I know that it has been way, way too long since I last posted a blog. University deadlines, work and life itself got in the way. However, I am officially back with weekly reviews of all of my current reads and this week I am going to start with Chasing Kismet written by the wonderful Amrita Lit.
This time I decided to change things around a little and I have managed to interview the author of Chasing Kismet – namely, Amrita herself – for this post! The reason for this was because I wanted to give you guys a glimpse of the person behind the writing for once. Through this short interview I am hoping that you all can understand the motivations, goals, next steps as well as the gorgeous personality of Amrita.
A little bit about Amrita – she is an Indo-Canadian woman (wife and mother) with a well-running business in Canada and a self-published contemporary fiction novel called Chasing Kismet that has taken off exceptionally after its release earlier this year.
I really hope you enjoy the interview and stay tuned for a short summary and review of Chasing Kismet right below!
- When did you first realize that writing was something that you wanted to pursue?
Amrita: Writing has been a part of my life from a very young age. I can pinpoint the exact time I realized it was a strength of mine. We were covering poetry in Grade 4, I submitted my “Haiku” and my teacher was blown away by the depth and clarity I had delivered at such a young age. But of course, even I didn’t know exactly what I meant by my poem. I just had a way with stringing words together in an aesthetically pleasing matter without even knowing it. I suppose you could say, “I was a poet and I didn’t even know it.” 😉
- What is your writing process?
Amrita: I don’t like to follow stringent guidelines. Of course, there’s grammatical rules you must follow in order to be taken seriously. But when I write – I write freely. I don’t correct typos or any other errors until the editing process. I like my writing to flow like a stream of consciousness. If it becomes too rigid it loses its raw appeal.
- When did the plot of ‘Chasing Kismet’ become so real for you that you decided that you had to write it down?
Amrita: When I began writing the novel I honestly didn’t have an exact plotline. I had a loose idea of what I wanted the novel to be. But as cliché as it sounds, the story wrote itself. I just had concepts that would come to me at all hours of the night and I pieced them together during the day. I knew I wanted it to have a social impact on my community, though – which is why I included so many heavy topics which pertain to South Asian culture.
- Does your writing inspiration come from your personal experiences?
Amrita: Certain bits, yes. Some of the most emotionally revealing passages of the novel do pull from past events or experiences in my life. But of course – it’ll forever remain a mystery exactly which bits are non-fiction. There’s some aspects which I only included to help others, not to express or re-live my own personal woes in a public light.
- What was your publishing process?
Amrita: I was a “straight-A” student so the concept that someone could ever “reject” my work was lost upon me. Which is why I took it extremely hard when one publishing company after another responded with a hard and fast “no” to my manuscript. But I had faith in my work, and I published through CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform on Amazon.
- All of the characters in ‘Chasing Kismet’ have unique Indian names apart from the two male leads – Roger and Dave. Was there any reason for giving them western names?
Amrita: Roger and Dave are complete figments of my imagination – they’re a part of a dream I never even knew I had. Growing up, the stories and fantasies I would jot down always included western personas – as this was all I was exposed to through mass media – that’s why they don’t have Indian names. Because when thinking up a heart-throb, or life-long lusty love subject: one will always dream about the seemingly unattainable.
- Name one thing that readers will learn from the three girls in ‘Chasing Kismet’; Tara, Roop and Serena?
Amrita: The power of kinship for sure. Also, the incredibly important lesson of forgiveness. To be honest, I never had true “ride or die” friends. I always idolized that type of sisterhood. That’s why I brought it to life through these three characters. I think it’s something we all yearn for but seldom receive. Even though some of their relationships are strained with trivial betrayal – the core of their friendship remains strong, it’s a sacred bond. Not everyone is lucky enough to experience it.
- Which female character in the book are you most similar to? Tara, Roop or Serena?
Amrita: I’d like to think I have some aspects of each of them within me. My personality changes a lot depending on my surroundings and current life circumstances. I can be as wild and liberated as Serena, or as timid and shy as Roop. But the survival and perseverance of Tara is definitely a staple quality of mine.
- Has publishing your first book changed your process of writing in any way?
Amrita: I don’t think so – but it’ll definitely make the sequel a lot easier to write. When I first began I didn’t even decide on which point of view to use. I just kind of started writing and went with what flowed the most naturally. First person is really limiting though – the next one might be different.
- What is the one lesson that you think readers can take away from ‘Chasing Kismet’?
Amrita: That no matter what life throws your way, you can be in ultimate control of your destiny even if it feels like it’s always one step ahead of you and you’re just trailing behind like a helpless victim. Once you reach a state of self-actualization and true autonomy, you’ll be able to handle all of the curveballs your kismet has to offer.
- Finally, when are we going to read your next book?! Are you in the process of writing something new?
Amrita: Although writing is something engrained in my very existence, I have recently switched gears into podcasting. Based on the fact I am a mom of an extremely rambunctious two-year-old (as if there’s any other kind), and that I am expecting my second child. I don’t have time to write the sequel just yet. But every now and then concepts of what I envision it to be come to me and I can’t wait to get it all down. So maybe it will come to life sooner rather than later after all!
Amrita’s first book Chasing Kismet is about an Indo-Canadian girl called Tara who, seeking to unveil countless secrets from her past, travels through two different cities and encounters a variety of life-altering obstacles that reconstruct her whole existence in the process. What initiates as a contemporary story about a young South Asian girl fenced with cultural barriers, infuses into a tale about a strong-willed woman struggling to fight for her survival, all the while trying to figure out her place in a constantly crumbling world.
Amrita’s ability to string together simplistic language to create an organic and realistic narrative is the strength of this novel and it is what allows her to keep her readers engaged throughout. This book is one that South Asian readers should definitely purchase because it is laced with a variety of themes from patriarchy, cultural bigotry, familial relations and politically important issues such as sexuality in a society that refuses to accept its relevance. It is a book of today, made for every person of today who struggles to find their place in a culture that constantly questions their identity.
A lot of the ideas and concepts of this book were extremely important and it was high time that someone raised them in a piece of literature. And the fact that a South Asian woman of today’s generation was the one to do it is what makes the book all the more empowering.
If you haven’t purchased Chasing Kismet already then just click on the title to access the link to purchase, and you can also follow Amrita on her Instagram account and you can subscribe to her website too.
Until next week, my loves.