Interview with Readomania

 

 

 

 

I was asked some interesting questions by the managing editor of Readomania, Indrani Ganguly, and it was published on Readomania.com a few days ago. Here’s an extract:

“Indrani: The idea of a murder in a residential complex, the body found in the elevator, multiple suspects―this is the perfect and very relatable plot idea. What made you come up with this?

Ushasi: I grew up in an independent house. Though one has more space and privacy, it is a lonely kind of existence for a child. As an adult, I would listen to my husband’s tales of life in a building society, each story stranger and more dramatic than the next. I was deeply envious, but once we moved to an apartment complex ourselves I also realized that the buildings, packing in so many people in one place was a vast fund of interwoven stories just waiting to be told.

I have lived in three different apartment complexes in the last 17 years. I realized that it would be a perfect location for a murder mystery – a vast pool of suspects and motives; and the elevator, what better scene of a crime? It would be difficult to trace the body back to the murderer. (Don’t try this at home, please!)”

For the rest of the interview, please visit the Readomania website.

‘A Killer Among Us’ is available now!

Hello Readers!

I am ever so happy to announce that my second book, ‘A Killer Among Us’ has been published this week by Readomania. Due to the current crisis, paperbacks are quite impossible, so it is just on Kindle for now. Here is the link:

Please get your copy, (The blurb is available on the image) read it and let me know (through reviews on Amazon and Goodreads) what you thought of it. It’s a murder mystery about a death of a stranger in a building lift, and will keep you guessing till the end. (Even though I say so myself.)

Together We Can

Whoever we are, whatever situation we come from; there is little doubt that being human means coming up against times of trouble, at one point or the other. For those who are more fortunate, these troubles take a far more benign form, while others have to wrestle with insurmountable odds. Yet, whether ‘real’ or not, everyone you walk past, everyone you see smiling from their Facebook pictures; every single person carries some burden, and is waging a battle, big or small, to overcome it.

Most of us forget that however. We focus only on our own burning sores, and cry ‘why me?’. We look around, and think ‘why couldn’t it be him, or her?’ In our anger and misery we think inflicting pain on others, who seem so free of pain; would equalize matters and make ourselves feel better. But one never does. You’re just creating more pain and spreading it around. Your pain never goes away.

And then there are those who break free of this cycle. These are the truly evolved people. Regardless of their own problems, these people decide to create some happiness, some well-being as their legacy. They realize that even the smallest acts count.

Let me give you a rather frivolous example from my own life. I am an author, merely two books old now. When I wrote my debut book, the world of publishing was terribly inhospitable. With the support of friends and family, who encouraged me, I still limped to the finishing line and got the book out in published form. Now came the actual test. Who would buy my book? I was neither a well-established writer nor a well-known celebrity everyone would want to hear from. Some of my friends and family (angels in human garb) continued to help, spreading the word among their circles and trying to drum up some sales for me. But we all knew that the actual breakthrough would only come when strangers began to buy my book, enjoy it and spread some word-of-mouth buzz about it. I waited for many months, refusing all offers of ‘paid reviews’ (I didn’t see the point unless it was truly objective!) and steadily losing hope.

That’s when a few people, a person in Mumbai and a person in Chennai, both strangers, decided to give my book a try. This, in itself, is an act of kindness. Why spend 250 rupees of your hard-earned money on an unknown book, when you could save just a little more and buy one written by a celebrity? But they did. They read it with patience and enjoyed it. And this is where the real kindness came in. They proceeded to tell a lot of people about it. Both were bookworms, and well-respected for their reviews, so more people (strangers!) bought my book, and began to write positive reviews of their own. After that, in its own tiny way, the book did well. Far better than I or my loyal group of friends and family expected. My whole attitude to the experience changed. My venture into the world of books gave me pride, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and write another one. With the next book, the publishers were much more welcoming; less sceptical.

In general terms, if a couple of strangers can do that for someone, who knows how much more positivity can come into existence if we all tried to be like them? And who knows, what remarkable developments and progress we could effect, if we decided to band together?

The last decade has been marked by a remarkable amount of polarisation among people. There are very real and immediate problems of global warming, hunger, violence and disease. However, people are squabbling over petty man-made divisions (“narrow domestic walls” as the timeless Tagore put it) as the future of humanity itself slides towards an abyss. There are still good people out there valiantly trying to make a difference. Most people are good, at some level  ꟷ sometimes you have to dig pretty deep but it’s there, underneath it all. If all of us could only agree that we have to deal with the bigger problems first; that we are human beings before we are individuals or communities; and just work towards a common, obvious good; we could reverse all the damage we have done. Easily.

