Interview with Author Kyle Autumn

Our guest this week is Author Kyle Autumn, she is the author of sexy contemporary romances that will melt your heart and your panties.

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She also writes erotic short stories series that will likely melt your panties more than your heart. She loves chocolate and pajamas. Can’t be bothered to brush her hair most days. Can always be bothered to write her pants—er, pajama bottoms—off.

 

Let’s see what she answered to my questions!!!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there! My name is Kyle and I write books! And short stories. They’re written to melt your hearts…and your panties. 😉 I’ve been writing for a while now, but I started publishing this year. I have big plans for the rest of the year and 2018. And I love binge-watching TV shows. It’s a problem. Ha!

voyeur1How did you come up with the title of “The Voyeur”?

That really gets at the heart of the story arc. There are six short stories that make up this series about a woman who catches her neighbors in the act. But she doesn’t stop watching, and it leads to all sorts of steamy fun. 😉

What is your favorite character from the Thirsty Thursday Series?

It’s really hard to decide. All four of the main women have a bit of me in them, and I really enjoyed writing them! I think the one I loved writing the most was Patti and Zo’s story, “The Girlfriend’s Secret.” But I also liked writing Lyra a lot. The men were all fun too. Blake was probably my favorite of them. 🙂

33973319What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I looooove romance so much. Everything about love makes me happy, so I really enjoy telling stories about couples falling in love. And their bedroom time is fun to explore too!

How would you describe your writing style?

I like to be straightforward, but I also like to add some “flowery” prose in there too. It isn’t needed, but I find that to be my voice. I very much like song lyrics, and I wish I’d gotten into writing those. They’re much shorter. Ha! But I enjoy writing in that style.

voyeur2What authors inspire your writing?

K Webster, Pepper Winters, Aly Martinez… So many. 🙂

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?

Oh wow. I honestly have no idea. A professional binge-watcher? Ha! I can’t imagine a life without writing.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently releasing The Voyeur series, but I’m working on a novel about a woman whose sexual fantasy comes true but leads to deadly trouble—and love. It’s been fun!

34109144Do you have any advice for new authors?

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t try to be anyone else. Write. Finish projects. And don’t worry about perfection. You can’t please everyone, so please yourself. 🙂National_Thank_You_Day

 

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Author Ditter Kellen Spotlight and Facebook LIVE Interview

71VPN81jglL._UX250_Ditter Kellen is the bestselling author of the Enigma Series. To say she’s addicted to reading is an understatement. Her eBook reader is an extension of her and holds many of her fantasies and secrets. It’s filled with dragons, shifters, vampires, ghosts and many more jaw-dropping characters who keep her entertained on a daily basis.

Ditter’s love of paranormal and outrageous imagination have conspired together to bring her where she is today…sitting in front of her computer allowing them free rein. Writing is her passion, what she was born to do. I hope you will enjoy reading her stories as much as she loves spinning them.

Ditter resides in Florida with her husband and many unique farm animals. She adores French fries and her phone is permanently attached to her ear.

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Watch this interview from yesterday! Ditter answered a lot of questions about her books and works in progress as well as her author career and her passion for writing. I really enjoyed it and it made me want to get ALL of her books!

Also, look at those gorgeous covers! Don’t they make you want to just dig in into those stories?

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Ditter’s latest series, Enigma, was praised by reviewers and reached the top rankings on its category, being one of the best Romance books lately and offering a rich story that not only focus on the main couple but also provides an entertaining read about adventures, paranormal situations and the HEA that we all seek when reading Romance books!

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Doctor Abbigail Sutherland is used to being alone. Between twelve hour shifts at the hospital and looking after her eccentric father, she has very little time for much else. Until an unexpected call one night, sends her racing to the lab where she discovers a secret that could change the world forever.

Hauke awakens after an underwater explosion, strapped to a bed and on his way to a site known as Area 51. His only hope for survival lies in Abbie Sutherland, the beautiful doctor that saved his life. Amidst a deadly virus, seemingly impossible to stop, and a corrupt Government placing a price on their heads, Hauke and Abbie run for their lives, uncovering conspiracies, deceptions, and a love that won’t be denied…

Recommend reading the books in order. This is not a serial, and it does have a happy ever after, but the story moves forward with a new hero and heroine in the next book.

