All Aboard on the Amazon blog

It’s time Indian readers are given stories they can identify with: Kiran Manral

by

on 09/03/2015

After working as a journalist with The Asian Age and The Times of India, Kiran Manral quit work to be a full time mommy. However, she never gave up on writing – as she always found time to write on gender issues, parenting, fiction and got associated with causes that she passionately believes in and maintains a blog too. She has three books due for release in 2015, the first of these being All Aboard! We caught up with her for a tete-e-tete. Excerpts from an interview:

Two successful books The Reluctant Detective, Once Upon A Crush, one newly released All Aboard and already the next Karmic Kids is round the corner. As an author, do you constantly feel the need to write?  Or is it just how early or late a new idea/plot germinates in your mind that dictates your speed of writing?
I actually try to write every single day — even if it is just 500 words, or a day when the Muse is AWOL. These 500 words just add up at the end of a few months. I work very methodically most times, I write an outline, a chapter wise synopsis and then fill it up with the chapters. There are constantly ideas churning in my head, and the ones that are the most insistent are the ones that get written out.

Clearly you glide through varied genres with ease – romance, thrill, parenting – however, love features in all your stories and your latest one too is on love?
I think I am a romantic at heart and love the idea of romance in a cynical world. Having said that, I enjoy writing across a variety of genres, except perhaps medical thrillers or crime, but then never say never. I love to dabble in different genres, dependent on the story and how the characters dictate the voice and style should be. I’ve written mom lit, humour, chick lit, romance, non fiction anecdotal humour and a darker, supernatural story which should be out in November-December.

While the emotion of love essentially remains the same, its expression changes with time. How do you ensure that your books tick with the younger audience?  The rules of engagement have changed after all!
Love remains constant and yes, the rules of engagement change all the time, but then the more things change, the more they remain the same. I think the younger generation is very prosaic and matter of fact about love and dating and commitment in a way my generation never was. I do a lot of observing the younger generation, chatting with youngsters and finding out how they connect, how relationships are in this day and age, and how they navigate the now complicated waters of modern day dating. I find it great fun.

Are Indian writers who write English fiction finally finding their niche in the Indian marketplace, which was once flooded with western authors?
Yes, they are and this is absolutely delightful. I think it was time that the Indian reader were given stories they could identify with, in a language, syntax and contemporary setting that they were familiar with, and could relate with, rather than a plethora of literature from outside or literature written in India but very consciously for the Western gaze.

As a writer and author, what do you also think about the future regional language authors? With fewer and fewer people learning/speaking/writing in their mother tongue do you think this should be given attention too?
Absolutely, translations can definitely help, and as parents we need to inculcate the habit of not just speaking but also reading in the native language to keep the languages alive and vibrant. A little bit in every home can help combat this decline in the use of regional languages. Having said that, there is a vibrant literary scene in languages like Hindi, Bangla and Tamil that I am aware of.

Often a doomsday scenario is painted when it comes to reading as a habit. What are your views?
There is so much competing for our attention, the internet, television, movies, etc. The time available to spend on leisure activities like reading is shrinking and the competition for things to spend time and attention on has increased. Nonetheless, I am delighted to see that youngsters are reading, and e-readers have made reading much more convenient for them in terms of portability and accessibility.

How do you respond to reviews of your books? Is the reader’s view supreme or is the critic’s view more important?
Both opinions are welcome and valid, I appreciate genuine criticism and feedback.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
First on my list will always be P G Wodehouse, for his sparkling wit and the wonderful world he conjures where nothing is truly amiss, where laughs are galore and all will be well at the end. I also enjoy Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series, JRR Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the sheer scope and magnitude of the world he imagined and epic battle between good and evil, and not to forget Mark Twain and Jane Austen. There’s Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro who are personal favourites for the sheer evocativeness of their writing. And finally, I must doff my hat to J K Rowling. Her Harry Potter series brought me much joy and her Cormoran Strike under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym is one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in recent times.

