May- Donate to Covid fund for India.

May is the month of blossoms and reincarnation, renewal and new life.

Or is it for people in India now?

May (in Latin, Maius) was named for the Greek Goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility.

Unfortunately the Covid pandemic is raging in India. May is anything but renewal and hope, as the virus is causing death of loved ones in every state. This blog is a short one. I know that there is an urgent need for funds for those struggling in India. I have some copies left of ‘Chintz’ my poetry pamphlet and my second novel ‘Bombay Baby.’ I would be very grateful if you buy them. I would donate the money from its sales to India. Each copy is only £5 and I won’t charge you any postage. My PayPal account is lsoma91@gmail.com. Many have used it already to buy copies. Sorry, I don’t know how to add a PayPal button to this blog.

I have already donated £110 from the sales of my pamphlet ‘Chintz’ published by https://hybriddreich.co.uk/ to Barnardo’s Scotland. I’ve changed the charity now. The need is much greater in India. This blog is an appeal.

Let’s start helping the most vulnerable. Thanks in advance for all your kindness.

Fasting and Feasting on Desai

Where are my copies of her other books?

I guess this is blog about an author I’ve loved. Born in 1937 to a German mother and a Bengali father, Anita Desai was a writer whose work engaged me in ways I can rarely express. From the time I got hold of her first book ‘Cry the Peacock,’ I was hooked. As a a young girl in India, I learnt about my own country through her novels. It was Desai’s unique blend of descriptions of the landscape of India, the flora and fauna, each flower and plant lent a background to scenes. She had crisp characters so well observed that made me want to read more. Reading her slim volume of short stories again, I remembered how many of her books I had devoured. In the last few years, I’ve been busy reading Rushdie, Ghosh, Adiga, and writers like Strout, O’Farrell, Ishiguro, McEwan, that I had forgotten the impact of her novels had on me. As had writers like Markandaya, R K Narayan, Naipaul and other Indian classic writers.

Why Fasting and Feasting? Desai was shortlisted three times for the Booker. Her daughter, Kiran Desai, won it in 2006 for ‘The Inheritance of Loss.’ Fasting and Feasting was a finalist in the Booker lists in 1999. Had Booker missed another superb author? Desai is a chronicler of times. I’ve fasted and feasted on her books. I wish I had more time to read all the works of authors I admire, but time is finite.

I relished reading one of Anita Desai’s short stories that featured an American from Vermont and her struggle with homesickness. She wants to ‘like’ India when she first arrives in the hot humid Bombay/ Mumbai, but finds it hard. Then the dry heat of Delhi drives her almost to hate India. She eventually finds her peace with a group of hippies in the Himalayas. A Scot in India, Dalrymple writes beautiful books on Mughal histories, but here is Desai writing about ordinary Indians who become alive on the pages. In one of her books, ‘Baumgartner’s Bombay’ a Jew from Germany not quite fitting in India as he had hoped, ‘too dark for Hitler’s society and too fair for India,’ is written with such compassion. I find such stories resonate with me in my own writing. I realise that her words are a legacy of an ‘insider/ outsider’ view of society that is so relevant in this globalised century. Identity and ‘home’ has become a ‘need’ for writers to pen words of their experiences. She was way ahead of us and has paved the way for writers from the subcontinent. Like the Jewish writers in America she has started a genre of ‘identity lit’ that will inspire many more writers to follow that path.

Spring has Sprung

Catching up with my blog. Busy, busy as always, which is good during these pandemic times. Started the month with meetings on some of the committees I serve on. Tuesday 2nd March, I attended a Creative Writing class with Open Book. It was excellent and I have just heard from a publisher in Florida that she’ll be publishing one of the poems I wrote in that class in their May Issue. On 3rd March, it was Blooming Ringwood, the first of the events by my publishers Ringwood. Anne Pettigrew, Rob McInRoy and I had a good discussion on ‘The Art of Writing during the Lockdown.’ Bearsden Writers had a superb meeting on ‘Self- Publication’. It was very informative and interesting. The next day 5th March I was in Paris Lit up reading my poems on the pandemic for ‘Together Behind Four Walls’ raising money for Marie Curie Nurses.

The week didn’t end well, I fell ill and had to seek help from the doctor. Monday though was IWD and Indian women on Facebook had a good event with music, dance and I read from my book ‘Murder at the Mela’. The week was busy again. I had an author’s visit to a book club ‘the BBC book club,’ as they named themselves a group of very articulate and interested readers who asked me some incisive questions on my book. They also decided that they would like to buy my second novel ‘Bombay Baby’ and the new pamphlet ‘Chintz,’ thus donating a huge amount to Barnardo’s Scotland. I have raised £140 so far. Please buy a copy of ‘Chintz’. It’s only £5 and would help Barnardos Scotland to look after vulnerable children. Thanks.