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Interview with Author Annabelle Anders

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This week our guest is the gorgeous Annabelle Anders (just look at this dress!).

She writes Historical Romance, and is here today to tell us a bit about herself and her books.

Let’s see what she answered to my questions!!!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to
three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis
and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car.
At this point,
I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender.
Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management.
And then the energy market dropped off.
And then my dog died.
I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination.
I am happy to have found my place in life.
Finally.

unnamedHow did you come up with the title of “Hell Hath No Fury”?

I first was going to call it “A Lady Scorned” giving it the obvious Historical sounding title, and in Hindsight, that might have been a good idea. I say this because some people aren’t aware that it IS a HISTORICAL NOVEL. A few of my reviewers opened it up and were like, “OH NO! I don’t read Historical’s!” The happy aspect of this is that they read it anyway and said they really enjoyed it!

Anyway, This series flips the normal trope of debutante’s seeking husbands onto it’s head. Cecily (My Heroine) is trying to get rid of a husband… (as is my character in Book 2). So I decided to call the series “The Devil’s Debutantes.” Hell Hath No Fury then seemed to be the best title. Book Two is likely going to be titled Hell in a Hand Basket.

What is your favorite character of “Hell Hath No Fury”?

My favorite character is likely, always going to be the heroine I’m writing about right now. I say this because I do not like reading stories where I don’t like the heroine.

unnamed2What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

The only genre I write is Regency (Late Regency.) Maybe someday I’ll switch that up… but no plans for that at the time.

How would you describe your writing style?

Journalistic. Easy reading. I don’t use a lot of fancy words. I simply want to tell my story in a fun and romantic way. Although my books have tragedies in them I want them to be fun and light hearted. I think a good story can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride… kind of like life.

What authors inspire your writing?

Mary Balogh. Jennifer Cruise (Contemporary) and Lisa Kleypas.

unnamed3What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?

A singer. I’m a dork, because, yes, I LOVE Karaoke. LOL

What are you working on now?

I have three other projects in the works right now.

Of course, Blue Tulip and I are working to release the follow up to HELL HATH NO FURY, which is titled HELL IN A HAND BASKET and hopefully we can get that out before the end of the year.

I’m also working with another publisher, The Wild Rose Press, on a four book series which I finished writing last year. It’s called Lord Love a Lady and is Pure Regency Romance FUN! I’m so excited about this series because, I think, unlike many series that I’ve read, the books get better and better as you get deeper into it. The last book is the best book I’ve ever written (In my opinion) And I can hardly WAIT to release it! These should start coming out, I think, in early 2018.

And the book I’m writing right now will likely be my first Self Published work. It’s the first book of a Regency Romance series where the heroines all suffer from some sort of mild Anxiety disorder. The first book is called the “Perfect Debutante” and the series is titled “Perfect Ladies.” It’s tricky because I want to handle the subject matter sensitively but also have some fun. Ironically enough, this book will likely be the next one to release!

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Keep writing. Send queries and manuscripts but throughout the process of being published keep writing. I say this because many Publishers take a LONG time getting your book out and you’ll stay ahead of the game if you have other projects coming right behind your first…

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The Last Suttee – Book Tour

NEW RELEASE…

“You must come at once if you want to stop the suttee from happening again…” This phone message summons Kumud Kuthiyala back to Neela Nagar, the blue town of her youth, and the shackled life she thought she had left behind forever…

As a nine-year-old, Kumud witnessed the brutal and horrifying suttee ritual when her beloved aunt immolated herself on the burning pyre of her dead husband. Years later, Kumud summoned the courage to escape the isolated and primitive town of her youth to start a new life in Ambayu, a metropolitan city. She began as office help at Save Girls Soul Orphanage Center and progressed to become its director. At SGSO Center, she becomes a warrior for women’s education and equal rights. She teaches young women to protect themselves from outmoded practices and rituals that victimize women.

