Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Q & A with Anju Gattani | Author

Fiction author, international freelance journalist, and former news reporter, Anju Gattani has been published in leading publications in the U.S., Singapore, Hong Kong, and India. Her debut novel, DUTY AND DESIRE, was published in 2011. Anju is represented by Bob Diforio, D4EO Literary Agency, and writes fiction to bridge cultures and break barriers. She is currently at work on her third novel in the WINDS OF FIRE series.

Literary Juice: According to your biography, you were first published at the age of seven. At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what it was that commenced this desire?

Anju Gattani: I will never forget that moment, the thrill of seeing my poem with my name and age printed in Hong Kong’s English leading newspaper, South China Morning Post!!  Yes, I was seven at the time and I continued to write poems, submit entries and win essay competitions too. But I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer, a professional writer, until much later… in my early 20s. I enrolled in a journalism / creative writing course in Australia, began to get real feedback on my assignments from published authors along with a lot of encouragement. And that’s when the real journey began.

I was published and received my first check by an English language women’s magazine in India for short fiction in 1994. I also began freelancing for New Woman magazine in Mumbai, then added two more (Singapore Women’s Weekly, Motherhood) in Singapore and an expatriate magazine in Hong Kong to my list. I was juggling the freelancing while raising two boys and globe-trotting (because of my husband’s job) from India to Singapore, Australia and the U.S.A.. 

LJ: Your debut novel, Duty and Desire, is unique in the sense that its story has rarely been done by anyone else. Not only that, it has been well-received on Amazon, and lauded by New York Times Best-Selling Author, Haywood Smith. When did you first realize this story needed to be told, and why? How have your own experiences helped shape its narrative?

AG: The story and characters actually found me… back in 2000 / 2001 shortly after we moved from Singapore to the U.S. I was taking a nap one afternoon (an exhausted mom of a then 2 and 6 year old boys) when I woke up sweating, my heart ready to burst from my chest. I’d had a vivid dream that felt like a movie in real-time. I had never seen or experienced anything like this before and knew it wasn’t another article or short fiction story waiting to be told. This was different. Something bigger and definitely more complex. I had no clue what I was dealing with but since the scope of the visual was colossal, like a movie, I figured it might be a bigger story. After much research on ‘writing the novel’ I realized it might well be a fiction novel. However, when I started writing the manuscript that’s when the novel grew more complex. The story didn’t fit in one book or two… I learned I was dealing with a series.   

LJ: Who is your target audience? What is it you hope to convey through the pen?

AG: I’d say women from 18+ since the books fall under cross-cultural women’s fiction. However, at previous book club meetings I’ve had a few men attend the event and the topics and discussions have widely piqued their interests. That has been such a welcome surprise… to know that what you are writing touches the hearts and lives of men and women from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

I hope readers will enjoy Sheetal’s story and realize never to give up. Sometimes we feel trapped, boxed-in with no way out of a situation, but there is always a way out and forward. You just have to take a different approach… a new perspective.

LJ: What does a typical day writing look like for you? Do you ever experience writer’s block, or any obstacles that impede your work? What are some strategies you employ to help overcome these obstacles?

AG: I also have a part-time day job so I try to fit the writing in chunks of pre-allocated time. However, life has a tendency of throwing surprises and that means a lot of juggling. I’m also huge into fitness and working out so I usually begin my day with a 1-hr workout at the gym - this also helps get the creative juices flowing and ideas running. Once I’m showered and dressed I sit down and write. I’ll take a break for lunch and then continue writing again. But ‘writing’ can also diverge into re-writing, revisions, edits or research. So it can be a combination of several different factors and no 2 writing days are the same.

Research can slow down the momentum of the story if I haven’t sufficiently tackled it or don’t have a good enough handle on the issue I’m dealing with. I’d like to ‘knock on wood’ when I say I’ve not yet experience writer’s block. What I continue to battle however, is finding the right word or combination of words to say exactly what I mean. It can really be frustrating!

Strategies that have worked for me can range from dark chocolate to coffee breaks to simply taking a break. Breaking off from the pressure of the moment, getting out of the hot-seat and doing something else for a while is usually the best remedy.

LJ: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can readers look forward to from you in the future?

AG: I’ve just signed a 3-book deal with Scarsdale Publishing, NY, and we’re moving full-steam ahead with the Winds of Fire series. I’m currently working on the third book and all 3 are slated for 2018 / 2019 releases. 

