Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Interview with Romina Russell, the author of Zodiac + Win a copy of Zodiac

Soumi :- Welcome to my blog, Romina. It’s an honour to have you.

Romina :- It’s an honor to be here! Thank you for inviting me over.

Soumi :- Would you like to tell us about your inspiration behind Zodiac?

Romina :- It was super fun to build out a universe according to our astrological signs. As a series, ZODIAC is inspired by a number of themes that have always fascinated me—discovering new worlds in the unknown reaches of Space; a young girl facing her fears as she comes of age; separate societies struggling to set aside their differences to unite; a new leader testing her limits as she rises to power; complicated romances that can become exquisitely painful; and the notion of Time, and the various roles the past, present, and future play in our human lives.

Soumi :- I have to say the Zodiac Universe is one of the brilliant world buildings I have ever read. How did the idea of creating a planetary system based on astrology cross your mind?

Romina :- Thank you so much! I knew I wanted to create a complex Sci Fi universe, but the Sci part intimidated me, and I wsn’t sure where to begin. It was my friend and editor, Liz Tingue, who suggested I use astrology as a way to marry Sci Fi to Fantasy, enabling me to use my imagination whenever my Sci knowledge failed me—which sounded brilliant to me!

Soumi :- The main character, Rho, is a Cancrian. How did you know Cancer would be the perfect house for her? How difficult was it for you to build her character?

Romina :- I wanted a main character whose strength wasn’t in her hands, but in her heart—she wouldn’t stab someone with a sword, but she would slay them with her words. Rho’s best weapon, throughout the entire book, is her voice. She uses Truth to fight, and it’s that honesty, that courage to point out what isn’t working in her world, that makes her a leader. It’s been surprisingly effortless to write her, and I think that’s because from the outset, I knew I didn’t want Rho to be like me (a closed-off, OCD, perfectionist Virgo), and I felt that House Cancer suited her selfless and nurturing nature best. That’s why it was so easy to give her a few of my own traits (curly hair, green eyes, drummer)…we’re too different for me to ever confuse her with myself!

Soumi :- Zodiac is you debut novel, and it has received huge response from the readers. How are you feeling about it?

Romina :- Thank you! I used to think the most memorable moment of getting published would be holding the physical book in my hands—but I honestly can’t remember how that felt. What I do remember is every message I’ve received from a reader wanting to know what the Helios happens after the last page of ZODIAC! The thrill of interacting with readers is my favorite new feeling, and all the theorizing I’ve been hearing is making me so excited to share the next instalment in Rho’s adventure.

Soumi :- Would like to share the experience about your publishing journey.

Romina :- I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was nine, but I didn’t finish my first novel until I was twenty. It took another ten years, five manuscripts, and dozens upon dozens of rejections to get to ZODIAC. The thing that made the biggest difference in my life, and in my writing, was starting a critique group six years ago and sharing my work with other aspiring authors.

Soumi : - As we know, Zodiac is a series. Would you like to share a few words about the next instalment? I’m sure readers are dying to know.

Romina :- Yes! I’m actually working on my editor’s line edits now—I can’t believe how quickly book two went! It was such a delight to write that I absolutely, positively, CANNOT WAIT to share it! One thing I’ll reveal is that the sequel picks up a few weeks after book one ends, and we meet our fallen star, Rho, on the pink sands of planet Tierre of House Capricorn…

Soumi :- Any message or advice for your fans?

Romina :- Thank you, I love you, and trust yourselves. For questions/advice, you can Tweet me at @rominarussell!

About The Author :- Romina Russell is a Los Angeles based YA author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on a YA novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

You can stalk her over

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar


Book Summary : "Sahil was going to say it, no matter what stunt I pulled and then things would be all weird between us, because, you know, I just didn't feel that way about him."

Sahil has been Komal's very best friend since, well, forever. Which is why she doesn't want to hear his confession. But there isn't much she can do to stop him from saying what he has to say. When her brother gets unwittingly tangled in the whole mess that ensues, Komal finds that she is out of her depth and in desperate need of help.

Slightly Burnt is a fresh take on coming of age in India.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Slightly Burnt is a book that requires quite a nerve to be penned down at the haphazard Indian social milieu, which recently banned the ‘377 IPC law’ that has previously empowered homosexuals to rightfully carry forward, by stating it ‘unconstitutional’. It’s a brave attempt by the author Payel Dhar to showcase and delve up the undercurrent of desires (here a ‘teenager’) who was denied to choose or even show his feelings just because of societal defensiveness. The manner in which the issues had been addressed and dealt with without sentimentalizing or overstepping the boundary by bringing up unnecessary angst, is remarkable.

Regarding the flow of the story, it started with a suspicious way where in a congestive parking area Komal is shocked to hear those ‘three’ words from her childhood best friend, Shahil. Though she didn't actually hear Shahil confess those words ‘I love you’ to her, she pretty much assumed they were meant for her. Nearly half the story later, when we are pretty much exhausted of guessing, the author intelligently revealed it which can be deciphered as ‘I am gay.” From this point onward, the author became careful in threading her plots and grooming her characters, showing their worst and best emotional states.

The writing style was light, infused with humor and occasional in-depth philosophies, and each of the characters shines through the book. The author had wisely chosen her protagonist—a sixteen-years-old teen Komal and put her in situations where she learned her best friend and younger brother are in a relationship. Needless to say, here the author did a fascinating job in layering both the plot and the characters in a very judicious way to outcast the feeling of the protagonist. I adored Komal for accepting her brother and her best friend for who they are, and understanding their relationship in truest sense.

For me, Slightly Burnt was a bittersweet tale of friendship and relationship. I would strongly recommend this book.

View all my reviews