Allow me to introduce Neena H. Brar. We came to know about her book – Tied to Deceit – and we got a chance to read it. We found it a nicely written thriller cum police procedural.
You can find our unbiased reviews for “Tied to Deceit” at:
It made us curious to know more about the author. And, what could have been a better choice then having a Q/A session with her? Fortunately, the things worked out positively when we approached her for the same, and here is the Q/A session with her.
First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk to you on your wonderful platform. It is an incredible feeling. There is nothing quite like seeing your books on bookshelves or in readers’ hands and attending book signings and other author events at the same Indigo / Chapters and other bookstores where I used to go and buy books as a reader in the past. The constructive reviews and readers’ love overwhelm me. Sometimes I remind myself that it is all real and not a dream on my part.
(Because, in a traditional way of life, often, despite we love doing some stuff, we got busy so much in the hustle and bustle of the life, both personally and professionally, that some of our passions took backseat, in terms of priority. )
Yes, there’s this sense of achievement, happiness, and satisfaction that you feel every time you accomplish your current goal. That’s exactly how I’m feeling after my book release. But the completeness is hard to envision and even harder to achieve; it is elusive. With each aspiration achieved, we have this tendency to aim for a bigger goal. Today it could be selling 10,000 copies of my book on my part. Tomorrow it would become 100,000. The number would get bigger and bigger. Whereas in the past, I had only dreamt of finishing the first draft.
I was born and brought up in a small town in Punjab and moved to Canada after my marriage to a second-generation Canadian Punjabi. I’ve a Masters in Business Administration. Currently I live in Edmonton, Alberta with my husband, two children and a German Shepherd pup who is full of mischief and boundless energy. I’m a stay-at-home-mom and passionate about my children, home, my family, and little things like books, sunny days, tea, and Ace (our German Shepherd). I wish I could say something real fancy about my passions, but the above listed tiny things pretty much sum up all of my passions.
As a small child, I loved writing stories and had this dream of becoming an author. During my growing up years I didn’t write but read extensively. I was introduced to British Crime Genre after I moved to Canada and fell in love with the mysteries. As a reader, I have always loved books heavy on characterization and realized no Indian writer has written a proper character-driven mystery. I decided to write one myself then. But it was my husband who put the idea of writing a book in my head. He had read my reviews and thought I was good at putting my ideas on paper. After my daughter started school full time, I had few hours to myself during days. That’s when I started working on Tied to Deceit.
To find time to write. We had just moved to a new house in a new city. We bought house in a relatively new area where everything was under construction at the time and I had to drive 4+ hours some days just to get kids to school and other classes. With usual household chores, I was exhausted all the time. Then hubby and kids decided to get an 8-weeks old German Shepherd pup who had to be housebroken. It was very difficult to find time to write.
For me, the favourite part while writing is to get in characters’ heads and think for them. I love penning down their emotions in words. There are a few hilarious scenes in the book that I had fun working on. One among them is the scene where SP Sharma imagines a troop of saree clad, fat women walking and talking simultaneously. On the serious side, there is this scene I wrote about one of the female characters. She’s timid, all bottled up, leading a drab life. I wanted to throw in a dash of colour to specifically alienate that dullness. Mixing a lovely background with her inner turmoil was fun to work on. Here is the scene:
Even the chill in the air failed to dampen her spirits today. She walked swiftly, crossed the narrow, cobbled street, went up Shakti Avenue, and climbed the long twisting road toward the Upper Hill. Finally, the town was behind, and the noise—the deafening noise of the town; the footsteps of hundreds of pedestrians; the screeching of vendors and rickshaw wheels on the cobbled streets; the blowing horns of scooters, motorcycles, and buses; the chimes of temple bells; the shrieking laughter of the children playing gulli danda in the streets—was left behind. It was silent, peaceful finally. She stood there and gazed at the town below. Although it had not rained all day, the sun had stayed hidden behind gloomy-looking clouds until the afternoon. Now, in the late evening, the clouds had lifted to reveal a feeble sun behind. The sunlight, although meager, was resilient enough to smear the slated roofs of white-washed narrow houses with a fierce coral. Coral—every shade of coral—she had loved since she was a little girl. A few more days of this vast loneliness and then her colourless life would be filled with a fierce coral. She took a deep breath and smelled the evening breeze.
