Author's Interview With Sangeeta Kathuria
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book after having read quite a stark and raw interview of a woman in a social media post and the issues she faced in her marital life due to domestic violence and marital rape. She had chosen to stay and endure a loveless and pointless marriage for the sake of keeping face in society and not to hurt her family. But in the end, she had to leave as she ended up in hospital. I felt that there must be so many women in India (where this particular woman was from) as well as other parts of the world who try too hard to conform to the norms of society at the risk of their own happiness. I felt I needed to put a voice to this issue which I did in the form of my character Esha. I wrote this book with a hope for others in the same predicament to know that there is a way out. And there is hope. By adding the romance element to it just helped to give it a better dimension.
Can you tell me about the book?
The premise of the story is a promise that is kept between two individuals to one another, to promise that they will try and be happy in their respective lives after they find themselves falling in love. Esha is a conservative girl from Amritsar India, who goes on a shopping trip to London for her wedding, where she meets and falls in love with Jack. Against all odds they fall in love but cannot stay with one another and they part ways. She goes on to get married and he goes on to pursue a career. However, a phone call seven years down the line and access to her diary tells Jack that things did not turn out the way they had hoped and Esha needs help from a marriage that has ended up in turmoil. Will Jack be able to keep his promise to Esha and will there be a happy ending for the star crossed lovers is the main story.
There are some strong themes of sexual violence, domestic abuse and it is a book that is suitable only for the older readers.
The main idea of the book stemmed from the Chinese proverb “an invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, despite the circumstances. The thread can be tightened or tangled, but never be broken.” Thus the title of the book and the theme of promises.
What were the key challenges you faced while writing " The Scarlet Promise" Book?
It wasn’t easy to write this book as I was in full time employment and managing my 3-year-old boy. Finding the time was an issue but I grabbed whatever moment I could to ensure I could write, even if it was a few words every day. I made it more like a job than a hobby at one point to make sure I wouldn’t fall behind which was a hard thing to do.
I was also writing about a very sensitive issue i.e. domestic and marital abuse which is not such a “ready to discuss” topic in many countries. It was hard to do the research to ensure I was writing with sensitivity and not making judgments on my characters and their actions.
Finally having to look after the whole process of writing, sourcing editors, sourcing cover artists and then publishing the book myself was hard work as I had to do my homework to ensure it was being done right.
I am now facing the same challenges with my second book, albeit with an older child yet time is always a challenge. I find writing at night when everyone has gone to bed is the best way to go about it.
What Books or authors have most influenced your writing?
I love the books by Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruna. They are brilliant writers and really understand the core of human values and what drives people to be the way they are as well as looking at cross cultures. Their insight and visions are amazing. I also love reading books by a fellow Indie Author Shalini Boland who writes psychological thrillers and have read every one of her books. She knows just the right way to use psychology to creep the reader and has great “hooks” to her stories.
I have just started reading books by MV Kasi who is an Indian author who writes gripping romance novels and I feel her work will heavily influence my work and choices on topics.
Lastly as a child I grew up on the books by Enid Blyton who was my ultimate favourite as well as CS Lewis and Tolkien. If I were to ever write a childrens book, it would be influenced a great deal by their themes and work.