As the African proverb says:

“If you want to go fast, go alone

If you want to go far, go together.”

 

Because only together we can.

Some news.

I had told you, many many moons ago; that I had finished writing my second book. I am happy to say my manuscript got picked up by Readomania earlier this year.
It is tentatively titled ‘The Uninvited Guest’ and is a mystery set in an apartment complex.  I had some fun with this one, and I hope you guys enjoy it too!
I’ll keep you posted about the release date!

My second book!

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and fun end to the last year. Here’s to great new beginnings! On that note, I’m happy to say that I’ve finished writing my second book. I will not say much about it now, except it’s a murder mystery this time, with many of the elements that I enjoyed putting into my first novel. All my digits are tightly crossed for this one, wish me luck!
The photograph is a hint to what it is about. 🙂

Yet Another Retrospective Piece

It’s been a year since the paperbacks came out. How was the year for ‘Kathputli’, you ask? You probably aren’t, but if I were to wait for someone to ask, all I would hear is crickets chirping.

It’s been great. And sometimes not so great. I have months when the books have flown out of my inventory so fast (as recently as January this year) that I’ve thought of sending more of my rapidly depleting stock immediately to replenish it. Only to suffer through such a drought that I’d wonder if the previous month’s book sales and reviews were all a dream.

The highs and lows of this gig fairly make my head spin.

For those who want cold, hard data; I have sold a little shy of 350 paperbacks, and a 100 paid units on Kindle, and close to 20,000 KENP units. Don’t ask me what those are. It’s not the whole book, but a unit specific to Kindle which is not quite a page or chapter either.

I have about a 100 books left of the 520 books I had got printed. That’s a pleasant surprise, considering I was fully prepared, at the time of printing my book, to turn up at every occasion I was invited to, with a carefully wrapped copy of ‘Kathputli’. Till the day I died, or my stocks ran out, whichever came first. Possibly the former, I’d thought.

Those who HAVE read the book, have been unfailingly kind. To give you a very high-level summation of all the feedback I’ve received, both through reviews and personally:

Cons: Some people thought the beginning slow. Some (not the same ones) thought the ending was not to their taste. One person (I have heard) disliked the book because, how can a woman do such a thing, ya? One person called my prose ‘workman-like’ which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing.  I have no poetry in my soul. Those who attempt to counterfeit it, produce, in my eyes, the most cringe-worthy work.

Pros: Good things! Lots and lots. Great story, great structure, great style. Read all my goodreads reviews. Amazon has started acting funny with accepting reviews.

I’ll leave you with one rather controversial thought. It is of course a painfully subjective view, but no less true because of it, I think. People enjoy the whole idea of books. Bookclubs I am part of will go on and on about how they worship books. And they do, in most cases, literally. They howl for blood if they see a book being “disrespected”. Twinkle Khanna sitting on a pile of them, some cafe stringing up books as part of their decor, a foreign ad that has a shapely, stiletto clad shoe placed on books. “Oh the agony… my eyes, my eyes”, they shriek. Sacrilege, blasphemy and on and on.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that people who have such intense feelings about books would go out of their way to encourage new ones being birthed? Nope.

As usual, people mistake the symbol for the thing itself. To me books mean the idea, the writing; the magic of many people being able to read an author’s mind, often many centuries after he/she has ceased to exist. To these people I mention here, I think it is the husk of the book, the cardboard and the paper and the glue.

So it is a matter of least importance to create an environment where new talent is encouraged. I understand that some readers have been burnt painfully by profoundly bad debut novels, especially of the self-published variety. But, once an author has proved (through a bloody, bloody battle, let me assure you) that she is worth a read; what is stopping this army of book lovers from picking her up and spreading the word?

Anyhow, let us not dwell in a self-pitying manner on how much better the reception could have been. It brings to mind a quote by a starlet in the entertainment section of my newspaper today morning, “I can’t stand negative people.” (Oh my god, the irony, the irony!) It was the heading, no less. I live in fear of this starlet not being able to stand me if she ever reads this piece. So let me end with a cheerful (and positive!) call to action that will hopefully get all readers to click on this link and procure many many copies for their friends and family (be they negative people or not).

There are only about a 100 copies left. Get yours today. 😀

(And please don’t ask me about my second book if you haven’t read the first one.)

 

One Year of Kathputli

I haven’t written in a while. My freelance writing, family stuff, and treasured goofing-off time has kept me away. However, I had to shell out a few thousand recently to keep my author website up and running for another year, regardless of whether any reader visits this at all, so I thought I should justify it with a post.

