing: dancing.

4. Are you a full time writer? If not what else do you do?
Fulltime writer, homemaker, mother, dog companion, daughter, friend, blogger, reader, dancer, moviegoer etc…I have a fairly easy and busy life.image

5. Does that hinder or help you as a writer?
So far it hasn’t been a problem. I like working at my own pace in my pajamas, and at the same time from home as that is my first responsibility (at this stage) in my life.

6. Which authors have inspired you the most?
Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Diana Gabaldon, Chitra Divakaruni, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austen…and many others.

7. You’re stranded on an island with two other people. Which two characters from any books you’ve read, would you choose to be with you?
Not my own books? Well, then I suppose Eve and Roarke from the JD Robb In Death series (they are very competent and resourceful) and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser from Outlander-Diana Gabaldon (he’s just out of this world in competence and resourcefulness…and tremendously delicious to look at!)image

8. Fill in the blanks:

I write because…I love it.
My favourite food is…rice and Indian-style okra. I want it to be my last meal in this world.
Best thing about romance writing is…relieving your own romantic liasons.
Which song would be suitable for:
Bootie and the Beast theme song would be Paint It Red from the movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
And for It’s Your Move, Word Freak! it is Atif Aslam’s Tera Hone Laga Hoon.
If I were an animal I would be…a dog/wolf on land and a dolphin in the sea. Both are pack animals, smart as hell and vicious when they need to be.
My favourite book is...Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
My dream holiday would be...a World Tour picking one major central city or zone per continent and staying there for 10 days each. (Planning it for my 25th anniversary…which is fairly soon! Yikes!)

9. You can live in a book. Which one would you choose?
Palace of Illusions. I love historical India.

10. Name one iconic woman you’d like to have lunch with?
I’m going to go with a cliché here: Oprah. Don’t ask me why.

Author Bio: I write love stories. This is what I’ve written so far:
BOOTIE AND THE BEAST (Buy Links here: http://falgunikothari.com/bootie-and-the-beast.php)
IT’S YOUR MOVE, WORDFREAK! (Buy Links here: http://falgunikothari.com/wordfreak-its-your-move.php)
SCRABBULOUS IMPRESSIONS, a short story for Femina Magazine: Read for free here: http://falgunikothari.com/pdfs/scrabbulous-impressions.pdf
STAR STRUCK, a short blog story: Read for free here: http://falgunikothari.blogspot.com/2014/12/star-struck.html

If you like my work, I hope you’ll tell me. I’m usually lurking about the Internet…a lot. Here are some places we can communicate and feel free to like, follow and support:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/F2tweet

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/falgunikothari
Blog: http://falgunikothari.blogspot.com/


Thanks for reading!






































































Kingston Writing School Blog

Publishing success for Faiqa Mansab


As we approach the beginning of the new school year, No Dead White Men welcomes into its fold a new MFA cohort. Today, we have great news from one of our upcoming MFAs, Faiqa Mansab. She tells NDWM:

“I have recently been published under the pseudonym Zeenat Mahal by Indireads, an e-publishing venture that has taken on new writers from South Asia. Indireads itself is new, and is run by Naheed Hassan, a Harvard graduate who wanted to read South Asian romance, chick-lit, mystery and other genres. Two of my romance novellas, Haveli and The Contract, were published this May and can be found on the Indireads website.

Furthermore, Running out of Ink, an online international magazine also published a short romance piece that i wrote as Zeenat Mahal, in their August issue, 2013, The Accidental Fiancee.
I’m also editing for Running out of Ink.
My short story, “The Walled City”, was published by The Missing Slate in June 2013. This was with my name, Faiqa Mansab.”
Many congratulations to Faiqa!



On Writing South Asian Romance

When I started writing romance, many of my Western friends and colleagues asked me, so how is South Asian romance different? My initial responses involved the usual themes: big families, their everyday involvement in all things, arranged marriages, class and ethnic differences. However, after having published two novellas and having had them reviewed, I’ve begun to understand that there are many more  dissimilarities that I hadn’t considered before.

The world is interested in South Asian culture and our stories. Yay, for that. However, social taboos and how they’re handled in our part of the world differs immensely from the West. Sometimes there can be huge gaps in understanding. What is perceived as virtue may not be regarded as such in the West, rather as a handicap or as primitive. Modesty, for example, is considered a virtue in both men and women in Islam. In many parts of South Asia, in fact. I don’t just mean not showing skin, but also for instance wearing loose maternity clothes that hide the ‘bump’, rather than showing it off as the ‘essential accessory’. It doesn’t mean that we’re ashamed, it just means we’re unalike.