I’m definitely an impulsive writer, though, at times, I forced myself to sit through days and finish Tied to Deceit. I have a small desk in our bedroom next to a large window overlooking a ravine and woods beyond. I like sitting there and write on my laptop. I’ve written half of my book in my bedroom. I like to write in bed mostly. But I can write anywhere if I’m in mood and have my laptop at hand. I’ve written while waiting in car to pick kids from school, at their swimming lessons, dance classes and other activities, and sitting in front of TV and talking to my husband.
All I can say is I was fortunate to meet some wonderful people who helped me with my research. My parents also shared their knowledge of the 70’s India.
I was totally into it. Even before I started writing my book, I had Devika’s character in mind; I knew what she looked like, how she behaved, her aspirations, her dreams and fears, what she desired, and how she hated. She had to be on the cover and I wanted the cover to look a certain way; I wanted it to convey not only Devika’s beauty and vindictiveness but also the underlying core meaning of the book’s title. I told the artist what I wanted and she did an amazing job in bringing out what I had in mind.
There is this incident of suicide of a young girl that I took from real life. I gave it a fictional version. I was in my pre-teens at the time and didn’t understand much, but the incident stayed at the back of my mind. The setting, the situations are consciously created. And when it comes to writing about feelings, emotions or people’s psyche my extensive reading as a hard-core reader has influenced my writing.
I don’t feel different. I’m still the same person. To tell you the truth, the reality that I’m a published author now hasn’t hit me completely. I still feel it’s all a part of a dream. But there are things I learned about myself after my book got published. Holding the finished copy of the book in my hand was a pleasant surprise as I’m not a patience person. I realized I did have the patience to finish a project. My manuscript got rejected several times. And now that it’s released, it does get negative reviews once in a while. I learned I could take rejection as well as criticism quite well.
Because it’s highly enjoyable, well-written, and first of the character-driven mystery set in India. Other than that it offers readers more than an average murder mystery: as Midwest Book Review noted, “it includes far more depth and psychological and cultural insights than a typical murder mystery’s scenario.”
I’m a versatile reader; I read everything except for horror, erotica, and romance. Mystery is one of my top favourites genre other than literary fiction. I also enjoy classics, general fiction, women’s fiction, poetry, and historical fiction. I’m a sucker for any well-written, character driven book.
It’s a hard question to answer, but I will try. My absolute favourite authors are Leo Tolstoy, John Irving, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter, P. D. James, Robert Galbraith, Wilkie Colins, Mary Oliver, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, and Charlotte Bronte. I’ve read almost all of their books.
I’m very passionate about reading. I read everyday and carry a book wherever I go. Reading is constant for me, but my other interests keep changing; sometimes it’s baking and cooking that I get engrossed in; at other times, quilting or hand-crafts take over; shopping spree is something that swallows me whole at times and stays for months until my husband starts to notice credit card bills and brings me back to reality. I love browsing books in our local Chapters/Indigo and thrift books stores as well.
Save water, plant more trees, go organic, and please, recycle.
The eBook readers are definitely more convenient when it comes to buying or borrowing books. And e-formats are much cheaper compared to traditionally printed books. It has become easy for readers to buy or borrow hard-to-get books now. But e-readers have their own drawbacks. The easy availability of e-books has influenced readers’ taste in a negative way. During my teen years, I didn’t have luxury to pick from a vast selection of books and hence, would read anything available at home; I read Tolstoy, Gorki during my late teens. Those were the days when readers were introduced to good literature early on. Kids nowadays have vast selection to pick from and with eBooks available massively, there is a danger their reading might stay limited to formula fiction only. The readers who only read mediocre books have no advantage over non-readers.
I prefer physical books over eBooks. There is nothing that can beat the feeling of holding your favourite print book in hand and smell that sweet smell of lovely prose.
I, myself, need to work on it:)
Unfortunately, no. I lost my grandparents at quite a young age. I barely have any memory left of them. Even though, my mom is a hard-core reader, she never told us stories. She encouraged us to read though; we grew up among books and used to have lots of kids‘, teens’, and later, women’s magazines‘ subscriptions at home.
Definitely. Media and tech have taken place of conversations and physical activities in kids’ life nowadays. It’s something we need to change.
In the recent times, social media has become a platform where people are free to express their opinions, and join discourses on any international topic or matter of concern. To get a message for any number of important causes across has become pretty easy with the majority of world’s population engrossed by social media. All you need is to pick a cause you strongly believe in, give it a personal touch, and make it shareable across various social media platforms. It doesn’t take much for it to spread around the globe.
Give plenty of love to Tied to Deceit.
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