Wednesday, 2 November 2016

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES BY MINDY McGINNIS. Review by KIRTIDA GAUTAM


There are books that leave the reader angry. Ravenous angry. Fingers balled into a fist kind of angry. Not love, joy, happiness. But anger. And yet the reader thanks the author from heart because she made him/her feel
Anger is one of those unfortunate emotions that society doesn't even pretend to understand. 
Anger= bad. 
Anger= out of control. 
Anger= avoid. 
Says who? And why?
Anger is NOT bad. It’s human to feel angry. We are nothing but evolved apes. What makes us inhumane is to lose touch with our innate emotions. That makes us weak. 
ALEX CRAFT is a hero who feels the full range of emotions. She acts upon her emotions. Yes, her methods are questionable. And she is aware of that. I think she deserves understanding. Not sympathy (Alex would hardly care for it), but understanding.
Mindy McGinnis is an author that stuns the readers with her objectivity. She is a God-like figure, always present, always observing, penning down what she sees, but never intrusive. She doesn’t force a story on her characters. She builds strong, relatable characters and then let them be their own persons in the world she creates.
Her command over the craft is commendable. The novel is written from 3 points of view. Alex, Jack, and Peekay. Multiple points of view novels are always a test of an author's craft. 
Are the voices distinct? 
Does the author understand each of her character, in and out? 
Does her characters contributes the same element to the story without brining novelty? 
Yes, yes, and no. 
Mindy is skilled to handle multiple points of view. Even though some of the characters do repeat some part of the story in successive chapters, she uses multiple points of view as a TOOL, so we read a different story. 

The Female of the Species is one of those rare fictions that the world NEEDS. It’s an urgent and pressing need. It is a high time that the elephant in the room needs to be addressed. Ducking the head in the sand won’t make the storm pass away. An incredibly brilliant novel that must become a part of every teenager girl (and boy)’s reading list. Every parent (and teacher, and counselor, and psychologist) must read this before they talk about the growing rape culture.


Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and author of the unpublished Multicultural Upmarket novel I AM 16 I CAN. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

INTERVIEW 16- KIRTIDA GAUTAM INTERVIEWS SAMIRA AHMED

INTERVIEW 16
KIRTIDA GAUTAM INTERVIEWS 
SAMIRA AHMED

SAMIRA AHMED was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. She currently resides in the Chicago area. She’s lived in Vermont, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango.
A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English for seven years, worked to create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She’s appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC, NY1, NPR, and on BBC Radio.  Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Jaggery Lit, The Fem, Entropy, and Claudius Speaks. Swimming Lessons, her debut novel, will be published in Spring 2018 by SoHo Teen (an imprint of SoHo Press). You can follow her on Twitter @sam_aye_ahm

Give the readers some Swimming Lessons :) What inspired you to write your debut novel?
Actual swimming lessons! At least in part. I wrote a piece for a personal essay class I was taking called “Indians Can’t Swim”—a humorous take on my love-hate relationship with the beach, my failed attempts at learning to swim and finally doing so when I was older. It got me thinking about navigating cultures as a teen, challenging yourself to do something that scares you, and defying expectations.  Those ideas gave birth to Maya, my main character, a high school senior who does all three.

Tell us about an unforgettable moment that took place while you were writing Swimming Lessons? Something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Typing the last sentence of the very first draft of my book. Swimming Lessons is the first book I’ve ever written and I began it as a challenge to myself. I was curious if I could take a little seed of an idea and build a world around it. That first draft was very, very rough, but finishing it felt like an important personal accomplishment. I really knew very little about publishing or finding an agent and really wrote the book for myself. I was on vacation, sitting in a sunny back porch in Napa, light streaming in the windows and wondering how to end the story. An image came to me and I grabbed my computer and got it all down as I’d imagined it. Thousands of words from that first draft were altered, edited out, but that last paragraph I wrote is still the last paragraph of the story.

Who is your first reader and critic?
My husband. Even before the story is a story, when it’s just a seed, he knows about it. He’s my sounding board, voice of reason, cheerleader, and light when I need it most.

Tell us about your journey of finding a literary agent.
It was the Tweet heard round the world! (Well, my world at least.)
I entered #PitMatch, the brainchild of Jessica Sinsheimer and Brenda Drake. My literary cupid, Laura Tims, matched me with Eric Smith.
Here’s my Tweet & Eric’s response:
@sam_aye_ahm:  She wants to make films & kiss boys—her Muslim parents forbid both. Will a terrorist & Islamophobia shatter her dreams?
@ericsmithrocks: *breaks mouse clicking like button so hard*
I sent him my query and manuscript. Four days later Eric offered representation and here we are. Social media for the win!

Can you give the aspiring writers any advice of what they should do during the Query Process?
1.Your manuscript should not merely be finished, but revised and polished. Make it the best it can be.
2. Do your research. Query Tracker, MSWL, Query Shark, Writer’s Digest, agent blogs, and literary agency websites. These are some of the websites you should be looking into to research the agents who might be good fits for your book. Learn the querying guidelines for each agent (they vary!). I researched agents obsessively before sending out even a single query.
3. Unless you are entering a Twitter contest (they work, really! See my answer to #4), do not pitch on Twitter. Also, don’t pitch agents on their blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, or by accosting them at events.
4. Follow agency guidelines.
5. Be professional in all your interactions that includes social media. Publishing is a business.
6. Be prepared for rejection. Everyone gets rejected. Rejections hurts, but try not to take it personally. Brush yourself off and query again.
7. Believe in yourself. Believe in your story. And do the work.

