In this atmospheric, passionate and poignant
account of a clash of cultures, caste and creed, divided family loyalties,
wealthy heartthrobs and the power of love, the story is told through three
women whose lives entwine.
turns her back on the Anglo-Indian community and reinvents herself only to find
that a dark secret threatens to send her life spiralling out of control and
cost her everything.
Germany by Nazi persecution, faces stark choices in a future very different
from that she envisaged.
from Hermie and Edith, is haunted by a family mystery and risks her prospects
in London to pursue a quest for roots in India where fate hurtles her in an
unexpected direction. Can they confront the storms or are their dreams destined
and exiled people so thought I’d combine the two in a sprawling time-zone saga.
tale (no pun intended) and short, rounded wings with plumage that ranges from
drab to colourful. I chose the title before I embarked on the novel and it
wasn’t until I reached the end that I realised the title bore a double-edged
meaning! I leave that to the reader to figure out.
the British Raj – i.e. the end of British colonial rule in India – to the
was far from easy. Although she’s scheming and manipulative- indeed your
average sort of girl! one’s always rooting for her. Will she, won’t she? She
takes a lot of emotional punches and never wavers. I hope the novel’s
appeal will extend to both genders from age 16 to 99 (the latter’s the age
Indian Railways records you as being when it doesn’t know your date of birth.)
It’s a satisfying happy- ever- after but in very different ways for Hermie,
Edith and Kay.
come across either as submissive or aggressive.
suicide; did you find such scenes difficult to write?
SINGS is rich in nostalgia your love of India shines. How did you distance
yourself from the nostalgia to “real” research?
probably feel nostalgic – a sentimental longing for past times. But the
characters are living and breathing in an era that for them is the present .
Research was the horrendous part. It was hard graft but unavoidable and
for me completely devoid of nostalgia.
from a holiday in India visiting the exotic, erotic 10th and
11th century temples of Khajuraho followed by
trekking in the Himalayas with views of the snow-capped mountain Nanda
Devi (elevation 25,643 feet and twin peaked – that’s probably why it was named
after the big breasted goddess Nanda Devi who’s both benevolent and wrathful –
not unlike Hermie). Interestingly, the CIA planted a telemetry relay
listening device on the mountain in the late 1960s in order to eavesdrop
on China but an avalanche consigned it to oblivion.
you base any of these on real-life people?
imagination. I don’t know anyone remotely like them!
dished out. Edith, you’d have made it wherever you lived. Kay, you can never
tell what’s round the corner and you followed your instincts.
Romance. Is this your niche? Or have you written other genres?
grand! Bulbul has strong elements of romance but I’m reluctant to categorise it
as literary. I started writing category romances and I still enjoy doing that.
Didn’t the poet Gibran say that life without love is like a tree without
blossoms or fruit? There are hugely successful category romance writers whose
skills surpass anything I’ve produced so far. IN THE PINK is a
completely different genre (I like experimenting with styles and would be
interested to hear what readers think!) My short story THE BOARDROOM is another departure as is THE SIX JUDGES and THE FEARLESS CHATTEE-MAKER which are short
stories for children.
to a novel?
(including “distance time”) and a longer one (80,000 to 100,000 words) probably
about 9 nine months.
have a publisher/agent?
published by UK publisher Robert Hale Ltd. The rest are indie-published. Thank
goodness for that opportunity.
(STRANGE INHERITANCE and PAINT ME A DREAM were published
under that). Then WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS didn’t appeal to it. I found an agent who liked BULBUL but
couldn’t match it to a publisher. It languished on my pc for ages after that
until in 2011 I stumbled across self-publishing with Amazon and Smashwords. I
submitted it to a third party professional editor who made some
very helpful and insightful editorial suggestions that had me
gnashing my teeth but after I’d thrown some crockery, I revised it
and voila posted it on both sites.
even for a short while, to keep the momentum going. Often it’s just rubbish but
that’s better than nothing!
the champagne of the day job and I resume the art of a wordsmith thereafter
entirely refreshed and intoxicated.
you give it up?
of JK Rowling.
miss as I find myself unable to identify the keyword that
will instantly reveal all I need. A lot of research is computer based but
there’s nothing like the British Library for the meat. Also, when researching
I find myself wasting a lot of time being lured off the beaten track
by interesting snippets that would make an interesting theme for another
Inspector Morse (IM) leapt up on to the keyboard – thump- the result being
wacky tips about listening carefully to your inner quadratic equation. Hmm…
Will that win me the lottery?
