I am a student at King’s College London, reading BA English Language and Literature. I live in London,
but I was born and brought up for about half of my childhood in Kerala, India. Apart from some scribbled short stories at a young age, I never wrote a line more than I had to – the idea of writing fiction was no more than a half-formed thought lounging somewhere at the back of my mind, a remote possibility for the (very) distant future. When I at last began to give it some serious thought, I encountered a severe problem: I didn’t have a story to write about. As I could see no way around this rather discouraging issue, I packed up my rudimentary notes on novel-writing and almost forgot about it. Almost.
No one was more surprised than me when, some six months later (on New Year’s Day, 2013, in fact),
I found myself abruptly, furiously, obsessively penning Sathi’s story to life. And thus Wolves Within was born…
*What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?
Probably paying more attention in my college lectures instead of working out my next chapter! Yup, that’s right, I’m a student, reading BA English Language and Literature at King’s College, London. Obviously, instead of doing the sensible thing, I decided to write a novel while still in school – and the product is ‘Wolves Within’! I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, because I never have so much fun as when I’m writing!
*5 years ago: what were you doing?
Rushing around like a headless chicken studying for my GCSEs! I was in Year 11 at the time, with half a mind to drop English instead of carrying on with it at A-level. Now I’m so glad I didn’t! It was only two years later that I got the first ideas about Sathi and her story, though it was in 2013 that I actually began to write.
*Do you have a certain writing ritual?
Not really. I usually write once everyone else is asleep because I am so easily distracted. I can spend a whole day with the laptop in front of me without writing even one complete sentence… Suffice to say, I end up running on a nocturnal schedule whenever I can get away with it! And of course, music is essential – just as I can’t work with lots of distraction around, I also can’t work in absolute silence… there’s something seriously distracting about total silence, I find.
*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Because this is my first novel, I’m only just starting to hear back opinions about it. I haven’t yet *fingers and toes and every other appendage tightly crossed* had anything too awful conveyed to me… I think the toughest one to hear so far was that some small parts of the plot weren’t entirely believable. I try to take all criticism in a constructive way and strive to objectively decide whether the reviewer is right (instead of screaming, ‘Die, bad reviewer!!!’) If they are, I make up my mind to do better next time. If I think they’re wrong, then I just put their criticism out of my mind.
*Ever fangirled over another author? Who was it?
Jaclyn Moriarty. She’s the author of ‘Feeling Sorry for Celia’ and ‘Finding Cassie Crazy’, among many other crazy, hilarious books with confusingly humorous and emotional characters that make you fall in love with them. I’m sorry to say that I’ve never met her, but she is the only author I’ve ever contacted via email or otherwise, because I just had to tell that her writing style was amazing (and that I was incredibly jealous of it!)
*Is there an author you'd like to meet?
P.C. Cast!! I adore her writing – her books, especially her Goddess Summoning series, were actually a sort of writing Bible for me. I love the beautiful way she has of writing breathtaking, uniquely wonderful descriptions as well as hilarious, affectionate dialogue. Hers is the writing style I want to emulate, and I would love to meet her someday and actually have a conversation with this creator of amazing characters and stories.
*Biggest writing pet peeve?
Mistakes born of changing a sentence in your head too many times before actually typing it all out… especially in my own writing! Too many times I start writing a sentence, then change my mind and finish the sentence in a different way and then I read it back to myself and realise that it makes absolutely no sense. Most of the time I’m too caught up in finishing a scene to realise what I’ve done and only realise much later. It also doesn’t help that I’m incredibly anal about grammar and can’t stand even a tiny mistake or omission – this is especially frustrating when I only notice after it’s been printed!
* Do you read other's reviews of your books?
Absolutely. Good or bad, I believe that reading reviews is incredibly important – as I said earlier, it’s always helpful to reflect on how I could do better. Especially since I’m so new to writing novels. So, please, if you’ve read ‘Wolves Within’ or are about to read it, do write a review with your honest opinion… I will read it, and I will appreciate it!
PURPLE!! I have adored purple for as long as I can remember, and have always fiercely defended my expertise on this colour and all its relatives.
Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with?
Wow, there are way too many… okay, if I had to choose just one I would pick Adrian from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series – he is utterly crazy and hilarious, and yet has a wonderfully sensitive and thoughtful nature under all his snark… I have a feeling he and my Zakiy (from ‘Wolves Within’) would get on very well!
Tuna cutlets made by my mother, AKA the best cook in the world!
Fav song and/or singer
Again, too many to choose from… I prefer Indian movie songs, but I also love Westlife – although for the longest time I thought the lyrics ‘I cry hopelessly’ were actually ‘I cry focusedly! Need I say more about my hearing impairment?
Staring mindlessly into space for hours at a time. I could pretend that I’m thinking deeply about something incredibly important, like my next chapter, but really… I’m not!
I know that the end of questions is my cue to stop babbling, but I can’t shut up before I say a huge THANK YOU! to Mandy for having me here on her blog – it was wonderful to meet you and I look forward to working together in the future!
What really happened to Sathi’s mother – the mother she never knew?
Throughout her eighteen years, Sathi has carried the burden of her grief and guilt over the death of her own mother while giving birth to her. But then she starts investigating – and unearths hidden documents that suggest her mother did not die in childbirth after all. This shocking discovery sends Sathi back to India, the land of her forefathers, on a trail which opens up a world of intrigue she had no idea existed. What secrets are her family keeping from her? What is she to make of the charming but infuriating Zakiy, who is not quite the simple young man he claims to be? And what really happened to her beloved Amma?
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wolves-within-shivon-sudesh/1120510109?ean=2940046219241
Dust did not have the chance to settle on the trapdoor before it crashed open; a wrinkled brown hand emerged from its murky depths, succeeded by a head wrapped in a dark shawl and a torso that bulged under the crone’s clothing.
The woman strode towards one of the numerous shelves decorating the dark room and, moving aside many of the bottles in the front row, reached for a relatively small, oddly shaped flask right at the back.
As her fingers closed around the narrow tube of glass, her excitement was almost palpable; her clothing rustled as if it had a life of its own, and wisps of grey hair escaped from underneath the shawl. She regarded the bottle. The vial contained a viscous liquid the colour of old blood; the crone tilted the glass and the liquid crept sickeningly in the direction of the gravitational pull.
Holding the glass cylinder, she moved around the first few shelves, into a hidden clearing in the middle of which some bricks were arranged to form a square, with an empty space in the middle. The void was scorched black, and a foul smell emanated from it.
The old woman, mumbling incoherently to herself, lit a fire inside the brick altar and then crouched in front of it, head bowed. Her murmurs transformed into chanting, which gradually grew louder and louder. Finally, at what sounded like the climax of her chants, she threw her head back and cried out something in a foreign language.
She then reached into her voluminous clothing and brought out a small wooden box. She opened the box and retrieved a lock of black hair from within it. She picked up the hair with her old digits and dropped it into the fire. The smell of burning hair paled in comparison to the stench when she emptied the phial of blood–red liquid over the flames.
Finally, the crone lifted her right hand and held out her index finger as if admiring it for the last time. She moved it progressively closer to the white-hot tongues of flame, stopping maybe a millimetre from the ribbons of heat before plunging her finger within.