Interview: Sudeshna Shome Ghosh on how to pitch to an editor

If you are a children books author and appreciate editors, you would have heard of Sudeshna Shome Ghosh. A Bangalore-based editor, Sudeshna has worked in the Indian publishing industry for twenty years now. She started her career at Penguin Books India and moved to Rupa Publications and Aleph Book Company thereafter. During this time, she has published authors such as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Ruskin Bond, Sudha Murty, Subroto Bagchi, Derek O’Brien among many others and was responsible for managing Penguin India’s children’s publishing list, Puffin for four years before she started Rupa Publication’s children’s list Red Turtle. Currently, she is a consultant with Speaking Tiger Books and is building a children’s list for them.

In other words, she’s a treasure trove of inside knowledge of the publishing industry and me being the Curious Cat that I always was, used our friendship by asking her the most delightful personal, almost rude questions over tea at Infinitea in Bangalore. An excerpt

Q) You’ve just completed 20 years in publishing and the thing you said on social media was that you wanted to do it for another 20 years. What about this job keeps you here?

Let me see, where do I start…

There are many things, but the biggest, for me, is the feeling that my work is meaningful, that I am contributing to the creation of a reading culture in children. That the books I commission or edit, are good books that some kid somewhere is going to pick up, enjoy and think about. That, for me, is what keeps me going through some clearly mindnumbing bits, like reading proofs!

Q) Why did you become an editor? Why choose this career?

Continue reading “Interview: Sudeshna Shome Ghosh on how to pitch to an editor”

Event: Occult quiz and book launch in Delhi with Samit Basu

Let me repeat that again. Samit Basu. Yes, the superking of speculative fiction in India has agreed to come to my book The Matsya Curse‘s launch and discuss all things fantasy, Indian occult and why a certain percentage of us are obsessed with dragons and spaceships.

Thrilled, absolutely dont-pinch-me-let-me-dream thrilled to tell you all about this event.

There will be book launch of the second of Anantya Tantrist series, an occult quiz with prizes to be won (believe me when I tell you, you’ll need all the brains you got), followed by a discussion on the Indian fantasy between Samit and me. In between somewhere there are snacks by HarperCollins and a few other freebies. So come off only.  There’s no reason you’ll want to miss this one! Connect with everyone else on its Facebook events page.

 

Get rid of stomach pain through natural ways

You party late into the night, fill yourself up on snacks and drink one cocktail after another. Before you know it, you are feeling bloated and your stomach is hurting. Don’t worry, says Deepshikha Agarwal, dietitian and sports nutritionist based in Mumbai. “Drink plenty of water with ginger or fennel every 2 hours or sip on green tea or tulsi water for a day to reduce the bloating,” she adds, cautioning against over-exercise. Instead, for a few days, improve your diet with complex carbs, fibre, protein and eat smaller portion sizes. And instead of tossing and turning all night or waiting till you have to go to a doctor, heed these tips from experts.

Chew on ginger

Add two pinches of dry ginger powder or a tablespoon of ginger juice to a glass of warm water and sip on it. “Ginger fires up your metabolism and eliminates distention and uneasiness and detoxifies your body,” says Suvarna Pathak, dietitian at the Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai. Or squeeze half a lemon in a glass of water. You can also make a decoction by boiling half an inch of ginger in two cups of water. “Boil on slow flame till it reduces to one cup and sip on this tea,” says Shikha Nehru Sharma, managing director, Dr Shikha’s NutriHealth, a nutrition clinic in Delhi.  Continue reading “Get rid of stomach pain through natural ways”

Bangalore history: A 1949 letter by a missionary on anglo-Indians

How were Anglo-Indians perceived just after the Indian independence? A friend on facebook recently shared two sides of an old postcard written by a missionary in 1949 by a missionary KE Munson to a friend of hers in the USA. I was fascinated by the postcard, her opinions and since it’s so difficult to read, transcripted it here for history geeks like me. Read, enjoy, feel free to share! 🙂


From: K.E.Munson, Baldwin Girl’s High School, Bangalore 7-10-1949

To: Miss Hatte Hughes, New York, USA.

Dear Miss Hughes,

How very good of you to send me such a lot of lovely cards. I had forgotten what lovely cards they have at home. I have been giving them out among our mission workers, a dozen or so to each person and they will send them to other friends when the time comes. The do appreciate them so much.

I have kept some for my scrap book, those by Grandma Moses, Currier and Ives, and a few others. Most of them are snow scenes, maybe because I do miss the snow and the cold weather. I really do not approve of the card habit among our Christians when postage costs so much and means that much less to eat. But of course most of the cards are delivered by hand, and in any case take the place of presents that would cost a great deal more. And they are so beautiful, and are treasured for years by those who receive them.

