Interview with author P. G. Van

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.

destiny-decides

  • 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

How important is POV?

Writing-Guide

Point-of-view (POV) plays a critical role when you are writing scenes for your novels. While several authors write their stories from first person point-of-view, that is not a style that I am comfortable with. I am okay with reading first person point-of-view stories but when I am writing, I find it easier to write in third person. It comes naturally to me and I feel that as an author, you can be more creative with third person perspective. You can play around more with scenes and narrative.

Some of the advantages of third person POV are:

  • There are times when I have switched POV to make a scene become more powerful.
  • Although romance is always from two POVs – hero and heroine, sometimes adding a third POV enhances the storyline.
  • Often times writing a romance from a hero’s perspective provides a refreshing change!
  • As an author, it is creative to get in the head of several characters and third person POV writing provides just that.

Play with your POV and have fun writing!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Amit Sharma’s take on revising manuscripts!

Amit-Sharma-banner

Welcome Amit to my blog! Could you please tell us, when you receive feedback on your manuscript, how do you go about revising/changing your story?

 I am blessed with friends who are voracious readers and could be expected to give brutal and honest feedback. I give my first draft for alpha reading and get ready for all the stones and tomatoes that my friends are going to throw at me. The real work starts after that. I keep improvising the manuscript till I am completely satisfied with it. I take a break for a few days between two start-to-end sessions to get a new perspective. Once this process is over, I give over the book to a professional beta reader. I haven’t done that for the first book but I will be doing this for all my future books.
I usually do not change my story but I might change the way it has been told based on the inputs. For example, if a character needs to be more visible, I might add a few more scenes. I might add incidents that add depth to the story, add descriptions and improve dialogues.
Amit-Sharma-pic
About the Author

Amit Sharma is the author of fiction novel titled False Ceilings by Lifi Publications. The book launch happened on 12 Jan 2016 at the World Book Fair in Delhi. The novel is a Family Saga spanning 130 years (from 1930 to 2065) and takes us through the lives of six protagonists who are bound by a secret and live in Delhi and Dalhousie. 

Amit Sharma has been working in a Software Firm since the last ten years. He lives with his family in NCR. His wife is a teacher and they are blessed with an amazing daughter. Amit is a voracious reader and devours books. His other hobbies include watching world cinema, traveling, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging (he used to blog earlier at Mashed Musings), making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her shopping.
Amit’s book Links:

How important is a Book Title?

Writing-Guide

Having written a number of books and being in the business for sometime, I have come to the conclusion that in addition to the cover of a book, the title also plays an important part in attracting readers.

With the advent of digital writing and eBooks, there is a plethora of books for readers to choose from. And therefore it is very important to choose an attractive, meaningful as well as apt title for your book.

Here are some pointers to consider:

  • For non-fiction or fiction books, the title should clearly portray the essence of your book.
  • For non-fiction books, popular titles starting with “How to..” or “Five ..”, “Ten ..” tend to attract readers. People have a short attention span these days and they want to gather information quickly. These titles tend to appeal to the curious mind. One example is my book titled Ten Mistakes A Manager Should Avoid.
  • For a fiction book, if your title can invoke the right emotion or feeling, it would greatly appeal to the reader. Such as I believe that my book title Arranged Marriage evokes a lot of feelings, emotions & curiosity and it has definitely been selling well.

When you are coming up with your book title, think through what’s the message in your book you want the readers to take away, or how can this book help the readers. Also, do some research on Amazon or other book sites to look at the bestsellers in your genre.


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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On Writing Series & Trilogy!

Writing-GuideI have been asked several times during interviews about writing series, so I decided to write a post on it today. I have written both single-titles as well as series and there are pros and cons of writing both. For one, writing a series takes a whole of work ahead of time in planning different books in the series. And from the reader’s perspective, series are often more attractive.