Describe a day when you bless your heart for choosing your occupation.
This is virtually every day for me. I still can’t believe that Swimming Lessons will be on the shelves. Any time a story idea comes to me and I jot it down and can let my imagination run with it, when I can give life to a character or a place, I feel incredibly fortunate.

Describe a day when you curse your brain for not stopping you from choosing your occupation.
The day has not yet arrived and I hope it never does. Writing is essentially my third career after teaching and working in non-profit, so even long hours of revision feel like good work. But I will say editing and finding mistakes even after you’ve read a passage for what feels like the thousandth time, can be rather frustrating.

If you have to make a movie of your life, what would it look like?
Lots of coffee and little sleep. Running around with my family, laughing. Random errands. An inordinate amount of pastries and fried food.
Me, staring out the window, scribbling ideas in a notebook with a Hi-Tec-C Pen, researching topics that might seem shady without any context. Re-reading passages from favorite short stories, poems, and novels.
Clearly, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac, and Ryan Gosling will fight over the role of my love interest. Good luck, gentlemen.



Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and author of the upcoming Psychological Thriller #iAm16iCan. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. 
Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

ONE ON ONE WITH LITERARY AGENTS: LAUREN SPIELLER


ONE ON ONE WITH LITERARY AGENTS
LAUREN SPIELLER

Lauren Spieller is an author and an assistant literary agent living in Brooklyn. Before joining Triada US, she worked in literary scouting, and as an editorial consultant. She is the author of The Wanderings of Dessa Rose
First an author, then an editor, and now a literary agent. You juggle many hats! Which role do you love the most and why?
This may sound like lip service, but I truly love them all equally. I’ve always seen these roles as complimentary, almost like two (or three?) sides of the same coin. I’m particularly excited to be representing clients of my own, as my favorite part of working in publishing has always been helping authors shape their stories. I took great pleasure in doing so as an editorial consultant, and I continue to love it as an agent and a critique partner!
“Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism,” says Rollo May. As a literary agent who seeks diverse voices, what is your take? Which rules of fidelity will you let your authors break?
This is such an interesting question. I’d like to first provide the original quote for readers, which is a bit longer, and provides some context: “Courage is not a virtue of value among other personal values like love or fidelity. It is the foundation that underlies and gives reality to all other virtues and personal values. Without courage our love pales into mere dependency. Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism.”
As far as I understand it, Rollo May was talking about the role courage plays in the development of one’s character. It’s the piece that elevates our virtues, that makes them not only possible, but meaningful. So when he says “without courage our fidelity becomes conformism,” he’s suggesting that courage is the ingredient that makes us faithful and true to an idea because we believe in faithfulness, not just because faithfulness is what is expected of us. This idea, applied to the role of diversity in literature, suggests that there are two approaches to including diverse voices: one of conformism, in which we feel it is important to include diverse voices because everyone else is doing it, and one of courage and fidelity, which suggests that we believe it is truly important to represent diverse voices and experiences because they have intrinsic value, and it is the right thing to do.
I like to think that I am a part of this second camp. Then again, I would hope that all agents and editors fall into this camp when they say they welcome diverse voices, or #ownvoices. That might be naïve, but at the end of the day, I think what really matters is that we are giving diverse writers—be they people of color, LGBTQ, neurodiverse, or some other type of “minority”--the opportunity to share their stories, and their voices, with the world, regardless of why we’re doing it.
As for which “rules” I’m willing to let an author break, that’s a harder question. I am particularly invested in finding #ownvoices writers, which is to say, writers who have lived the experiences they are writing about. But I also understand that research is a wonderful tool, and done right, can produce a story full of excellent representation. Even then, however, I am a big believer in sensitivity reads and ongoing research, and it’s important for writers to recognize that their work will—and should—be critiqued and discussed, even after it is published. That’s how we all learn and grow.

If you could go back in time and say something to your 10-years younger self, what would the message be?
I’d tell her to skip the LSAT classes, because she doesn’t actually want to go to law school. Those classes were expensive!

If you could give one piece of advice to writers, what would it be?
I’d tell them to read read read, especially books in their genre/age category that have been published in the last five years. Books are the best writing class there out there, and the best way to learn to write something for a specific audience is to read something for that audience.

Describe a day when you curse your brain for not stopping you from choosing your occupation.
There are days when my reading is pilling up, and all I want to do is watch a Netflix marathon of Law & Order SVU. But I’ve learned to get my reading done, and then set aside a few hours each night, or a full day if I can manage it, for binge TV watching/time with friends/etc. It’s important to refill the well of creativity and energy once in a while!

Describe a day when you bless your heart for choosing your occupation. 
Today was a day like that! This morning I spent a few hours editing Mary Widdick’s amazing Psychological Thriller, which is a pure pleasure. I also had coffee with a friend in the industry, and then read a few chapters of a manuscript I’m considering for representation. This evening I’m having a drink with a fellow agent, and then I’ll dive back into Mary’s novel. Not a bad day. Not bad at all.

TriadaUS Assistant Literary Agent Lauren Spieller has a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She has a sharp editorial eye, and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as commercial Adult fiction and non-fiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse voices. Visit www.triadaus.com for her full wishlist, and follow her on Twitter @laurenspieller.

Kirtida Gautam interviews Karen Fortunati 
Kirtida Gautam interviews Eric Smith 
Kirtida Gautam interviews Olivia Rivers
Kirtida Gautam interviews Marieke Nijkamp 

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and author. Her debut novel #iAm16iCan questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. 
Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam