Monday, 30 March 2009

Interview with AIM magazine

Got an interview on http://www.asiansinmedia.org/. Fantastic front page spread .Interview: Leela Soma, Scottish author and writerMonday, March 30, 2009
Leela Soma published her first book, Twice Born this year, after winning a local literary prize to finish the book. She tells AIM magazine how she got into writing and on the Scottish-Indian cultural scene.
What inspired you to get into writing your debut novel? Was the process difficult?
I had always written stories when I was young and some short poems for family events. I joined the Strathkelvin Writers Group in 2006 and won a few competitions there. In 2007 I won the Margaret Thomson Trophy for the first 10,000 words of this novel. The adjudicator Scottish Writer, Robin Lloyd -Jones’s advice was to make sure I completed the novel as it had a very good story line.Winning the Trophy gave me a boost and I worked hard to finish it.
The process was not easy as some bits flowed easily and others not quite as much. One character Aunty BB took over and grew bigger than I meant to but I had to restrict her scenes and work to the plot. The main thing was to keep the momentum going and have the stamina to finish writing the original 100,000 words then edit it down to 80,000.Continue reading…

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Poetry Festival & Radio Interview



Fantastic day on the 19th March at St.Andrews.The sunny day was the perfect start to the poetry festival.My friend and I enjoyed a lecture on Lord Byron followed by a Pie, Pint and Poetry cabaret by Jim.C. Wilson. Our short visit concluded with two great lectures on Douglas Livingstone and Robert Frost. A super day enhanced by meeting friends from Glasgow who had made the trip too.The only little hitch was when I could not get my camera to work so only one photo of the event.
Friday 20th was eventful. An interview for my novel 'Twice Born' on Radio Awaz. It was pre-recorded and will be broadcast in April.
The rest of the time was spent with family visitors. It is such a pleasure to look at the wonderful sights of Scotland. We managed to tour around Glasgow,Edinburgh and Loch Lomond especially as the weather has been fair to middling.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Poetry

My Writers Club had our annual poetry competition adjudicated last evening. I had not put in an entry, so it was good just to listen to other people's work and the comments from the adjudicator.She had brought her own poetry pamphlets for us to see and quoted from 'Ode Less Travelled' by Stephen Fry, a great book that is a must for aspiring poets. This is so timeous, as I'm off to the Stanza poetry Festival at St. Andrews tomorrow and will hear wonderful poets and lectures on Lord Byron and other great poets. The Lit scene is so rich here. Aren't we lucky to live in these times when words on a page can transport us away from the credit crunch and other real problems?

Here is a sentimental poem of mine, a shortened version :
Glasgow
Glasgow my adopted city,
Rainy, boggy, soggy.
The dear green place, minty
Sweet, the pubs make me groggy.


Glasgow my city, my home
Rained on, freshened, moist blue.
Victorian blonde sandstone, shiny new
Welcomes all with warmth so true.


Sorry to inflict my poem on you but I love the simple emotion that my city evokes in me.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Double whammy

Just what every new writer dreams of ! The book that you worked so hard on, at the window of a bookshop vying for attention with all other authors.
Look carefully, it is on the shelf next to the one with a very famous Edinburgh author A.McCall Smith!My local Bookshop is a wonderful focal point of the community and I feel so good that they have placed my novel 'Twice Born' prominently in their window.

Fantastic start to the week.
It is so thrilling to see the support from my local bookshop. The shop is a lovely, busy part of the community.The Cafe is well used and the Children's section is a wonderful addition to the shop a colourful, warm welcoming place for the young.


Leela's Inspiration
Leela Soma from Milngavie has just published her debut
novel called "Twice Born" which you can buy in Milngavie
Bookshop.
Leela told Community Soup, "As far as I am aware there are
no novels by a Glasgow based Indo-Scot writer, so I hope
this will inspire other Asians to get into the mainstream
literature of Scotland and make a contribution to it."

Another lovely surprise- the local freebie paper 'Milngavie Community Soup' has mentioned my novel ' Twice Born' in their March edition. I feel really pleased that the community rallies around local writers.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

My other hat


Here Iam plugging my book with my Indian friends. They are such a supportive group who listened to my reading and agreed that they could identify with much in the extract that I read. We reminisced about life in Glasgow in the 1970's and had a good time remembering our youthful daysThat famous saying 'you can take a girl out of Glasgow but can't take Glasgow out of the girl' came to mind. Our roots and heritage are so strong. They help shape who we are. In these days of the credit crunch, another topic that we did discuss all of us have a tendency to look for comfort in familiar things.


Glorious sunshine this morning. What a difference the rays of gold make to our day. Long may it last. I might even venture out for a long walk.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Glasgow's Buzzin

The city is buzzing with 'Aye Write' book festival and now the exciting talk of setting up our own Scottish Writers Centre. Fantastic commitment and interest from dedicated writers and aspiring ones like me. Down South soneone came with the idea of an art gallery in an empty shop , maybe we could have our Writers Centre in one(well, my suggestion anyway).




From a friend Allan who learnt from the Oatcake appreciation Society : ' I have now found a theory on the oatcake site that oatcakes were introduced by soldiers returning from India. The idea is that they were impressed by ther flat breads(chapattis) they came across, but that the ingredients for some reason didn't lend themselves to the British climate, so they changed the recipe, It was also found to be useful for miners to roll up and take in their pockets. Sounds similar to the development of the cornish pastie arounf the needs of the tin miners.'



Wow! Wish this the 'Year of the Homecoming' Scotland had highlighted a lot more of the connection between India and Scotland in all kinds of ways.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

CCA

Good night at the CCA. A.L.Kennedy, the writer did a stand up comedy routine that was good.

