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An Interesting Author Interview With Hureen Saghar Gandhi

Allow me to introduce Hureen Saghar Gandhi, a well educated stay-at-home mommy of two young girls by choice and a humorist turned author by passion.

We came to know about her when she approached us with her debut book “Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot…”. Frankly speaking, we’ve started reading the book without many expectations and some of the pieces of writing really amazed us.

You can read our unbiased book review for the same at:

The book might not have the best of the literary qualities but it is written from the heart. It made us curious to know more about Hureen and what could have been a better way than an author interview?

Hureen Saghar Gandhi - Author of - Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot...

Hureen Saghar Gandhi – Author of – Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot…

Fortunately, our approach to her resulted in a positive outcome and from our team, I had an interesting Q/A session with her.

Here it is.

Hi Hureen,
Greetings from team ThinkerViews…!
We are glad to have a conversation with you. As your book has started getting both commercial success and critical acclaim gradually. Can you share your feelings?

Writing this book was a nostalgic and laughter-induced roller coaster ride. I am truly humbled to know that the feelings I went through while writing are also being experienced by many readers as reflected in their reviews for my book.

It is a kind of cliché question, obviously, you are feeling joyous, accomplished and happy. Often the hustle and bustle of life make us prioritize the things in a way that we need to place our passions behind in the queue. But, each time we are able to follow our passions the way we want to, we feel, inching more towards completeness. Do you think so?

I feel sometimes it’s a luxury to be able to follow your passion and at other times I feel it’s hard to stand up for yourself and do what you love to do against the norms of the society. In either case, completeness is just a temporary state of mind and also depends from person to person. However, one thing I will agree that pursuing your passion the way you want to does bring you closer to yourself, makes you self-aware, and helps you make better choices in life in regards to your emotional health.

Can you tell us more about yourself, your background, your profession, and your passions?

I was first introduced to the world of books in my school library. My favorite pick to read then were stories about people from different cultures. Next were fairy tale books that I remember begging my school principal to take home for summer from his treasured hardbound book collection. And then came the love for mystery books. My dad introduced me to Sherlock Holmes. Mystery and thriller books remain my all-time favorite till date.

As far as my education goes, I graduated with a Biochemistry degree from India and Bioinformatics degree from the United States. But, my zest to travel and experience life kept me away from making use of any of those skills.

I currently live in Northern Virginia with my husband and two daughters who jazz up my entire day when not in school. In my present day, I work as a stay-at-home mom, a professional photographer, and lead the Page 6 column in my school’s WhatsApp group, in that order, and don’t let my book mislead you otherwise.

What draws your interest in writing books?

I like to spread laughter around. The idea that my writing can put a smile on someone’s face motivates me to write.

Can you share what made you write Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot… and what are the major challenges you faced when writing this book?

I discovered my writing skills a couple of years ago when I started to write for a humor/gossip column “Page 6” on my school WhatsApp group. The more I wrote, the more I felt confident about my writing to generate smiles and laughter. Hence I decided to take my writing skills one step further and wrote a book that explores relationships in a fun and entertaining way.

My major challenge began when I realized that writing a humor book is an extremely difficult task. Mostly because humor is a personal thing, and what makes you laugh does not necessarily make other people laugh. To be able to write at length into a book what you speak for a few minutes to make people laugh are two different things. Keeping that in mind when I started to write, my challenge was to make humor relatable to a wide variety of readers and create a story that will bind all the anecdotes in a seamless flow.

Can you share which segment of the book Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot… you enjoyed writing more?

I enjoyed writing each and every piece. But yes, Burhanpur Diaries is dear to my heart. Not only because it’s about my hometown but it was a complete joy putting all the beautiful elements of small town living together and weave it into a story. I was happy that I was able to highlight and rather pay tribute to our very precious Mulberry tree which is no more in our lives.

Can you tell us more about your writing regime? Are you a method writer or an impulsive one?

I work with a schedule in mind. Most of my writing happened when my children were at school during the daytime and some during my happy hour when it was children’s bedtime 🙂

The book cover plays an important role in bookselling, were you involved in the book cover designing process? How much?

