The Big Red Chair and monsoon writing…

Malika Ghandi has the fine credentials needed to write a novel based around the Indian independence movement. Born in India, her family have deeply ingrained roots in the sub-continent. It is my absolute pleasure to have Malika in the Big Red Chair today.

  1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Mumbai (It was called Bombay at the time) but I moved to the UK when

I was two years old. My father came to England first and when he was settled, he called me, my mum and my brother over.

I lived in London and went to school there but moved to Leicester, East Midlands when I married.2.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen? And why?

When I was eight, I wanted to be an author. I read all the Roald Dahl books and those by C.S.Lewis and like my favourite authors, I wanted to tell stories!

At the age if thirteen, I had no idea what I wanted to be and the age of eighteen, all I knew was that I want to write that book one day and maybe be an artist.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Perhaps, that being a published author is not as easy as I thought, also getting agents and publishers to take you on. I learnt the hard way and struggled in my previous years to write a good book and one that I would be proud of, but with sound advice and thanks to my fate, it happened. :0)

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your artistic life – you can now say had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

The three major events:

  1. Going to university. Here, I learnt a great deal – life outside the family home, being myself and being independent and learning the highs and lows of life.
  2. Marriage and Children. Moving into my husband’s house and to another city was a big change for me. I was to integrate with the in-laws way of life, meet all their friends and family and was to abide with some rules. I took on this challenge and learnt things as time went on. With marriage, soon came the children and this was a major life changing experience. Yes, it was and still is tough but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
  3. Writing and publishing Freedom of the Monsoon. This was a great life changing experience as this made me aware of the writing community and how readers perceive books. I was and am amazed at the support all writers give to each other and their encouragement.

Writing this book also made me think of what career path I wanted to take as all along I went from one job to another with no real career in mind. Now, I have published, I would like to be a full time writer if possible and if not, then something along the lines of creative writing/literature.

  1. 5. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire my mother who came to this country with me and my brother in the late seventies. She travelled with us to a new country and the first time on a plane. I can imagine how scared she may have been but also strong in doing this.

As we grew up (there were four of us in a few years) she managed her house, her children, a husband and a job as well as expectations from the Indian community.

  1. 6. You have a unique name, Malika, and it would remiss of me not ask if there is any connection between yourself and the great Mahatma.

Malika means Queen and is a Muslim name. My parents gave this name to me, albeit being Hindu. It is unique and people have commented, saying it is a beautiful name.

Although I have the famous surname Gandhi, it is my marriage name. Unfortunately we are not connected to Mahatma Gandhi, although his religion was Jainism, like ours.

  1. 7. How important is your indigenous background in your writing?

It is very important. Freedom of the Monsoon is set in India and is about how the Indian people survived (or did not, in some cases) during the Quit India movement. It is also a great resource for those who know and don’t know Indian culture as the book shows emotion, Indian customs and values.

It is very natural for me to write about Indians, whether set in India or anywhere else as I am an Indian.

*** Complete change of tack now***

8. What are the last five websites you visited?

Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter and Lovefilm

9.  What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

Perhaps that I have weird tastes in food, such as coriander pesto, which I make at home!

10 If music be the food of love, what do you think literature is and please explain your answer?

Literature is the music to the ears. It is poetic, thoughtful and intriguing.

Links to purchase Freedom of the Monsoon: Amazon UK – Amazon USA

Links to my blogs: -About Me, My book and Everything else – The Unicorns’ Book Reviews