Mainstream author Shobhan Bantwal chats about her new release, The Unexpected Son , and her reputation for creating "Bollywood in a book." And don't miss the EXCERPT of The Unexpected Son at the end of this post!
When I decided to take up fiction writing at the age of 50, a result of what I call a "menopausal epiphany," I naturally turned to my own Indian-Hindu culture for story ideas, which offers a delicious and intriguing array of topics.
While conflict is part and parcel of every society, it is even more abundant in conservative cultures like India, where love and romance are rarely given credence. The rigid caste system and arranged marriage still exist in contemporary India, dowry abuse is rampant, women are still considered burdens, and dominant males are fierce guardians of their heritage. I grew up in the midst of it all, in a strict Brahmin family. I also had an arranged marriage.
Consequently my "Bollywood in a book" style stories are filled with the vivid colors, textures, scents, and images of India. My books offer a small glimpse of a tantalizing, paradoxical culture that is ancient yet modern, simple yet complicated. Kensington Publishing has given me an extraordinary opportunity to introduce my unique brand of multicultural fiction to a wide audience.
Love and sex outside the sanctity of marriage are taboo in my culture. This strict moral code forms the basis of my latest novel, The Unexpected Son, where a naive teenager's secret love affair not only has a catastrophic effect on her immediate future, but it comes back to haunt her 30 years later, and could potentially destroy her and her family.
A daughter-in-law who does not bring the promised dowry could be abused and in rare instances killed by Indian in-laws. This was the theme of my debut novel, The Dowry Bride, published three years ago. In the male-child-obsessed Hindu society, thousands of female fetuses are aborted each year. This appalling practice was the subject of my second novel, The Forbidden Daughter.
The Indian-American immigrant experience is yet another delightful source of conflict, where conformist Indians raising their children in the emancipated American culture grapple with dating, pre-marital sex, and sometimes gay relationships. My third novel, The Sari Shop Widow, portrays a young Indian-American widow who rediscovers the magic of love and family in New Jersey.
I regularly speak about my books and my Indian culture to book clubs, libraries, women's organizations, and fundraising events. I also donate a large portion of my book profits to organizations that help victims of domestic violence.
My website has information on video book trailers, excerpts, short stories, author events, recipes, contests, photos, and contact information. During August, sign up through my "Contests" page for a chance to win a costume jewelry set or one of five autographed copies of The Unexpected Son.
Wishing you Namasté and Happy Reading,
- Shobhan Bantwal