Would you like your books to be made into films? In Hollywood we see a lot of scripts based on books – do you see that happening on a more frequent scale in the Indian film industry?
Yes, I think a lot of books have been made into movies, and a lot of books are being optioned to be made into movies. Chetan Bhagat has had his books made into movies which have done pretty well at the box office. I think this is a trend that is here to stay, and I can only hope that one of my books gets picked up to be made into a movie.

Finally, if not a writer, author, blogger – what do you think you would be?
Honestly no clue. I think this was what I was meant to be. I can’t remember doing anything with any modicum of passion from the time I was young, except read and write.

Read the original here

All Aboard the Aqua Princess: A Mediterranean Cruise by Diipti Jhangiani

Rhea Khanna tags along with her Massi (mother’s sister) on a cruise. Her husband to be Samir, left her at the altar just a few days before the wedding and now all she wants is to be away from people, men in particular. Rina Massi, an eclectic, independent and colourful retired teacher is the perfect pivot and distraction in this plot. She manages to steer Rhea through her mental storms, and with a little help from serendipity, quite a few stars align at the end of the story and everyone is happy.

Especially me the reader; thanks to the gorgeous setting the story is based in. Back in 2006, I backpacked across the western loop of Europe and in 2014 a Winter in Vienna. But I was yet to experience the food and passionate of Italy. With All Aboard, I spend a couple of weeks, drinking flutes of Champagne, aboard the Aqua Princess, a luxury cruise line through the Mediterranean, taking off from the sea port of Civitavecchia in Rome with pit stops at Naples, Cannes and Florence. And with France being the capital of love, Cupid’s true home, sparks fly between the two in Saint Paul de Vence, a sixteen century village and the oldest medieval village in France. This happens in chapter 12 and if I say another word I will be tempted to tell you all! Get your copy on Amazon.

Travelling with The Khannas and the Shahanis

What is it about the sea… that makes you want to stare till it’s infinity? And what better a place to do that than on a cruise? Through Kiran’s book, I vicariously step aboard this cruise across Italy and France. With the best food on board, brewing romance and wanderlust, I am in for quite a treat.

Serendipity plays a big role in a lot that happens on this cruise. How Rhea landed on the cruise to begin with, her being related to Kamal’s school teacher, both their estranged pasts and their finally getting together at the end of the story.

Punjabis and Sindhis have almost always made a rocking pair. In this story Rhea Khanna and Kamal Shahani (is there a real one around? Single and available, leave me a note?) sure do.

I feel like giving Rhea a lecture about getting over it already because she keeps going back into the past. I mean I turned 30 this year, and I don’t feel any older. And here I see Rhea sobbing away about her lost love, her unfulfilled marriage and her fear of being alone at 30. But through the course of her weeks on the cruise, she begins to realise how one sided the relationship was. For everything she and Samir did together, he was mentally always somewhere else. And then there is Kamal, always there, beautiful, thoughtful and brooding Kamal. Is it his entrepreneurial success that makes him so hands on? It sure does give him an air of maturity and wisdom. But when she sees him playing with his niece and nephew aboard the ship, he becomes comical and carefree; so endearing!

On that cruise, Rhea has an adventure of her life. She travels across Europe, which you will agree has to be the most romantic continent on this planet. She falls for the wrong guy and is saved just in time by the right one, busts a criminal heist, and finally right at the end of the story, when we all give up all hope on this blumbering fool, she  rights all the wrongs with a kiss.

Oh and my most favourite part of the story? That has to be Rina Massi! She is so magical. She falls in love on the cruise with a retired colonel, she openly flirts, she makes Rhea fall in love, she wears the most colourful dresses and ensures everyone has a fabulous time! The kind of person that is the jaan of the party, I have an uncle like that! Oh and his name is Kamal! That’s just a crazy coincidence, but really everyone just waits for him to walk in for the party to truly begin. My favourite kind of people, always always, they are the ones that brew truly magical stories!

When I asked Kiran about her cruise experience, she said she hasn’t even been on one! (All you cruise companies out there did you hear that?) Every scene aboard the ship is described so well, I would have imagined her writing it while she was on a cruise herself through the Mediterranean. So go on, get your copy to experience the story of All Aboard, to enjoy the infuriating but addictive twists and turns of Rhea’s life. And while you are at it, get tempted to book yourself a cruise; for the new year perhaps?

