Tag Archives: Thriller

Author Interview: ‘The Cave’ by Ruslan Alabaev

About the Book:

A young couple and their three friends go hiking in Australia. During their trip, they discover a coastal cave. They venture inside and discover a vast, underground cave ecosystem. The entrance to the cave network gets flooded, leaving them no choice but to explore it deeper, hoping to find another way out.

Inside the deep, dark caves, they get separated and have to face their fears alone. A mysterious creature approaches each of them and proposes a simple deal: Tell it a story, and if it likes your story – it will show you the way out. And if doesn’t? Then it will take something from you…

Will the unfortunate adventurers find their way out before being consumed by the caves, or will they have to take the gruesome deal from the mysterious creature and hope it likes their story?

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’ve had a passion for writing since I was a kid, and as I got older, I wanted to write something significant. I wrote my first book when I was 18 and my second at 23, but both were in Russian and meant to be more of an exercise that allowed me to share my ideas. But 4 years ago, I decided to write a book in English to reach and influence many more readers. Back then, I was ready to publish it, but this year, I finally found the courage to self-publish it and take that next step in my writer’s career.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Nope, I like to write when I feel the inspiration going and the ideas flowing into my mind. That could happen anytime and anywhere.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I consider myself to be an “idea generator.” Imagine a melting pot, where you throw bits and pieces of information from reading, movies, series, computer games, general knowledge, scientific papers, and anecdotal knowledge. I use all these sources as inspiration to come up with ideas for my books. Believe it or not, I often get the initial ideas in my dreams. Sometimes I dream vividly about something exciting, and when I wake up, I write down the dream’s plot to the best of my ability and later use it as the core inspiration for one of my books.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I am one of those writers who don’t like creating a detailed blueprint for the entire book before writing it. Usually, I start writing the book with the main plot in mind and several ideas that I definitely want to include somewhere in the book. Other than that, I just start writing, and the chapters shape in the process.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I have 3 books, and “The Cave” is my first published work. The genres I write in can be quite different. I don’t have a specific direction or style that belongs to one genre. But, I would say that I lean towards horror and mystery because I love creating something you wouldn’t encounter in the real world to give people a world to escape to while they’re reading. 

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Honestly? There are so many talented actors out there that can do such a fantastic job “delivering” the point and genuinely understanding the plot. So, I don’t care who would play the roles of my characters, as long as I can watch their work and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I envision it in my mind!”

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I don’t read as much as the dedicated bookworms, but I like to read something super-exciting or informative. So, that could be one of Stephen King’s novels that I still haven’t got to or want to re-read, an indie author’s book that just grabbed my attention, or a non-fiction book that I feel could inspire me in some way, or enrich my knowledge.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Right now, I am reading “How To Be Rich” by J. Paul Getty, one of the wealthiest men of his time. It’s not so much about getting rich. It’s more of a guide on how to live your life more efficiently financially. And that’s something every person could improve in their lives.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Going back to my favorite author, Stephen King, my favorite book is “Pet Cemetary.” Back in high school, it had a significant impact on me and indeed showed me how good horror books should be written. I would say it’s one of my early inspirations to become a horror/mystery writer.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

My advice is to just start writing. Many writers spend too much time planning the plot and every little detail in the book, which often gets them in a loop of perfecting everything without actually writing anything. I think a person should prepare a baseline plot and just start writing. As you write, many ideas and plot details come to you, making the process more fluent and productive. Besides, you can always edit anything you don’t like. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

At the moment, I try to stay away from Social Media, as it drains too much of my time, so the best way to get in touch with me would probably be through email. I know, it’s very old-fashioned.

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Author Interview: ‘Meat’ by Dane Cobain

About the Book:

Veterinarian Tom Copeland takes a job at a factory farm called Sunnyvale after a scandal at his suburban practice. His job is to keep the animals alive for long enough to get them to slaughter.

But there are rumours of a strange creature living beneath the complex, accidents waiting to happen on brutal production lines and the threat of zoonotic disease from the pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and fish that the complex houses.

Suddenly, disaster rocks Sunnyvale and cleaners, butchers, security guards and clerical staff alike must come together under the ruthless leadership of CEO John MacDonald. Together, they’ll learn what happens when there’s a sudden change to the food chain.

