Interview with Madhu Bazaz Wangu

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in the valley of Kashmir located in the Himalayan foothills. My family moved to the capital city of New Delhi when I was three. These two locations have influenced the setting of my stories but the countries I have visited around the world and the cultures I have observed have affected my voice much more.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing professionally in my early fifties. I had been an artist (held five one person shows of paintings in India and United States) and a college professor for twenty years. But after early retirement I felt refired to write. I wrote fiction, stories and novels. Chance Meetings is my debut story collection.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have been writing stories since the last decade. My emotions and thoughts about delight in life, death and suffering flow freely in this part fiction, part memoir collection. I hope you find the stories unlike any other stories you have read.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The process of writing is a sheer pleasure. Getting my books published is hard work but also enjoyable!
What do your fans mean to you?
The creative process of writing a story is complete only when someone reads my book and feels as much pleasure as I did when I was writing it. This means a whole lot to me!
What are you working on next?
For my readers' pleasure I have added the first chapter of my next book, The Immigrant Wife, at the end of this story collection. The Immigrant Wife is scheduled to be published in December 2015-January 2016.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My daily routine! I meditate, write in my journal and then write my work in progress for three to four hours. My day is a tapestry of reading, writing, meditating and, depending on the weather, walking or exercising in our basement. I love movies and watch all Oscar winning and thoughtful Bollywood movies. One of the most enjoyable time of my year is traveling around the world with my husband.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As I said, we love to travel within the country and around the world. Twice evey year my husband and I visit a new state within the country and travel to a different foreign country. So far we have been to Spain, France, England, Egypt, Greece and have visited India multiple times. We have also walked through several National Parks.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Word of mouth or New York Times book reviews.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a story about our servant Janak when I was nine. Because it seemed strange to me that although he lived in the same house as us--ate the same food, slept under the same roof--yet he was not one of us.
What is your writing process?
After breakfast I write for three to four hours. Once the first draft is done. I revise the same way. I may write a third draft before I send it to my concept editor. I take her comments and suggestions seriously. After the fourth revision I may send it to another editor. Revise again. Give the manuscript to four to five of my writer friends to read. If I like what they have to say I incorporate their ideas. Finally after six to seven revisions I feel the manuscript is ready and send it to my proof-reader.
How do you approach cover design?
I let my cover designer make the first sketch. If it reflects what is in the book we discuss to refine it further or I may come up with a different image (remember I have been an artist). The final design is a work of collaboration between me and my designer.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I have read almost everything written by Virginia Woolf, R. K. Narayan, V. S. Naipaul, Pearl S. Buck, Hermann Hesse and recently Joyce Carol Oats, Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Devakaruni. I love their books because they create a fictional 'reality' that excites me emotionally and gratifies me intellectually. Exotic lands and their culture and people come alive. I am transported to a world that elevates me to another level of existence.
What do you read for pleasure?
All the authors I just mentioned. Also I read magazines such as Poets and Writers and Mindful.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
As this is my first self-published book. I am still learning. Getting my book on Smashwords is one of the ways. I am also doing Blog Tours, book signing, speaking engagements, posting on social media. I would have a better answer after my second fiction book, The Immigrant Wife.
Describe your desk
My writing desk and chair faces the place where I meditate in the morning and a reclining chair on which I read in the afternoon. It displays dictionary, thesaurus, pen holder a Mexican handmade skull decorated with flowers and a set of Russian dolls.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The fact that as an indie author all facets of publication are under my control.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
This is my first book with Smashwords so I don't know yet.
Who are your favorite authors?
Virginia Woolf, V.S. Naipaul, R.K. Narayan, Pearl S. Buck, Hermann Hesse, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Devakaruni
Why do you write?
To know myself better, for aesthetic pleasure and for giving inner delight to my readers.
Published 2015-04-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Last Suttee
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 78,830. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
The Last Suttee is about the protagonist, Kumud's struggle to stop suttee, a barbaric ritual that has scarred her for life. As the director of an all-girl orphanage, she shields her girls from customs that victimize women. A shocking phone call turns her world upside down. She has no choice but to single-handedly stop this heinous crime. Can she convince the town to stop this savage tradition?
The Immigrant Wife
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 120,280. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Literary collections » Asian / Indic
The Immigrant Wife: A Spiritual Journey is the story of Shanti, a girl from Kashmir, who dreams of becoming an artist. After an acclaimed art show she marries Satyavan and has two children. To fulfill his ambition, Satyavan emmigrates to America. In the foreign land Shanti loses touch with her creative core. She must discover her way back to her artistic awareness or she will fade into nothingness
Chance Meetings: Stories About Cross-Cultural Karmic Collisions and Compassion
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 65,820. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Literary collections » Asian / Indic
In these stories, Madhu B. Wangu draws from her Indian heritage and examines the lives of ordinary people facing challenging circumstances—cruelty, prejudiced minds, twisted family relationships, unhappy marriages. Twelve different people from different walks of life discover how one chance meeting with a stranger can change a person forever. A delicious blending of cultures delicately rendered.