There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the New Adult genre and it seems that there really isn’t a lot of clarity about this category. Is it just that the characters are older or is the content actually more graphic than the usual YA fare? It isn’t easy to find a definitive answer. Some feel that the New Adult category allows for more sexual content since the characters are between the ages of 18 and 24. Also, the readers of these books would be expecting a little more smut which is clearly something frowned upon in the YA category. My questions is this: if more sex and violence is included in a novel that would otherwise appeal to readers in the YA category, are we losing a big part of the audience? As someone about to self-publish a YA novel, this is particularly important to me. While I do want to target as large a readership as possible, I don’t want to compromise my character’s integrity by adding scenes that may cater more to the tastes of slightly older readers. Although my character was initially written as a fifteen year old, as I’m in the process of editing, I am tempted to make her a bit older. My reason for the change is not the NA vs YA issue, but rather how the character naturally developed as I wrote the novel. However, since I am toying with the idea anyway, I wonder if I should add a little more detail to the romantic scenes. If any writers or readers out there have suggestions or opinions on this, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.
On our trip to India two years ago we visited Fatehpur Sikri. A lot of the action in my book takes place in old temples and palaces, so this was a perfect spot for some great inspiration. The Mughal Emperor Akbar had this palace city built in the late 1570’s when he relocated the capital of his empire from Agra to Fatehpur. The architecture is a dazzling blend of Persian and Hindu styles. The design bears testament to the religious tolerance that Akbar was well known for. While the Mughals were devout Muslims, Akbar chose to educate himself on the tenets of Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, as well as Christianity. In the palace he dedicated a large hall, called the Ibadat Khana or Room of Worship. There he invited scholars and leaders of other religions to meet and discuss their faith with the goal of enlightenment and brotherhood. Surprisingly forward thinking for his time, Akbar even invited women to join these weekly gatherings. But he didn’t just stop at gatherings and discussions. Akbar tried to create a new faith which was an amalgamation of all the faiths he had encountered. He called this faith Din-i-Ilahi, Faith of the Divine. Unfortunately for him, the ministers of his court were not quite so open-minded, and prejudices got in the way of his tolerance. Those closest to him began to worry that his open acceptance of the other faiths would pose a threat and political circumstances did not allow the new religion to gain popularity. Sadly, a few years later, Akbar’s court abandoned the palace at Fatehpur Sikri due to a water shortage.Today, the city still stands, nothing more than a ghost town of courtyards and surrounding pavilions. Walking around the complex you can almost hear the echoes of children playing in the gardens while the Emperor’s wives lounged by the pond. Inside the empty palace it is easy to feel the intensity and passion that must have filled the Ibadat Khana when Akbar led the scholarly discussions on the some of the world’s major religions.
As a writer there is nothing more inspiring than a place filled with so much history and intrigue. Every room seems filled with secrets and stories just come alive as you walk in the footsteps of so many who made and changed the circumstances of their time.
Valentine’s Day is upon us and it got me thinking about what romance means to us as we get older. When we’re younger, romance is all about grand gestures, jewellary and flowers. Several years of marriage, a mortgage and a couple of children later, many couples are content with dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day, while someone watches the babies. Some might say that it sounds like they’re settling, that the spark is gone, but is it really? I think it all comes down to what romance means to each of us. Doing the dishes when your spouse has had a stressful day or getting the kids to bed early so that you can spend quality time together can be much more romantic than flowers and chocolate once a year. I think romance redefines itself as we go through different stages in our lives. It is nice that there is a special day dedicated to love, but I think that true romance is in the little kindnesses you show each other every day.
I have always been fascinated by the concept of reincarnation. The idea that you can be born over and over again is intriguing. Imagine being alive at different times in the history of our civilization. Would we have memories from all those lives buried deep in the recesses of our minds? Or would we start each new life with a clean slate, perhaps a chance for a do-over? And if we are not aware of it, would we do anything differently, or are we doomed to repeat our mistakes in one life after another? In my novel, Realm of the Goddess, reincarnation is a central theme. Here is a quote from the Prologue:
“Wherever evil rears its head, there I shall be reborn
to crush greed and corruption in its womb
I shall arise again and again.”
