Guys!! We’re so lucky today to have a small excerpt and an author interview for Anju Gattani’s book, Duty and Desire. My review is also below but I have to say first that I am so pleased with this author interview. Anju’s quirkiness comes out so well and after reading this interview I totally got the quirkiness in the book! I’m so glad though that this book has more than one part! I needed it to keep going and now I see why it stopped where it did. Well I guess I won’t technically see until book 2 is out. But I will try to be patient. So… read on fellow book lovers! I hope you are as entertained and intrigued by this world and by Anju as I am!
- Review: Duty and Desire
- Series: Winds of Fire
- Author: Anju Gattani
- No of Pages: 304
- Publication: December 1st 2011 by Greenbrier Book Co
How Can Happiness Survive When Duty Clashes With Desire?
Sheetal Prasad has it all: youth, beauty, wealth and education. But when this modern Indian woman surrenders love for honor and marries into India’s most glamorous ‘royal family’, these very advantages turn against her and she is stripped of her freedom.
Meet the Dhanrajs — a powerful family bound together by a web of lies where infidelity, greed, secrets and hidden identities lurk beneath the lush tapestry. The Dhanrajs have plenty to hide and will do what it takes to mask the truth from the world.
As Sheetal peels back the layers of deceit, she confronts a haunting reality and is threatened by the blazes of passion she ignites.
“She loved him. She reached out to touch him and soothe his anger. “I risked everything just coming here to be with you.”
“Not to be with me. To tell me. You came to tell me you’re marrying someone else. And you expect me to do nothing?” That’s exactly what she did expect, because society required a woman to marry the man her parents chose for her.
Arvind grabbed Sheetal by the shoulders and gazed into her eyes. “Do you understand how much I love you?”
She understood. “I have no choice, Arvind.” Sheetal took a long, deep breath and clasped her fingers together. “Love isn’t enough for my father. Money, reputation, class and status. That’s what matters to him.” Until now she had ignored the imitation suede shoes on his feet and the ripped, beige, front pocket of his shirt; things she would have never have noticed if her mother hadn’t brought them to her attention a while back. “My father wants me,”—she bit her lip, knowing her words would hurt him—“well taken care of.”
–How did this story begin? Was it a character, or a particular image?
We had just moved to New Jersey, USA, from Singapore (Sep 2001). We were home-sick, trying to get used to the cold weather from Singapore’s tropical climate and still converting Farenheit to Celsius, Pounds and ounces to Kilos and grams, driving on the other side of the road, and the list goes on…
It came to me in a day dream… a flash one afternoon (Oct/Nov 2001). *Hear music in the background?* OK… here’s the truth. I was napping for 20 minutes just before my kindergartener was to return from school. My 2-year old (at the time) was finally taking a nap. I just had to catch up on sleep and I thought “why not?” The day-dream, in fact, turned out to be ‘The End’ of a story. I woke up with sweat beading down my face and a racing pulse – not from my kids this time… And I wanted to know the beginning and middle (well, obviously!) of this do-or-die situation.
After 2 months of trying to initially – ignore it (failed), then comprehend it (failed), I finally picked up the pen, sat before a stack of white paper (my loving and couldn’t-understand-my-problem husband put together for me, midst the hustle-bustle of 2 hyper-energetic kids) and began to write the beginning (so I could get to ‘The End’).
-Did you have any growing pains with this novel?
Hmm…. Where should I begin?
The 1.5 years it took to pound out the original manuscript… thinking it was 1 book and 1 story? Only to learn it’s 1 story but 4-5 books in a series? Now called the ‘Winds of Fire’ series.
The 25+ rewrites of ‘Duty and Desire’ + 4-5 rounds of edits?
Secondary characters from ‘Duty and Desire’ demanding books of their own and trying to strike deals with me – Yes, it’s true… pathetic as it sounds.
The level of research involved?
The professionals I have had the privilege of working with are phenomenal!