Publisher: Greenbrier Book Company, LLC
ISBN-10: 193757301X
      ISBN-13: 978-1937573010
About this Book: How Can Happiness Survive When Duty Clashes With Desire? Sheetal Prasad has it all: youth, beauty, wealth, and education. But when this modern Indian woman surrenders love for honor and marries into India's most glamorous "royal family," those very advantages turn against her. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Q & A with Jack e Lorts | Poet

Jack e Lorts, ex Southern California suburbanite, fled to Oregon in the 1970’s to teach in rural schools. His poems have appeared infrequently since the late 1950’s in a wide variety of literary magazines. Much of his recent work, particularly his “Ephram Pratt” poems, appear on-line in Haggard and Halloo, Elohi Gadugi, Literary Juice, Locust, Poetry Breakfast, Dead Snakes, etc. He is the author of three chapbooks including “The Meeting-Place of Words” (2010) from Pudding House Publications. Lorts has been married 56 years, and has 3 daughters and 21 grandkids.  

Literary Juice: You have been published before in Literary Juice (January 2016; Ephram Pratt Sings from the Word Box). Who is Ephram Pratt? How is he important to your poetry and everyday life?

Jack e Lorts: I first met Ephram Pratt in a poem back in 2008; I didn’t know him previously & he is not related to a minor historical figure I’ve since found on the Internet. He is in all likelihood of the Tribe of Ephram in the book of Numbers, and I also think he may be an alter-ego or doppelganger of mine who talks about things I may feel somewhat reluctant to deal with in my poems. Since meeting him, he has assisted me in writing something short of 800 of my “Poems of Ephram Pratt.” I have been writing seriously since the 1950’s, but the past several years Ephram seems to be monopolizing the bulk of my writing time.

LJ: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Do you have a set routine?

JeL: The day after I graduated from college and started teaching in 1962, my wife and I had twin daughters, add another daughter 18 months later, and our life for the next quarter of a century became teaching school and raising kids—my writing taking a back seat for many years. However, over those years I did find time to continue some writing and had poems appear infrequently in various obscure places as well as magazines like English Journal, Kansas Quarterly, etc. In those earlier years, my writing took place late at night when the rest of the house slept; now in more recent times, my writing & reading time begins 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. and runs through mid-morning. For the past 15-20 years I’ve written primarily on my computer, whereas earlier it may have been in longhand or on the typewriter. There’s a well-known story told about Ruth Stone, how her poems chased after her and it became her challenge to capture them before they were gone. In similar manner, my poems come when they come, and I need to be ready to nab them.

LJ: According to your biography, you have been published since the late 50’s. When did you know you wanted to be a poet? Do you remember the moment specifically?

JeL: I began writing poems during my high school years in the mid 50’s. I found I loved to play with words, I returned to Mother Gooses, then found Robert Service and Sandburg, and in 1957, I came across Allen Ginsberg and the beats. Ginsberg blew the top of my head off, and I’ve never been quite the same since. As obvious, I live a very different life-style than Ginsberg, but admire his values and the great power & playfulness of his language. I’ve inherited much from him.

First published in the late 1950’s, in one particular issue of Nomad, the LA based avant garde journal, I appeared alongside Ginsberg, Cid Corman, Larry Eigner, Russell Edson, Marvin Bell, Denise Levertov, Gael Turnbull, Ron Loewinsohn & Clarence Major, also appearing about that time in Ron Padgett’s White Dove Review. I often wonder what happened to me, when many of those poets went on to become among the most significant poets of the era.

LJ: What do you feel sets a good poem apart from a bad one?

JeL:  What a difficult questions! A good poem for me must have a musicality of joy, which makes me want to read & read & read it, over & over & over again, sheer joy in its sound.  It also must admit to some kind of insight, a great insight as in Dover Beach or Anecdote of the Jar or an insight so slight that it floats lightly on the thin skin of a bubble, thin as air, but real as the rings of a tree.

LJ: Are you currently working on any new projects? What can readers look forward to from you in the future?

JeL:  Although all kinds of poems chase me down from time to time, as I mentioned earlier, most of my time the past several years has been spent with my Ephram Pratt poems. I consider my Ephram Pratt poems an extended surrealistic sequence, also being influenced somewhat by the “language school.” In most cases, the poems come unbidden, they just begin to happen and they flow in an almost automatic writing manner. They touch on strange, esoteric and unrelated subjects and have almost exclusively been arriving in unrhymed couplets. I love to wallow in them, not knowing what or where or when or why they are going where they’re going, but loving every minute of them.  One of the last projects Jennifer Bosveld of Pudding House was working on for me before her untimely death was a chapbook selection entitled “The Love Songs of Ephram Pratt.” The book is again seeking publication in an expanded version, as is a kind of a retrospective of my 60 years of poetry, “A Space of Ignorance.”