Read the original post here

#All Aboard in Bangalore

It was a wonderful Sunday spent in Bangalore, visiting Bangalore book stores and meeting wonderful people at the launch in the evening at Atta Galatta.

Thank yous due to Tara Kodkani for introducing me to Mini Tiffins, chow chow bhath, and making sure I got into a saree for this one, anticipating every possible excuse I might make from safety pin to blouse and keeping it all ready. And for making it a full house. Thanks to all Tara’s friends who dropped by, very kind and I am honoured you all took time out to come on a Sunday evening from the other end of the city. Thank you to Raghuvendra Rao of Penguin who patiently took me around all the bookstores, and Neha Punj at Penguin who did all the coordination. To Atta Galatta for kindly hosting the venue, we need some like you in Mumbai. To TUI India for graciously sponsoring my travel and stay. To all those who took time out to come–infinite gratitude. To Nandita, Shinie, Milan, Shyaam, Aparna, Paro, Rashmi, Shweta, Brihat, Dhanya and everyone who came, hugs. You made my day special. To Mons and Sue, the coven must convene again in thunder, lightning and in rain. And finally, to the lovely Preeti Shenoy, thank you for the lovely conversation and for taking time out to make my launch memorable.

Here are some pictures of the day.

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#AllAboardHoliday twitter chat with travel blogger Lakshmi Sharath tomorrow

#AllAboardHoliday
Join us for a twitter chat on the Mediterranean and cruises and romantic holidays with travel blogger The Travel Page of Lakshmi Sharath tomorrow 11am.
Lakshmi Sharath​ is a travel writer and blogger who quit her career in media to travel.
Use the hashtag #AllAboardHoliday, Ask us your questions.

In association with TUI India, my travel and stay associates for the All Aboard journey.

“Kiran Manral serves up this frothy holiday romance with panache. ” All Aboard review by Ava Suri

Kiran Manral serves up this frothy holiday romance with panache.

Rhea has just been jilted at the alter by Samir.  Her fiance bailed out and ran off with a young thing, leaving her heartbroken and tending to the mundane jobs like cancellations and refunds.

Rhea’s aunt,  Rina has also been ditched.  She was to go on a Mediterranean cruise with her friend who fell sick at the last minute.   Rhea was the best choice to fill in the gap.  This is why Rhea and Rina are now on a lovely cruise through the Mediterranean sea.

On the cruise, Rhea barely gets time to cry over her stalled wedding and broken heart.  Rina Maasi has run into an ex-student of hers, Kamal Shahni.  Rhea finds herself torn between indulging in a sinful holiday romance and also trying not do anything too silly on a rebound from Samir.

What can poor Rhea do? Everywhere she turns she runs into the delectable Kamal.  Kamal does not seem too immunie to Rhea’s charms either.

This is a typical romance, a light read.  There are plenty of lovely descriptions of the beautiful places that the cruise takes Rhea through.  Also there is a bit of intrigue in the book to spice things up.

The characters are interesting, Rhea, Kamal, Rina, Naina, Sonia, John, are all well etched.  The story does not stray around much and keeps to its path.

It is a perfect holiday/travel/beach/romance read.

Read the original here

Indie Eco Candles

Perhaps the most divine aromatherapy candles I’ve ever lit, and I don’t say this just because they kindly offered a goodie bag to my guests at the All Aboard Lunch.

indie indie1

Their candles are handcrafted with natural vegetable wax, an environmentally friendly resource. Natural wax candles, unlike regular candles, burn without emitting harmful toxins. They infuse the finest fragrance and essential oils into our luxury candles and our wicks are made of cotton.

Indie Eco Candles started in the summer of 2012 and has now grown into an all women organisation. We believe in the passionate women who work with us. We also believe that the success of the brand lies in the victories that we have made at the local level. We ensure convenient working hours, good pays and training programs for our ladies. We are deeply involved in enhancing the lives of our team and also provide essential mentoring for their children. We believe that educating and empowering them has made a huge difference to the choices that they make today.