I worked with 2 of India’s leading fashion designers.
Anita Dongre (www.anitadongre.com) designed the leading female character (Sheetal’s) Indian wedding trousseau and put together her ensembles for Sheetal throughout the story.
Arjun Khanna (www.arjunkhanna.com) designed the leading male character (Sanjeet’s) Indian wedding attire and put together Sanjeet’s international ensembles (mix of east and west) throughout the story.
I also worked with a Pilates and Yoga instructor, Ms. Abbey Brewer, Atlanta, Georgia, and Dr. Shruti Daga, UK. for the medical research.
-How would you most like readers to respond to the novel?
Hmm… I originally thought ‘Duty and Desire’ was multicultural / contemporary women’s fiction… but one reader said it was a fantasy read for her, others have said it’s mainstream… commercial… up-market women’s fiction. I’m open to all ideas, perspectives and would love it if readers would recommend the book to someone who could use a little courage and self-confidence in their life. I love to hear from readers, so please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your opinions on the read!
-What are you reading right now? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
I’m currently re-reading ‘Shanghai Girls’ by Lisa See. On my TBR pile I have: ‘The Red Queen’ ‘The White Queen’ by Philippa Gregory, ‘Shadow Princess’ by Indu Sundaresan and more. I’m waiting for Khaled Hosseini’s next book. I’m probably his biggest fan ever!
Authors Sidney Sheldon and V.C.Andrews… here’s why.
I love Sidney Sheldon’s tight-wired, fast-paced plots, his ability to swing readers from Germany to London to the Middle East within pages – travel the world and give a powerful conflict (personal / political / natural catastrophe) an international punch… ‘Rage of Angels’, ‘Master of the Game’, ‘Sands of Time’… I could go on and on!
Mental & Emotional Travel:
I love V.C.Andrews’ skill in taking readers through the hearts and minds of characters with deep emotional conflicts, mental confusion, misunderstandings and her build-up of a series that you can’t put down… ‘Flowers in the Attic’, ‘My Sweet Audrina’…
I learned, having grown up reading both authors’ works, that a writer has the ability to move people / transport /have them travel physically, emotionally and mentally… through the power of words.
-What do you do when you’re not writing?
Running laundry, chauffeuring the kids to piano lessons, soccer practice, thinking what to cook for our next veggie meal – yes, our family is vegetarian! Thinking what to blog for my next guest blog post or what to discuss at my next author event. Or, if all else fails… training Scruffy, our ShihTzu puppy. You can see what a varied life I lead J
-What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
The 2nd book in the ‘Winds of Fire’ series. That’s just been through a grueling round of copy edits. The details of its release will be up on my website (www.anjugattani.com) soon.
I’m working on the first draft of the 3rd book – also a tie-in to the ‘Winds of Fire’ series. This story takes place in the US and involves more research than I had ever imagined! I also freelance for ‘Khabar’ a multicultural magazine serving the Indian-American community in GA… so that’s always on the to-do list too.
– What is your favorite word?
‘Kahlua’ – I love the sound of it… but don’t get me wrong, here!
– What is your least favorite word?
‘Saala!’ – It’s a rude, Mumbai-Indian slang word. Hate the sound of it and the context it’s used in. I’m guessing language restrictions don’t apply here, right?
– What turns you on?
OK… in the pure context of writing and creating characters only (think glowing light bulbs) – when my characters appear out of the blue with a raging fire / conflict burning in them and I have to figure out what.
– What turns you off?
That light bulb… now where’s that glowing light-bulb? *groping in the dark, here*
– What sound do you love?
The sound of rain falling on the windshield – boring, right?
Coffee dripping in the percolator – morning call – too Monday, right?
OK… The garage door opening, knowing my husband is back home from work – YES!!
– What sound do you hate?
Angry voices, people arguing, curse words flying in the air – drives me insane.
– What is your favorite curse word?
