HUREEN GANDHI talks about her latest book “PAGE 6 AND BEYOND” | AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Hureen Saghar Gandhi loves creating memories and capturing them. She is an avid traveller and one of her most cherished possessions is her ever-growing collection of photographs that document all her travels.

Along with her husband and two beautiful daughters she lives in Northern Virginia, America. Her numerous travels, life in America and a penchant for conversations makes sure that she is always bursting with creative ideas.

Writing came to her by chance. While writing for a school Whatsapp group, she discovered her skills and love for writing and that’s when the idea of her debut book, “Page 6 and Beyond: Let’s Stir the Pot” came to her.

Happy with the way things were shaping up, Hureen decided to pour her heart and her newfound love for writing into the book and created something that is not just witty but also entertaining and stirred with just the right mix of humour and drama.

Her writing has the capability to turn seemingly mundane incidents into compelling stories. Her ability to capture the subtle nuances of everyday life is also something to look forward in this book.

Between looking after her family, travelling and meeting new people, managing her Whatsapp group and a lot more, Hureen always makes sure that her writing game is on point.

We at bookGeeks got a chance to interact with Hureen Gandhi regarding her debut book. Read on to know what she has to say about her book, her writing and her life in America.

bookGeeks:Tell us something about Hureen as a person.
Hureen:Tough one! I am constantly rediscovering myself as I continue to meet different people, do different things, embrace different roles in relationships including most importantly, the role of being a mother.

People who know me know me as honest, passionate, inquisitive, witty and as an eternal optimist. Although I am extrovert in nature, I take a considerable amount of time to forge friendships and relationships, mostly because they are long-lasting and forever.

I believe you only get one life to live and to live it to the fullest with a positive outlook. In my book, I use humour to lighten the strenuous moments of life and I try living by those rules.

bookGeeks:In the shortest way possible, tell us the story of your life in books. (hint: when did you first start reading, why etc etc)
Hureen:Book it is!!!

Once upon a time to Dying To Be Me

Chapter 1 Those childhood days!
I was first introduced to the world of books in my school library. My favourite pick to read then were stories about people from different countries and cultures. Next were Fairy Tale books that I remember begging my school principal to take home for summer from his treasured hardbound books collection. Later on, I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes by my dad and for the greatest amount of time, I wanted to be a detective growing up!

Chapter 2 Tween to Teen 
During High School and College, the only books I read were related to my studies. Ok! Maybe few teen romance books!

Chapter 3 Pehla Pehla Pyaar, Ah That New Love!
I got back in touch with books after my wedding and when I landed in the United States. Greater and easier access to libraries was a bonus. My husband introduced me to the world of Sidney Sheldon and I read each and every book he had ever written. I also enjoyed books written by Frederick Forsyth, Jeffrey Archer, and Ashwin Sanghi. However, Dan Brown is my absolute favourite author. His Angels and Demons is my favourite.

Chapter 4 The Strike Of Motherhood 
Apart from reading all the parenting related books, magazines and articles, I could get hold off…I found solace in some insightful non-fiction. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, Memoirs of Geisha, Outlier, 13 steps to Bloody Good Luck, Mrs. Funnybones, Unsuitable Boy, Dying to be Me to name a few.

Epilogue
Next few books on my list to read are:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Pyjamas are Forgiving by Twinkle Khanna
Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan
Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

bookGeeks:What inspired you to write? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Hureen:Growing up I revered writers. But never in my wildest dream, I thought I would try becoming one! I discovered my writing skills a couple of years back while running/writing for a humour/gossip column Page 6 for my school WhatsApp group and I decided to give my new found skills a new dimension.
bookGeeks:Tell us something about your debut book, Page 6 and Beyond.
Hureen:The underlying theme of the book is to enjoy living each and every moment in life while keeping one’s sense of humour. The book has me, a first-generation immigrant resident of the United States, living an ordinary suburban life with my family. In my daily life, I come across various characters and their idiosyncrasies.

The book is about how I embrace each of these characters. The dominant framework is my school’s WhatsApp group where my classmates, unbeknownst to them, have become my inspiration for sensational stories.

bookGeeks:Who is your biggest critic and why?
Hureen:My book editor Sharoni Sen. She provided me with a range of constructive criticism. She helped me understand where I needed to grow, expand and brought out the best of me in my book.
bookGeeks:Your other interests include travelling and photography, perhaps, one day you would like to dabble in travel writing?
Hureen:That is a very enticing thought indeed!
bookGeeks:Any new writing project that you are currently working on?
Hureen:I have the ingredients ready for my next book. It is just a matter of right catalyst and timing that I put a recipe together and cook up a dish.
bookGeeks:Which is that one book that you would definitely recommend to our readers?
Hureen:There is one book which I think any reader could relate, “13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck” by Ashwin Sanghi.
bookGeeks:How is life in the United States as compared to life in India? Do you miss home?
Hureen:Choices!!! Life in the USA is full of choices and the freedom to pursue them. With choices come responsibilities and the knowledge required to make the right choice.

I remember my first trip to the grocery store in the USA. All I needed to buy was an apple!

In India, my trip to the grocery store aka sabzi mandi entailed a 10 minutes walk and a quick pick between the one and only available variety of apple from the family pre-approved vendor. Here, I was greeted by choices between apples such as Kanzi, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Snapdragon, Pink Lady, Ambrosia, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Granny Smith, and Gala. If that was not overwhelming enough, there was another section of apples labelled as organic Kanzi, organic Fuji, organic Honeycrisp…How do you even decide what to get?? Suddenly I had an urge to understand what in the world they meant by organic? However, I remember falling for Pink Lady (Yes I liked the name) at the time only to have researched later that Red Delicious is the one that although tasteless has the most fibres. Fuji or Gala help in preventing heart diseases and cancer. Braeburn helps with weight loss. And I should avoid eating Honey Crisp unless I am ready for genetically engineered fruit.

And the research doesn’t just stop at “which apple to buy?” in this country except when it belongs to Steve Jobs! The same goes with anything you purchase in the USA. Whether it’s food to eat, products to buy, a place to live, things to do. Choices and abundance! It makes you more self-aware, knowledgeable and sometimes exhausts and confuses you. It forces you to re-evaluate, whether these things are your needs or your wants!

This reminds me of a piece from one of the chapters of my book Page 6 And Beyond. #Page6AndBeyondFewRuffledIndianFeathers

To answer your question, whether I miss home or not? The first few years were tough. It felt as if you were in limbo ( you live here but your heart belongs to your birth country). One of the research theories for immigrants says that if you live in this country for five years, it’s hard to go back to your home country again. I miss my family and people back home but now I have gotten highly accustomed to the ways and workings of this country. I am truly grateful for the immense liberty and freedom the country has provided us that makes us feel this place a home!

bookGeeks:As an author, where do you see yourself twenty years down the line?
Hureen:Too early to say that right now. I am still experimenting with my thoughts and ideas and how to best bring them together in the literary world.
bookGeeks:Some helpful tips that you would like to give to aspiring authors.
Hureen:Set yourself a target for completing your book chapters. Follow them. Whenever you have thoughts, make sure to use your smartphone to jot down those thoughts. Make your first draft free-flowing, unobstructed, devoid of any self-criticism. Finally, when you are done with your first draft, edit edit edit…..

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