They don’t use paraffin wax at all, and here’s why:

“With the mentality of the consumer world transitioning from ‘cheap’ products to quality and environmentally friendly products, people are beginning to question paraffin’s role in the candle industry. As a cost-effective alternative to natural ingredients, paraffin is a petroleum by-product used to make candles look shiny and appealing.

So, what is paraffin wax? In a nutshell, the product is derived from petroleum, which is one of the biggest environmental contributors of carbon dioxide. As a result, candles containing paraffin wax produce toxic petrol-soot that eventually stains interior surfaces and can trigger respiratory irritation due to the allergenic ingredients and poor indoor air quality. Using paraffin also passively encourages the discovery, collection, refinement, distribution and consumption of crude oil.

Pure paraffin is colourless, tasteless and odourless, and can cause nausea, vomiting and headaches if fumes or smoke from a candle containing paraffin wax are inhaled. Burning paraffin wax can even create benzene pollution, which can lead to lung cancer.”

Here’s where you can connect with them.

Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/indieecocandles

Twitter Handle:

@indieecocandles

Website:

www.indieecocandles.com

The #AllAboardLunch in Mumbai

At 212 All Day in Phoenix Market City in Kurla, the All Aboard Lunch brought together some old friends and some new. Over a delicious meal, and some decadent dessert, we discussed words and writing and books and travel and so much more. Thank you to 212 All Day for the fabulous food and hospitality, to Phoenix Market City Kurla for the generosity, to TUI India for the support, and Indie Eco Candles for the goodie bag and Epigamia for the vouchers for their fabulous yogurts.

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Here are some pictures.

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If you haven’t read All Aboard yet, this review might just compel you to.

On Sulekha Rawat’s Blog.

on Sulekha Rawats blog

Social Potpourrian/Business Potpourrian/Meetups/Reads/Message Board/Advertise With Us

Book Review – All Aboard!

By Sulekha Rawat

Book Review
Book Title :All Aboard

Author :Kiran Manral

Publisher : Penguin Books India

After reading Kiran’s book many of us might end up envying Rhea instead of sympathizing with her over her break up just days before her marriage; mainly because after getting dumped she gets to accompany her lovely aunt, Rina Masi on a Mediterranean cruise and bumps into the dashing Kamal Shahani.

On a serious note, All Aboard is like a breath of fresh air on a hot and humid day in Delhi during the summer. I read the book in 4 hours; began reading it at midnight and carried on till 2 A M before realizing that it was way past my bedtime. I woke up feeling excited, like a kid on the morning of her birthday. I can’t remember the last time I read a novel while sipping my bed tea; it is, always, either the newspaper or the very inspiring and motivational book, My True Reality, by Dr Huzan S. Daver.

I kid you not, this book made me lose control and feel naughty, especially while reading the sizzling and scorching massage scene by the pool side. I would have willingly exchanged places with Rhea and conveniently forgotten that I was a happily married, middle-aged woman, almost as old as Rhea’s Rina Masi.

Another first for me in this book was my equation with Rina masi. Don’t we all love to picture ourselves in the main protagonist’s shoes or stilettos? But here I was, going bananas over witty one liners and the flashy fashion sense of the endearing and cuddlesome Rina Masi. Agreed that Rhea was beautiful and had the tall and handsome, not to forget, amazingly caring, Kamal Shahani cast opposite her. I still felt closer to her aunt, and my hero, Rina masi, unmindful of her physical and social makeup.

So here I was, at 6 in the morning, happily devouring the book and smiling like an infatuated teenager, literally drooling over the hot and handsome Kamal. There should be a law against publishing such interesting and juicy stories! The authors penning down such enticing stories should be kept away from their computers. By 8 AM, I was done with the book and didn’t know what to do with the rest of my day; the only thoughts racing in my head were should I book a ticket on the first available Mediterranean cruise or should I first check the passenger manifesto and find out the number of hot, single Kamal-clones I would be sharing the floating city with?

