Sunday, April 22, 2012

I still miss you!

I can't believe that over a year has passed by since prolific author passed away. Fellow author Robin McKinley went to her memorial service, and wrote this lovely post on it. diana Mrs Jones seems to have been a great friend to many famous authors: Neil Gaiman for instance. She was clearly loved and cherished by many of them. Here is the post I wrote upon her death. Many Worlds Have Come Crashing Down

Friday, April 6, 2012

Author Aarti Gosine finds success in the Magic Cave

I’ve decided to tap into some of the resources I’ve found among my friends and colleagues.  What could inspire a struggling author more than another author who managed to get published? We all have writers who inspire us: they are often the people who got us thinking about writing in the first place.  Trinidadian writers need added sources of motivation though as it is very difficult to get published in the first place. One of my online friends managed to overcome this difficulty though, and she graciously agreed to do a short interview for my blog. I’m hoping I’ll be able to feature a few more Trinidadian writers here.  If anyone knows of people who would be interested, please let me know.
Now on to the show….

Aarti Gosine was born and raised on the same island where I’m from: Trinidad and Tobago. She attended McBean Hindu Primary School then Naparima Girls’ High School. She went on to complete a BSc in Chemistry and Management at UWI and last year I completed my MBA via distance learning from the Edinburgh School of Business, Heriot Watt University, Scotland.

She’s worked as an administrative officer. She’s been a sales auditor at our local wholesale supermarket and she moved up to Assistant Fresh Food Buyer. Currently she’s the Managing Director of her own company JAV Publishing House Ltd.

She published two children’s books in 2011: The Magic Cave and More Adventures in the Magic Cave.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was about 8 years old. I would write short stories and my dad would send them to the Junior Express.

What’s the hardest part about writing for you?

The hardest part is actually getting through the beginning in a properly structured way because I am so anxious to get to the story. Once that part is over, the rest just flows.

What do you love the most about writing?

What I love most about writing is the ability to dream and to be creative. You can write about almost anything, the supernatural, historical times, mythology and fantasy. You can also make up your own characters and worlds.

What book would you recommend to just about anyone?

I read so much that this is a hard one. For children I would definitely recommend the Harry Potter series. I think these books marked a definite point in reading history. Before HP, there was Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys etc and kids were getting bored of these. HP provided them with a whole different avenue for their imagination and encouraged them, and some adults, to start reading again.

One book that I would recommend for adults is a book called A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It is a huge book with over 1400 pages but well worth the read. This is a synopsis of the book, Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find -- through love or through exacting maternal appraisal -- a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence.”

You’re a writer from Trinidad who’s managed to get published.  This is not easy for Caribbean writers. What do you think has helped you achieve this?

Actually I consider myself a self-published writer because of the fact that the books were published by my publishing house. I have been lucky in that our textbooks have been somewhat successful and so this money could have been used to publish our fiction works. It is our hope at JAV Publishing House that as we continue to grow we could look into publishing other authors.

What advice would you give a writer in Trinidad who wants to get published?

Most, if not all, of the publishing houses in Trinidad, produce work mainly for the textbook / school market as this is the more lucrative market. It is very, very hard for a writer to find a publisher here for works of fiction. Many publishers will only take a chance with a writer who is already established. My advice for up and coming writers is to not limit yourself by looking for a traditional publisher. Many successful writers internationally started off as self-published writers. There are many forums out there for self-publishing. You can publish on Kindle and Create Space, two Amazon platforms, for free. There is also Smashwords which is where Amanda Hocking made millions before a traditional publishing house bought the rights to her books.  If you are going this route however be aware that you will have to do all the marketing and publicity yourself which means you have to get in the public eye. It would be advisable to have a presence on FB, Twitter and other social networks. Also try to network with persons who can give you publicity like NALIS* and the media.

You mentioned that publishers here usually publish textbooks because they are more lucrative. Do you have any insight as to why this is so? Why aren't books by local authors a lucrative investment?

The textbook market is more lucrative because schools can buy thousands of copies of a particular book every year from a publisher. The publisher makes more profit from textbooks than from fiction writing because it is dependent on the public to buy them. A lot of marketing has to be done by the publisher to sell fiction and it may not be cost effective.

Your books are in the fantasy genre.  What drew you to this? Is it the genre you prefer? Do you like other genres?

During my creative writing tutoring sessions, I realized that the kids were hardly reading and so I tried to produce something that would draw them to the books. When I was young, I enjoyed Enid Blyton and this was the inspiration for The Magic Cave and More Adventures In The Magic Cave. I can’t say it’s the genre that I prefer, but I do enjoy it because it allows you to use your imagination and become very creative. I would like to do something for Young Adults but that may also be in the supernatural area and also something historical and more literary.

Some writers need to create some atmosphere before they write e.g. sit in an air conditioned room, writing long hand, disconnect the Internet etc Do you have a writing ritual?

I don’t think I have a routine, but I write when inspiration comes. If I could, I like writing in early mornings from about 5 am. I don’t write long hand but directly on the computer, but I always have a notebook handy to jot down ideas.

Do you have any other books in development? What are you planning to do next?

I am working on the third installment in The Magic Cave series.

At Crossroads of the Imagination, we talk about what inspires us. What authors inspire you (and maybe make you feel a little jealous because you are awed by their talent?)

I know many writers would say this but JK Rowling is a real inspiration for me. Her life story of where she came from and how she got to where she is really helps me to keep pressing on. Another author I admire is Amanda Hocking because she is a successful self-published author so I know it can be done.

Find out more about Aarti’s books at her company’s website: and on their Facebook page JAV Publishing.

(Hope you all liked my first author interview. I hope to do more of local authors. Don't forget to post below and let me know what you think, and if you have suggestions of people I should talk to, I'd love to hear them as well !)

*The National Library and Information System Authority