Absolutely!

I had a vision as to what elements should go on my book cover.

Page 6 And Beyond: Let's stir the pot... by Hureen Gandhi | Book Cover

Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot… by Hureen Gandhi | Book Cover

The final product was the result of gradual experimentation. It was a tough debate whether to pick a pot or cauldron for the front cover. Eventually, I settled on a picture that I clicked outdoors in sub-zero temperature using boiling water in a teapot. The font of the title “Beyond” is an Indian font that hints which part of the world half of the stories in the book have come from. The emojis on the book cover were carefully chosen that represent the idiosyncrasies of each character in the book.

Can you share your experience of the journey from writing your first book to getting it published?

Formatting the book was an unexpected challenge. Representing emojis the right way across all platform was the biggest issue. Self-publishing on Amazon.com was straightforward. However to self publish the paperback in India was a whole different experience. Eventually, we settled with Notion Press.

An author often needs to research a lot while writing a book. For you, a large number of things came from your first had experience or witnessing the same. But then also you might need to do some research work. Can you share your experiences or details in this aspect?

Of course! The research was an integral part of writing this book. As a debut author, my research was primarily based on how to best bring together different pieces of my stories to give it a structure of one story in the book. Fact checking was always an integral part. Especially since I had written about the USA 2016 election, mentioned political figures and talked about various countries norms and laws. Having conversations with people who had different points of views was helpful to understand how an event or character in the book could be perceived differently. It was quite a learning experience.

Do you think that laughter is the best medicine and we are taking our lives too seriously? What, according to you should be our approach to life?

Laughter should be the way of life! And the first step toward its implementation is to begin by laughing at yourself. By accepting it’s ok to have faults and make mistakes. Most of us confine laughter to a gathering of friends and family or while glued in front of screens! But when it comes to dealing with our day to day life situations and various ups and downs we approach that with a sense of acute seriousness and often being too critical. If only we strive to make light of the strenuous moments in life without compromising its significance, stress can be reduced multiple folds from our lives.

And as I wrote in my book:

Life is serious, but the journey of life doesn’t have to be. Foisting humor in one’s day-to-day life and situations can become an aphrodisiac that one’s body and soul may just need. After all, humor is nothing but the perception of looking at life’s situations in an amusing manner.

Life is what you make of it!

Every book affects its author in some way. How do you think writing Page 6 and Beyond affected you?

Page 6 And Beyond was an incredible journey! It further reinforced the idea of how every individual is different and is right in his or her own space of mind. It just depends on where one stands and views life. It got me to cherish furthermore the diversity of people that life has to offer.

What are the USPs of Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot… according to you?

Page 6 And Beyond is written for anyone and everyone who would like their reading light, funny, entertaining with events that they could relate within their lives. The variety and humor were the main focus. The book is about life in America, raising children, explores friendships, travel adventures and will leave you nostalgic about your childhood school memories in a most contemporary fashion using “WhatsApp” as the main premise for conversation. To sum it up, if you like to watch a SitCom or enjoy stand up comedy in writing, this is your book!

An added bonus for creative souls:

  • The detailed 26 illustrations that accentuate the anecdotes in the book.

An added bonus for short story readers:

  • The odd-numbered chapters can also be read on their own.
You’ve made “WhatsApp” almost a character in your book “Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot…”. Can you share how this idea is conceived and resulted in a nice outcome?

LOL, You nailed it!

The original idea for my book was inspired by the book Mrs. Funnybones. It gave me an idea to create fables for my children and generation next inspired by real-life incidents. I had initially thought I would keep it as a collection of short stories. But WhatsApp happened! I was running a Page 6 column in my school WhatsApp group and out came some incredible stories as I picked some interesting quirks of people and a story idea started to take form. In a nutshell, in my writing, I explore day-to-day encounters with various characters from all walks of life where their idiosyncrasies are playfully distilled into a comical brew.

Who are your favorite authors whom you love to read?

Dan Brown, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Ashwin Sanghi, Twinkle Khanna.

Which are the book(s) you are reading currently?

I am currently reading Tell Tales: Stories by Jeffrey Archer.