In front of it, there’s just room for a crystal pen and ink
stand that I bought at an antiques fair. (A contrast between now and then). In
the upper part (bookcase) are a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus and Brewer’s
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and a well-thumbed Dummies manual
on computers. In the bureau drawers are hard copies of my books and CDs of
films I missed when they were on general release and which I want to catch up
with. At my feet lies IM and through the study window I have a bird’s eye
view of the pretty garden that’s a joy in all seasons.
slurping water, snoring and snuffling and drubbing his tail on the floorboards.
The chair is black leather, rather like that in Mastermind (the
popular British TV quiz programme that features a black chair where contestants
sit facing the Quizmaster). Oh, and the walls are covered with prints of
pictures by Picasso.
pen or is it all on the computer?
but I use a pc now.
very inspiring and set the imagination alight.
you the most inspiration?
Gardner by Lee Server – she was a Hollywood legend. Love them or hate them,
both sprang from an ordinary background and ended up holding a stellar
place in world history. I would’ve loved to have met them , although
I must confess that Ava’s ability to engage the most amazing
admirers is nothing less than inspiring! I suppose the same could
be said of Bill but Ava had more jewellery and I’m a sucker for that.
write such as word count?
for at least three quarters of an hour, and five minutes before that’s
elapsed I find I’ve actually written a sentence. That prompts me to carry on.
Sometimes the natural break is reached in two hours; at other times it’s a
longer process rather like a Trans-Siberian journey.
you happy being an indie author?
although I consider all options and never say never.
indie authors get?
relates to poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, proofreading or research, then
that’s justified. If it’s about a poor plot, excessive narrative, poor
dialogue or wooden characters the bad press is unfair
and disproportionate given there are heaps of books out there,
equally wanting in that respect that shouldn’t have seen the light of day
(published by mainstream publishers) that don’t get undermined or
critique partners and I don’t inflict my writing on other writers. I paid for BULBUL
to be critiqued by a professional third party editor and found her insights and
comments very useful. Inspiration just pops into my head! As for motivation,
writing’s a challenge and I can’t resist that.
by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?
be recommended but it works for me in a disorganised, rambling sort of way.
is like wading through treacle.
and blog is pretty much expected. My eBooks are on Kindle and Smashwords. I’ve
joined and posted on forums run by Amazon, Kindle, Goodreads and Mobilereads.
I’m on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to LinkedIn. Scribd is a great place
to air the first chapter of one’s novel (a taster) and then there’s Pinterest
(although I don’t really have to grips with that).
great works, labour alone finishes them.
qualified as a Lawyer in England and joined a large London law
firm. Her first romantic novel STRANGE INHERITANCE (published
by Robert Hale Ltd in 1990) went into UK and USA large print editions in 2004
(published by BBC Audio Books Ltd and Thorndike Press) and is a Kindle and
Smashwords eBook. The second romantic novel PAINT ME A DREAM (published by
Robert Hale Ltd in 1991) went into UK and USA large print editions in 2004
(published by BBC Audio Books Ltd and Thorndike Press) and is likewise a Kindle
and Smashwords eBook.
Fast forward to a sabbatical from the day job when Serena traded in
bricks and mortar for a houseboat and embarked on WHERE THE BULBUL
SINGS a time-zone saga set in India spanning the last days of the Raj to the
present day. After a long gestation, this saw the light of day in 2011 as a
Kindle and Smashwords eBook as well as a printed version. Then, wanting
to experiment, she burst out of the romance bubble with IN THE PINK (Kindle and
Smashwords eBook) a quirky departure in style and content.
But romance is hard-wired in her DNA so there’sGOLDEN GROVE, another romantic novel (Kindle and Smashwords eBook). WILFUL
FATE is the latest release, a romantic story with a horse riding background.
(Kindle and Smashwords eBook). THE BOARDROOM, a short story with a twist,
features on Serena’s blog as does THE SIX JUDGES where animals get in a few
light jabs at humans and THE FEARLESS CHATTEE-MAKER.
The saying age cannot wither
her, nor custom stale her infinite variety aptly describes the tug of law so Serena
still enjoys the day job, although she has plunged into drafting a new
time-zone saga with an exotic backdrop. A long standing member of the Romantic
Novelists Association, Serena is convinced there’s not a more
wonderful, supportive organisation. She and her golden retriever, Inspector
Morse, who can’t wait to unleash his own Facebook and Twitter page, divide
their time between London and glorious rural Kent. (Charles Dickens said: Kent,
sir. Everybody knows Kent. Apples, cherries, hops and women).