Bon appétit. 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’ve always loved writing. When I was five or six, I used to write parody versions of the popular songs of the day, and then when I was a teenager, I learned to play guitar and started writing music. It just seemed natural to go from lyrics to poetry and then from poetry to fiction. 

I wrote my first novel when I was seventeen (it’s terrible and unpublished), and I haven’t looked back since. I just love books, words and reading, and I love that I’m able to make a living from putting my passion to work.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I just work as much and as often as I can. I almost always write at my desk in my office, although I’m just as happy to write in a notebook and if I have a hangover, I sometimes spend the day lying in bed watching true crime documentaries and writing on my laptop.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

This is the question that every writer hates being asked. A lot of mine started out as dreams, which I later tweaked and developed to make them work in the structure of a story. A few of them originated as “what if” style thought experiments, too. For example, Meat – my horror novel set on a factory farm — came about because I’ve always been passionate about animal rights and I wanted to investigate that further in a novel. I also figured that a factor farm is a horrific enough place to begin with, and so it’s super easy to write horror using that as a backdrop.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I’m definitely a plotter as opposed to a pantser or a plantser. Before I ever start writing, I work on a chapter-by-chapter outline and create a few character profiles so that once I start writing, I have something to refer back to. There’s still some flexibility there though, and if the characters or the plot take me in a different direction, I go with it.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I write across a bunch of different genres, including horror, cosy mystery, poetry and non-fiction. I tend to just write the stories that I want to tell and then I worry about classifying them according to a genre afterwards. It’s more fulfilling when it comes to my writing, but it’s a lot harder to promote them than it would be if I specialised in a single genre.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

That’s a good question! For this, I suppose we’d have to go with my latest full-length novel, which is Meat. I can imagine Paddy Considine playing Tom Copeland and Mac MacDonald playing MacDonald, and not just because of the name. David Tennant could be a pretty good Big Jim.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read all of the time. My all-time favourite authors include Terry Pratchett, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Philip Pullman and Charles Bukowski, although really there are too many to list.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’ve just finished reading Plays #2 by Alan Bennett and now I’m reading Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the USA) by Philip Pullman because it’s the book that made me fall in love with reading.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Do it! It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Read as much as you can, write as much as you can and don’t expect to be an overnight success. You’ll be at it for ten years or so before you start to create anything good.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

I’m on pretty much all of them, and I also have a website at www.danecobain.com. But I’d say that the best ones to follow me on are probably Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/danecobainmusic

Twitter: @danecobain

Instagram: www.instagram.com/danecobain

YouTube: www.youtube.com/danecobain

About the Author:

Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, UK) is a published author, freelance writer and (occasional) poet and musician with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not working on his next release, he can be found reading and reviewing books while trying not to be distracted by Wikipedia.

His releases include No Rest for the Wicked (supernatural thriller), Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home (poetry) Former.ly (literary fiction), Social Paranoia (non-fiction), Come On Up to the House (horror), Subject Verb Object (anthology), Driven (crime/detective), The Tower Hill Terror (crime/detective), Meat (horror), Scarlet Sins (short stories), The Lexicologist’s Handbook (non-fiction) and The Leipfold Files (crime/detective).

His short stories have also been anthologised in Local Haunts (ed. R. Saint Clare), We’re Not Home (ed. Cam Wolfe), Served Cold (ed. R. Saint Clare and Steve Donoghue) and Eccentric Circles (ed. Cynthia Brackett-Vincent).

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Author Interview: ‘Psychic’ by TS Rose

About the Book:

Modern-day Britain, with the terrorism threat level set at severe and rising to critical, needs extraordinary measures to overcome the next threat, including the use of students with psychic abilities. 

Alone, and frightened of her own power, Alpha is forced to use it to protect the care home she’s lived in since the loss of her parents. But such abilities do not go unnoticed, bringing her to the attention of others, some with good intentions and others with racist affiliations. She runs, but just when she thinks she’s found a sanctuary it turns out to have been infiltrated by those with the most violent form of terrorism on their agenda.

Sunday, a most unlikely hero and would-be young thief, must form a bond with Alpha if the pair are to stand even the slightest chance of averting the most catastrophic terrorist attack on British soil for many years. They must learn to trust others, too—but how can they do this, when everyone else is a suspect?

