I would like to introduce you all to Sunny Singh whose latest novel, ‘Hotel Arcadia’ was recently published. Sunny has written a very interesting guest post for my blog.
I have always been fascinated by love stories, although not necessarily of the prince-and-princess kind. As a child, I found those boring, mostly because the princess rarely got to be anything more than pretty and passive. I remember complaining that all the princesses did was to sit about and wait. And I was convinced that I would not like any man who fell in love with such women.
At the same time, as a child growing up in India during the Cold War, I also had a lot of Russian books, especially beautiful illustrated editions of fairy tales. I preferred the love stories in those Russian fairy tales because the women were smart, wise, brave, and even able to “journey through three times nine lands to the thirtieth kingdom, wear out three pairs of iron shoes, break three iron staves, and gnaw away at three church-loaves of stone’ in their persistence (this line is from one of my absolute favourite stories called ‘The Feather of Finist the Falcon’).
The Russian love stories also made more sense to me as they are not only about romantic love but also about love for family, friends, even entire peoples and kingdoms. Even the fairy stories of romantic love were more complicated as they included aspects of ethics, courage, and complicated dilemmas. As an adult, I continue to seek out and read such love stories.
At the same time, I realised quite a long time ago that I never felt fully satisfied with the stories I read. There was always a sense of discontent with characters, or plotlines, or themes. So even as a child, I would write myself into the stories I loved, or entirely rewrite them in the back of my school notebooks, to be the way I wanted.
As an adult and writer, I continue to do the same. I write the stories I want to read, especially the love stories that will make me smile, weep, and smile again, even through tears. And this is why, for me, Hotel Arcadia is first and foremost a love story.
It is a story of two damaged, vulnerable, people who are brought together by circumstances beyond their control. Sam and Abhi – my two main characters – connect with each other in ways that most of us can only dream of. They are, despite their differences, kindred spirits, or the two halves of that proverbial orange. They complete each other on emotional, psychological, even moral levels, and which is why their intimacy is so intense and urgent.
For me, love is about bringing out the best within ourselves. In those Russian fairy tales I read as a child, great love involved wisdom and courage, as well as passion. In Hotel Arcadia, Sam can reach out to comfort Abhi with complete unconditional acceptance, and that is something he has never fully experienced or expected. At the same time, Abhi can break through all of Sam’s protective shields and remind her of her humanity, coax her into revealing how much she cares, even when it is at a huge cost to herself. In different ways, their love for each other is necessary for Sam and Abhi to reach their best selves.
Regardless of how the book ends, I am convinced that the two of them would break through ‘three iron shoes, break three iron staves, and gnaw through bread of stone’ to reach, and rescue, each other. And to me, that is true love. It is this kind of love that can save Sam and Abhi. And all of us.
About Sunny Singh
SUNNY SINGH was born in India and was educated in India, USA, and Spain. She has worked as a journalist and management executive in Mexico, Chile, and South Africa, and is currently based in London. Her debut novel, Nani’s Book of Suicides , was described as a “first novel of rare scope and power.” The Spanish translation of the novel won the inaugural Mar de Letras prize in 2003. Her second book, a work of non-fiction titled Single in the City: The Independent Woman’s Handbook (2001), was a first-of-its-kind exploration of single women in contemporary India” while her second novel, With Krishna’s Eyes (2006), has been commended for its “profound insight” and described as “memorable”. Her short stories have been published by prestigious international literary journals including The Drawbridge and World Literature Today. Her creative nonfiction and academic writing has been published across the world in key journals and anthologies. She also writes for newspapers and magazines, in Spanish and English, across the globe She is finalising a book on Bollywood star, Amitabh Bachchan, for BFI. Her latest novel, Hotel Arcadia, has been published by Quartet Books.
Photo credit is: Walter White.
Sunny Singh’s Website – www.sunnysingh.net
Book Trailer for ‘Hotel Arcadia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a5XxgqgkX8