Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Interview♥Excerpt♥Giveaway: Duty and Desire by Anju Gattani

Title: Duty and Desire
Series: Winds of Fire #1
Author: Anju Gattani
Genre: Family Saga
Publisher: Greenbrier Book Co.
Pages: 304


Book Description:

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 Indias 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.

When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
I usually don’t have to think too hard about the Indian or American names for my characters.  They come to me - with the main characters – does that makes sense?  In fact, I sometimes wonder why on earth the characters demand the names (they end up with).  So I have to work backwards… look back to understand if the name suits the characters and if the translation of their meanings sometimes (Hindi to English) are valid. 

I tried changing the name of one character and it just didn’t work.  She refused to let her name go and demanded a book of her own instead!!  I decided it best to stop questioning my characters’ motives and ‘namesake’ from that point on before the names exploded into more books. 

How do you get started with writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)
I’m a very organic writer.  With the current work-in-progress, the main character came to me with a problem and I had to begin writing to figure out what it is she wants (goal).  With ‘Duty and Desire’ I saw the end of the story in 2001 (now the end of the 2nd book in the series) and then had to work backwards to figure out what it is (Duty and Desire and the next book to follow) in the ‘Winds of Fire’ series is all about. 

With the current work-in-progress the main character came to me with her conflict.  I saw the end of the story and had to figure out the middle.   This time I mapped her story out on a graph (yeah, you know ‘x’ and ‘y’ axis and all) so that I didn’t end up with a tangent of books spiraling all over the place.  I also managed to taper and align the numerous conflicts running in this story.  But I don’t know the story until I sit down and write it.  Does that make sense?  

How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?
Duty and Desire was a 9-year journey.  It is the debut in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series.  The original, handwritten copy took 1.5 years to pound out.  After that the book has been re-written over 25 times (on the computer – yes, not by hand, or it would be in a cast by now!) followed by another 4-5 rounds of edits.     

How did you come up with the title?

My fantastic publishing house, Greenbrier Book Co., finalized the title ‘Duty and Desire’ which highlights the conflict throughout the story.  It resonates with what many Indians and Asians deal with today. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If you are in a difficult situation and feel ‘boxed in’… like there is no alternative solution to a predicament, then step back and take a look at the situation from a different perspective.  There is always a way out.  You just have to find the courage and confidence from within to move forward.  

What books have most influenced your life most?
I just LOVE to read! I have read almost every book by international bestselling author Sidney Sheldon and V.C. Andrews (during my teenage years). 

Physical Travel:
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. 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’ve been blessed to work with, critiqued by and be guided by real mentors. 
NYTimes Bestselling author Haywood Smith (my Guruji).
Southern Women’s Fiction. USA Today Bestselling author Jade Lee (my soul sister), Multicultural + Historical Romance. 
These 2 amazing women took me under their wings and taught me what it means to write, rewrite and REWRITE until you have created a saleable product worthy of someone’s time and money.  They taught me the wisdom of REWRITING and the business side of the industry.

What book are you reading now?
I’m actually re-reading the following: ‘Shanghai Girls’ by Lisa See and ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.

What are your current projects?
I am writing the first draft of the third book in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series.  It’s a huge, complicated book but I’m glad almost all the research is done. 
I also guest blog (my website has all the latest information on where and who I’m guest-blogging for). 
I also freelance for a multicultural magazine, ‘KHABAR’, serving the Indian-American community in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I ABSOLUTELY HAVE to mention my husband here – sorry!  We had moved from Singapore, were new to the U.S., and I could just about drive along tiny roads on my US license – not on the highways!  My husband, Vivek, drove me to local GRW Chapter meetings, hung out with the kids and then picked me up to go home after numerous meeting – until I could so myself.  That’s just a fraction of his support… how could I not mention him?   
Outside of that - Romance Writers of America and my home chapter Georgia Romance Writers.  I’ve been attending chapter meetings regularly (well, almost!), local and RWA National conferences and have learned so much about what it means to be a professional writer. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I grew up in Hong Kong and the local, leading English newspaper, South China Morning Post, had a special Sunday edition for kids - ‘Young Post Club’.  They still do but it’s drastically different from what we had ‘back then’ – *cringing at the last 2 words*. 