Received another positive feedback email from a reader:

I bought your book at the Sudden Fame event on Sunday, persuaded by the extract you read from it, and must say I'm thoroughly gripped, which is the mark of a good story. It's very interesting to see Britain in general through other eyes, but I can identify too with the shock of coming to the west of Scotland after London - I still haven't adjusted! A really fine achievement. Ann

I have started adding a feedback form in my book so that readers could email me their comments.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Met a writerly lot at Tattie Mac's for lunch.Enjoyable as one friend remarked that she had read my book straightaway as she could not put it down. More comments and feedback from March 5th launch.See the feeback form from David. (My Bolding)

Author Visit Feedback Form
(Please leave on the library counter)

Name of author: Leela Soma, Thursday 5th March, Milngavie Library.

In order for us to ensure that our programme of author visits meets your requirements, it would help us if you could take some time to fill in this feedback form.
Please delete as applicable.

Are you a member of the library?
Member 67%
Not a member 33%
Not answered 0

How would you describe the presentation by the author?
Very good 83%
Good 17%
Adequate 0
Poor 0
Very Poor 0

Would you describe the event as enjoyable?
Yes 100%
No. 0

If no, why not?


Have you read any books by this author prior to this event?
Yes 22%
No 78%

Will you read books by this author in future?
Yes 100%
No 0
Audiobook required. 0

Would you like East Dunbartonshire Libraries to organise more author visits?
Yes 94%
No. 0
Maybe 6%

If yes, what kind of books are you interested in?
Children’s books
Any
Crime and other novels
A vast varied selection
Biography
Memoirs
Novels - fiction
Poetry
Autobiographies
Varies taste
Current affairs

If no, why not?


When would be the most convenient time for you to attend an event of this kind?
Morning 5.5%
Afternoon 61%
Evening 33%
Any time. 0.5%


Other Comments

Very enjoyable.
This was my first time in this library and at an author’s speaking event, but will not be my last.
Leela Soma brings a new kind of reality into our lives.
A most enjoyable launch
Any chance of e-mailing info of future events? (e-mail address attached).
Excellent – will definitely read this author in future.
Well-presented and enjoyable
Interesting and enjoyable

Thank you for completing this feedback form






My local bookshop has been so supportive, they have a table at the front door displaying Scottish fiction, and have put mine for display.They had one copy only and it sold out the next day.Iam thrilled with the positive reception for my debut novel.



I have also been trying Allan Mayer's tips on marketing. He and Wally have been a great support and encourage me with their emails.



The sun is shining too what more could one ask for?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Aye Write


How do you convince someone to buy your novel in three minutes? Well I had a three minute slot at the Feds event at 'Aye Write' last evening and I'm pleased to say that all copies of my novel 'Twice Born' there were sold. Reading with passion is so imperative, making the characters alive so the audience could visualise the scene was important. A wonderful learning experience again.

The performance poets were fantastic, the Book Festival buzz was all around. Moir Hall looked magnificent.The compere VIV GEE lit up the evening with her humour.It was great to meet a pupil I had taught many years ago turning up to support me.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Feedback


More positive comments from readers. I quote :

'What a SPECTACULAR day.Such a pleasure to hear Leela reading from her novel TWICE BORN. As always with Leela, one's senses are immediately wrapped in fabulous colour, glorious fragrance.I started to read it on the way home and was immediately captivated-a young girl questioning beliefs... awaiting herfuture...and that's just the opening- Monica P

I also met a lady from my city of birth Madrsa India and we had been to the same school.She is probably lots younger than me but a wonderful connection has happened because of my novel!

'I never expected to come half across the world to Glasgow and find living right next door to me,someone who iwrites about the place of my birth and childhood! I was so glad to meet with a kindred soul - well, the Chennai-Glasgow link is strong in both of us, and to top it, you studied in GSC as well. I have not yet started on the book, but it certainly beckons and looks really interesting. - Odette K


Another recurring question that is encouraging me is the 'What about the next novel?'


'Hope your book is doing well. I have been meaning to e-mail you to let you know that I really enjoyed it and have mentioned it to friends. I liked the character, Sita, and you kept my interest as I wanted to know where the story was going for her and wanted her to have the chance to really be herself and be truly happy. I also enjoyed the political scenarios, as I was then able to place what I was doing at that time, to the characters. Your descriptions of the Glasgow areas were spot on and I enjoyed knowing the places described.

Well done and hope things are going well. Are you working on another book? '
Lynn S

Friday, 6 March 2009

World Book Day

When did you start writing? Do you have a routine everyday? Is this an autobiography? Some questions that I had asked authors at book readings were thrown at me today.Here is a photo of me signing the last few copies. The feedback from the people was fantastic. Milngavie bookshop has now got my book displayed prominently on a table of Scottish Literature,right at the door for the HomeComing Year.How appropriate.The launch was a success. There were over thirty people on a snowy March afternoon. After the reading, I was thrilled to be asked when the next novel would be out.The library staff had laid out not just tea, coffee but tasty home baking even hot sausage rolls. It was a wonderful, warm and friendly event. Most importantly all the copies were sold and orders are in my hand for more. Waiting for more photos, without the glasses!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Agent

An agent I had written to LAST JULY wrote to me a couple of days ago, apologising for misplacing my submission and adding that the first three chapters of my novel are 'Terrific'.She has assured me that she'll read my next novel, so here is hoping.I know I was desperate to see my book in print and only sent it to 3 publishers and 2 agents. I had no patience to wait till the twelveth or twentieth rejection. Maybe I would not have taken up YWO's offer if she had replied to me earlier.But everything happens for a reason. On a positive note I'm learning so much about the marketing and promotion of my novel.Here's to good sales of the first and the next novel.

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