What are your hobbies apart from your work and writing?

I have a variety of hobbies, but photography and travel dominate the list. Fortunately, both also go hand in hand. Any opportunity to use my lens to explore a new city, its landscape, its culture, its history, and the food is good enough reason for me to get enthusiastic about travel and photography.

As you love to travel and fortunately you get a chance due to various reasons. Do you think that the best way to know the people and life is through exploring various places and cultures? Do you think traveling makes us rich in terms of wisdom, knowledge and broad-minded?

I think the best way to know people is to meet them with an open mind free from any preconceived notions. The best way to learn about life is to treat what comes next with a receptive mind as a series of endless positive surprises. I do think this could be achieved even without traveling. But traveling has its own perks. Traveling to different places provides you with a favorable environment where we are much ready to forego our predetermined notions about people in a new territory and absorb what they have to offer with a broader perspective and understanding. You are more accepting of life and its learnings at a new place for a genuine need to blend in and survive.

What do you think about video trailer of the book(s) which are an almost inevitable part of marketing these days?

I think video trailer for the book is a great way to introduce the book. Same way as the movie trailer works to introduce a new movie. It can help present a visual idea of what the book is all about from the eye of the author.

Check the trailer for Page 6 and Beyond:

What is your opinion about EBook readers and their impact on the generation overall?

eBook readers are on the rise and will only multiply as time goes. If you look at our generation next surrounded by smartphones and electronic gadgets, ready to move, ready to own everything on Cloud and charging towards a constricting world at a speed of light, I can only see the future of traditional books diminishing. Soon everything will be on the Cloud! Everything!!!

Do you love to read traditional printed books more or EBooks?

I like to read traditional printed books more. It’s my time away from the screen.

What are your opinions about various social networks and the way it can be used to spread awareness about some important cause around the globe?

I am a fan of social networks. How can I deny this after making WhatsApp a character for my book?? Haha. I think it offers more pros than cons. It has brought people together ( WhatsApp, Facebook), offered everyone a platform to speak their mind (#MeToo), created awareness about issues in a personalized way and raise funds for the same (#GoFundme). It also served as an incredible space for visual people who connect and learn best with pictures (Instagram).

Please share some time management tips which you are using in your writing regime.

I recommend working with small targets in mind and to work consistently. I would not advise taking long breaks in between your writing regime. Since once your chain of thought breaks, it takes a huge amount of time to come back to it unless you are experiencing a writer’s block.

Do you think that we are gradually losing the tradition of hearing “moral and ethical stories from grandparents?”

Yes of course! But this change had begun a long time back in families that have transitioned from living in a joint family system to a nuclear family and then many of them migrating to other cities and countries than their parents live. Although technology has brought us together, and some grandparents and parents try to keep up with this tradition using video calls but yet it seems to require a lot of effort especially when different time zones are concerned. It almost takes away the simplicity of casually sitting and listening to the stories and a lack of physical and emotional touch.

Please share your Social Media/web presence/EMail address, so that readers and fans can follow/contact you.
By the way, you got a very interesting name. Can you share what “Hureen” means?

Thanks!

It was also interestingly derived. It was a compromise solution to what my grandfather wanted me to name (Hooroulain) and what my dad wanted to hear (something with fewer vowels 🙂 ).

Please share anything you want to convey to the readers from your end.

Sometimes the journey you take matters more than the destination.

The book is to be enjoyed with a light heart when your soul craves for childhood days and the spirit surges to have some people fun. You can enjoy this book over a period ranging from a few hours to a few days or even a few weeks. And if you do enjoy your journey, please remember to rate and review your trip on Goodreads and Amazon.

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Over To You:

Hope you have enjoyed the Q/A session with him. And many of your questions might be already answered. Let us know that what do you think about this Interview session? Do you want us to ask anything else to him on your behalf? Do let us know. Also, let us know which other authors you like us to interview? Do let us know your thoughts and remarks via comments below. Do not forget to share this article with your friends over various social networks via Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and others. And yes, you may like to subscribe to our RSS feeds and follow us on various Social networks to get latest updates for the site to land right in your mail box.

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