Tag! You're it. Or at least, I'm it. Yep, after many a moon and many seasons I am (a) blogging again and after even more moons and more seasons I am (b) doing a tag. There has been much excitement in my personal life chez nous which I will not be blogging about. If you are in my life and a Facebook friend you would have hardly missed this momentous event. So, since this is the Writing Life, this post is to do with writing. I'l raise a toast (or three) to more blogging in 2013.
My wonderful writer friend, Daniela Norris has asked me to participate in 'The Next Big Thing,' 'The Next Big Thing' is an internet project in which authors from different countries with different ways of live and diverse writing backgrounds respond to the same ten questions about their current work in progress. Daniela was tagged by Gwyneth Box and she discusses her own upcoming book of poetry, Around the corner from Hope Street here.
So, here are my responses to ten questions about one of my works in progress ("one?" you ask? Yep, because I got two. So there!)
What is the title of your book?
I'm currently working on my first book-length non-fiction project tentatively titled The Warrior Queens of India. It is part history, part memoir and travelogue.
What genre does your book fall under?
I really have a beef about genres in writing because I believe there is good writing and bad. I'm glad this question wasn't asked when I was in the middle of writing fiction because my response would have been longer. So, technically for this book the genre would be non-fiction--which is a true genre (unlike the dissected-to-death genres within fiction for instance).
Where did the idea come from for your book?
You could say it was an idea that was right under my nose. I had read about some of the warrior queens in history books but they were so much a part of the historical tradition in India that they hid in plain sight. And then, one day, when I was still in Geneva, I thought about the most famous one (Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi) and discovered a hankering to read about some of the lesser known ones. I came back and did some web research and found out a singular lack of information about these amazing women--amazing historical people. How was it possible? I decided then to combine them together into a book. The world--especially women--needed to know about these historical role models. The added bonus is that their stories are full of high adventure and intrigue which makes them a great read for everyone.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
All I can say is no glossy, pretty Hollywood or Bollywood types. I would like to scout and find intense, obscure stage actors for the queens but I think I can find spots for Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. There is probably no role for Gerard Butler or Colin Firth but I am sure I can find roles for both of them *wink*
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Even crushed under the weight of empire, a strong woman can be a mighty warrior.
Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by The Rights Factory.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Since it is non-fiction I am still working on it. I made two month-long trips to India for research and travel and I've spent a lot of time on writing and research. Writing might end up being the most relaxed and relaxing part of this journey,
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Wow! Hmm. I really don't know. Some books by Antonia Frasier. Perhaps White Mughals by William Dalrymple?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The dichotomy of being an Indian woman inspired me. It's something that has always inspired me. The strongest and most inspirational women I've met, seen or read about have been Indian. And, of course, some of the most atrocious things that happen to women have been Indian. I always say I was shocked when I came to the US and other young women bemoaned the lack of strong female role models. There was no dearth of them in India. There were historical role models who were warriors, mythological strong women, and of course, I grew up in the age of Indira Gandhi. I wanted to highlight this often overlooked (in the West at least) aspect of Indian womanhood.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
India--and Indian women especially--are seen as objects of pity, something exacerbated by the highlighting of atrocities against women in India. However, I believe people--even those in India who might have overlooked this--need to be aware that Indian womanhood is not analogous to victimhood. Our major role models are not just warriors and other fierce women.
Apart from the historical aspects of the book readers might also be interested in reading about the travels of a woman traveling alone all around India. If the reader likes travelogues memoirs and history and feminism or any or all of these this book will appeal to her/him.