Laurie: I’m excited to have Malika Gandhi with me here, West of the Equator. Good morning, Malika. So happy you could join me from the other side of the globe. Please tell our audience what your book is about.
Malika: Freedom of the Monsoon is about five individuals who struggle against pre Indian Independence – the Quit India Movement. It is a story where we see sacrifice evoked by love and compassion but also anger and hate. The genre is historical with romance.
It is not a political story but a personal one. The book is told from the viewpoint of five, who are childhood friends. Little did they know that their country, their world was going to change drastically when Mahatma Gandhi called the Quit India Movement.
Laurie: Do you have one main character, or is the story told equally by several different characters? Who are the protagonists?
Malika: There are five characters and each tells their story from their viewpoint. I think Pooja is the protagonist, for her story is very personal and will touch the lives of so many, as is Rakesh’s who is a freedom fighter.
Laurie: Why did you choose to write about this time in Indian History? Is it personal to you in some way?
Malika: When I was a child, I saw a movie called 1942 A Love Story. This is a Bollywood movie and is set during the Quit India Movement. It showed me that horrific time and what happened. It made me begin to think and research the pre-independence era.
I thought about the lives of those Indian people and how they felt during that time. What made some of them to become a freedom fighter? How did they cope when a loved one was taken away during this Indian war against the British Raj? There were so many questions in my head that I wanted answered and I wanted non-Indians and Indians alike to – especially NRIs – non-resident Indians, to know more about this time in history.
I suppose in that way, it is personal to me.
Laurie: What is the harshest criticism you’ve received as an author?
Malika: I suppose that I write English as a second language? My first language is Gujarati. As well as speaking my native language, I have grown up in England speaking English from as early as I can remember.
Laurie: Has that criticism changed the way you write in any way?
Malika: I don’t think it has changed me at all.
Laurie: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to what you read? (For example, I hate semi colons).
Malika: I don’t like unformatted works or wrongly used punctuation. I try and make sure my manuscript is properly formatted and has minimum punctuation flaws or preferably, none at all.
Laurie: Are you working on a sequel?
Malika: Yes, I am working on my second book which has a working title – Petal.
Laurie: Can you tell us what it’s about?
Malika: It is set in two consequent years – 1947 and 2012.
1947 sees the character of Anjali, who is a minor character in Freedom of the Monsoon. In the first chapter, she is seen running from killers of the post-Independence era, which is then called Partition (of India).
2012 sees the character of Arianna, who is the subject of two lovers. She travels to India and finds something different and yet exciting in an old haveli (an old Indian mansion).
These two are connected by paranormal activity.
Laurie: You are originally from Mumbai and now live in the U.K. How is life in the U.K. different from life in India?
Malika: I was born in Mumbai (called Bombay then) but moved to the UK when I was two, so I have really grown up here. Life in the UK is very different. Even though the same cultures are followed here in the UK, the perspective of everything is so different, in attitude especially.
Laurie: Who are your favorite authors?
Malika: I love J.K.Rowling and just recently, Ruth Warburton. They both write about witches, which is something I am partial to.
Laurie: Do you have any favorite Indian authors?
Malika: I am a fan of V.S. Naipaul too and I like Meera Syal.
Laurie: What do you look for when searching for the next book to read?
Malika: I love to read fantasy and paranormal books, even children’s books – if they are anything like J.K.Rowling. People say – do not judge a book by its cover, but for me, that is impossible. A cover for me sets the tone of the book and that is what leads me to read it.
Laurie: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Malika: Please read Freedom of the Monsoon. It is very different but interesting too.
Malika Gandhi’s Bio:
Malika Gandhi lives with her husband and two sons in the East Midlands, UK. She is a homemaker and in between caring for her family, she writes her books and dabbles in a little painting too. She loves to experiment with different mediums, such as oils, acrylic and watercolour.
Malika was born in India but moved to London when she was two, where her father was already settled. She travelled with her mother and brother.
Malika has lived in London, studied in Southampton and moved to Leicester after her marriage, which is where her husband and his family live. A girl moves in with her in-laws after marriage, at least for a short time.
Malika loves to watch movies, visits art and history museums and is curious about the universe.
Links to purchase Freedom of the Monsoon:
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