Author P.G. Van lives in San Francisco. Ever since she published her first novel, Destiny Decides in October 2015, she just cannot stop writing. Let’s chat with her today about her book and writing in general.
- Welcome P.G. Van! Please tell us what inspired you to write Destiny Decides?
Destiny Decides happened as a result of pure destiny. I thought about the initial version of the story while I was on my way to work. It was driven by my thoughts around how hard would it be to get in touch with a long lost friend as I had lost touch with a few of my friends after school. I thought about the emotions a character goes through when they realize they have strong feelings for someone and they don’t even know where they were.
My thoughts were flowing endlessly and I had to write them down on a sheet of paper and within an hour I had decided I wanted to write about it. Up until that day my focus was entirely on how to go up the corporate ladder and once I got thinking about writing it gave me a new perspective in life and that not everything is driven by deliverables and deadlines and that you need to enjoy life loving the people in your life.
This particular story will always hold a special place in my heart as it let me explore a lot of things I feel very passionate about. I lived vicariously through Nick’s cool cars and it fueled my love for cars and motorcycles. I love Indian classical music and dance and most of all being able to write about how the Indian culture is preserved outside India. It allowed me to explore the concept of a family living under one roof while enjoying the privacy and independence.
The common theme with all of my stories is Indians or people of Indian origin in the San Francisco bay area. It allows me to add an Indian touch to my stories to build the story and make the experiences unique and allowed me to use the culture as a basis for my stories.
- That’s quite interesting. Tell us, how do you go about developing characters of your book?
My favorite part of the initial stages of the book is to define my characters and outline who they are as a person. I usually start with their name, age and what they do.
The name is very critical to me and I pick a name that is simple yet says something about the character. Nikhil means perfect and I wanted that name because I knew I was going to create the ideal guy and Nick as a short version if his name that gives his character an edge. He is a successful businessman at the age of twenty seven.
When it comes to heroines in my books, I like my women characters to be strong without being snobbish. They are not perfect but they are perfect for the hero of the book. Their characteristics are complimentary to the male character thereby making the match up perfect.
I still have notes from my initial days of writing with the list of characteristics down to what kind of food do they eat and how do they react to an unfavorable situation. A lot of times I write down a few incidents that I don’t include in the book but leave them as part of the ‘deleted scenes’ but they serve as a foundation for my character building.
Here is an excerpt from my deleted scenes that shows how Sameera as a teenager was affected by the tragedy in her life. I read these incidents to be able to pen down the pent up pain that only Nick is able to soothe because of their relationship as young adults.
I took a deep breath remembering everything that happened in the last two years. I just had not figured out a way to deal with my pain. I took another deep breath refusing to shed a tear, as I reached for the picture of my dad from the nightstand next to my bed. I smiled looking at the loving and lively image of my dad sitting on his Royal Enfield motorcycle that he loved to ride and take me on rides.
“Daddy, I know you will be there for me anytime I need you.” I murmured looking at the picture of my dad and added in a soft voice, “I am leaving my stuff here and moving to a new country. I will soon become a part of a new family but you know I will be yours forever.” I hugged the picture and said, “and I promise to get back to dancing soon”.
- Quite often authors have a favorite scene or two. Which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?
I am so glad you asked. It it most definitely the first time Sameera sees Nick on his bike. She has no idea who the person is but something tells her the person is important. My twist on the ‘love at first sight’ where Sameera could not forget the eyes. She keeps thinking about that episode every time she sees a biker because the chemistry that happened when their eyes met branded something in her brain.
This particular scene takes the reader to the dreamy world that we all fantasize at some level. The fact that some random guy blew her a kiss did not stop Sameera from thinking about him or talking about him. The fact that she did not wave back and blow a kiss back gives the reader a hint that she knows when to be amused and when not to be.
I absolutely love this particular scene because the build up to the scene gave me the opportunity to describe the beautiful highway that I drive on to work everyday, paint a picture of a sexy looking bike from Sameera’s perspective so the readers know about her love for motorbikes and how she fell in love with bikes when her dad took her out for a ride when she was five.
This scene also gave me the opportunity to add a mysterious touch to the first chapter in hopes of keeping the readers wondering who the guy was and what his story was and how he would be part of Sameera’s story.
- Is there any particular author who has inspired you to write? Why?
The author that inspired me most is Katherine Gordan and she did it with her writing style. I still remember her book The Emerald Peacock and falling in love with the hero. She did an excellent job of painting the picture of the setting, the emotions of the characters as they fall in love and soon are torn apart to be separated for years. I remember closing the book so I could cry and let out the pain and then continue reading. I felt the goosebumps pepper my skin when she describes the feeling when the characters see each other after many years.
Her writing style is somewhat poetic which enhances the readers experience. While working on Destiny Decides, I attempted something similar to give the reader the depth of the emotion.
Readers enjoy a book especially a romance novel for the way the author tells the story about how two people found their happy ending. If an author is able to keep the reader wondering about what is going to happen next for an expected happy ending, that is a sign of a good author and I hope to give that to my readers with each one of my stories.
- I am so glad that you decided to write. Please tell us, what has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
When I started writing I had no idea what it meant to be a writer and how writers felt when you write a review or leave a comment for them.
I will tell you it is very rewarding and every piece of feedback fuels my enthusiasm to keep writing. When someone told me I had very good imagination and was very creative, I thought that’s true with everyone but I do realize that writers have a bit more imagination that makes them build the stories.
One of my most rewarding experience was when one of my readers reached out to me to give me personal feedback about how much she liked my books. She reached out to me via Facebook messenger after she finished my first book and sent multiple message which I unfortunately missed. She liked the first book so much she bought my second book and at the end of my second book I had added my email address. She reached out to me via email to tell me how much she enjoyed both books and asked me if I was working on more books. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the email where she was very cautious and clarified that she was reaching out to me only to compliment me and that if I didn’t respond to her she would not send me further communication. What else do I need as a writer? A reader who loved my books so much that she found a way to reach me to tell me about everything that was good and things that I needed to fix with my books.
Another reason I keep writing is because of my own lovely fan base that started reading, yes started reading for the first time ever with my book and promise to read every book I write. I am blessed to have been able to write and to have stories form in front of my eyes as I am about to wrap up one book.
P.G. Van’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg.van.7
P.G. Van’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/authpgvan