Page 28 of 29

Review: Disappear (By Iain Edward Henn)

DisappearSource: Goodreads
Source: Goodreads

Length: 322 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A good read. The large number of characters can get a bit confusing, but all in all, a good read. I found the entire concept intriguing and the book maintains the suspense very well. All in all, a good read for anyone who likes suspense, crime and thrillers.

– Rishika

Review: Accidental Meeting (By Susette Williams)

Accidental MeetingSource: Goodreads
Accidental Meeting
Source: Goodreads

Length: 79 pages

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

A quick read, but nothing spectacular. Characters are really likeable though and you can enjoy it if you’re looking for something short and cute. Could do with less abrupt jumps in the story line and a heroine who doesn’t cry so much, given how strong she’s portrayed as.

– Rishika

Review: A Spy for Christmas (By Kristen James)

A Spy for ChristmasSource: Goodreads
A Spy for Christmas
Source: Goodreads

The novella alternates between being really cute, funny and sweet and completely lost and confused. There’s too much background that’s not really explained and could do with more detail. It’s difficult to feel for the characters if you don’t know where they’re coming from. The story line was good, but could have been written in a better way.

– Rishika

…because I love reading!

I love reading – always have, always will. I’ve always been one of those who gets mad as hell if interrupted when reading something interesting. But then, I think most readers are like that!

Some of that characteristic trickled into my writing too. Of course, it makes more sense there since you actually have to be ‘in the flow’ when writing. But this is about my reading habits so let’s not digress.

After reading hundreds of books and recommending them to a gazillion people, I finally thought ‘why not write what I thought about it?’ Ii had to beat repeating the same thing to ten different people. Plus, I get to say what I want, people who want to know whether they will like the book can get some help and I’ll have fun!

And that is how the idea of including book reviews on my blog came about!

The world as your inspiration

The term ‘Inspiration’ has a lot of impact on the life of people who rely on their creativity to make a living – an author is just one subsection of the people who fall into this category. The reason that inspiration has such an impact is fairly simple. We need to create worlds with people and settings, chaos and peace, negatives and positives, love and hate, anger and laughter and life and death. But how does someone who’s never experienced love write about the emotion that drives their central character? How do you write about a man who is the living embodiment of sex appeal and righteousness if you don’t know anyone who has those qualities? How do you decide the warmth exuding features of your heroine if you don’t know anyone whose eyes sparkle like hers should? And how do you create a man so vile that a snake’s skin would crawl at the mere mention of his name if there is no one who instigates that fear in you?

That’s where inspiration comes in. You don’t need to know someone who has all the qualities of your protagonist or antagonist. Just one iota of similarity is often enough, and you can build an entire persona around that one characteristic. The same works with settings. All you need sometimes is a simple image of an ocean and you can create a world that is set around that very beachfront. Those scattered images help you create the world that your characters live in and the characters themselves. Those scattered images are the inspiration you need. So where do these images come from?


I find my inspiration in places that others label as peculiar. The antagonist of a movie has a steely resolve that I can associate with my story’s protagonist, with some morals replacing the thirst for destruction of course! A fleeting expression of seriousness on a friend’s face becomes the look my protagonist portrays if he’s had a life that’s filled with hardships. The silent support I receive from a close friend becomes the inspiration for the defining characteristic of my supporting character.

Initially, you may have to look for these inspirations – these scattered images that define traits of your story and its people. But a time will come when the inspiration seeks you out. Where others see only a villain, you will see the circumstances that made him the villain, circumstances that you can alter to make them the past life of your hero. Where others see a delicate woman, you will see the beginning of a journey where situations instigate the weakness to turn into strength. And where others see a silent listener, a shoulder to cry on, you will see the makings of an unmoving friend who stands by your main characters through their thick and thin.

And when the inspiration screams and reaches out to you, for you to see what the others don’t, all you need to do is go with the flow. So sit back and look around and you’ll be finding inspiration in areas that would’ve otherwise been left unseen. Just make sure that you’re carrying a little notebook that can house all the ideas that come hurtling your way, because they can surely overwhelm you if you’re unprepared.

All the fuss that is character development!

Every writer, whether published or not, has heard of the concept of character development until his ears are willing to fall off. Yes, your story has some protagonist. Yes, he looks a certain way. Yes, he’s supposed to behave a certain way. So why make all that fuss about something that’s so obvious?

