by Sunanda Chatterjee
Page Count: 238
Published: 16 January 2016
Publisher: Createspace (Independent)
A sweeping saga of family secrets, romance, and politics...
Moyna’s cousin panted at the doorway, heavy with child. “Who did this to you?” her father shouted.
And Moyna knew that somehow she would be blamed for this unspeakable shame on the family. Her aunt blamed her for all the tragedies, from the death of Moyna’s own parents to the riots in Bombay. But, as her cousin lay dying of stab wounds, Moyna promised to protect the baby.
In a panic, eighteen-year-old Moyna made a hasty decision that would return to haunt her years later.
Bullied as a child, Sameer wants to make the world a safer place. He has spurned a cushy career in his father’s law firm for public service. Sameer is drawn to the mysterious Moyna when they meet in Los Angeles. The attraction seems mutual, but Moyna remains cautious and secretive about her past, insulating herself from love to protect others from her unlucky curse.
At the cusp of political victory, Sameer faces increasing gun violence and death threats leading to an FBI investigation. But his greatest challenge comes when a shadow from Moyna’s past threatens to destroy their future.
What hope do they have with the media hungering for a scandal?
A story of friendship, redemption, and forgiveness, Shadowed Promise is a journey from blind faith to triumphant love.
An exclusive interview
with Sunanda Chatterjee
What inspired you to write Shadowed Promise?
The inspiration for Shadowed Promise came from multiple sources. Women’s empowerment is important to me. So when I hear stories of how women in power demean other women, be it a mother, an aunt, a mother-in-law, or a boss, it makes me mad.
Children listen to everything we say and hold things close to heart, and I wanted to explore that. Finally, I have an acquaintance who had adopted her sister’s child when she was single and kept it secret from her husband. Since I love to write about immigrant experiences, I mixed all the themes and out of it came Shadowed Promise.
Can you tell us what kind of research and planning went behind Shadowed Promise?
The story starts during the 1992-1993 riots in Mumbai, then Bombay. I was actually visiting Bombay during that time, and felt the tension in the air. I researched about the what, when, why, and where of the riots. Then in 1994 during the Northridge earthquake, I was in Los Angeles, at the University of Southern California. Schools were closed, and the daily after-shocks became a part of life. I researched all the damage and disruption that happened. These were experiences I could build on for the story. But the most research went into the quirks of corporate laws, gun laws, and politics.
As far as planning the story, I showed the outline to my husband and daughter, and took their advice about the details and changed the storyline based on their input. The main character Moyna, was supposed to be Tania’s sister. But my daughter didn’t like the idea of a mother loving one daughter more than the other. So Moyna became an orphaned niece.
Who's your favorite character from Shadowed Promise and why?
My favorite character is Moyna, the protagonist. She is burdened with the belief that she brings bad luck to those she loves, so she tries her best not to get close to anyone, denying herself a chance to fall in love. She struggles with her feelings toward Sameer, the male lead. Although she is fiercely independent, she must accept the help of her friends. She adapts to a new environment, tries to keep every promise she makes and always wants to do what’s right. But she is human. She feels jealousy, desperation, anger, and wants revenge. But most of all, she wants to be loved. Isn’t that true for all of us?
What are some of the biggest challenges or learning experiences you faced throughout the writing and publishing process.
After the tough part of writing is done, publishing is relatively easy. The biggest challenge for an indie author is getting the book out there. To tell people it exists. Big publishers have a budget for advertising, and they often take the most well-known authors whose books sell themselves. But for an indie author, it’s all about doing it yourself. And then getting people to review the book is hard. They will email you and tell you they loved the book, but somehow they don’t post a review. That’s the second biggest challenge.
Do you get creative blocks or burnouts? How do you get out of those, if and when you do?
Everyone gets creative blocks, I think. That’s when I try to read. I read all kinds of genre. I look over my previous short stories that need a little polishing. I send them out to magazines. I write a poem or two. Then I go over the novel I’m writing from the beginning. I redo the outline. A group of pretty words to make a lovely sentence may not come to the mind, but I can always write:
“She realized she loved him.” I leave a big star next to that sentence.
Later, when I’m in a creative mood and words are flowing smoothly, I may jazz it up a bit. That three word sentence will become:
“In that moment, she knew he was the one. A triumphant energy rose through her heart, as if this was the signal she’d been waiting for. The power of his adrenalin was irresistible. It was pointless trying to keep her distance from him.
Her heart fluttered with the realization that only the light of his courage could quell the darkness of her shadow.
Being with him would protect those she loved. Being with him made her stronger, safer. She belonged to no one else.”
What do you do when you are not writing or reading?
When I’m not by the microscope making diagnoses (I’m a pathologist), or writing or reading, I cook. I make my own recipes. But I can almost never recreate something I cooked a week ago. I make it up as I go, depending on what ingredients and spices I have at hand. It’s a creative outlet. I also do yoga, go on long walks, and binge-watch crime dramas.
Tell us something personal about you that your readers may be surprised to know.
After high school, I wanted to go to JJ School of Art in Bombay. But in my family of engineers, mathematicians and physicists, it would never fly. So I agreed to become a doctor.
I’m writing another novel right now, about two women fighting over their child. It’s another sweeping saga, from rural Rajasthan to urban San Francisco, with Rajputs, Thakurs, palaces, child marriage, love, Jehovah Witnesses…
Lastly, any special thoughts for our readers?
After I started writing, I realized how important reviews are to an author. Just like when you watch a show and the actors/dancers ask you to cheer when you hear a great line, or a lovely movement, all artists thrive on feedback. I’ve started writing a review if I like a book. If I hate it, I don’t write anything. The author obviously went through a lot to put it out there. It’s a piece of his or her soul. Art is subjective. Not everyone likes every movie or book or painting. It’s just my opinion. If you like a book, do write a review. If you don’t, don’t.
About the author
Freelance author, blogger, and ex-Indian Air Force physician Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee completed her graduate studies in Los Angeles, where she is a practicing pathologist. While medicine is her profession, writing is her passion. When she’s not at the microscope making diagnoses, she loves to write fiction. Her life experiences have taught her that no matter how different people are, their desires, fears, and challenges remain the same.
Her themes include romantic sagas, family dramas, immigrant experience, women’s issues, medicine, and spirituality. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her short stories have appeared in short-story.net and induswomanwriting.com.
She grew up in Bhilai, India, and lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. In her free time, she paints, reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches TV crime dramas.
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