I like the idea of second chances, maybe even third and fourth ones. It gives us hope that we can ultimately overcome our failings, some of our wrongdoings and have another go at being better versions of ourselves.
In anticipation of my upcoming fame and appearances on numerous talk shows, I decided that this would be a good time to get rid of the many extra pounds that I found in the past year and a half as I was writing my YA novel Realm of the Goddess. During that time I embraced a diet of ice cream and chips and rewarded myself nightly with a fruity vodka concoction because I had spent the better part of my days being creative. Now that I am waiting with bated breath for editors and agents to tell me how much they love my book, I thought that I would take the time to get back in shape. You know, just in case I get discovered and they want to meet me.
So, I joined Weightwatchers online. Three days ago. So far it’s been fabulous. I went to the grocery store and successfully circumvented the cookie aisle, as well as the ice-cream section. Even took puppy for a nice long walk. I even tried to give up coffee and switch to water and green tea, but as I was tutoring my students later that day, I discovered that Math problems and chemical reactions are much friendlier to a well- caffeinated brain.
So now I’m happily counting points and waiting to hear from an editor who requested my entire manuscript.
Sometimes we allow fear to get the better of us. We give it permission to control us and veer us off our destined paths. As writers, I think we are particularly fearful of what others will think of us or our craft. We are afraid to expose our vulnerabilities and our deepest thoughts for all the world to see and perhaps reject. This New Year’s Eve, I sat alone in my favourite recliner nursing a nasty cold. I thought about how I would feel if someone told me that I could never write again. I felt awful even contemplating such a possibility. So at that moment I made my New Year’s resolution. I will cast aside my fears and uncertainties. I will not allow doubt to plague me. Instead I will plough ahead into the unknown and see what happens.
I am wondering how long one should wait for traditional publishing to work out before deciding to self publish. Or is self publishing no longer the other option, but rather the first choice? From all the blogs and Facebook pages and articles out there, I feel that I want to be in control of where this journey takes me, rather than wait and hope for someone to tell me that they will give my writing a chance. I felt elated when I finally finished typed the last words of my novel. It wasn’t easy getting there, so it was a big accomplishment for me. So should I allow someone else to take that away from me or should I take destiny into my own hands and see where it leads?
When I was little my Dad would buy me comic books that were all about Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Thus began my fascination with Hindu mythology. Combine that with Saturday mornings watching Spiderman cartoons sitting on the couch with my Dad after breakfast, and you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for writing fantasy. After all, what better escape is there than imagining that you’re a drop-dead gorgeous goddess with superpowers ? It’s the stuff great fiction is made of.
On one of our mini trips within India we flew from Mumbai to Jaipur. Jaipur is a city with an abundance of palaces, all of which are designed to take your breath away. Our first stop was Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds. It was built in 1799 under order of a Rajput king and constructed with a multitude of elaborately designed windows. The purpose of all the windows was to allow the women of the palace to watch the proceedings of the court from the private balconies.This way they could watch without being seen by the public. As I looked up at the facade, the hustle and bustle of the streets faded away and instead I could picture the faces of the young girls and the royal wives looking out from their perch high above the city. I wondered what they felt and what they wished for. I wanted to know what kind of lives they led, if they had any control over their future or if they were destined to remain in the seclusion of life behind the veil, living in anonymity forever.
The idea of writing a novel about a reincarnated goddess came to me around the time my family was preparing for our first, long overdue trip to India. While I was doing research for our trip, I came across some great travel blogs and websites of fascinating places that we absolutely had to visit. For the next few days I would like to share with you the experiences we had and how they inspired my writing. I hope you enjoy our travel adventures.