Then a phone call informs Kumud that the suttee of a sixteen-year-old is inevitable. She has vowed that she will never let it happen again. Still haunted by her aunt’s suttee, she leaves everything behind, including her love, Shekhar Roy, to end the barbaric custom that scarred her for life, and to save the young bride from committing suttee.

As Kumud travels back to the town of her youth, long-buried memories resurface and force her to remember the life from which she fled. The town that greets her is full of contradictions. It has electricity and clean water, and a new school is open to low castes, yet superstition and prejudice abound. How can she convince the town that their centuries-old tradition is cruel and barbaric, that a widowed young woman deserves the right to live? Can she change the minds of the townspeople and the Five Elders before it’s too late?

Available to buy from…
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“A stunning story of one woman’s struggle to stop the ritual of suttee. The novel weaves centuries old traditions with the stark march toward twenty-first century. It progresses with surprising plot twists, a ticking clock, and stubborn and powerful antagonist who challenges the protagonist, Kumud, to stand up to the orthodox and close-minded community”  – Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop 

Read an excerpt HERE

About the author
An author, artist, world-traveler and the founder of the Mindful Writers Group, Madhu Bazaz Wangu was a professor of arts and religions of India before becoming a full time writer. She has a doctorate in the Phenomenology of Religions from the University of Pittsburgh and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Harvard University. For twenty-five years, she taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Chatham College in Pennsylvania, Wellesley and Wheaton Colleges in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island College.

In 1997, Dr. Wangu voyaged around the world with students and faculty members from various American Universities for the Semester-at-Sea program. She loved the experience so much that each year she has been revisiting places of historical significance in different countries, observing the cultures, meeting the people and enjoying their cuisine.

In 2010, she founded the Mindful Writers Group, and in 2015 started a second one. She encourages writers of all levels and genres to delve deeper in their work by body-mind-heart meditation. Her CD, Meditations for Mindful Writers was released in 2011. She guides writers in meditation and writing marathons. Twice each year, Mindful Writers Groups gather for writing retreats. There, surrounded by nature, they practice sitting and walking meditations in-between long writing sessions.

Madhu B. Wangu has published numerous essays and four books on Hindu and Buddhist goddesses and Indian religions. She has held five one-person art exhibitions in India and US. Her collection, Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Collisions and Compassion, was published in 2015 and her debut novel, The Immigrant Wife: Her Spiritual Journey, in 2016. Currently, she is writing her second novel, The Last Suttee and a guidebook for mindful writing.

Find the author on the following sites…
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Google+   Goodreads   Amazon 

VANESSA KINGS'

The Last Suttee gripped me from the first page. From then on it did not let go. Not only is it a book that you can’t put down, but it also has a powerful message, dealing with ancient Indian rituals. The images, though strong, convey these practices which have been recently outlawed in a sense that makes you think how these customs came to be.

Through the novel’s protgonist, Kumud, a voice is created that stands not only against the barbaric ritual, but also resonates to our time in each woman’s struggle.

Why I Wrote the Novel, THE LAST SUTTEE

On the morning of September 5, 1987, I was going through the Hillman Library card catalogue at the University of Pittsburgh when a friend stopped by. She told me something I would never forget. She said that an eighteen-year-old Indian woman, named Roop Kanwar, had immolated herself on the pyre of her dead husband. I was dumbfounded. Suttee in the twentieth century? It couldn’t be. But The New York Times confirmed the news. The ritual, known as suttee, was witnessed by the townspeople and thousands more came to see it from nearby villages and towns. When the news was leaked the following day, the town was swarmed for days by Indian and international journalists. I was stunned and speechless, my legs laden with lead. At that frozen moment, the seed for this book was planted.

The kernel stayed dormant, but the incident continued to sear like a wound at the back of my mind. The distress was raw, but I was not yet emotionally ready to write about what had happened and how it had affected me. In the ensuing years, I trawled libraries, bookstores, and the Internet, learning about the history of suttee and the cultural and religious traditions in which it is rooted. I studied records of the shrines dedicated to women who had committed suttee. I read the history and mythology of the namesake goddess, spelled Sati. Critically and carefully I analyzed the photographs of Sati temples and studied the engravings, drawings, and paintings of the goddess Sati and the suttee ritual that had been made by British, European, and Indian artists and travelers.