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Purchase Links:

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Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

Sharon is a Town Clerk for a Town Council in the UK. Tammy, Sharon’s daughter, is a secondary school teacher. We now write together as co-authors. Sharon started writing about 20 years ago, as a way to relax from her stressful job. She has had a few books for children and young adults published during that time. Tammy did creative writing at University, and became interested in it during that period. When Covid-19 lockdowns struck she pulled down an old manuscript of Sharon’s and together they started work on improving it. It needed a complete rewrite.    

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Sharon writes in her bedroom late at night during a few stolen moments before bed. Tammy writes in her older brother’s bedroom whenever she can. Since he now lives in Maastricht she has usurped it for herself. 

3: Where do your ideas come from?

The present-day world around us. In the case of Psychic, terrorism is everywhere. We simply combined this with the idea of people being psychic in various ways, and psychics being needed to overcome terrorist acts.  

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

The plot generally comes first, along with the main characters. We like to know where the book starts and how it will end, and to plot chapters before we write. These sometimes get rearranged, removed altogether, or combined, but the general shape of the story is there. Sometimes characters take on a life of their own too. Tammy is in charge of characters, and will often kick out Sharon’s characters, or even change their sex.  Sharon is better at plotting.  

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

We both enjoy science fiction. It’s about what science hasn’t yet been able to prove. Sharon also enjoys fantasy, whereas Tammy prefers crime dramas.   

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Tammy likes Jessica Alba, and Sharon likes Benedict Cumberbatch, but these actors would have to play the adults in the story. We’ve no idea who could best play the two main characters who are 17 and 9 in age.   

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

Sharon’s best authors are Jonathan Kellerman and Guy Gavriel Kay, whereas Tammy, who is more academic than Sharon, much prefers Oscar Wilde.  Reading is our life. 

8: What book/s are you reading at present? 

Sharon: Jonathan Kellerman’s City of the Dead.

Tammy: Sadly, I’m reading the set books for my current year for all my students as some of them are new to the curriculum.    

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Sharon: Stephen King’s The Stand.

Tammy: Stephen King’s IT.

We both agree that Stephen King has the best natural writing style we’ve ever seen, his characters are enchanting, and we’re also fans of great horror.   

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Don’t go mad on putting in the backstory first. Get to the action, and if you must have backstory, feed it in slowly and naturally.   

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

Oh dear!  Social media doesn’t come naturally to either of us. We’ve very private introverts. You can undertake a quiz to find out if you’re psychic on our website, www.psychic-tsrose.com or you can find us on Goodreads, on Amazon, or through Barnes and Noble.

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/22235160.Ts_Rose

Amazon: www.amazon.com/Ts-Rose/e/B09ZPPLSB5

Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/psychic-ts-rose/1140813997

About the Authors:

T Rose is the daughter of S Rose, her co-author. T is an accomplished writer, having earned five academic prizes and recently graduating from Queen Mary University of London. Over the years, she has worked with various charities focusing on promoting reading as well as organizing events and activities to help children and adults in need. She was born in England and now lives in a rural town surrounded by trees and nature, but which also lies only twenty-five minutes by train from the bustling metropolis of London. 

S Rose was born in South Africa, partially schooled in Germany and the UK, and living for a while in Kissimmee, Florida. Now living in London, she has published a gardening story for young children, as well as a fantasy tale for young adults. Her career as a Town Clerk, working for the good of the community, keeps her exceptionally busy, so writing takes place during stolen moments just before bed.

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Book Blitz: ‘Ask Not’ by Mary M. Schmidt

Title: Ask Not

Author: Mary M. Schmidt

Publisher: Lulu.com

Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller

About the Book:

To Katie, her love for John F. Kennedy was her whole world, even though he never heard of her.  Anyone who harmed him would have to answer to her.  It would not be pleasant. And when someone does, her revenge would consume her spirit and drive her in madness to Dallas.  Will she succeed in destroying Oswald?

Ask Not.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

About the Author:

Mary M. Schmidt, also known as Lynx, is the author of Gemini Lynx, Persephone’s Song, Cat Lady, and Our Frail Disordered Lives. She is a hospice volunteer, which during the pandemic, means going to a lot of zoom meetings. (Every time I turn around, more zoom!) A lover of animals, Mary lives near Annapolis with her rescue cat, Gemma.

Social Media Links:

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1196284.Mary_M_Schmidt

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/category/Writer/Mary-M-Schmidt-756593501152605

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Author Interview: ‘Azalea Heights’ by Rajat Narula

About the Book:

Twenty-two students of Winston Elementary School are being held hostage. The gunmen are demanding the release of ISIS leaders held in Iraq. A rescue attempt by the FBI could get the children killed. Altaf Khan, a 48-year-old Pakistani American, may be able to help them infiltrate the terrorists’ network. However, one of the captors is his son, Zain. 