Types of Series

If you are thinking of writing a series, some things to know about are what are the different kinds of series that you can plan. Most obvious one is a trilogy where a story continues on a continuum of three books. Trilogies seem to be very popular among the readers especially if they love the characters and want to keep reading about them more and more.

Other kind of series consists of books with different stories that are connected to each other at an abstract level. I like to call these connected series. You can have as many books in a connected series. I tend to prefer writing connected series over a trilogy. A trilogy has stringent requirements whereas a connected series is more flexible.

One example of link between different books in a connected series is at the character level. For example a main character in one book can be a secondary character in another book in the series. Another example is commonality of setting among different books in a connected series. For instance, you could write several books based on a small town. An underlying emotion or theme between different stories could be a connection as well.

Do’s and Don’ts

Some things to be aware of when writing trilogy or connected series is to not contradict yourself. For example, a character who had dark skin in one book cannot suddenly have lighter skin in another book in the series. It is up to the author and editor to look out for such inconsistencies before publishing.

I would also urge authors to plan ahead how many books they want to publish in a connected series. Write as many as will entice you as an author. As long as you are having fun writing, readers will enjoy them too!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Importance of Setting!

Aditi-flowers

I don’t know about other authors but I find setting of a book equally important as the characters in a story. A carefully selected setting can do wonders for a book. As a matter of fact, the same is true for a movie as well.

One should think about the what and why before choosing a setting well before starting to write a fiction book. Some things to consider are what kind of setting would suit the characters that you have chosen for your book? Is there a setting that has special significance in your character’s mind? Could you use your setting to attract readers towards your book.

I travel a lot and while traveling if a place inspires me, I’d like to use that in my book. I have a passion for traveling and am fascinated by the unique things every place has to offer. Some authors like to use small town setting which could also be quite unique and provide a different perspective.

Pick a setting that gels with your passion and it will certainly enhance your book!


Aditi Chopra is an author of NRI fiction and non-fiction books.
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Chat with Author Mistral Dawn

Today, I’m welcoming Mistral Dawn, author of Taken By The Huntsman. Let’s get to know her better.

TakenbytheHuntsman Amazon

  • Welcome Mistral! Please tell us how did you come up with the concept of your book? What was the inspiration behind it?

Ha! Actually, a dream.  I had a debate with an online friend about the nature of consent at a time when I was also doing research about European mythology. Somehow the two became entwined in my head while I was sleeping, and Taken By The Huntsman was born.

  • Very interesting! What do you find most challenging while writing a book?

I think the most challenging part of writing a book is the marketing.

I’m an indie author, so I don’t have a publisher to help do this work. Marketing takes an enormous amount of time, but is extremely necessary because, as an unknown author, no one will read my books if they don’t know about them.

  • I agree, being an author is not just about writing, it is so much more. What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?

My favorite part is interacting with people who have read and enjoyed my stories. It’s such a rush to know I’ve been able to entertain other people!

  • That is satisfying indeed! Which book are you working on next? Do you want to share a glimpse of it?

My next book will be about the Winter Court king and his human Anamchara. He’s a fallen god of death, prophesy, and healing (I know, interesting combination, right?), so while he no longer has the powers of a god, he does have some interesting abilities. She’s a human who stumbled into Fairie while running from her abusive fiance on Earth. You’ll just have to wait to see how their story plays out.  But before I write that book, I’ll be writing a short story about Jillian.

  • Besides writing, what is your favorite hobby that helps you relax?

I enjoy taking in kitties who need homes and finding the people who need a kitty to love. Remember everyone, please spay or neuter your pets!!!

It was great talking to you, Mistral! I wish you good luck with your future projects!

Mistral’s Book Links:

Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords

Social Media Links:

Mistral Dawn’s Musings Bloghttp://mistralkdawn.blogspot.com/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MistralKDawn

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MistralKDawn

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Mistral-Dawn/e/B00NGXETSM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MistralDawn

Goodreads Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8549061.Mistral_Dawn