Author’s Bio: Puja Guha began writing in 2010 by participating in the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). She lives in the Washington DC area where she divides her time between writing, travel, and consulting work on international development programs. Her experiences around the world are a key component of her inspiration and weave their way into each of her stories.
What inspired you to write your book?
The idea for The Confluence came to me during a business trip with the World Bank in Sudan. The setting there is what inspired me. I had many expectations of Khartoum, the capital, all of which were completely contradicted by the city itself, and I found myself imagining a story set there. After that, the pieces fell into place.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Growing up I read all the books off of my dad’s bookshelf. In particular I loved all of the thrillers, especially Frederick Forsyth’s book Icon. Instead of studying for my finals in high school, I hid out in my room to finish reading it. Since then I’ve reread it every few years and I still love it. Reading those books was definitely a part of why I started writing.
Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
This is my second book. I finished the first draft in about two months of concentrated writing, but the editing timeline afterward took about a year.
Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
During my first draft of a story, I just let things flow. During the editing process though I do some story mapping and outlining to make sure everything fits together the way I want.
Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
Sometimes, I do, but it’s usually to Pandora or another streaming service. Once in a while, I put the song "How Far We’ve Come" by Matchbox 20 on repeat. The song’s a little bit dark but the beat gets me going.
What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
The best tool that I’ve found is promoting 99 cents sales through targeted mailing lists such as Kindle Nation Daily, BookBub, and Ereader News. The recipients of these newsletters are actively looking for new deals on books, which helps to make putting the book on sale a really effective marketing tactic.
What advice would you give to new authors?
Remember that the most important thing you can do with your time is to write. Don’t give into writer’s block. Set realistic goals for yourself and stick to them. Don’t waste time being hard on yourself, just focus on attending to your goals.
Remember that writer’s block is a construct. Everyone procrastinates. It’s part of human nature. I believe that writer’s block is a form of procrastination. What’s much worse about it is that we as authors have empowered it by calling it writer’s block. We’ve made it excusable. I believe the only way to get past it is to sit down at your computer (or other writing vehicle) and put in the time.
How about sharing an excerpt from The Confluence?
Memories. Some of them are as distant as the day they occurred, while others reside at the forefront of our minds. I’m not sure why this occurs. I spent three years studying biology in college when I was supposed to be premed, and I never found anyone able to successfully explain the operations of the human mind. My grandfather once told me that being able to forget was humanity’s most important blessing. How else would we be able to forgive? How else could we move forward after experiencing egregious loss? Perhaps being able to forget enriches our existence. Some memories will always evoke certain emotions from our minds, hearts, and souls, but the bite that resonates can lessen over time. While I agree that being able to forget is important, every time I look at you, I have to disagree with him. There can be no disputing it—memory is humanity’s most important blessing.
No matter how many years have passed, the first time I saw you still feels like yesterday. Nikhil, you were only three at the time, sitting on your haunches stacking Lego blocks onto the back of a large green toy truck. You were so meticulous and attentive to the last detail, even then. I should have known you would go on to become a civil engineer. Nothing else would have made sense.
We never told you about the circumstances that led to that meeting, or to your adoption. I can give you all kinds of excuses. Your father and I were worried about how much pain it might cause. We didn’t want to confuse your ideas about your heritage. Mostly, we were just afraid. Afraid that you would think that we loved you less than your sister. Afraid that you might believe that you were not really our son. Afraid that you wouldn’t know how to relate to your sister knowing that you are not blood siblings. Afraid that you would want to seek out your biological parents rather than continue to live in the home that we had built as a family.
When we finally told you that you were adopted, you didn’t seem to be too surprised. Perhaps you saw the signs. They are everywhere if you know what to look for. We never did tell you about how your adoption came to be, though. We never told you that you and I do indeed share blood, just not as your parent. We never told you who your biological father was and how much he meant to me. Nikhil, we were always family, even before your adoption.
Last week I watched you march across that stage in a cap and gown to receive your PhD. When Kanika told us that you two were expecting, we could not have been more excited. But it made me realize that you are a grown man, and you deserve the truth, especially now. As you bring your own child into the world, you should know every detail I can tell you about your entire past. So here it is, in all of its pain and glory.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on the sequel to my first book, Ahriman: The Spirit of Destruction. It’s a spy thriller. The description is below.
After the events of Ahriman: The Spirit of Destruction, Petra Shirazi settles into a life in Paris under the alias of Ana Zagini. Her new world comes crashing down after a visit from a former Agency colleague forces her back into fieldwork. As they race to stop a mole that has infiltrated the Agency, they uncover an insidious plot to destroy the leadership of the International Monetary Fund and place it in the control of a corrupt nuclear power. The investigation spirals downward and she is forced to enlist the help of the Ahriman, now in hiding and presumed dead by most intelligence sources. Together they must face their demons to stop a conspiracy that threatens to bring the world’s financial infrastructure to its knees.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
· Website: www.pujaguha.com
· Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Puja-Guha/e/B00LLI70V2/
· Twitter: @GuhaPuja
· Blog: https://pujaguha.wordpress.com/
· Book buy Links:
The Confluence http://hyperurl.co/confluence
Ahriman: The Spirit of Destruction http://smarturl.it/ahrimanIntl
It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.