Suttee is a centuries-old Hindu ritual. This ancient belief still persists in some remote corners in India. The belief is if a widow cremates herself with her dead husband, the couple will live in heaven as they did on earth. Furthermore, such a sacrifice guarantees a place in heaven for seven generations for both sides of the family.

The ritual is rooted in the myths of two goddesses: Sati, Shiva’s wife, and Sita, Rama’s wife. Here are summaries of the myths:

Goddess Sati is the daughter of the high priest Daksha. Shiva, the world renouncer, is so awed by her yogic skills and asceticism that he grants her a boon. Sati asks to marry him. He agrees. Daksha dislikes Shiva. He finds Shiva unconventional and unkempt. Despite her father’s opposition Sati marries Shiva and they live in his mountain abode in Himalayas. 

Daksha plans a great sacrifice. He invites all the important divine beings, except Shiva. Sati feels disgraced by the way in which her father has treated her husband. On the day of the great sacrifice, she throws herself in the fire pit meant for the sacrifice. And burns herself to death. When Shiva discovers what has happened to his wife, he is outraged. He pulls out Sati’s half-burnt body, holds it on his shoulders, and in anguish and lamentations whirls around the world. 

Goddess Sita is an ideal Hindu wife. Her husband, Rama, is the center of her life. His welfare, reputation, and wishes are most important to her. One day, the demon king Ravana abducts her and takes her to his golden palace. He lies to her that he has killed Rama. Sita is horrified. She moans and tells him that it must have been her fault that her husband was killed. She warns Ravana she could burn him to ashes with the fire of her chastity, but she won’t because she did not have her husband’s permission. 

In the end, Rama defeats Ravana and brings Sita home. There he severely tests her loyalty because she has spent days under the control of another man. Sita is shocked at such an accusation. She protests her innocence. She says she has remained wholly devoted and completely faithful to him. Rama persists. 

Grieved by his false accusation, Sita asks for a funeral pyre to prove her innocence. A pyre is built, and Sita stands atop it with hands folded. Agni, the god of fire, refuses to harm her because she is innocent and pure. She returns to Rama unscathed. Yet he banishes her to a forest. 

Sati and Sita are faithful and chaste wives, and they are devoted to their husbands. The lives of these goddesses are defined by their husbands. Although their dedication and chastity are exemplary, they pay a heavy price for being wives. In both myths, fire plays an important role. Whereas Sati voluntarily kills herself, Sita is saved by Agni. Their god/husbands are alive when the women jump into the sacrificial pit or on the funeral pyre. But ordinary women’s lives are no myths. When a woman is forced into being a suttee, neither her husband nor the god of fire will save her.

The suttee ritual was outlawed by British Raj in 1829. The ritual was described as “heinous rite” when cases surfaced about widows being tied to their husband’s pyre even after being intoxicated with bhang or opium. Many reports of widows escaping and being rescued by strangers were also recorded. Still, more than a century later, scattered instances of the custom have been reported, such as Savitri Soni’s in 1973 and Charan Shah’s in 1999.

The most notorious and controversial case, however, was of Roop Kanwar. Indian people either publicly defended Roop’s action or declared that she had been murdered. Following the outcry that followed Roop Kanwar’s suttee, the government of India enacted the Rajasthan Sati Prevention Ordinance on October 1, 1987. The law makes it not only illegal to commit suttee but also illegal to glorify the ritual or coerce a woman to commit suttee. Glorification includes erecting a shrine to honor the dead woman or converting the place where immolation took place into a pilgrimage site. Derivation of any income from such activities is also banned. The law makes no distinction between a passive observer and an active promoter. Everyone is held equally guilty.

The seed for writing a book inspired by Roop Kanwar’s suttee finally sprouted in November 2009, when I wrote its first draft as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit internet organization that supports writers in an effort to complete the initial draft of a novel in one month.

