1. Please briefly describe the book.
The underlying theme of the book is to enjoy living each and every moment in life while keeping one’s sense of humor. The book has me a first-generation immigrant resident of the United States living an ordinary suburban life with my family. In my daily life, I come across various characters with their idiosyncrasies. The book is about how I embrace each of these characters. The dominant framework is my school’s WhatsApp group where my classmate’s unbeknownst to them have become my inspiration for sensational stories.
2. How did you come up with the idea for this book, ‘Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot’?
Page 6 And Beyond just happened! There were incredible inspirations and happenings in my unique school WhatsApp group and some one of a kind and quirky people around me that made this book a reality. You get a sense of that when you read the book.
3. What other types of research did you need to do for this book?
As a debut author, my research was primarily based on how to best bring together different pieces of my stories to give it a structure of one story in the book. I read various articles and blogs that helped. Fact checking was always an integral part. Especially since I had written about the USA 2016 election, mentioned political figures and talked about various countries norms and laws. Having conversations with people that had different viewpoints was also helpful to understand how an event or character in the book can be perceived quite differently. It was quite a learning experience.
4. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
Growing up I always adored writers. But never in my wildest dream, I thought I would become one! I discovered my writing skills a couple of years back while running/writing for a humor/gossip column Page 6 for my school WhatsApp group and I decided to give my new found skills a new dimension.
5. Have you set some schedule for writing or you just write when you feel inspired?
I definitely had a schedule. Most of my writing happened when my children were at school during the daytime and some during my happy hour when it was children’s bedtime 🙂
6. What’s the hardest part about writing?
The hardest part was also the most enjoyable part. As a fiction reader, I enjoy fast-paced books and get easily bored with non-relevant details. I wanted to reflect the same in my style of writing. It’s said, “if you don’t get them in your first sentence, you have lost them.” Hence I paid special attention to all the chapter names and opening para of each chapter. Half of my book chapters begin with a Page 6 headline designed to generate curiosity.
7. What’s the best part about writing?
Everything! Your art to express your thoughts and communicate gets better and better. You can never go wrong getting better at that skill!
8. Have you ever had a writer’s block?
Yes! Chapter 6 “The most controversial week” was the hardest and took the longest to write!
9. What’s your first thought that comes to your mind, when you started writing this book?
That I will finish this book no matter what!
10. What are the simple things in your life that makes you happy?
It’s funny that you ask! I have been meaning to start an online photo album with friends and family that will allow all to add pictures with the theme “Simple things in life that makes you happy.” The current picture to go in that album would be playing Ludo on iPad with my family.
11. What did you edit out of this book?
I had to constantly walk a thin line and make sure my humor doesn’t offend that person whose character I have used as an inspiration in the book. I sincerely tried 😬😓
12. What are you most grateful for as a writer?
The process of writing taught me to express my thoughts more clearly and concisely. It’s amazing how this simple act of writing down can help declutter your thoughts and life! I am truly grateful!
13. Are you currently working on any book?
I have few ideas penned down! Just a matter of time and a right trigger.
14. How do you manage your writing with all the humdrum of life?
The humdrum of life is truly the inspiration for my book. I think being self-disciplined and working with a target in mind helps me to manage writing very well.
15. What’s the one book that you are meaning to read for a long time? Or maybe there is a list?
16. What are your favorite genres?
17. What do you do to get the most out of your reading?
Lately, the way I read has changed. I now read from the perspective of an author than a reader. I take several notes of stuff that I like while reading and hence it takes me a long time to finish a book.
18. If I would ask you to suggest 3 books to a random stranger that might change his/her life, then what those books would be?
Considering random strangers I would suggest:
19. Any tips and suggestions for the beginners that might be helpful to them while trying to build up a good reading habit?
I would suggest beginning reading with a timer for 20 minutes every night before going to sleep. And not doze off before the timer runs out 😬
20. Your favorite Quote or Quotes?
Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, have fun with your difficulties but overcome them.