The fuss stems from the very often seen lack of depth in character development. The characters of your book, like the real people in your life, live in a world that cannot be looked at in black and white. They all live in a world coloured with various shades of grey. Like reality, their reactions to situations, their manner of speaking and every little aspect of their behaviour is a result of the circumstances around them and more importantly, the circumstances they’ve come from. It’s not necessary that your readers know their entire background story; it’s necessary that you know their entire background story. Your readers can piece together the background story from little references that crop up occasionally and the character’s reactions and behaviour. I read an interview by Gabe Robinson recently (he used to be an editor with HarperCollins and runs his own editorial services now so he probably knows what he’s talking about). He said that authors tend to spend a whole lot of words and pages on giving a narrative description of one of their characters upon entry of said character. If you write a book and, in it, tell me that your protagonist is tall with blue eyes, black hair and an amazing build, I’ll believe you. You go ahead to tell me he’s an insanely calm person until you say something not-so-nice about his wife or family, I’ll believe that too. If you go further to explain his entire back story and more or less, all the major incidents in his life that made him the way he is, I’ll believe you again. But the point is I’m not necessarily going to enjoy reading it. Robinson says that sometimes, a brief initial description coupled with instances that come up as the story progresses where the character reacts in certain ways paints a better character picture than an all out description.

I could go on and on about how characters can be depicted. In the end, you will have your preferred method; what matters is that the character stays the way he or she is. Some story lines require that characters change, but if the change itself is out of character, the story is going to falter. Sure there’s an instigating factor that causes a change – but that change cannot be one that is dramatically different form everything the character is.

Ensuring that your characters react like anyone would in reality is easy – bring your characters to life, at least in your mind. When I wrote my first manuscript, I was practically living with my characters. I spoke of them as if they were real people (it confused the heck out of people who overheard my conversations – I was talking about murderers after all), but my friends were supportive and listened patiently, often offering advice if a reaction seemed out of character. Make their world real, make their pain real, make their appearances real – and you’ll think they’re real. Without you believing in their existence, your readers won’t. Your readers feel what you make them feel. So feel your character’s pain and anger and you’ll be able to pen it down so vividly that your reader feels like he’s known them all his life.

You can write about your character’s stories or let the reader find it out for himself as the story progresses and he can piece together pieces of the character’s life that he picks up through the progression. But technicalities aside, you need to think of your characters as living and breathing human beings. Daniel Davis (author of Wind River) recently mentioned why he loved Stephen King – because the man could portray characters so aptly that you see them reacting in a way you would have and then some. That is what most authors aim for and some attain.

You can read all you want about making your characters real, but the question remains – how does one do that? My method is simple, and I think it’s one that a lot of authors consciously or unconsciously use. My characters are based on the people I know – some eye colour here, some hair colour there, some temper issues here and some agony aunt behaviour there. I don’t mean I know people who are murderers and private detectives with a hidden agenda that borders on vigilante, I mean I know someone with eyes and a temper that suit my protagonist. Little bits of character thrown in, some from people I know, others from my imagination, and I get a believable character that I can associate with easily because of that element of reality.

Let me end this post on character development (another among so many by almost every writer) by saying just this – your characters make your story. If you create live characters that you can believe in, your readers will believe in them too; and if your readers believe in your characters, they’ll believe in the story that marks their endeavours, failures and triumphs.

Star of the night

In the dark sky of the night,

With no moon to light,

A lone star shines down,

At the many tales to look upon.


She listens to the lone wolf,

As it howls into the dark,

Calling for its mate, a cry from the heart.


She listens to the birds,

As they flutter in the tree,

Waiting for the dawn, for when they may fly free.


She looks at the gypsy,

As she sits warm by the fire,

Longing in her eyes, as her heart waits for its other.


She looks at the star gazer,

As he looks up, deep in thought,

Trying to make sense, that of which he knows nought.


She looks at the unsleeping lover,

As she restlessly tosses and turns,

Waiting for the nights to pass, for when her love returns.


She looks down at the world,

As, in dream, its people smile and frown,

She looks down at the waking world,

As the darkness starts to fade,

She looks down, her shine less visible,

As night turns to day.


She looks down as she waits,

For the day to give way to a dark night,

For her time to once again shine bright.