It would take me seven more years to finalize the draft.

The story continued to incubate. I developed the characters, sketched the settings, wrote the narrative and dialogue. But to birth a healthy novel and bring it to life, I had to experience the environment in which Roop Kanwar was born, lived, and died. I needed to converse with the people who allowed it to happen. I wanted to know the antagonist and protagonist’s viewpoints.

I visited India for a month in 2013 for that purpose. I went to the small towns of Deorala, where Roop Kanwar committed suttee, and Jhunjhunu, home of an imposing marble temple dedicated to faithful women who sacrifice their young lives immediately after their husbands’ deaths. The visit stirred feelings of remorse and wonder. Why did people celebrate sacrificial death? How does blind faith hide behind the stunning structure? Domestic and temple architecture, middle and high schools, ancient mansions with bedroom walls made of mirror-mosaics (some now converted to five-star hotels) were breathtakingly beautiful. The local flora and fauna were intriguing, and men and women’s attire colorful. I fell in love with the place. But I wasn’t there as a tourist. I was there to fulfill a quest, to do something about an event that jolted the core of my being.

Meeting with the people of Deorala opened my mind to the fact that a community’s worldview can be so different from my own. Yet my sorrow and awe about Roop Kanwar and my feelings about other widows like her were not alleviated by talking to Roop’s father-in-law, her brother-in-law and his wife, or their neighbors. Nor did I blame them after visiting her neglected and unkempt suttee site. However, the visit helped me better understand the point of view of the town residents. A magnificent temple dedicated to the goddess Sati, which locals honor and regard highly, further clarified their worldview.

My interview with Roop Kanwar’s father-in-law took place in the verandah outside the room where Roop lived with her husband. This was the room where she dressed herself in bridal attire and decked herself in jewelry before following her husband’s dead body to the cremation site. The room has been turned into a shrine, and Roop has become an ishtadevi, a manifestation of Narayani Satimata, a local goddess higher in the pantheon of the thousands of village goddesses of India.

When I asked to go to where Roop performed suttee, her father-in-law declined to walk along, but he did ask other men to take me there. I treaded the path that evidently Roop Kanwar, most probably intoxicated with bhang, walked with the help of two women. They followed her husband’s litter, which four male relatives carried. I was told a lamenting crowd of men, women, and children followed the dead body and Roop as they headed toward her husband’s funeral pyre.

Facing the desolate ground where the ritual had taken place twenty-six years earlier, I shed tears of pain for an eighteen-year-old who didn’t know better, and who no one came to rescue.

The characters in this novel are fictional, but the setting is historic. Writing it does not feel like redemption, for I still ache for the women of the world who are engulfed in outmoded traditions, who are uneducated and dependent. Women with so much potential to offer their families, their communities, and, most importantly, to themselves.

Undoubtedly, the world over, women have made tremendous progress. Yet, the path to elevating women’s social status has many roadblocks, and the process is slow. I sincerely hope The Last Suttee not only helps remove a block or two but also adds substance to the process of change.

Follow the Book Tour

018836-glossy-silver-icon-symbols-shapes-square-2 I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

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Interview with Author Saiswaroopa Iyer

authorSaiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.

She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

Let’s see what she answered to my questions!

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am an investment professional turned author who is interested in exploring the ancient literature, philosophy and history of India.

How did you come up with the title of “Avishi”?
Avishi in Sanskrit refers to Earth. It also means a river. Both of which are very important for a civilization. When I was exploring the legend of Vishpala, I realized that the word Vishpala referred to her position as a head of a settlement rather than her name. Ancient Indian civilization owes its progress to the rivers of India. I came up with the name Avishi for my protagonist as a humble tribute to the civilizational legacy of India.

What is your favorite character of “Avishi”?
Satya, the male protagonist who is a doctor and the innovator of the prosthetic leg that defined Avishi. To me, this story is not only about female valour in ancient India (about which I am incredibly proud of), but also about the trials and tribulations of innovators like Satya who face their own demons and journey towards their destinations.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
Ancient civilizational fiction. Many people call it mythological fiction. But I always like to view those immortal legends as odes to incessant perseverance and commitment of our ancestors. On a lighter note, it is quite possible that I am born in the right century but on the wrong side of Christ 😀

How would you describe your writing style?
I prefer to use simple language. My writings would have less of description or imagery and more of dialogue and discussion. I let characters drive my stories forward and without their co-operation my drafts get stuck!

