Sunday, April 24, 2016

#MMBBR #Showcase Awakening Kali by T.S. Ghosh


It's the 1930s. A small house in Bengal houses a shadow. Chhaya is the youngest daughter in a family that doesn't want her. Shunned for her gender and dark skin, she has no choice but to conceal her feelings. Imprison herself. Shackle herself into a life that has no proper outlet for emotion, whether it be sadness, joy, or unrepentant rage.

An unexpected marriage to a stranger turns Chhaya's life around. Suddenly, she is wanted, loved, and cherished. Arun is a man with the patience and the vision to understand that Chhaya is much more than the darkness for which she is named. Most importantly, however, Arun is able to coax Chhaya out of her prison. Slowly. Gently.

But the world is an unruly place. War and famine bring heartache to Chhaya, Arun, and their family.

The ancient goddess Kali is a symbol of destruction and creation; Chhaya has always been drawn to this symbol of mighty power. And it is this power that calls to her. As the trials of an already difficult life become even more taxing, something awakens in Chhaya. Something terrible. Something unimaginable. Chhaya always believed she was cursed. Which begs the question: is she?

T.S. GhoshI was born to immigrant parents in Western New York and raised on chai, curry, mac 'n' cheese, and vacations that alternated between the Great Lakes and the sweltering heat of Kolkata, India. Growing up, I was always encouraged to explore creative activities - dance, music, theater, and writing. And now, as an adult, I continue to use writing as my creative outlet. 

I am a physician and author, as well as a wife and mother of two young children. In other words, I'm sleep-deprived. But writing brings me energy. I have written for everything from scientific journals to literary anthologies. And I am very excited to release my debut novel, Awakening Kali.





Q.  What inspires your writing?


A.  My family and my own life experiences have the heaviest influence on my writing.  But my debut novel, Awakening Kali, was actually the result of a strange dream.  It was a troubling dream, about a pregnant Indian woman who was shattering an image of a goddess.  The dream was so vivid I could actually feel this woman’s anger, her desperation, and her utter loss of control. The intensity of the dream actually startled me awake.  And the next day, I found myself writing a description of it.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A.  My day job is very scientific.  Writing allows me to allow the creative side of my brain to express itself.  That outlet is my favorite part about writing.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
A.  I think the toughest part about being an author is being able to put your creation, your "baby", out there, knowing all the while that not everyone may like it.  In that sense, I think being an authors requires a fair bit of emotional bravery.

Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. In my day job, I am a physician and epidemiologist (person who detects and investigates outbreaks of disease). I’ve been fortunate to be able to do this work at the international, federal, state, and local levels. I love my job – there is never a dull moment.  I find it both fulfilling and exciting. It's the creativity piece that I sometimes miss, but writing helps temper that.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A.    I am a physician, a wife, a mother of two small children, and a novelist.  So “The Life and Times of a Sleep Deprived Woman” is probably the most apt description of my life.
Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A.  That is a difficult question for me to answer.  I love reading – all types of genres.  I tend to get so lost in books that I actually now have to limit how much I read, because I tend to forget everything else!  While I can’t choose a true favorite, one book that has stuck with me, over a decade after reading it, is 
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn.  It has one of the most unique protagonists I’ve ever encountered, and it definitely makes you think.


Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A.  I like to think of myself as Anne of Green Gables – imaginative, romantic, always pushing limits.
Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?
A.  Awakening Kali is my first novel, and I think the character of Arun, the caring but somewhat solitary dreamer, is probably closest to my personality

Q.  Which of your books was the hardest for you to write?
A. Awakening Kali was very difficult for me to write.  While it is fiction, it is loosely based on a true story that is quite personal to me. And it covers some weighty topics like mental illness, gender inequality, and cultural injustice, which I struggled to capture in a interesting yet meaningful way that readers could relate to.
Q.  Which of your books was the easiest to write?

A.  
Awakening Kali is my first novel. My other works are short stories or non-fiction which are easier to write in that they are shorter or require less imaginative effort
Q.  When reading your books I am always moved by the strong female relationships
you create, are they based on relationship experiences you have had?
A Awakening Kali focuses quite a bit on female relationships and ways that women can sometimes perpetuate sexism or oppression. This focus is based on relationships I’ve observed firsthand, although I am lucky that I myself have not been a target of this type of behavior very often.
Q.  What is your favorite season?
A.  Spring!  I love when the flowers and trees start to awaken!  (Plus, my birthday is in the spring)
Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your books.
A. I chose to use my initials “TS” as opposed to my full name when writing.  But I’ve actually gotten confused at book signings on how to sign my name!  I constantly have to remind myself not to write out my full name. 

Q.  Are you working on something new
 
A.  Yes!  I am working on some children’s stories as well as an action adventure novel which is very different from Awakening Kali (historical, literary fiction)


Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A: Please check out my new novel, Awakening Kali, the story of a young woman who believes she is cursed by a goddess, as she struggles through war, famine, and mental illness in post-colonial India. It’s great for those who love multicultural or historical fiction, and it’s fantastic for book clubs.  I promise it is a book that will make you think. 
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