Mashed Musings is Moving

Hi everyone,

I am closing Mashed Musings and moving all the content of the blog to my new website. The blog URL will be http://amit-sharma.co.in/blog

All the old posts, comments etc will be available at the new location. I will also be setting up a redirect on Mashedmusings so that if you open this blog by mistake, it will take you automatically to the new location.

I will also move the email subscriptions for Mashedmusings to the new website so that you keep getting my latest posts in your mails.

If you have subscribed to Mashedmusings Facebook page, I will be merging that Facebook page to my new author page at https://www.facebook.com/AmitSharmaAuthor/

This means is that all your likes for mashedmusings on the FB page will be transferred to my new author page and you will keep getting updates on my posts and my novel updates as usual on Facebook.

So, basically you do not have to do a thing to adjust to this new change. I’ll handle everything. 🙂

And, Oh yes! My novel False Ceilings was launched by Lifi Publications in the World Book Fair in Delhi on 12th Jan, 2016. You can know more about the book here –

http://amit-sharma.co.in/false-ceilings/

The Amazon and Flipkart links to buy the book are here –

Flipkart – Click Here

Amazon – Click Here

Hoping for your love and support as usual.

Take Care everyone! See you on the new website!

 

 

Novel Updates – II

Yes, there was a Novel Update – I and it came out in February. You can read it here – https://mashedmusings.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/novel-updates/

My life has always followed a pattern. Every fabulous news is accompanied by a disaster. It is God’s way of telling me that I cannot have it all, that he will never ever let me have a perfect day. For example, if I have decided to take a week-long holiday two months later, there will be a sudden avalanche of work two days before I go on that holiday. It will be God’s way to squeeze out every ounce of pre-holiday happiness out of me. I am sure this happens with everyone but every fucking time?

So, last Friday (two days before Diwali), I was gung-ho about spending the weekend with my family. It was also Anika’s first Diwali. Now add to it the fact that a few days back, I was shocked to see a letter from a publishing house in my inbox stating that they would like to publish my novel. I was eagerly waiting for the agreement letter from the publishing house before they could change their mind. Diwali and an agreement with a Publishing house – now this was too perfect to be true. “Hmmm, let’s do something about it,” God said.

Now my office has an air conditioning system that no own knows how to operate. It stays at 21 degrees and there is no power that can budge it from there. We phone and phone the guys at the facility and they promise to save us from dying. To fulfil their promise, one of them appears with a futuristic machine in his hand to check the temperature (as if we were lying) and once he is satisfied that it is actually freezing, he unsuccessfully tries to increase the temperature.

It so happened on Friday that my wife called me to tell me that the agreement has arrived. I told her amidst chattering teeth that it was a great news and I was not feeling well because of the cold. By the time I reached home, I was coughing and sneezing to glory and had a look at the agreement with watery eyes. Some harsh medicines and a wasted Diwali later, I signed the agreement and sent it over.

You might call me a pessimist. You might say that getting a novel published should have overshadowed everything in my mind. And you are correct. It was just a bloody cold. I just wish that things would have been perfect. I am tired of paying a price for my happiness. Believe me, it is irritating when you have done this throughout your life. Sometimes I am scared of an impending happiness thinking of the baggage with which it will come.

Anyway. Let me stop being a blithering idiot and share my happiness with the readers of this blog. Most of you have already congratulated me on Facebook but those of you who haven’t and those of you who would like to repeat the act, please feel free to use the comment box.

Let me end by saying that all of you have given me courage. I would not have gathered the confidence to write a book if all of you would not have encouraged this blog. I hope my book(s!!!) live up to your expectations and I am able to entertain you. I will keep you updated with the proceedings. Hopefully the book will be out next year. Thank you everyone and I will need your support in this new adventure, to make it perfect despite you-know-who’s alternate plans.

p.s. It gives me joy that I will change my blog header very soon. I am going to strike off that ‘trying to be’.

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Novel Updates

So one fine Sunday, I was able to sort out the jalebis of my life and parcelled my novel to a few publication houses. I was Gung-ho initially but started getting cold feet the moment I inserted fresh crisp A4 sheets in the printer. I turned into Gollum and my twin personalities started fighting.

“It’s not good enough! Give it another reading!”

“Go on. Don’t listen to him. Don’t stop now.”

The good Gollum won and the button was finally hit, printouts taken and manuscripts couriered and e-mailed. It’s all done and the trepidation is nowhere near abatement. I will give it another 5-6 months and if I do not hear anything, I will drink my tears and move to the next lot of publishers.