I don’t have one (see above) even though some of my characters do i.e. swash-buckling-tycoon-millionaire Sanjeet Dhanraj in ‘Duty and Desire’. Which also tells you how different I am from my characters J.
– What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Fitness Instructor? I’m a fitness-freak! Research on the current work-in-progress with a highly renowned professional has opened a new world for me. But I’d love to try being a pastry chef / specialize in desserts / cake decorator – without all the clean-up of course!
– What profession would you not like to do?
Hmmm…. Problem is I find something fascinating in even the most mundane! There’s ALWAYS a story behind someone… some job somewhere – that’s the writer-in-me at work.
– If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“All right, what did you do this time?”
It’s funny that this book is about tradition and has some about superstition in it since I nearly didn’t get a chance to read it with all of the circumstances that arose trying to keep me away!
As most of you already know our house was attacked by Hurricane Isaac. Because of him we didn’t have power for a few days. The first set back in getting this book. Then the ebook didn’t want to download to my kindle! What? Multiple times I tried. After talking with the very gracious Holly from FMB Tours, she helped me figure things out but it still wasn’t getting TO my Kindle. Until my husband stepped in and … restarted my Kindle. VIOLA! It works. Now, let me explain, this was days and days of talking with Holly and us trying to figure this out, I was nearly ready to give up and not read the book. I had to have my review in by Monday and it was Friday afternoon!
Once my Kindle downloaded, and all other distractions aside, I dug right in. I have to say this book is INTENSE! Like seriously intense. There is so much going on and Sheetal. Oh my god, poor Sheetal. That girl puts up with so much crap. All for her family, for her future family, nothing for herself. And all the while everyone is tearing her down, her own family as well, where she felt so secure once has basically turned their backs on her! To say the least Sheetal is an amazing character.
But I can’t just leave it there, Sanjeet was another intense character. Man, that boy has some issues! But you can see as the book goes on that he wants to please Sheetal and just really doesn’t know how. He tries and tries and tries and fails miserably. And here I am watching both sides of this and I just want to yell at both of them. Well I think he does. He goes back and forth from wanting to beat the hell out of Sheetal to wanting to love and kiss on her. What? Really?! And if they were the only two involved maybe things would have gone smoother, but oh no… Enter the MOTHER-IN-LAW. Oyyy. She, for lack of a better term was a bitch.
Pushpa wants everything and I do mean everything, her way. And she does whatever underhanded thing it takes to get it. I hold some intense feelings for that woman, for sure! And it’s not only Pushpa there are other women that act this same way around Sheetal making her life a living hell.
So, like I said before, this book was serious. It was about a culture I have heard so much about but never had to live first hand. Some of these women go through such pain. I know this was just a story but like all great stories it opened my eyes to a culture different from my own. It was amazing but hard to read all the same. All the stuff that Sheetal goes through is so heart wrenching. And I’m not sure if the ending is THE ending since it could have ended but could also be a cliff hanger. Plus it’s kind of left to my interpretation, which was weird for me. I want to know for sure what is going to happen to these people!
I can say one thing for sure, Anju Gattani does a great job of making us understand what these people are feeling. Mostly through Sheetal’s point of view. You just want to help that girl somehow! Really intense but good read. I want to know more about these characters and where they’re going though.
Do you want more of Duty and Desire?
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About the author:
Anju was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. Her Indian upbringing and British education worked together to strongly influence her writing.
Anju’s fiction explores how the distinct mindsets and traditions of different cultures permanently shape people’s values, thinking, and behavior patterns—for both good and evil—despite the “leveling” effects of 21st century communications and travel.
Anju earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature in India and a teaching degree in the United Kingdom. She has also studied creative writing.
Anju has lived in Singapore, Australia, India, New Jersey and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. Anju is a columnist for a multicultural magazine in the USA. She is also an avid guest blogger, who loves to share her experiences in health and fitness, food, self-empowerment and great fiction reads.
Duty and Desire is her first novel.
Visit Anju at www.anjugattani.com