‘Authentic writing is the most powerful way to connect with readers’

 ‘Authentic writing is the most powerful way to connect with readers’

AUthor MOnica Saigal and her latest release A Kiss in Kashmir

Team L&M

Being born into a family that deeply valued education and the arts fostered the love for storytelling into her early in life. But it was only after Monica Saigal completed her engineering degree that she finally decided to follow her passion for writing.
Now settled in US, as an established author, she continues to explore and write across different genres, celebrating the diversity of human experience through her words. Her latest release A Kiss in Kashmir (Bodes Well Publishing) explores the depth of love, loss and the value of second chances in life. Excerpts from an interview:

What’s the story behind A Kiss in Kashmir? When did you decide to write a novel set in Kashmir, and why Kashmir specifically? How long did it take to finish writing the book?
A Kiss in Kashmir is an ode to the memories I have of visiting Kashmir as young woman. I have always associated the region with love and romance (thank you, Bollywood!). A few years ago, I began to research it again and I was captivated by the depth of its history and the resilience of its people. Choosing Kashmir wasn’t just about its scenic beauty but also its rich cultural tapestry and complex history, which I felt could perfectly frame a story about enduring love and resilience. The novel took about two years to write, a process during which I immersed myself in the region’s past and present to ensure authenticity and depth in the narrative

The backdrop of Kashmir sounds absolutely enchanting. How did you go about researching and capturing the essence of this serene setting in your book?
To truly bring the setting of Kashmir alive in the book, I delved into a mix of historical texts, local narratives, and academic insights. This comprehensive approach helped me to paint a vivid picture of Kashmir—not just its physical beauty but its emotional landscape as well. I was particularly drawn to the way the natural beauty of the region contrasted with its complex socio-political issues, which I aimed to reflect in the narrative backdrop of my story.

Do you have a particular audience in mind for this book?
I envisioned this book reaching those who are not only romantics at heart but also readers who appreciate a mature, reflective look at love. It’s crafted for those who see beauty in the complexity of life and relationships and who are intrigued by the intersection of personal lives with larger historical and cultural currents.

With 12 books under your belt, what have been some of the most rewarding moments of your writing career so far?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my writing career has been the deep connections I’ve formed with readers from all walks of life. Each book has opened doors to new cultures and communities. Celebrating the launch of each novel, receiving feedback from readers who found solace or joy in my stories, and engaging with fellow writers and readers at literary events—these moments have enriched my journey immeasurably.

When did you embark on your journey as a writer? What inspired you to become an author?
I officially began my journey as a writer in my late thirties, but the seeds were sown much earlier, nurtured by an early love of books and storytelling. I was always drawn to stories and the power of words to shape worlds. Over time, this passion only grew, leading me to pursue a career where I could dedicate myself to crafting narratives that mattered.

Which do you enjoy writing the most: novels, short stories, or cookbooks, and why? Additionally, which one do you find the easiest to write?
I find a unique joy and challenge in each. Novels allow me the space to develop characters and plots fully, providing a deep dive into the emotional arcs. However, there is a special delight in creating cookbooks because they combine my love for culinary arts with storytelling, making them a feast for the senses. Short stories, while challenging, are enjoyable for their precision and the demand for impact in brevity.

What are your upcoming projects?
These include a children’s book, a romance novel and an inspirational book on creative writing.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
That would be to persistently follow your passion for writing, despite the challenges and inevitable setbacks. Always strive for authenticity in your writing; it’s the most powerful way to connect with your readers. Honour your unique journey and your voice. If you stay true to your voice, your words will find the right audience.

Your favorite author, and why – I adore Elif Shafak is a renowned Turkish-British author known for her storytelling that often bridges Western and Eastern traditions. Her Forty Rules of Love is one of my most favorite books.
Your favorite Book, and why – Almost any book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Her work is simply brilliant.
Your favorite writing corner, and why – My favorite writing corner is this deck at home overlooking the garden. It’s serene, filled with natural light, and just perfect for brewing stories
The most overrated book in your opinion – While tastes vary greatly, I find some of the contemporary best-selling romance novels to be a bit predictable.
The most underrated book in your opinion – The work of Yasmina Khadra. Just marvelous and sadly, very underrated.


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