NO, sorry, scratch THAT! On the anniversary of the month that I released ‘Kathputli’ in Kindle format last year, I thought I would write a post on the journey so far. First, I cannot mention the kindle format without thanking Lakshmi Ananthamurthy again for doing all the technical stuff it entailed. (There. Much more appropriate.)

Kathputli has 31 reviews on Amazon now, and a “goodly” number on Goodreads as well. It has an approximate average of 4.42 star ratings, which I think is excellent, given that a perfect 5 (from anything over 10 reviewers) smacks of favours exchanged or coercion of some nature. (Gimme 5 stars or I’ll burn your library down, see?) And anything under 4 is depressing.

‘Kathputli’ has been written about in several newspapers, the only one I haven’t mentioned here is the one in Deccan Chronicle. I was interviewed for a talk show and have had two book readings so far. I am not allowed videos on this site until I hack up more cash, so I will just have to direct you to my FB author page which allows me all these things for FREE. Are you listening WordPress? 😀 You can watch the readings there.

I have been discussed on 3 book blogs that I know of, all gorgeously written ones.  Vishy‘s, and Anushree‘s are the new ones to be mentioned, assuming you’ve read my earlier posts about the book’s progress. I am now down to my last unsold 100 books or so, in a print run of 500 copies; an achievement I am proud of since this is over and above the ebooks, and I had initially just thought of printing  80 — until kindly people explained to me (very slowly,  and using basic language; since I was evidently rather slow) that that is not financially viable, and rather defeats the purpose.

This year has been wonderful in some ways…my very own book! And so well received by readers! But it brought its own share of heartbreak…especially during the long, dry patches when readers seem to have moved on for weeks together. Or, when I know someone has my book in his/her possession but can’t seem to work up the energy to read it. I don’t blame them, there are plenty of books in my shelf that have languished for decades! 🙂 There are worse things still…but let’s not dwell and pick at old wounds.

I hope I can finally find the last few copies good homes; and then move on seriously to my next project. Here’s to another good year!! Since I have paid for another whole year of this website, it better be worth it! 🙂

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Independence Day Hard Sell

I thought long and hard on how to leverage ‘Independence Day’. Yes, leverage. You think all of the Flipkarts and Amazons are being patriotic?

I could announce a special Independence month discount, I thought, but my book is already priced at INR 250. If someone is hesitating at 250, I doubt bringing it down to 220 would make it The Deal-One-Could-Not-Resist!

How about if I appeal to your spirit of Independence? ‘The book is about one woman’s bid (or two, maybe three women, one never knows) for freedom, when India was in the throes of its own Independence struggle.’ Too much of an oversell perhaps?

It is indeed unfortunate that there are no sparsely clad mythological characters leaping off things on the cover, but the book compensates for this lack, I think, with Rashmi Prabhu’s beautiful illustrations inside.

How about this. ‘Kathputli’ is a good book. If you enjoy reading, you will enjoy it.

Those who have made the enormous commitment of picking it up have done so.

If you don’t really want to hear me say all this, come to your own conclusions by going through the links below. OR, you could just read the book instead. This is the link where you can buy it.

 

Happy Independence Day to you too.

 

Kathputli has been covered by:

the Telegraph, Times of India and the Deccan Chronicle.

Ushasi Sen Basu has appeared on the Prathibha Sastry Show, to talk about her novel.

Reader reviews

For reader reviews on Amazon, please check this link.

For Goodreads click here.

A review by a book blogger.

 

‘Kathputli’ in a Nutshell

Since you’re here; you already know there’s a book, called ‘Kathputli’ and that it’s been written by somebody with a name that is rather a mouthful. But perhaps you’d like to know more in a nutshell rather than go through the whole website to get the picture; time is of the essence nowadays, is it not? Then read on.

 

First about the author. Ushasi Sen Basu (to be henceforth referred to as ‘me’ or occasionally ‘I’) is a professional editor and writer who lives in Bangalore. This is her (my) first book.

 

‘Kathputli’ is about a girl called Chitrangda, who goes in search of a story for her Great Indian Novel, and finds it when she travels home to Kolkata and attends a family reunion. She hears about the mysterious disappearance of her grand aunt, Mala, in the 1940s ; a few years after the brutal murder of a young freedom fighter at the hands of her family. Chitrangda is immediately drawn to the mystery and decides to get to the bottom of it. What emerges teaches her that nothing is ever as it seems, and some secrets are best left uncovered.

 

If you’d like to know more, do check out the reviews on Amazon, and if you like what you see click on this link to get your own copy in either paperback or Kindle format.

Happy Reading! 🙂