Anju Gattani

Today I’m interviewing Anju Gattani. Her book, DUTY AND DESIRE, released June 2.

A fiction author, freelance journalist, fiction writing instructor, blogger and former newspaper reporter, Anju was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. She has also lived and been published in Singapore, India, Australia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and finally dug her roots in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with her husband, 2 dashing boys and a rebel lion-head rabbit.

Anju has been published in cover stories, fiction, feature, news, interviews, travel, perspective pieces and more.

Thank you, Anju, for letting us know all about your upcoming book! I’m delighted to have you here.

Thank you for hosting me… I’m so excited to share the journey of the Winds of Fire series with you! DUTY AND DESIRE is the first book in the series.

Q. What an intriguing title! What is your book about?

A. To uphold family honor and tradition, Sheetal Prasad is forced to forsake the man she loves and marry playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj. As her world splinters into a web of lies, deceit and betrayal, Sheetal must find a way to ally with the stranger she married in order to protect their infant son from his family’s tyranny.

Q. What inspired this particular story?

A. The story literally fell in my lap 19 years ago. My family and I had just moved from Singapore to New Jersey, USA, and my 10-year long career as an international freelance journalist (with several magazines across Asia) came to an abrupt end. I wrote and had been published in: feature, cover stories, interviews, perspective pieces, travel articles and columns on child psychology and education. The internet wasn’t as developed back then and many Asian magazines didn’t have an established online platform, so it wasn’t lucrative to have a freelancer writing from the U.S. when the readership was predominantly Asian.

I was snoozing one afternoon (exhausted from taking care of my 2 boys – then one and a half and five and a half) when I woke up startled. My heart was racing. I was covered in sweat and I’d had this dream I couldn’t shake off. I’d been writing long enough to know it wasn’t short fiction. Confused, I thought hard about what this dream sequence meant and spoke to my mom (in Hong Kong) and husband about what to do. I explored books on writing novels and in 2002 I put pen to paper and began to write.

Pounding out the original manuscript took one and a half years. I joined writing organizations, worked under the critique and guidance of NYTimes Bestsellers and USA Today Bestselling authors and learned that what I’d written was not 1 book but a series. That was the beginning of my journey.

Q. If it is part of a series, do you know before you start the first book what the themes of the second and third will be?

A. I wish I could say, YES! Of course I know where I’m heading… don’t we all? sigh The truth is I start off clueless—blind as a bat—which doesn’t help because I don’t know what to expect. I don’t even know the story before I write! I learn the story as I go along like a reader except I’m holding the pen and the story flows through ink onto paper. So now you also know that I’m old-school because my first draft has to be hand-written which is why the process is much longer. In many ways I’m a pantster. However, around a third of the way into the story, I might begin to get an inkling of what’s in store… which can be a relief because there’s logic in what I’m doing. Or supposed to be doing?!? Or maybe not? Or—anyway. There’s no set and established process. When I rewrite and revise the manuscript, that’s usually when the theme starts to seep through. Then I’m not so blind anymore…I hope!

Q. How much of your book is realistic? In other words, are places and people based on real places and people?

A. The people and places are all fictitious. Raigun, India, is where the story of DUTY AND DESIRE takes place and the Winds of Fire series begins. Well, lo and behold, Raigun doesn’t exist anywhere in India or in the world for that matter! I created an entire city from scratch and the titanic families, the Prasads and Dhanrajs are all fictitious too. However, so many of the issues I address and explore do reflect real life. For example, abuse, domestic violence, family, relationships, love, marriage, arranged marriages (in India), fighting for personal honor when family honor precedes above all else.

You know, Margaret, I sometimes wonder does art imitate life or vice versa? What do you think?

I agree. Although life is messier than art!

Q. Do you find yourself drawn to particular themes in your work?

A. I’m not sure whether I’m drawn to particular themes or do particular themes find me? I’m currently working on several different book projects and a few themes that glitter are: displacement, the search for home, acceptance, belonging and struggle for freedom.

Q. What do you like to do for fun?

A. I’m huge into health and fitness and I’m a food lover – so huge conflict right there! Being vegetarian doesn’t hold anyone in our household back from good food! It really gives us more excuses to fight for flavor!

I work out anywhere from 5-6 days of the week and love to Zumba, Body Pump and socialize with my friends at the gym—I know that last bit’s not technically working out, but hey! A girl’s gotta have fun!

With food I love to blend east and west flavors and see what happens next! Like I do with storytelling.

Reading and travel are what I love most! Conflict again because I read lots when I travel but pandemonium strikes when I’m lost in a good book, my eyes and nose are glued to the page and the family’s telling me to put away the book?? Gasp! Horror!

What I love about reading is that I can get lost in the world of story and travel to where the author and characters take me like Afghanistan in The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns (by Khaled Hosseini) to rural China in Snowflower and The Secret Fan (by Lisa See) and then of course Panem in The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and Hogwarts in Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling).

Author Name: Anju Gattani

Book Tagline: Without love all that remains is honor.

Book Title: DUTY AND DESIRE

Series Title: Winds of Fire

Review: “Duty and Desire kept me captivated from the first sentence to the very end. An enticing Downton abbey-style saga, but set in India! I simply adored it and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.” -- Barbara Bos, Managing Editor, www.booksbywomen.org

‘Duty and Desire’ the debut in her Winds of Fire series, is slated for release on June 2, 2020. Anju hopes her books will Bridge Cultures and Break Barriers.

Website: www.anjugattani.com

Facebook: Anju Gattani Author

Twitter: @Anju_Gattani

Instagram: Anju_Gattani27

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Publisher: Scarsdale Publishing

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