Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Feature: Anoosha Lalani author of The Keepers

Sixteen-year-old Isra Kalb has grown up starving in the slums of Islamabad. But hunger is only the beginning. When her father is mysteriously murdered and madness corrupts her mother's mind, she's left alone to fend for herself and her sister. Homeless and destitute, the only thing she has to remember her loving family by is a commonplace necklace--an amulet barely worth keeping.

Or so she thinks.

Swept into a web of lies, deceit and turmoil, Isra struggles to find a place for herself and Zaffirah, wondering if the strange creatures and visions she's seeing are indications of the madness that took her mother. But when Snatchers capture Zaffirah, Isra learns her amulet isn't so useless after all. Transported to Zarcane--the beastly garden where Adam and Eve were born--Isra comes face to face with her destiny. She's a Keeper, charged with protecting the borders of Zarcane and keeping the demon hordes lurking in the shadows from taking realms that are not their own. And she's not the only one; there's a second Keeper, a boy whose identity hasn't been revealed.

Now, in order to save her sister and fulfill her family's legacy as Keeper of the Amulet, she has to find the second Keeper and close the borders. Surrounded by betrayal, trapped between warring factions of angels, and desperate to save the only family she has left, Isra must decide:

Who can she trust when nothing is what it seems?

                                                             Available on Amazon Add to goodreads  



What inspired you to write this book?


TK references one biblical tale in particular; the story of the first man and woman so I suppose that would be my main inspiration. I simply built my story around that tale, taking creative license in every place that I could without completely distorting the foundations of the original story. I find that is the beauty of writing; you can start in one place and then interweave the strangest ideas into your version to make it your own. The hard part is convincing readers that you have done it seamlessly, which I sincerely hope my readers find I have.



Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?


Most of the names that I’ve used in my book have special meanings that give a little depth to my characters. I think names are important so I spent a lot of my time writing this book with placeholders until I could find the right names for my characters. For example, the protagonist’s name, Isra, means journey of the night and she does spend a lot of her time journeying out of her unconscious body into Zarcane. Ammun’s name means the hidden one and once you read about my mysterious Ammun, you’ll realize it is actually a very appropriate name. I could go on forever, describing my characters and giving you their names, but I’ll just stop there since you probably get the idea.



How did you choose your title?


Well this one is simple. TK revolves around the two Keepers of the Amulet. I just cut that down and called the whole book, The Keepers. It’s short and snappy, making it absolutely perfect!


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.


I had a very small role to play in coming up with the cover. I literally told Ashley I want the cover centered on Isra and the amulet and she came up with this brilliant masterpiece!


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?


The characters. The story would be nothing without engaging characters. I found that my characters were actually leading me through their story. I am simply a middleman, bridging the gap between my characters and readers.


What is your writing process?


I tend to get straight into the writing. Then part way through, I might decide to make character profiles, but I don’t think I could ever outline a plot from scratch. This usually means that I spend a lot of time fixing up my first draft. The process can take from six months to maybe three years.



How long have you been writing?


I don’t feel like there was a specific moment in my childhood when I stopped and thought hey I’m writing and I want to do this for the rest of my life.  I just simply wrote. I started with little notebooks and then I got older and laptops appeared so I moved on to word. Most of my writing is now on my computer. That being said, TK is my first completed novel.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


I am a pantser to the core. I wish I could plan though. I imagine there would be fewer plot holes to fix up if you’ve planned the story before.


What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?


Starting. I’ll make so many excuses before starting, but once I start, I get really into it and I struggle to stop.


What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

Drop it for a few days and come back to it. I can’t force stuff out when I write despite having writer’s block. It would be a massive waste of time for me to sit and word vomit when I know a day from then I’m only going to scrap it.


What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?


I wish I was one of those writers that could listen to music and write, but I find that it distracts me. I would much rather be alone in a silent room writing out my stories.


Who is your favorite author?


I’m reading Jonathan Safran Foer right now and I think he’s great! I also love Patrick Rothfuss. It’s so hard choosing a favorite author.


Who is your favorite character from a book?


Again this is hard, but I will say I have taken a special liking to Holden Caulfield.


What is your favorite book?


As of now, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer but ask me that in a few months when I’ve read some more books and I’m likely to give a different answer.


Read anything good lately?


Not recently but with my editing finally completed, I plan to!


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


When I’m not writing, I like to draw or paint but I spend most of my non-writing time studying or chilling with friends. I don’t have too many hobbies.



What advice would you give an author just starting out?


I am an author just starting out! It feels weird to be answering this question, but I guess I would say keep writing. Never ever stop. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had quit on my writing early on.


Have you had anything else published?


The is my first novel-length work to be published but I have written articles for magazines and I also contributed a short story to the Beyond the Binding eBook Anthology.


What's your next project?


I am currently working on collaboration with a really close friend. It’s different to the genre I usually write but I’m enjoying it. It’s more contemporary and adult. We’ve called it Seven Days of September so do look out for it in a year or two!


I’ve also kept the option open for a TK sequel so I guess I’ll see where that takes me.


Anoosha Lalani has always had an insatiable desire to escape reality. It was a childhood trait that never seemed to fade out. If Anoosha were to make one wish, it would be to have wings to journey off the face of this planet and into the worlds of her stories.

When she’s not writing, you may find Anoosha attending high school in Singapore. Having moved around so much, she has had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a vibrant range of cultures, which often seem to find their way into her stories. Anoosha was born in Pakistan, the setting of her most recent novel, The Keepers.

Connect with Anoosha on her website and twitter.


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