A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “writing journey”

Guest Post by Renita D’Silva

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:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/the-stolen-girl-by-renita-dsilva/

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’.

 

Links

Sign up to be the first to hear about Renita’s new releases here: http://bit.ly/RdSilvabooks

(Just cut and paste the link into your browser. Renita promises not to share your e-mail and she’ll only contact you when a new book is out!)

‘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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RenitaDSilvaBooks

Twitter: @RenitaDSilva

Website: http://renitadsilva.com/

Email: Renitadsilvabooks@gmail.com

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Guest Post by Heidi Swain

first class

Heidi Swain’s debut novel is being published in July and I for one can’t wait to read it.  Heidi has written a fabulous guest post for my blog.

 

How did I get here?

Hello Sonya. Thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your fabulous blog ahead of the eagerly anticipated The Cherry Tree Café publication day of July 16th.

 

Cherry Tree Cafe Cover

It is always exciting to chat about writing and current projects but for this post I thought it would be an opportunity to think back over my writing journey (for want over a better word), to when it all began. One of the most common comments I have received recently is how lucky I am that everything has happened so quickly for me but actually, it hasn’t happened all that quickly at all.

As some of you may already know I submitted to the thoroughly fabulous Books and The City Team at Simon & Schuster on July 15th last year through their #onedayonly call for submissions and The Cherry Tree Café is scheduled for publication exactly one year and a day from that date. So yes, I guess that is pretty fast, but the commitment (and kernel of confidence), to jump in and take my writing seriously actually happened years before my submission last July.

Tales from the Old Dining Room

My daughter was recently raiding my bedroom bookshelf and discovered a little book titled Tales from the Old Dining Room which was printed after the second creative writing course I took. The blurb reads;

‘Don’t think, just write. The idea was simple – write every day for two weeks and see where the story takes you. This book is a collection of unedited stories produced by the Friday morning Creative Writing group at Wensum Lodge in Norwich.’

By the time that book was printed by my wonderful tutor Neil Mason in 2010 I had already completed a writing for children course with Paeony Lewis and would go on to take two further creative writing courses with Norwich based poet, Julia Webb.

During that time I also wrote a variety of short stories, (one of which was a Christmas competition winner), for the online community Shortbread Stories (http://www.shortbreadstories.co.uk/#axzz3ZdUSmCvH), ran a blog alongside various features I wrote for our local magazine and attended as many writing related functions and seminars as possible.

I didn’t find the confidence to begin writing my first novel until sometime in 2012, however since then I have written four. I joined the RNA New Writers Scheme in 2014 and struck gold straightaway with The Cherry Tree Café.

Taking the time to look back I can’t quite believe just how many years have slipped by between filling in that first creative course application and signing my contract with Simon & Schuster, but if I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing. Five plus years of hard work, trials, errors and triumphs are now being beautifully rewarded in ways I could have only ever dreamt of and for that I am so, so grateful.

No matter where you are on your own writing journey, whether you are just taking that first step and putting pen to paper, submitting your first manuscript, or crossing your fingers as you check your inbox just remember that if you want it badly enough and you’ve put in the hours, you will get there. You will find a way to make your writing dreams come true and I wish you the very best of luck.

Never lose faith, no matter how long it takes.

 

The Cherry Tree Café will be published on July 16th but is already available for pre-order via links below.

Links:                                                                              

Blog: http://www.heidiswain.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: @Heidi_Swain

Amazon pre-order: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Tree-Cafe-Heidi-Swain-ebook/dp/B00RM4V02E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430324049&sr=8-1&keywords=cherry+tree+cafe

Kobo pre-order: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-cherry-tree-cafe/id955075784?mt=11

iBooks pre-order: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-cherry-tree-cafe

 

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