My journey in the writing world started a little later compared to many others in the industry. I tasted the flavor of success in the corporate world, enjoyed the bliss of married life before stepping into the world of literature quitting my job. Today I am presenting such an inspirational author and her journey whose intro in the writing world matches with me to a great extent, although not completely. She is a talented mother, daughter, wife, and Oh! Yes, also a wonderful author. Here I present Author Poonam Chawla a brilliant author and a very cheerful and charming lady I came across.
Welcome to the platform of Indiacafe24, and we are glad to have you with us, Poonam Ji. I will insist you introduce yourself to my readers.
My name is Poonam A Chawla. The A in my middle initial is for Arora – my maiden name. My father was an etymologist, a lexicographer, and a student of Vedanta. My mom was a beautiful human being. I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. I moved to the United States in 1982 with a degree in Psychology and literature and some copywriting experience with an ad agency.
I live in NJ where I worked for several years in corporate communications ( and acquired a degree in cultural studies) before I quit my job to focus on my writing. I have two marvelous sons and one spouse.
Well, I came to know that right from the day you picked the pen, you wished to become a writer. Will you please share that realization moment with my readers?
My dad spent 18 hours a day with his research and seemed completely oblivious to the environment outside his thoughts. I grew up in a large, noisy family. I was introverted and sensitive. When the external world became too much – I retreated to a corner. Watching my dad write, made me realize, it was a great escape. I don’t remember the exact moment. Perhaps it was an accumulation of moments.
You remained a USA resident for quite a long time although born and brought up in Mumbai…. So how different is life in the USA from India.
You are a brown person in a mostly white world. Your new world is without the foundation of the family and the walls of friendship, and the roof of known community. So you rebuild. Externally speaking, it’s a cleaner, less populated, more organized world. I have never had to bribe a city official and have easy access to parks, libraries, and other amenities.
The divisions and conflicts are mostly racial – class differences seem minimal. You are expected to bag your own groceries, wheel your own bags, do your own cleaning and cooking. There is no ‘servant’ class.
What is that incident which inspired you about Indian Heritage and impacted your writing journey in women and relationship fiction?
There was no one incident. Every day the mind receives impressions. They shape themselves into our lives and invite expression. I was lonesome. I made friends in an indirect way, since I had no Indian neighbors – through Indian associations and ashrams and temples, etc. I observed their struggles and my own and felt the urge to document them.
Your recent release is The Slow Disappearing. So, can you give us a brief about this book?
The Slow disappearing is as its name suggests – about loss, abandonment, and withdrawal. The word Slow carries as much weight as Disappearing. Because even if loss happens at once, it is felt slowly, and deeply like an open wound.
The book straddles three countries and moves seamlessly between past and present – one sister lives in the USA with her husband and mother-in-law (in the throes of dementia) the other in India. A son moves to Kuwait, briefly.
Loss – of country, loss of relationships, and loss of memory – is the theme.
The book is written from four points of view and therefore I hesitate to point to one protagonist.
Many say you have a poetic heart? So, what type of poetry do you love to read and write?
The poetry of Tagore, T.S. Eliot, Yeats, Frost, Baudelaire, and Poe.
I write about inmost feelings.
Imagine you are the reader of your book, then what you find as a reader, the most interesting element of your own story.
Lyrical language. Empathy with each character so that one forgets this book is written by one person, not four. Ordinary stories are expressed in a unique fashion.
Who are your favorite authors, and why?
Alan Paton. John Steinbeck. Henry James. Tagore. Rohinton Mistry. Leila Abouleila.
Each of these authors has the ability to make you lose yourself in the story, relish the art and craft of their work and learn a little more about the world and about yourself in the process.
There are three books penned by you Mumbai Mornings, The Shenanigans of Time, and now, the latest one, The Slow Disappearing. So, which among the 3 is your favorite.
Each one is my favorite for different reasons:
The Shenanigans of Time was my first baby. Hence my favorite.
Mumbai Mornings was written to honor the memory of my mother – hence my favorite.
The Slow Disappearing was very cathartic, written at a time of personal distress – hence, also a favorite.
If I ask you to say 3 things, which you want to change in you if the opportunity is given, what will be that.
I would like to be less reactive. More worldly-wise. And kinder.
The opportunities have always been there – not the skills ☹
I believe family support is very important for our growth and progression, both for men and women. So, in your case, how you got your family support?
I was lucky enough to have an extended family of uncles, aunts, and cousins, who filled my life with books, emotional, and even financial support. My mother loved me unconditionally and my children tend to think I can do no wrong whatever I may do. My husband is a rock – a stabilizing influence who encourages my writing, enjoys my cooking, and overlooks my minor failings. This makes me forgive myself more readily and face life’s tribulations knowing someone has my back.
What are your other passions in life?
I love nature and travel as extensively as I can. I love music – classical, Bollywood and jazz.
What is next in the pipeline in books, and of what genre?
I have written another relationships fiction skewed towards gender bias and abuse.
Traditional or self-publishing which one is better and why?
If you can afford to market yourself and are disciplined in setting the time to market yourself, there is no longer any difference. If you are looking for honor, accolades, acceptance by critics then traditional publishing is the way to go.
Whom you love the most… Author Poonam, Mother Poonam, Or Homemaker Poonam and why?
Who do I love more – the heart or the soul?
I was also a daughter and a sister, a niece, and a friend before I assumed the above-mentioned roles. Those are the roles that shaped who I eventually became. I love who I am – a flawed child of God.