Now as you all are the elite readers of this blog, it is my responsibility and privilege to give you a sneak peek into the creation of this story and how I went about it. This is how it happened –

  • The story is not entirely fiction. It is derived from reality but is tossed with fictional occurrences. Only the people who were involved can distinguish where one ends and the other begins. Two of them are dead.
  • The story is non-linear. It begins in 2002, then moves to 2064, then to 1930, 1984, 2003, 1952, 1965 and so on. The whole span of the tale is from 1930 to 2064. Baring the main thread, the story is derived from true events till the year 2002. It takes an entirely fictional turn after that. The story is set in Dalhousie and Delhi.
  • Since the story is non-linear, I was bound to make mistakes in the narrative if I was not cautious from the beginning. So, I maintained an excel sheet where I divided the whole timeline in decades (columns) and put major events for each of the characters (rows) in the respective columns with the exact year. This worked as a very helpful reference point for me. Even after all this, I tore off half of my mane writing the synopsis.
  • I gave up blogging to get myself disciplined and took almost a two-year break. It took me around 4-5 months for research before I began writing the book. A major chunk of the story happens in an era I have not seen. I relied on the stories told by my grandparents (which used to be very elaborate) and a lot of material I found online about how people lived in pre-independence India. I cherish those days of research because I found things I had no idea existed; I lived memories which were not mine.
  • Writing about the 50s, 60s and the 70s was a daunting task. I turned to my parents to fill me in. I had elaborate discussions with them about how people lived during those times, what they ate, what kind of movies they watched etc. I also read as much online material as I could find. Internet was a great help. I made elaborate notes.
  • The most painful experience was writing about the partition. I left it for the end. I finished writing the whole book and then went back to it. I saw a few documentaries and was left disturbed for days. What we learn in our school books can never prepare us for what happened that year. I felt completely helpless when I saw an old man crying remembering how his father beheaded his sister to save her. He said he could not forget the sound of the sword striking the flesh.
  • Finally after writing the first draft, I sent it to a few friends for review. Geet read it and liked the story. Poonam Sharma and Sonia Sundaram gave very positive feedback. After that I kept polishing the story for almost 8-9 months till I was completely satisfied with it.

So, that is how, ladies and gentlemen False Ceilings came into existence. I have sent it to a few publishers and the wait time is anywhere between 5-6 months. I will update you as soon as I hear something. And, so I leave you with a could-be-blurb of the story.

It was an enormous owl sitting on Shakuntala’s bedding that brought the bad news and changed her life. Years later, when the nerve ruptured in her brain, it was too late to share her secret. Her open eyes oscillated for seven days.

It wasn’t humans but dancing peacocks and steam engines guarding the horizon that elicited an emotion from Aaryan. He turned into a misanthrope when he was five.

Manohar was almost there when he gave up and crumpled like a detonated building. When he died, his grandson saw him flying because his legs were so thin.

Vinod liked female wrestling and lions hunting deer on Discovery. He had hunted for quails in the jungles of East Delhi and jumped into trams in Chandni Chowk. The adventures had to go on.

Meena sprinted like a horse and won prizes in racing competitions but no one wanted a bride who runs for a living. Marriage was fed into her as an escape to utopia that eventually choked her every dream. In the end, her coffin broke her into two.

Lipi could never make the almirah speak. The almirah had seen it all but it stood in a corner, hiding the secret in its false ceiling. And even after 127 years, the wooden radio still worked. She died listening to it.

Shakuntala, Aaryan, Manohar, Vinod, Meena and Lipi were bound by the secret for 130 years. The secret that devastated their lives as it travelled from Dalhousie to Delhi, as it travelled from 1940 to 2062.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns – Book Review

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

While I was reading The Kite Runner, I wondered how much pain the author himself had to go through in his life to write this story? Its said that you can’t understand the pain of another human if you have not been through the same situation yourself. Each and every word of The Kite Runner made me realize how much pain and anger must be pent up inside the author. And then I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. The Kite Runner was not a book and neither is A Thousand Splendid Suns. They are outlets, vents to tell the world about what happened to the Nation which was once so prosperous and happy. They are outlets for people to know the story of a nation destroyed by its own people.

The story revolves around Mariam and Laila. Mariam is an unwanted child born out of wedlock and lives with her mother in the outskirts of Herat in Afghanistan. Her wealthy father visits her at times. When Mariam is 15 she visits her father’s home against everyone’s wishes. She ends up being married to Rasheed, a widower in Kabul who expects a son from her. When she fails to deliver a baby, she is faced with verbal and physical abuses. Laila, on the other hand, is the daughter of a High school teacher. She had two brothers who are killed in the fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Laila is in love with Tariq, her childhood friend. Things take a bad turn when the civil war comes to Kabul after the victory of the Mujahideen and Tariq leaves Kabul with his parents and Laila is left pregnant and an orphan after her parents are killed in a rocket attack. She lands up in Rasheed’s house and agrees to marry Rasheed for the sake of the child. Mariam is now in Rasheed’s house for more than a decade now and resents Laila but fate has something else in store for the two women.

The most beautiful part of this book is the way the relationship develops between Mariam and Laila. By the time Laila becomes a part of the household, Mariam has endured too much at the hands of Rasheed to bear his second wife. Soon after Laila gives birth to Tariq’s daughter, both the women realise that they are sailing in the same boat. The book is also a story of a nation in transition. It encompasses the political upheavals and what the people went through when the Russians finally left. It tells the story of a beautiful dream which turned into a nightmare. If Hassan was the unforgettable character in The Kite Runner, then Mariam’s doleful life will leave a lump in your throat in this book. And there was one feeling that never left me while I read the book – This could have happened to someone…

Comparisons with Khaled’s earlier book is inevitable and I agree that A Thousand Splendid Suns does not have those kind of twists and turns but it has the same quality which The Kite Runner had. It turns you into a more compassionate, a more understanding and a more humane human. It makes you understand that you are blessed in every sense. And, it makes you understand that there are people out there who deserve a life similar to yours.

Rating – 4.5/5

Author – Khaled Hosseini