I was 7 at the time, submitted a poem (4 lines) and lo & behold – it was published several weeks later!  Just seeing my name in print for the first time was enough to drive me on.  After that I submitted more pieces of work – some got published, some didn’t - filled diaries with poems during my teenage years (all locked in a drawer & gathering dust somewhere) and started my career as an international freelance journalist with a women’s magazine in India.  Since then I’ve also been published in Singapore, USA and worked as a news reporter with a publication in Connecticut

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Taking the western reader into the heart and mind of an Asian (Indian) character.  It goes beyond the complexities of world-building, characterization, plot, etc… it demands grounding the reader in a completely different world with its own system of values, beliefs and culture and making that world come alive on the page.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
KHALED HOSSEINI (bold, caps & larger font!!!).  I don’t even have to think, here!  I’ve read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ and respect Mr. Hosseini for bringing to life the real perspective of what war and destruction did to the locals in Afghanistan.  He explores the plight of the locals, the hidden complexities of their inner lives, their conflicts, system of values (which the media never quite captures) and leads the reader to live and deal with the situation for what it really is.  Not what the media or 2nd hand information leads us to believe it may be.  There’s a huge difference there. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I had no idea how many themes were running in the story of ‘Duty and Desire’ when I pounded out the original draft (2002-3).  I didn’t know it was up-market fiction (book-club level) fiction either at the time.  Each re-write helped me discover more and more about the layers and themes embedded in the book and the numerous layers to each character – including the secondary ones!    

Do you have any advice for other writers?
The best advice I can give is what I’ve been given:

What NYTimes Bestselling author, Haywood Smith told me in 2004/5: “Writing is a journey.  Keep living your real life to its full while you create the world of fiction.” 

From USA Today Bestselling author Jade Lee (a partial of the original) – I still have this up on my board J… “You're trying to sell a mango in a market used to oranges and apples… Your job is to send it to make it the best mango possible.  This will take a long time. You have to have enough faith that your mango is a great product all on its own. You have to believe that the market is ready for that mango. You have to know it in your heart that this is a good mango. And...you have to create more mangos. Your job is to get better and better with each time you write. Keep marketing that mango… Believe. You have a great mango.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I learned, after connecting with my readers at author events, that a writer becomes an author because of readers.  As a writer of novels I live in my own fictional world.  I create my problems (actually my characters – voices in my head – do!) and then I have to solve them.  But readers make the written word (print and digital) real.  Readers make the journey and isolation of the writing profession real. 

I always love to hear back from readers and their opinions of my work.  Please feel free to email me at: anju@anjugattani.com

You can also find me at:

 What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The research in Duty and Desire has been 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. 
I had to research oil painting (for Sheetal), about emotionally abusive relationships and so much more on the reasons behind Indian customs and traditions… I could go on and on! 


“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.”

Author Bio

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 SingaporeAustraliaIndiaNew 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

Find the Author:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |

Tour Schedule:

September 10th- My Seryniti (Review/Interview)
September 11th- My Escape (Guest Post/Giveaway)
September 12th- Beach Bum Reads (Book Review/Giveaway)
September 13th- Crazy Four Books (Review/Giveaway)
September 14th- Simply Infatuated (Giveaway)
September 15th- Bookluvrs Haven (Review/Giveaway)
September 16th- Lizzy's Dark Fiction (Guest Post/Giveaway)
September 17th- Reading with Holly (Excerpt/Giveaway)
September 18th- FireStarBooks You are Here. :)
September 19th- Tricia Kristufek (Guest Post)
September 20th- Juniper Grove (Interview/Giveaway)
September 21st- The Avid Reader (Guest Post)
September 22nd- A Bit of Dash (Excerpt/Giveaway)
September 23rd- Black Hippie Chick's Take on Books & The World (Interview/Giveaway)
September 24th- SnifferWalk (Review/Giveaway)
September 25th- A Bibliophile's Thoughts on Books (Excerpt/Giveaway)
September 26th- Mallory Heart Reviews (Excerpt)
September 27th- Day Dreaming Book Reviews (Guest Post/Giveaway)
September 28th- The Bunnys Review (Excerpt)
September 29th- I am, Indeed (Review/Giveaway) 

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  1. Thanks for hosting me and my debut novel, DUTY & DESIRE. It was wonderful to share the journey behind the book and much more with all of you!

    Hope you enjoy the read as much as I loved the writes and rewrites...


  2. thanks for the awesome giveaway can't wait to read the book

  3. Hi Katie, Sabryy & Nurmawati,

    Hope you enjoy the read as much as I loved the rewrites and the journey of DUTY AND DESIRE... and many more books to come :)


  4. I actually collect postcards and love SWAG so this is a great giveaway! Thanks!

  5. Hi Zara,
    Thanks for commenting and good luck to winning this exclusive swag... made in India!

  6. Keep inspiring your readers about Pakistani Readymade Dresses, helpful for lots of peoples. thank you!


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