I am delighted to welcome Renita D’Silva to my blog today. Back in 2014 I reviewed her book, ‘The Stolen Girl’ which you can read here:-
Renita continues to write amazing novels and her latest book, ‘A Daughter’s Courage’ was recently published as an eBook and in paperback at the end of May by Bookouture. Renita has written a wonderful guest post for my blog which I hope you all enjoy reading as much as I did.
My Writing Journey
I love reading stories, writing stories, listening to stories.
I wrote my first ‘book’, a ten page poem titled ‘Mother’, when I was seven. Then life got in the way, as it does: growing up, work, marriage, children. When my daughter started nursery, and with my son already in school, I was free for a few hours to indulge my dream. I enrolled in an Adult Education Creative Writing Course and started writing stories that I actually shared with other people instead of just inventing them in the privacy of my head. I discovered that my stories were liked, a few of them got published in magazines and anthologies and won competitions and that gave me the encouragement to start writing a novel.
My debut, ‘Monsoon Memories’ is about journeys. The journey to forgiveness and acceptance. The journey of discovery, the unearthing of a secret that has been slumbering for more than a decade.
Monsoon Memories was rejected multiple times for a variety of reasons and sometimes for no discernible reason at all, as none accompanied the rejection letter. After each rejection, I would set the book aside, having decided to forgo writing. But after a few weeks, the urge to try one more time would assert itself and I would dig up my manuscript, work on it and send it off again. This pattern continued until the magical February morning when Bookouture said yes!
Since then I have published six books with Bookouture and I am currently working on my seventh. The stories themselves are made up, a product of my imagination, but the descriptions of places are gleaned from my memories of the village in India where I grew up and its surroundings.
I am riveted by the interactions, feuds, secrets, lies and intense bonds prevalent among families. The complex ties between family members seem rife with hurt, hate, so many seething emotions, so much love and angst and anger and grudges nurtured over the years. This is what I explore in my books.
I think India is such a melting pot of cultures, prejudices and attitudes, a place where narrow mindedness and superstition mingle with generosity and kindness – that you cannot show one side without showing the other. The people are as warm as they are bigoted, as small minded as they are caring. I aim to depict India in all its glory-with all its faults as well as its virtues, but all the same, I try never to forget that my main aim is to tell a story.
I write about Indian women and explore how they face the constrictions of a restrictive culture while at the same time stretching their wings, how they define themselves in a world that tends to impose stifling limitations upon them, how they try and find themselves, constraints notwithstanding.
The complicated dynamics of relationships, whether within families or cultures or religions or states or countries – that is what all the stories I love share in common.
What I love about writing is how a bud of an idea, a spark overheard from somewhere, a snippet of a news item on TV, will take root in my mind and over time germinate and grow into a story that wants to be told.
My stories are all fictitious as are the places I set them in – although the descriptions of these places are drawn from my own memories of India. When reading back what I have written, sometimes I do find an echo of a childhood memory, make the odd connection, but my characters’ stories are distinct from my own.
I love words and the English language. I am constantly amazed by how twenty six letters can combine to produce stark and stunning prose that spellbinds a reader.
I love epistolary novels and each of my books has contained some form of epistolary narrative. I love how a story emerges through letters and how letters allow for the outpouring of feelings that wouldn’t necessarily be spoken out loud.
Modern day life is such that we are continually questing – for the meaning of our existence, for happiness, for material things. We are on a pursuit of peace, on the hunt for spiritual fulfilment. I try to explore that in my stories. Also, as a displaced person myself, having been brought up in India and now living in the UK, in my books, I like to explore the idea of roots, what they mean to individuals and to people as a whole.
In my books, I want there to be an element of mystery but I try not to let it overpower the book, take it over. I want it, not to detract from the story, but to complement it, adding flavour to the book. Like the food that is such an integral part of my books, I try to work them to this recipe: a soupcon of mystery, a dash of action, a touch of adventure, a tablespoon of forgiveness and a teaspoon of racial tension, a pinch of romance and a sprinkling of laughter, seasoned liberally with emotion and a good helping of love.
I think a little bit of every author is in every story he or she tells.
In my books, I explore themes of duty, forgiveness and identity, the conflict between generations, the pressure of a closed society and what ‘going home’ entails – themes that are close to my heart.
About Renita D’Silva
Renita D’Silva loves stories, both reading and creating them. Her short stories have been published in ‘The View from Here’, ‘Bartleby Snopes’, ‘this zine’, ‘Platinum Page’, ‘Paragraph Planet’ among others and have been nominated for the ‘Pushcart’ prize and the ‘Best of the Net’ anthology. She is the author of ‘Monsoon Memories’,’The Forgotten Daughter’, ‘The Stolen Girl’, ‘A Sister’s Promise’, ‘A Mother’s Secret’ and ‘A Daughter’s Courage’.
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‘A Daughter’s Courage’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daughters-Courage-utterly-heartbreaking-secrets-ebook/dp/B06XCZ9B4P/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502045788&sr=1-5