Today a lady is coming to look over the cards and choose her share.

She’s an Anglo-Indian, with some Indian and some European blood. In the early days the East India Company encouraged the men to make temporary unions with Indian women. When I first came to India 30 years ago I knew women who were still receiving pensions as the children of E.I.C officials. The British government paid them. Then of course each war always leaves a lot of children of mixed blood, especially in places like Bangalore that have been military centres. Then too there probably have always been some real marriages, though these have ben difficult among the Hindus because of the caste system.

Naturally the Anglo-Indians, A-I’s as we call them, resent – and justly so – any imputation that their origin has not been honourable.

I suppose that all of them, or at least almost all have quite lost track of their ancestry. That seemed to have been proved true when so many girls wanted to go to America as brides of the G.I. They had to prove that they were either 51 per cent white or 51 per cent Indian as Indians and English had a quota system then. Unless the mixture was in the last generation it was almost impossible to prove. Most of these A-I girls were fair and beautiful, but unless their father was a British soldier and their births registered in Somerset House, they could do nothing about it. You see in the old days, until World War I, passports were not required and birth certificates were rarely saved.

It was these A-I families, many of whom were on the railroad, that William Taylor hoped would evangelize India.

Continue reading “Bangalore history: A 1949 letter by a missionary on anglo-Indians”

Event: Occult quiz and book discussion in British Council, Chennai

I’m finally heading to Chennai with the occult quiz. It’s been a couple of years since friends, fans and quiz enthusiasts are asking me to bring the creepy occult quiz to them. So i’m so so excited to announce this.

It’s tomorrow, 5-6pm at the British Council, Chennai. You can RSVP to Susan: susan.chettri@britishcouncil.org or on the Facebook event page. Needless to say, come over peeps. It’s going to be super fun.

O

Interview: Author Anjum Hassan and Zac O’ Yeah on their writing course

When I first began writing fiction, I didn’t take any creative writing course. There weren’t any I could find. Instead I learnt the old way—reading, scrounging blogs of writers, emailing authors and haranguing them—till I could build that small little wisp of an idea in my head, through plot building, characterization, structure and somehow fit it into the shape of a novel. Learning the art of writing this way wasn’t easy. And if it wasn’t for the support of a lot of authors who replied back to me over email and tried to help, I would have given up before I finished my first novel.

Does a formal writing course help?

Last year, when I attended a few classes at the creative writing master’s course at Chichester University, UK, as part of my Charles Wallace India Trust fellowship, I realized how these classes could have helped me as a debut author. A formal course would have introduced me to concepts of structures, storytelling style, plot building, scenes, pace, and many other little building blocks that each author needs in order to build the magic wand of writing and shape the story in her head. Plus, it would have introduced me to authors and publishers and made me understand how the publishing industry worked a little bit more.

Which is why when I heard about author couple Anjum Hassan and Zac O’Yeah, starting an intense creative writing course in Bangalore, I decided to write about it, hoping that debut writers, who are scrounging now like I did all those years ago, would hopefully attend and build their magic wands of writing.

An intensive writing course will show you possibilities

Bangalore’s worldBangalore’s World-Famous Semi-Deluxe Writing Course as it’s called is a 12-week program at Shoonya – Centre for Art and Somatic Practices where a conglomerate of authors introduces you to various genres including short stories, thrillers, travelogues, children’s literature, writing for film and television, business writing, poetry and translations. You get to meet a lot of wonderful writers and learn from them. Both Zac and Anjum didn’t want to keep the cost very high as they wanted to encourage everyone who harboured a wish to write and not only ‘corporate types’. Excerpts from an interview.

Q) What brought about the idea of doing such an intensive creative writing course?

Anjum: Because it just felt like high time that somebody starts something like this. There have been lots of smaller and more informal courses over the last few years in Bengaluru, but none that actually follows a thought-out curriculum which takes a broad perspective on writing as a possible career. And with more people being interested in writing, who may want to write a novel or whatever they wish to write, it seemed like a nice idea to do something.

Q) Tell us a little bit about this workshop. What modules do you plan, how will you divide the teaching among yourselves.

Continue reading “Interview: Author Anjum Hassan and Zac O’ Yeah on their writing course”

How to rock disappearing status updates

Disappearing status updates are the new thing to do over on Facebook and Instagram. Even Whatsapp makes sure they stand out. We give you some tips on how to use the disappearing status update on all three social networks.