Azalea Heights is a clash-of-cultures story of a diverse cast of characters wanting to make a fresh start. Naina is recently divorced and is learning to live alone. Rohan is a small-time restaurateur with big dreams. Altaf, a proud American citizen, is struggling with the radicalization of his teenage son. Gerard is a retired Iraq veteran fighting with his inner demons and legacy of the war. When they move to a new development called Azalea Heights, their paths inevitably cross and result in a chain of events that upend their lives. Azalea Heights captures the escalating tensions within the neighborhood, but also recognizes the American spirit, when people with disparate ideologies, beliefs, and politics come together in a moment of crisis.

Fans of Little Fires EverywhereAn American Marriage and There There will enjoy this riveting tale of intercultural conflict in these unsettling times when prejudices have come to be accepted as normal. 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Reviews:

“Azalea Heights is a brilliant insight into the lives of the South Asian community in the U.S. The vivid details of the customs, the food, and the culture are both engaging and informative. The characters are well-etched and distinctive and the tension between them is palpable and real. The writing keeps you on the edge till the very end. A fantastic read!” –  Minty

“The leisurely beginning suggests a touch of interpersonal drama about to start, but then the narrative grows into a quietly powerful exploration of cultural differences, simmering religious tensions, and societal divisions which becomes completely riveting. All the characters are sympathetically and brilliantly depicted. They are all convincing, authentic, and thoroughly investable. Azalea Heights is an intelligently structured, thought-provoking, and absorbing novel. Highly recommended.” – Rose Auburn

“Once the story reaches a crisis point, tension is maintained, and the book becomes a page-turner. The ending is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching.” – Audrey Driscoll

“Azalea Heights is a beautiful novel.  I liked the book for its real-life depiction of humanity. I recommend everyone to read the book.”  – Book Blogger

“Azalea Heights is a riveting story of strife between human goodness and personal ideologies. An amazingly engaging read, with a plot and characters that you will find extremely relatable!”  – Sandeep Jain

Quotes from book:

  • “Ayesha had been religious even when they got married in Pakistan, but the extremity began when they moved to the US. A reaction to the liberalism she encountered in the alien country. Since she couldn’t compete with the Americans in being open, modern, and liberal, she galloped in the opposite direction. The more you show, the more I hide.
  • “He had left the army to get away from the war in the distant lands. But the distant lands had come home to him.”   
  • “He had embraced this country for over thirty years. He voted in every election, paid his taxes, and celebrated July 4th on the mall watching fireworks. Just because his skin color was different, would he have to prove his American-ness every time something went wrong? Was Zain right when he said they didn’t belong here, that they never would?”  
  • “Sometimes, he missed not having a daughter. A daughter would perhaps have been an ally at home, against the united front of Ayesha and Zain. She would have appreciated his working hard for the family, the sacrifices he made for them. She would have been attentive to his small needs, would have asked him over dinner if he wanted achar or whether the okra was too spicy for him. She would have recounted to him her day and shown interest in his.”

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

As an adolescent, I wrote sappy love poems that got me enough attention that I continued the scribbling. In my teen years, I wrote a column for the local newspaper of my town that made me famous among my ten friends. Then life intervened and I got busy pursuing an education, then a career, and then a family. It was in my mid-forties, that the infamous writing bug bit me again and I wanted to tell a story that had been on mind for years. So, writing my first novel, The Jasmine Bloom, was the result of my mid-life crisis 😊.  

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I like to write every day. And since, I have a day job, it means getting up at 5:00 am every day to get an hour or so of writing done before I head to work. So, beside the weekends, it has become my time to write. My study is the place where I write. I live in a lovely suburb in Northern Virgina (the windows currently offer me a lovely view of the Fall foliage).  

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas could come from anywhere: an interesting person or couple you see on the metro, a conversation overheard in a party or a snippet in the newspaper. 