Honor is tied with behaviour. The opinion of the community matters because we’re still bound as communities in Chawls, and mohallas, ethnic groups, and sub-cultures. Like the ancient Greeks, we have strict laws of hospitality, breaking them would be unthinkable. Beggars, eunuchs, street children are so much part of our consciousness, it may appear that we write about them unconsciously, perhaps even jadedly. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re indifferent to their plight. It demonstrates how disparate our worlds are actually. Ours is a developing world, still struggling with post-colonialism and partitions. It’s a world where little girls get shot in the head because they want proper schooling. It’s a world where criminals often go scot-free because they know a general or two. It’s a world where half the women don’t even report sexual assault. Rape is a four letter word that somehow brings shame not to the perpetrator, but the victim. Even though we condemn the rapist and sympathise with the victim, it’s still something we’re learning to address in a healthy way.

In the West, people are very aware of their rights. In South Asia, rights are relative. It’s something others ‘give’ us. This is a delicate issue with as many heads as a Hydra. There’s the gender politics, of course but there’s also the rich/poor and literate/illiterate divide. The former in both categories are more aware of their rights and their civil duties. The latter fighting for survival, think human rights is just a fancy phrase NGOs use.

One of my novellas has marital rape as part of the plot-line. I wanted to highlight marital abuse and show that women could still have a healthy relationship. I focused on the heroine’s response to the abuse and how she copes with it. I felt that it wasn’t the hero’s battle but hers, so how he responded to the revelation wasn’t important. It was how he responded to her that mattered. His only reaction to her had to be of love and desire, because I was trying to prove the point that other men can still find a rape victim, a divorced woman, the mother of another man’s child, attractive and desirable. Acceptance of rape victims in society by men is not as hard in the West, as it is in our society.

Western readers may not understand certain cultural constraints. In fact they might even be misunderstood for something else entirely. South Asian men  differ from their Western counterparts. For one, I think they’re far more sensitive than the average Western male, thanks to the close matriarchal relationship they benefit from.  Also, South Asian men will not address sexual assault on their wives and sisters without the burden of shame because they share the pain and horror of it with them. Their honor is tied to their women, and again that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when those same men will kill those women because they choose to fall in love. There are other considerations. I write romances for heterosexual women in mind . For a lesbian reader, my heroes would probably be harsh and cruel because I portray them according to the demands of the genre, so they’re very confident alphas. Janice Radway, details the demands of the genre rather well in her book, Reading the Romance.

Today, writers are aware of many demands like safe sex. There are no longer  sex-scenes without the mention of condoms. In fact, Susan Elizabeth Phillips usually has a line or two thrown in about safe sex for good measure just before the hero is about to seduce the heroine. It’s the hero who usually takes responsibility for that and is her mouthpiece.

As a South Asian romance writer, religion, social mores, tradition and culture are a huge part of my stories and I try to integrate these with the modern world that has ended up having a very Westernised sensibility. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. However, I’m a writer trying to make a niche for my unique perspective. I have no desire to lose my pluralistic, hybrid point of view, to a Westernised cookie-cut vision, and that means that sometimes there’ll be things I write that the Western reader will not understand. Pre-marital sex is still an issue in South Asia, perhaps not in metropolitan cities, but largely it is taboo. Will I handle it the same way a Western romance writer does? Of course not. Difference is good. Different is interesting.

As Chinua Achebe has so wisely and eloquently said, “Let every people bring their gifts to the great festival of the world’s cultural harvest and mankind will be the richer for the variety and distinctiveness of the offerings.”

Growing up in a ‘Haveli’

The title of Haveli comes from my ancestral home, my grandfather’s haveli, which still stands in Mian Mir, near Upper Mall, in Lahore and though it’s no longer the way it used to be when we lived there, it’s still a poignant reminder of those halcyon childhood days. Bi Amma is inspired by my fabulous autocratic grandmother.

The story of Bi Amma and her granddaughter, the last reminders of a by-gone age, germinated in part when I visited Bahawalpur two years ago. Bahawalpur is also a Nawab State which ceded to Pakistan in 1957. The last Nawab of Bahawlpur, Sir Sadiq, is still revered in the area. People are loyal to his memory though he’s been dead for nearly two decades. I visited the palaces and was fascinated by the craftsmanship in architecture, masonry and design. There is so much beauty that is still evident in the landmarks of the city. I patterned the fictional Jalalabad on Bahawalpur, which rests at the lip of Cholistan. The grandeur of the desert, the music and poetry of the place and its people was just so enchanting that I felt compelled to write a story around this little-known bit of history and culture of Pakistan.

Read the rest of Growing Up in a ‘Haveli’ here.

Indireads features my book

Indireads features my book

Indireads, the brand new South Asian e-publishing venture that features South Asian writers is featuring one of my novellas, HAVELI today and tomorrow. Indireads is breaking many barriers and many misconceived notions about South Asian writers and writing. You’ll see romance, chick-lit, paranormal, murder, mystery and historicals. Haveli, is set in the historical and very happening era of 1970s in Pakistan. Although, the princely state the story unfolds in is fictional, it is based on Bahawalpur. Bahawalpur was one of the most powerful and rich states of Indo-Pak sub-continent. One of the four wives of the Nawab, Sir Muhammed Sadiq Khan Abbasi V was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth of England.