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A Talk With Shobhan Bantwal

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with Shobhan Bantwal. I'm sure Ms. Bantwal would love to get a comment~~~

Shobhan Bantwal – Author of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?


2. How do you think others would describe you?

I think most people would describe me as extroverted and outspoken—a woman of too many words and strong opinions. But I always feel people give me more credit than I deserve for smartness and efficiency. Deep down, I feel very inadequate and afraid I’ll never live up to their expectations.

3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

My family is my passion—mainly my husband, daughter, and granddaughter.

4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

I’m not a pet lover, so I have no pets.

5. What is your most precious memory?

My most precious memory is of holding my grandchild for the first time. It was two only years ago, but already it feels like such a long time ago, because she seems mature beyond her age and behaves like a big girl at times.

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?

Recently, when I answered my office phone, the caller identified herself as Michelle. I know about three different Michelles, two of them being friendly acquaintances. The voice sounded familiar, so assuming it was a friend calling, I answered with a casual, “Hey, what’s going on with you these days?” When the caller spoke again I realized (way too late) that it was one of the bigwigs in our organization. This woman hardly ever calls me, so it was unexpected. I somehow managed to get through the call. Apparently she couldn’t locate my boss, so she was calling the next person in the chain of command, me, for an urgent report. Needless to say, I worked furiously on the report and sent it to her.

7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Actually, writing is only a hobby for me, which has somehow turned into a second career. My full-time job is with the government, so I’m a bureaucrat all day, five days a week. I put on my writer’s hat on weekends and weekday evenings. Most often, I struggle to make the time to write, because my day job can be quite demanding.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Shobhan Bantwal was a hopeless romantic and a dreamer. With no experience of any kind, or any visible talent, she took up writing at the age of 50. A half century of living had apparently failed to teach her that merely dreaming of something does not necessarily guarantee success. The amazing thing was that Shobhan dreamt of becoming a published writer and did manage to succeed (to some extent). She was a bit crazy but she died a happy woman.

The Writer:

9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

When I started to write short stories I wasn’t very confident that my tales with Indian characters and cultural elements would be of interest to anyone. But my first short story competition entry, sponsored by Writer’s Digest, won Honorable Mention. That same year, another story won Honorable Mention in a contest run by New York Stories magazine. That was the moment when I realized that I had some potential, and that I could perhaps write a full-length novel.

10. What is going on with your writing these days?

I just finished submitting my fourth novel to my editor at Kensington. The story is set partly in the U.S. and partly in India. That is the last book in my present contract with the publisher.

11. What are your future goals for your writing?

Since I have a fairly demanding day job, I prefer to think in terms of one book at a time. Anything beyond that is much too ambitious, given the constraints on my time and energy. I hope there will be more books in the future. My karma will decide that, I suppose.

12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

On weekday evenings, I generally get about an hour of writing done after dinner. On weekends, I get slightly more time, but housework and the daily demands of running a household and socializing with friends cut into my weekends as well. But I try to pack as much writing as I can into my weekends.

13. Why do you write?

I have a lot of ideas and stories swirling in my brain. I have to vent those, and if I can express my opinions on certain social issues that bother me (remember I’m opinionated), then weaving them into fiction and making a story out of a real social-political issue is a great way to say what I want. Also, Indian culture is very rich and colorful, with plenty of fodder for fiction, and I try to draw from it as much as I can. Educate, Inform, and Entertain is my motto in writing.

14. What writer most inspires you? Why?

Although she is not my absolute favorite, Nora Roberts inspires me greatly, mainly for her prolific writing. She literally churns out books by the dozen each year, and good quality ones, a feat no other author seems to be able to emulate. And every book turns into a bestseller. She is truly amazing, and an inspiration to many writers, including me.

15. How do you define your writing?

I call it “Bollywood in a Book,” mainstream women’s fiction with all the elements of Bollywood (Bombay Hollywood).

16. In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

Great entertainment with a delightful dose of spice, romance, and drama.

The Details:

17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

I’m not a blogger by nature but I have an extensive website,
It has information on my books, my other writing, links to my non-fiction articles, my bio and award-winning short stories, Indian recipes, photographs from India, book reviews, contests, and contact page.

18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Yes. Readers can reach me through the email address on my website’s contact page –

19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

THE SARI SHOP WIDOW – September 1, 2009
THE FORBIDDEN DAUGHTER – September 1, 2008
THE DOWRY BRIDE –September 1, 2007

All three are available at all nationwide and Canadian bookstores and online booksellers.

20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

They can expect to read very entertaining mainstream fiction filled with drama, intrigue, and romance, and at the same time learn a lot about Indian culture and some hot-button social issues in contemporary India. I get a lot of email from readers who thank me for opening their eyes to certain topics that they had no knowledge of. They always tell me they found the idea of using a real life social issue combined with fiction a great way to bring it to people’s attention. This latest book, THE SARI SHOP WIDOW, deals with the Indian immigrant experience in the U.S. and the fashion industry.

In conclusion:

21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

I love receiving feedback from my readers. Hence I have created a contact address on my website where they can reach me (indicated in question 18).

My writing, as I mentioned, is to educate, entertain and inform, so I hope they pick up my books to have all three. Not many American and Canadian readers are aware of the real India, which lies somewhere between the glitz and glamour of Bollywood (Bombay Hollywood) and the poverty and bleakness portrayed in documentaries and serious literary novels about India. In my books, readers can get a middle-of-the-road glimpse of Indian life.

Thank you for your wonderful answers, Shobhan! Ilook forward to you stopping by in the future.

For a preview of the book, visit - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9uRlbkxxes

Order Your Copy at Amazon -


For more information on Shobhan Bantwal’s new and other books and to enter a drawing to win a number of prizes, please go to her website’s “Contests” page and sign up between Sept 1 and Sept 30, 2009 at www.shobhanbantwal.com

Full September Virtual Tour Details -


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unwriter said...

I'll get back to this post, it looks very interesting. Right now I need to finish this project and to do so:
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