Today Booklover Book Reviews is hosting author Cheryl Snell on her Virtual Book Tour for her new book SHIVA’S ARMS.
A big thank you to Cheryl’s publishers, www.writerslairbooks.com, for providing me with an extra copy of Shiva’s Arms to give away (open internationally). I will announce the winner of this book at 5pm (Brisbane, Australia) 25th July 2010 – that is today – ENTER HERE.
Also, during the day I will be posting some Indian trivia questions for my readers – hope you can join in!
Welcome to Cheryl. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review Shiva’s Arms. I enjoyed it immensely and feel I also learnt something from the reading experience.
Before reading Shiva’s Arms I had assumed the subject matter would lend itself most to a female audience. I was surprised to find there was something in there for female and male, young and old. Did you write Shiva’s Arms with a particular audience in mind?
I never write with an audience in mind. I find it hobbles my progress into the story. There are false starts, and it takes a steely attitude to ‘kill your darlings’ in order to find the work’s true voice.
Shiva’s Arms is a story that has meaning and message on multiple levels. At what level did you first form your story – broad symbolism or character/plot driven?
The elements all work in tandem, shifting and slippery as they might be.When I wanted to explore the stage of life called sanyasi, when a person “goes into the forest” and renounces the world in preparation for death (and his next birth), I needed a metaphor to underscore that. I thought the ache that underscores an act of immigration would be a good match. And I needed people to dramatize these themes, so the Sambashivan family was scribbled into being. It’s a juggling act sometimes.
How long did you spend working on this novel before approaching publishers? Was it difficult to find a publisher that suited the message you wanted to convey?
Literary fiction is always a hard sell, but I didn’t have much trouble getting publishers’ interest in Shiva’s Arms. The manuscript had placed in every contest I’d sent it to, so that was encouraging, and I worked on it for a few years before I submitted it to a publishing company.
The first publisher I sent it to accepted it, but the business folded before the ink was dry on my contract. The second publisher decided after accepting it that co-publishing was the way to go, but I didn’t agree. so that fell through. The third time was the charm.
What was the editing process like? How close is what we read today to your original story/vision?
My editor liked the power struggle between Alice and Amma and suggested that I make Alice’s story the focus. Earlier versions of the book spanned several generations of the Sambashivans and focused more on broader, more sociological themes. The story you read is more intimate, and I was able to transplant most of the good bits into it.
A high percentage of readers that have entered my giveaway of a copy of Shiva’s Arms currently reside in India or countries in that geographic region – does that surprise you at all?
Not really. One of my husband’s childhood friends said my book made him homesick for India, and he enjoyed that sensation!. The brain may crave novelty, but we are drawn to the familiar, aren’t we? I still get a little thrill when I see DC monuments on TV shows, just because I know them “personally” and they represent Home.
What made you decide to write your first novel, having specialised in poetry to date?
I’ve always written short stories as well as poetry. In fact, Shiva’s Arms began as a short story, so to develop it was an organic natural thing. I like to switch genres in my writing life – it’s my talisman against writer’s block, and the disciplines nourish one another.
Other than promoting this book release, what is the next project you are working on? Another novel/subject matter?
Yes, I’ve got a novel featuring Nela, and I’m making progress on a third. I guess I’ve got a little series going! I’m also working on another collection of stories, with quirky post- modern characters and an edgier sensibility.
Thanks Cheryl. I look forward to reading your next work published!