Let me illustrate by telling you about Azalea Heights. When ISIS was at its peak and controlled a large territory in Iraq and Syria, they witnessed an influx of young people from across the globe — including the West. I wondered what kind of families these kids came from. Did their families hold extremist religious beliefs too? Or was their attraction to fundamentalism an act of rebellion against the parents?   This is how Altaf’s story came about that formed the nucleus of the book. Here was a Pakistani immigrant in the United States who spent all his life trying to assimilate in the American culture, who wanted nothing more than to be counted as an American. What happens when his only son, goaded by his zealous mother, goes exactly in the opposite direction? The other characters (and their stories) were the results of my fascination with certain topics. How does a returning solider feel when his next-door neighbor looks and talks like the enemy he had been fighting in distant lands? That’s where Gerard’s story came about. My curiosity about inter-racial marriages gave me Naina’s story. Hard-working immigrants — taxi drivers, construction workers, hospital attendants — determined to succeed in this country gave me Rohan’s story. How does the loss of a child upend a couple’s life? Does it ever get back to normal? Those questions led me to Kate’s story. Weaving these stories together into one narrative was driven by my belief that despite all the ostensible differences, at the core, we are all the same and believe in the same values.  

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I like having an outline of the story at the outset. If you know broadly, where the story is going to go, you don’t get lost on the way. However, as I write, the story takes twists and turns not planned before and eventually turns out to be a lot different (and richer, I think) than intended at the start. The characters evolve and present opportunities that weren’t simply there when I started writing them. So, it’s a bit of both. I do have an outline at the start — but the final story goes beyond it.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

As the adage goes — write what you like to read. I like to read contemporary fiction and hence my writing is contemporary fiction also. I like to write about human relationships — our capacity to change and grow. I write about issues that are affecting the well-being of the society we live in — racism, extremism, ultra-nationalism. However, the storytelling is important to me. I don’t want my books to be preachy – I want them to engaging for the readers and like the message to be weaved in the story.   

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

There is not a single day when I don’t play that movie in my head 😊. The book has American and South Asian characters. I see Bradley Cooper play Gerard and Amy Adams as Kate. I would have liked Irfan Khan to play Altaf. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. Now, I would like to see Aamir Khan play that role and I would like to have Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor play Naina and Rohan.  

7: Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?

I love to read. However, with the day job and the writing, I end up reading only about 18-20 books a year.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez would have to be my favorite author. I also admire Salman Rushdie, Khaled Hosseini, Kazuo Ishiguru, Jeffrey Eugenides, Emma Donoghue, George Orwell, Laura Hillenbrand, J.K. Rowling, and many, many others. One writer I wish I could write like is Jhumpa Lahiri. She can evoke deep emotions in her readers without resorting to melodrama.  

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I am currently reading ‘Directorate S’ by Steve Coll, an engaging non-fiction about America’s misadventures in Afghanistan.  

9: What is your favorite book and why?

I consider Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ the ultimate in storytelling. The spinning of a story that spans generations and yet continues to engage the readers closely throughout, the mastery with which Marquez adds the magic-realism in the storytelling is unique. The book that comes closest to it, in my view, is Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’. Both are beautiful, unforgettable books.  

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

First: Persist. I see several people starting, but then losing steam midway. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your first draft is, but it is important you finish what you start. There is plenty of time, after the first draft is completed, to further improve the book. But the most important thing is to finish it.

Second: Write the best book you can. I finished the first draft of Azalea Heights in 16 months, but it took me another 38 months to ‘complete’ it. I understand there are shortcuts available (self-publishing, editors) and the quality of writing of some of the bestsellers isn’t quite the best, but you still want to give it your best shot. The book may be a hit or a flop, but you won’t want your name to be associated with a shoddy, half-baked product.

Third: Buck the trend. Don’t write what you think sells in the market. Write what you want to write. The story you think you can tell the best. For example, if college romances are what’s selling, doesn’t mean you must write one too. If that’s the story in you, of course. But if you have another story to tell, go ahead and tell your story. That way your truth will make the writing stronger, and the readers will relate with the book.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

Website: www.rajatnarula.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/author.thejasminebloom

Twitter: www.twitter.com/rajatwrites

Instagram: www.instagram.com/author.rajatnarula

About the Author:

Rajat Narula is a writer of contemporary fiction, passionate about issues that are dividing people across the globe: racism, extremism, and ultra-nationalism. Having lived in India, Indonesia and USA, he has observed some of these prejudices at close quarters and they feature prominently in his writings.

He works for the World Bank, fighting poverty by day, and making up stories at night. He lives in Virginia, USA with his wife and two daughters.

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