What authors inspire your writing?
I am mainly influenced by medieval Telugu poets of 14th-16th Century who defined the age of literary liberty called Prabandha yuga (Era of Prabandhas). Writers and poets of 20th Century like KM Munshi and Kalki Krishnamurthy cemented my love for historical fiction and compelling character arcs.

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?
Other than words and stories, I love number crunching. My MBA has equipped me with a liking for analyzing data and I can spend hours doing the same. Perhaps the combination of my passion and skills makes my journey as an Independent author exciting 

What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a sequel to my first novel Abhaya, temporarily titled as “Daughter of Mura.” Abhaya explores Mahabharata till the episode of Rajasuya from the eyes of a fictional princess of a small Kingdom in Ancient India while focusing on the adventures of its protagonist. The next story attempts to do the same, but from the perspective of a girl Mauri and her troubled romance with Ghatotkacha. It would

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Writing is a marathon. It would be more appropriate to describe it as a journey. I would caution aspiring authors against aiming to be one book wonders or treat writing as a short cut to fame. Experience and learn as you go.

National_Thank_You_Day

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Avishi Final Cover

Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita

Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda

But largely forgotten to the memory of India

Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

 

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.

Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

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Guest Post: Discovering Vishpala and the world’s first reference to prosthesis by Saiswaroopa Iyer

Many readers have asked me how I discovered the story of Vishpala, reimagined in Avishi. Quoting one of my editors, stories find their tellers and have a unique way of manifesting. I strongly feel they choose their time and gauge the readiness of the story teller too. Back in 2012, when I was struggling with an early draft of Abhaya, I got some feedback about breathing life into the characters. I was advised to meditate upon the daily life of the characters outside the story and the plot. This is an advice I value dearly and follow even today.

Once, I was writing a scene of Abhaya where the protagonist is a 6 year old toddler demanding her father to tell her stories while he fed her. What kind of stories would a father who is a King and a warrior tell his only daughter? He would want to inspire her with stories of valor too. As Abhaya was set in the times of Mahabharata, this story had to be older. I thought of warrior women from Ramayana. Kaikeyi did not offer a positive side to be narrated to a six year old. Savitri’s story had adventure, romance and philosophy but seemed too terse. It was then that I turned to the oldest book of India, the Rig Veda. The surprises that Rig Veda threw at me would make for quite a few posts! One of them was this warrior called Vishpala (Vishapala where Visha referred to a settlement and Pala referred to the one who headed it).

Vishpala is mentioned in one of the hymns dedicated to the divine healers and miracle workers called Asvinas. The hymn extols them for granting a prosthetic leg to Vishpala when she lost her leg in a battle. (Speculated as an iron leg by the 19th Century Indologist Ralph Griffith) Modern scholars speculate that the metal could be either bronze or copper. But setting the academic debate aside, the hymn happens to be the world’s first reference to the concept of prosthesis! Something that even international medical journals mention while broaching the topic!

I could not help setting aside the draft of Abhaya for a while and marveling at the heroine who fought with a prosthetic leg and about the ancient society which made such iron willed men and women. Consider it a promise made by a story teller to the ancient character who unexpectedly graced her. I resolved to revisit and explore the story of Vishpala after publishing Abhaya (Avishi is a fictional name).

Exploring the world of Avishi posed interesting challenges. The experience was a heavy contrast to writing Abhaya where I struggled to find place for my characters in the dense plot of Mahabharata. Vishpala who was mentioned nowhere but in the precious few shlokas of Rig Veda required me to reimagine the early Vedic society in all its egalitarian glory at the dawn of human civilization. Even the name of Vishpala (which clearly referred to her position) is lost to our memory.

