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Drunk on Ink Q & A with Anju Gattani and ‘Duty and Desire’, a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Fiction author, freelance journalist, fiction writing instructor, blogger and former newspaper reporter, Anju Gattani was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. She has also lived and been published in Singapore, India, Australia, New Jersey and Connecticut in cover stories, fiction, feature, news, interviews, travel, perspective pieces and more. She finally dug her roots in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with her husband, 2 dashing boys and a rebel lion-head rabbit. ‘Duty and Desire’ the debut in her Winds of Fire series, was a June 2, 2020 release. Anju hopes her books will Bridge Cultures and Break Barriers. Website: Facebook: Anju Gattani Author Twitter: @Anju_Gattani Instagram: Anju_Gattani27

About Duty and Desire

To uphold family honor and tradition, Sheetal Prasad is forced to forsake the man she loves and marry playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj. As her world splinters into a web of lies, deceit and betrayal, Sheetal must find a way to ally with the stranger she married in order to protect their infant son from his family’s tyranny.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

ANJU GATTANI: My first book crush was ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson. I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time and was petrified of the dark. However, the title piqued my curiosity because owls are night animals and I figured it might be a fun read! I finished the book and lo and behold! I was no longer afraid of the dark! I couldn’t believe the power of story and its ability to fade away my fears. My second crush shortly after was ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl. I was heartbroken for Charlie Bucket. I desperately wanted Charlie to win the golden ticket. I also remember wanting to eat buckets of chocolate and drown myself in chocolate during the read and it hit me again—the power of words to arouse our senses. The author was able to whisk me off to a land of chocolate delight and make me feel emotions for a character that didn’t exist! As a teenager, master storytellers, Sidney Sheldon and Virginia Andrews opened my eyes to the power of creating living, breathing characters, taking readers across continents and travelling the mind to deep, dark places where secrets, mental disorders and hidden children (Flowers In The Attic series) lurk.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

I’m a coffee drinker but to unwind lemon tea is my passion—not because I live in Georgia where iced tea is a southern thing. Lemon tea is a Hong Kong thing, and the drink always hits my unwind and rewind buttons.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini has the power to change perceptions, an understanding and interpretation of the world as we see it and the ability to spark hundreds of conversations. The international runaway bestseller is a story of redemption and follows Amir from a tender elementary school age to adulthood but is a reminder that we are human, prone to making mistakes and have the ability to atone for our past… it’s never too late. The Kite Runner left me with a deep impression that these sort of books should be mandatory reading at higher levels in schools because of the gripping story, numerous symbols and metaphors that change with the story and characters everyone can relate to.

Favorite quote from your book J

From Duty and Desire:

A vortex of heat spiraled up Sheetal’s gut. She screamed as flames danced on her hand, leaping to the hathphools, mehndi, and gold bangles.

This couldn’t be happening. But it was real. She was burning. She was on fire. She was fire.


Favorite book to film? And why?

The Kite Runner (watch trailer)– the film makers stuck to the Afghani language and core of story and it’s one of the best book to movie adaptations I’ve seen.  Charlie and The Chocolate Factory watch trailer)– the 1971 Gene Wilder release ‘Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’ – I was still dreaming of chocolate!!

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Johns Creek Books and Gifts, GA.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

The perseverance and determination required to solve problems in story, revisions, rewrites and more. Then there’s the business side of finding the right agent, publisher, marketing… it’s like living a whole other life parallel to your own real life. And when you’re writing fiction, you sometimes wonder which life is fiction and which one real?? My greatest prize is finding my tribe!

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

The more you know, the more you grow and the more to figure out. I’ve been developing the Winds of Fire series for 20 years now so applying changes to 1 book has often meant a chain reaction in the series. I’d love to say it gets easier, but the truth is the writing part does to some extent because you learn some along the way. As you deal with more complex stories and points of views, the writing does get harder but you continually want the next book to be better than the one before.

Marketing, however, is a whole other ballgame. Anyone want to play?

Dog, Cat, Or?

So we have a pet lionhead bunny, Maurice aka MoMo, and he thinks he’s a dog or one of us or something like that. I’m a dog person at heart and love all furry creatures great and small (hamsters and guinea pigs included). I love watching animal documentaries and David Attenborough is my all-time favorite!!

Ideal vacation?

Cancun! Or Safaris or places full of adventure!

Favorite Book Cover?

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. I’m from Jaipur and that book cover just blew me away!

Favorite song?

‘Faded‘ and ‘Time’ by Alan Walker (a Norwegian EDM artist whose music and songs will just blow your mind)

Hear Me Now’ by Alok

‘All Or Nothing’ by Lost Frequencies

Do you have a favorite film, or two, or three?

Gully Boy

Bajirao Mastani


Bahuballi (Pt 1 & 2)

The Crown (TV series)

Downton Abbey (TV series)

Last impulse book buy and why?

‘All The Lovely Pieces’ by J. M. Winchester – friend’s recommendation and I can’t put down the book!! It’s a gripping psychological thriller and I can’t turn the pages fast enough!

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Anju Gattani: Duty and Desire, a novel

Christopher Swann: Never Turn Back, a novel

Zetta Elliott: A Place Inside of Me, middle grade fiction

Veena Rao: Purple Lotus, a novel

Tara Coyt: Real Talk About LGBTQIAP, non fiction

Maureen Joyce Connelly: Little Lovely Things, a novel

Molly Greeley: The Heiress, historical fiction novel

Donna Miscolta: Living Color, short stories

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel


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