– Lucy Maud Montgomery
21. What are you currently reading?
22. Talk a little bit about yourself. What is your background? What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was first introduced to the world of books in my school library. My favorite pick to read then were stories about people from different cultures. Next were Fairy Tale books that I remember begging my school principal to take home for summer from his treasured hardbound books collection. And then came the love for mystery books. My dad introduced me to Sherlock Holmes. Mystery books remain my all-time favorite till date.
As far as my education goes, I graduated with a Biochemistry degree from India and Bioinformatics degree from the United States. But, my zest to travel and experience life kept me away from making use of any of those skills.
I currently live in Northern Virginia with my husband and two daughters who jazz up my entire day when not in school. In my present day, I work as a stay-at-home mom, a professional photographer, and lead the Page 6 column in my school’s WhatsApp group, in that order, and don’t let my book mislead you otherwise.
23. What were the Challenges you faced while writing this book?
My major challenge began when I realized that writing a humor book is an extremely difficult task. Mostly because humor is a personal thing, and what makes you laugh does not necessarily make other people laugh. To be able to express at length into a book what you speak for a few minutes to make people laugh are two different things. Keeping that in mind when I started to write, my challenge was to make humor relatable to a wide variety of readers and create a story that will bind all the anecdotes in a seamless flow.
24. Did the thought to give up writing this book ever occur to you?
No! Never! I was certain I will complete writing the book.
25. Picture this: You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
Hence I communicated constantly with my peeps at #Justreadandtellwhatyouthink to get their opinion on the piece that needed it. Although they will not have the slightest clue where exactly I am going with or without their answers but hearing myself ask a number of times the same question had led me to a solution eventually.
26. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most difficult part of my artistic process was to turn off the switch of my relentless artistic thoughts in the book world when I had to deal with other stuff in the real world!
27. How many hours a day do you write?
An average of six hours most of the days.
28. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my book was a tremendous unique learning life experience. Now, I feel motivated to experiment my humor writing in other genres with a much greater understanding of the ways the independent book publishing works.
29. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I absolutely read each and every review. I am thrilled and grateful for receiving all 4’s and 5’s rating from readers of all ages and by professional reviewers in various countries. It is very humbling and encouraging to know that my book has been found equally entertaining to the elderly as well as the teenagers. The critical reviews are equally helpful because they tell you where you can work more and grow.
30. What is your special nook at home or writing place where you prefer writing?
Now that I think of it, I wrote most of my book sitting in one corner of my red sofa in a brightly lit room or on my bed tucked under the down comforter. Occasionally in a library and at Starbucks. I usually like to work in a calm quiet place.
31. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
For my book Page 6 And Beyond, it was an average of six hours dedication of work most of the days. Of which 30-40 minutes start of the day was dedicated to getting me into the mood to write something that can make me laugh and eventually others. The series Gilmore Girls was a good Kickstarter.
32. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing the book?
Writing could be therapeutic! And I wished I had discovered my writing skills earlier!
33. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing?
Not hard at all! The thoughts and plot were circling around in my head banging hard to see the light. It was like a compulsion that made me sit down and write these stories.
34. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I would say aspiring writers are easily prone to self-criticism. To present the world their work and to be judged is a daunting proposition. I would just say, it’s not art if liked by everyone.
Page 6 And Beyond: Let’s stir the pot…
A hilarious and refreshing read.
I am always delighted to read books from a different genre. It is very rare that a precious gem lands in my hands. And I’m lucky enough to say that Hureen Gandhi’s book is that precious gem.
Publication Date: October 1st, 2018
Publisher: Notion Press
Page Count: 283 pages
Opening Sentence: First thing first, to my friends and families: please don’t get misled.
In modern day America, amidst the contentious presidential election campaign of November 2016, immigrant author Hureen Saghar Gandhi finds that humor is the only way to keep her family and her friends’ spirits high. Living a fast and furious life in Northern Virginia, surrounded by quirky characters, she decides she has no choice but to weave them into her satirical anecdotes in her book: Page 6 And Beyond. This book will have you laughing out loud as she embarks on a spy mission to bond with long-lost childhood school friends on a sensational WhatsApp column; fulfill her bucket lists; chronicle encounters with her kids, and challenges; relate her childhood escapades; relive her misadventures in the Nordic region; and supply readers with extraordinary stories of her friends living in different continents.
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