Imagining Santagrahis or those endowed with lightning memory who carried out oral tradition in the times where script was yet to be invented, making sense of live-in relationships as the institution of wedlock was still nascent as a concept were just some aspects in the world creation process behind Avishi.

With each story he or she writes, the story teller challenges his/her comfort zones and turns richer with experience. I hope there are more such stories from the past waiting to reveal themselves when they think the time is ripe!

ABOUT THE(1)

author

Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.

She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

 

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Avishi Final Cover

Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita

Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda

But largely forgotten to the memory of India

Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

 

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.

Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

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Author Spotlight: Stephen Morris

6574307Stephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life.

He is also the Chair of the CORE Executive of Inter-disciplinary.net and organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, evil and wickedness, and related subjects. It was an I-D.net project that took him to Prague for the first time in 2001 and he immediately fell in love with the city! He has been back many, MANY times!

Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.

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Wellspring (Come Hell or High Water #1)

15762042“Come Hell or High Water,” a terrifying historical-urban fantasy trilogy from first-time author Stephen Morris, erupts in 1356 as a witch’s curse rings out over Prague’s Old Town Square. As the old crone is bound to a stake and consumed by flames, her vengeful words set in motion a series of dark events that unfold across the centuries, culminating in the historic flood of August 2002 that threatens to destroy the city.

The novels alternate chapters set in medieval Prague and contemporary Prague (summer 2002). The chapters set in 1356-1357 incorporate a number of local Prague folktales and legends. These 1356 events alert Nadezhda that something very wrong indeed is afoot in Prague. Together with an elderly rabbi from Prague’s famous Jewish quarter, she sets out to avert the impending disaster.

In the summer of 2002, two academics attending a conference at the university – a Jesuit priest and a beautiful Irish professor (who is also a voracious Irish vampire-like creature known as the Dearg-due) – develop their own nefarious agendas. To access the enormous potential power to which the dead witch holds the key, they dupe a secretary into helping destroy the city by unravelling the protective magic built into the Charles Bridge itself that has defended the city since its construction. A small group of academics at that same university conference discover the threat and are forced by circumstances to practice the folk magic they have previously merely researched. They battle the Jesuit, the Dearg-due, the unwitting secretary and the forces of evil that threaten to destroy the city. The academics realize that once free, these forces will unleash a dark power that could undermine all of western civilization. The final confrontation occurs as the historic flood of Prague in 2002 is conjured to destroy the magical Charles Bridge which has protected the city for centuries.

Readers of David Devereux and Jim Butcher will respond to the authentic magical practices and the detective work in both aspects of the story as Nedezhda and the academics each sleuth for the source of the evil they see working itself out in the life of the city and their search for the magical practice(s) that will be able to avert the coming disaster. Readers of Mike Carrey’s Felix Castor books will appreciate the interaction of the living and the dead throughout the story while readers of Kate Griffen’s Matthew Swift series will enjoy the intimate association of the magic with specific moments and monuments of Prague’s history and culture. Fans of Robert Langdon’s adventures will appreciate the authentic history that is woven into the story.

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ABOUT THE(2)

I loved this! When someone really knows their subject it shows and this guy knows Prague, its history and mythology, inside out. Anyone who has been there will recognise the places he describes and be fascinated by the stories attached to them. The blend of the modern and the medieval worked really well and it reminded me of Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor. Clearly, Morris has a fascination with the occult and his understanding of it, and of its place in medieval history, goes far beyond that found in most popular novels on the subject. I found the plot really interesting and can’t wait for the next in the trilogy. Above all, it is a great book to take to Prague itself. You’ll learn far more about what was going on under the surface of the old city than you will from any guidebook. Recommended.by Umberto3

One of the things that fascinates me about this book is the author’s ability to juxtapose the ancient with the modern without a sense of competition or compromise or confusion. I loved the honest portrayal of each of the characters and the sense I was able to build up that I ‘knew’ them and that relationship maintained my interest and curiosity – I was hooked right from the beginning! It is Morris’ ability to build and nurture relationships which makes this novel special – do yourself a favour and meet some fascinating characters and an intriguing and captivating city all whilst being exceptionally entertained.by Michele Huppert

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