Why you should do disappearing acts

First made popular by the Snapchat app, disappearing status messages are all about instant emotions—what you’re feeling, seeing or experiencing—expressed through a combination of pictures, videos, GIFs and illustrations, with a 24-hour expiry time. Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram highlight such status updates to make them stand out from the regular ones that you see on your timeline. Messaging platform WhatsApp has a dedicated column in the app, while Instagram and Facebook show the Stories updates in the row along the top, highlighted with a red circle around profile pictures. Using it means your profile becomes top-of-recall on someone’s timeline. It is perhaps a good way of gaining followers.

Tell a story

It could be the story of how your day is going, where you are working, what you’re attending, seeing, eating, or just anything funny. The best status messages push users to see more updates. Play with posts to tell a story about something. Pictures or videos of a concert or sports event, behind-the-scenes at a party, tutorials on a skill set you know best, or a series of genuine personal questions to which your followers can respond privately.

Have some fun

There’s a reason why disappearing status messages offer mixed media. Continue reading “How to rock disappearing status updates”

Dhanushkodi, the ghost town to Sri Lanka

The road to Dhanushkodi is smooth and straight, flanked by gabion boxes that protect it from gales with velocity of 70-80 kilometers per hour. The panorama fills with salty water, an endless silver and blue, merging with the mercilessly heated up skies. The waters of Bay of Bengal roar on our left while the cerulean depths of the Indian Ocean glimmer on our right.

We are on the 19 kilometre national highway that links Rameshwaram, a popular pilgrimage town on Pamban island in Tamil Nadu to Dhanushkodi, the abandoned ghost town on its south-eastern tip.

Just 18 miles from there, as the crow flies, lies another country, Sri Lanka.

An ancient Hindu legend claims this as the place where Rama built the Rama Setu, a bridge of floating rocks that could connect the islands of Pamban and Sri Lanka and enable his legendary monkey army to reach King Ravana’s abode, the modern day Sri Lanka. When Rama won the war against the King of Lanka, he was asked to destroy the bridge, which he did using the end of his bow, hence the name ‘Dhanushkodi’ which literally translates into ‘end of the bow’.

Continue reading “Dhanushkodi, the ghost town to Sri Lanka”

Event: Author as librarian at Goobe’s Book Republic

What happens when an author becomes a librarian? As far as I remember, I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, or own a bookstore and have harboured a dream of sitting in one, selling and recommending books to readers like me. I actually do that, in airport stores, or bookstores on weekends, lurk, and suggest people what to read.

I’ve always had this fantasy of recommending books to readers. The kind that I like, that are full of spaceships, monsters, supernatural and a tadka of ghosts.

I will be hanging about for a few hours, sitting on the cashier seat, recommend the books and authors I love reading, sign my own books and talk to customers in a role-play of being a librarian.  So I fixed with the amazing Ravi, at the indie bookstore Goobe’s Book Republic, to make my fantasy come true. For a few hours on Saturday, I will be womaning their desk, recommending books to readers, indulging in long conversations about favourite parts of favourite authors and selling and signing books! 

There’s another reason. A dire one.

In recent years, a few of my favourite indie bookstores have shut down across the country. All these stores, run by passionate people, couldn’t sustain because of competition from either chainstores or online stores.
It’s heart wrenching for an author to see bookstores where she has spend years, to be so unceremoniously shut down. I think where reading is concerned, indie bookstores are the best way to encourage people, through one-on-one interactions, listening to readers and keeping a quality collection.

Which is why I hope this little event brings in more from the community and sales. Goobe starts it, but I hope to do this, build meaningful relationships with indie booksellers and readers in other cities too. After all books should be a way to love, exchange, laugh and celebrate reading.

Come over, if you’re around in Bangalore, want to read something new, and say hello.
DAY / TIME: July 1, Saturday, 4.20pm to 7.20pm
Say yay on Facebook page.

The river Ganga: Myths, folklore and stories you want to retell

On Dasashwamedh Ghat in Banaras, people jostle with each other to touch the holy waters of the river Ganga. Old people take careful steps, while younger ones jump into the river from a height, slapping, playing, and laughing. Some mutter prayers to Goddess Ganga as they take dips ritualistically amidst the flotsam of rituals, decayed flowers and pieces of bones and plastic kiss the corners of the ghats. Cows munch on garbage while tourists crane their cameras from boats, their fingers pressing the button for panicked clicks. It’s a chaotic scene that celebrates life and death in an endless cycle.

She’s a goddess who travels through three worlds

For the river Ganga, with a whopping 2,525 kilometers of length that begins in western Himalayas and continues through the Gangetic plains into Bangladesh and then the Bay of Bengal, is not just a river for Hindus in India. She’s a goddess who travels through three worlds, making her an important highway if you want to reach either Heavens or Netherworld from Earth. In Sanskrit, Ganga is also called Triloka-patha-gamini or Tripathaga, or one who travels the three worlds.

Continue reading “The river Ganga: Myths, folklore and stories you want to retell”