A ten day blog tour of my book with Emma Welton of Damppebbles started on the 11th of March which was wonderful. Getting the views and feedback of readers is an important part of a writer’s life. I had some great feedback. A few examples :

” Find out more about DI Patel’s crime solving approach in this strikingly original and enjoyable read.” @OnTheShelfBooks

“Murder at the Mela takes its place in the Scottish Noir movement with fine writing, vivid characters, and a terrific plot.” says @Scintilla_Info

‘An interesting fact, agents & publishers in Scotland do note. I was told in book groups that Asian readers are looking for books by Asian authors, set in Scotland. Some had picked up reading fiction for the first time with my book. ‘

Friday of the week was an Open Mic with Stanza and I read my poem along with other great poets of St. Mungo’s Mirrorball.

https://stanzapoetry.org/festival/events/risk-verse-5

Saturday 20th March was my first event as Scriever for the Federation of Writers Scotland, a conversation with author Cauvery Madhavan. ‘India and Ireland in the 1920’s, an intriguing novel ‘The Tainted’ from a fabulous writer Madhavan, commended by Sebastian Barry!’ You can watch the video here.

https://federationofwritersscotland.com/fws-videos/

Indo- Irish Author Cauvery Madhavan

The month ended with me watching some of Bearsden Writers members online at the ‘Reading Between the Lines Crime Festival.’

Wish the recovery from the illness is quick. Still not feeling as fit as I was. Keeping my fingers crossed and hoping April and the summer will see me back to healthy old me.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Keep the love and passion for writing all year.

February in Covid times. Well, only 28 days so that helps. And all the wonderful zoom events. Here goes.

Bearsden Writers meetings and Committee meetings keep me busy. The Creative Conversations at Glasgow University are wonderful. On February 1st we had Ashley Lovelace, the author of ‘The 392’, the bus ride and characters in it. This is an incredible book and his talk was riveting. Glasgow’s St. Mungo’s Mirrorball had a wonderful book launch of Sheila Templeton’s new book of poetry on the 4th.

The first dose of the vaccine on Feb 9th, yay! An important date that will be always in our memory.

Two wonderful events -on Feb 11th it was Newcastle Noir who invited me to choose five discs and a great chat on my book ‘Murder at the Mela’ and my writing life. This was a wonderful, my own Desert Island discs kind of programme. What a lovely poster for the event!

The next day it was wonderful to be transported to Amsterdam thanks to fellow author Anne Pettigrew who invited me to be on a panel for a wonderful event ‘The Art of Covetable Book Cover Designs,’ hosted by The Literary Globe. Anne and her Dutch friend Bart Rouwhurst gave us two great talks. Anne illustrated her talk about the history of book covers with a set of slides. Bart’s talent was incredible as he showed us book covers that he had designed for Paul Auster and many other authors. His thought processes as he designed them was very interesting.

The latter half of this month I am in two events at the Paisley Book Festival 2021. On Tuesday 23rd 3 pm ‘Poetic Offences’ organised by the Scottish Pen addresses the freedom of speech.

My other event is on Thursday 25th February with all the authors of the anthology by Culture Matters, ‘The Kist of Thistles.’

March is only a couple of weeks away. Spring is around the corner. I am looking forward to the warm weather. Hope the snow and ice are away and we get back to some warmth. See you in March.

Bookworm Unlimited

A fabulous book club

This afternoon I was invited by Geetha S to their book club. They were going to discuss my latest book ‘Murder at the Mela’. I met a wonderful group of book lovers who were delightful company. They made me feel welcome and had lots of interesting questions on the book and on my writing life too. They were a very talented group, a Classical Bharathnatyam dancer who had stayed a short time in Glasgow, homemakers with varied interests but all with a distinct love of reading and interest in art and crafts. It included an IT person who lives in London and Florida. See the sunshine as she spoke to us from her garden! All were leading busy lives with work, children, grandchildren and yet they still found time to read my book and have a chat with me. One of the ladies was doing a M.phil at Oxford. A lovely group of women who are contributing to the arts scene in London, USA and India.

They loved the cover

The discussion began with introductions as I was meeting all of them (except Geetha) for the first time. It was very well organised. Each one gave me their impression of the book first. I was so pleased that it was all positive. They found it ‘a page turner,’ ‘an easy read’, ‘the characters and the plot were appealing’. They appreciated the melding of the strands of Scotland and India. They liked my handling of the topic of racism, Hindu -Muslim tensions, women’s roles, the love story and the setting. Then they followed it up with some questions, which were excellent. But dear readers, what was really heart warming for me? They loved the Glasgow they saw on the pages! Visit Scotland take note. ‘Murder at the Mela’ is going to bring tourists from all over the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book club invitation. I have a few more booked in the coming months. As this was such a positive start, I am looking forward to the next one. We should have had Damian Barr along, he would have enjoyed the banter. I love your book club name and your avid interest in the world of books. Thank you Bookworm Unlimited!