There are love stories and there are comic tales, but when these two come together like sun block and fair smooth skin, deep baritone and great looks, passionate kisses and satiated sighs, a one of a kind story is crafted. Kiran is an excellent storyteller with her finger on the pulse of the readers. She reached into the readers’ minds and read their thoughts before crafting her immensely entertaining travel romance with a few sinister and unexpected twists and turns. The journey, or should I say, the voyage, was as fulfilling and enjoyable as the destination, and in this case, there were so many ports of call that it left me feeling like I’d been on a mini cruise without moving an inch from my bedroom.

The culmination of my dream would be an invitation for a day cruise or a picnic by the sea with Rhea Khanna , Kamal Shahani, Naina, the adorable kids and my idol, Rina, the masi . I wouldn’t mind if the likes of Sonia, John and Samir Dasani were not invited to this fun party.

I have stopped rating books because every author puts in her hundred percent and pours her heart and soul into her books, so who are we to decide how many stars to give them? Reading the review should be good enough for the readers to come to a decision whether to buy the book or not. And if 600 odd words can’t help them make up their minds, a few stars would not be of much use either.

Read the original here

The next from the Ruby Iyer series

Rubyiyercover

An exclusive excerpt and GIVEAWAY from The First Life of Vikram Roy

The Ruby Iyer Series—by Laxmi Hariharan

I hear the staccato of shots being fired, followed by yells and howls of pain. Then, the sound of something being smashed and everything goes quiet. The TV no longer chatters. I look to the open door. The recreation room is down at the end of the corridor. The sounds of shots get closer. Without giving myself a chance to think I make a run for the door slam it shut, lock it and it’s as if that’s a signal to the rest of the men to jump to their feet. Without a word, the ten of us scram to our bunks, pull on trousers and shoes.We get our hands on whatever weapon we can find. No guns, none of us have guns. So I grab my cricket bat. (As if that’s going to make a difference?)

Around me the others too are grabbing cricket bats and hockey sticks. Neil grabs an iron rod. An iron rod? Where did he get that from?  We drop to the floor,crouch and wait.

Should I hide under the bed? Nope, no way. Like, that is going to help.

And then a crash as the door is broken down, hacked by what looks like an axe till it’s in pieces on the floor and through it step through two men. One holding a machine gun, the other wielding an axe which he drops to the floor and instead grabs the the gun slung over his back. They are both wearing balaclavas, so we can’t see their features. Of medium height, they are muscular and dressed all in black: Black jeans and sweatshirts, their hair covered by the hoods. Their backs are to the door. They point their guns at us, signalling to us to put our hands up. I hesitate, not looking around but sense that the others too are not sure what to do. The first gunman points his gun at the nearest recruit … a boy just out of his teens and shoots him in the head.

There is a collective gasp from the room. A chill runs through me. Who are they? How did they break through the security measures of the force base? And then they are foolish enough to barge right into the heart of the training facilities of the force and shoot its cadets? Why? Why would they do that? The gunmen gesture to us and this time we follow their orders. We walk to the wall at the back of the bunkhouse and line up, hands on our heads, staring ahead.

An alarm rings out then. Finally! It’s been almost ten minutes since the shooting started. Still, the reinforcements should be here soon. Now all we need to do is keep these gun men distracted enough so they don’t kill us. As if reading my mind, the guy who’d shot the young recruit moves forward, his gun trained on us. I draw in a breath and hold it. The sweat trickles down my back. My heart is racing so fast I am sure if I look down I can see it leaping out of my chest. The gunman passes me, walks to the end of the line; then back to the middle where I am.

“You have no idea what this is about do you?” He asks. He sounds young, as if he is barely a man himself. And something in his voice … muffled as it is, it sounds familiar. A faint recollection  grabs the edge of my mind, And then I forget everything because he leans close to Neil who is next to me, and smashes the butt of his gun into his stomach. Neil falls to the ground, moaning, holding his middle. I firm up my stomach muscles. I know I am next, I must be. I want to squeeze my eyes shut, but don’t. The gunman leans to the other side, and shoots another man in the head.

This chap collapses without a cry. What the fuck? I want to jump him right then, but that would be really stupid of me. I am not going to help anyone if I get killed will I? There are six of us left in the room now. One of the younger recruits lets out a sob, at which gunman no 2 holds his gun at him, so he shuts up immediately.

The gunman asks me, “Where are the plans?’

“What are you talking about?” I reply, trying to stay calm, struggling not to show how scared I am inside.

He only grins and in response, and without taking his eyes off me, holds his gun up and I know what what he is going to do and I scream. “No!” But it’s too late.

This time he’s shot two more guys in succession. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. These guys are desperate, or crazy or both.

Besides me Neil stirs on the ground.

The gunman takes a deep breathe, as if trying to calm himself and says, “Don’t pretend to be dumb. If you don’t get me the blue prints of the security arrangements being planned by the force for Bombay; the one that you and your team mates are being trained for, then all the rest of you die too.”

Only six of us left now. Four young lives, gone just like that. I feel sick. What the fuck are these guys upto? And … and how do they know about the plans? This is top secret. The only reason I know about it, is because I’ve overheard the training officer speaking with the ACP about it on the phone last week. And only because I happened to be waiting outside his room then. And how does this gunman even know that I know the details?

Want to find out what happens next? Click here

About The First Life of Vikram Roy (Ruby Iyer Series)

His family is being held to ransom by a deadly mastermind. Vikram never should have left his family, but when Vikram’s father brings his half-brother Vishal home, life will never be the same. Vikram thinks things will be better now that he’s gone. He’s met the love of his life, his future looks bright and then everything is shattered. Now, his family’s life is hanging in the balance, and only Vikram can do what needs to be done to save them. From the bestselling dystopian fiction author with over 200 reviews and ratings of her dystopia books across Goodreads, Amazon and other retailers.

If you’re looking for books like Hunger Games, then this dystopia romance series, The Ruby Iyer Series is it.

About the origins of Ruby Iyer:

Growing up in Bombay, my daily commute to university was inevitably nightmarish. It’s just how public transport is here. The man behind you on the bus will brush up against you. You know you are going to be felt up on a crowded train platform. All you can do is accept it and get on. Or so you think. I did too, until, a young photojournalist was raped in the centre of Bombay in broad daylight.  It made me furious. Nothing had changed in this city in all these years. Then, I had a vision of this young girl who would not back down; who would follow her instincts, stand up for herself regardless of consequences.  Thus Ruby Iyer was born. Make no mistake, Ruby’s her own person. She leads. I follow. You can download the RUBY IYER DIARIES, the prequel novelette in the series free HERE

About The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer

2015 Readers’ Favorite (Bronze) YA Action

YA Finalist 2015 IAN Book of the Year Award

Finalist 9th Annual Indie Excellence Awards

When her best friend is kidnapped, Ruby will stop at nothing to rescue him. Criminals run the streets of Bombay. Jam-packed with the worst degenerates. The city is a shell of the pride and joy it used to be. Ruby knows something must be done, but it isn’t until her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza that she knows that she and she alone must save city, save her best friend, save the world from total destruction. Armed only with Vikram, a cop-turned-rogue they are about to embark on a road they may never return from. If you’re looking for fast-paced books like Hunger Games or dystopia fiction like Angelfall, the Ruby Iyer series is perfect for you.

GIVEAWAY

The First Life of Vikram Roy, The THIRD book in the RUBY IYER Series, launches this month. To celebrate the launch of the FIRST LIFE OF VIKRAM ROY I am giving away a $30 gift card. Enter HERE. Winner will be drawn, Oct 1, 2015, and announced in my next newsletter.

DOING MY BIT

All SEPTEMBER earnings from the RUBY IYER SERIES will be donated to SAVE THE CHILDREN: SUPPORT CHILD REFUGEES OF SYRIA. All the RUBY IYER books with their brand new covers, are on SALE all this month at 99p/c & Rs 69/49. Click HERE to buy them.

YOU can also donate to SAVE THE CHILDREN directly HERE