Nitasha Thomson is a proud lady as she touches and feels her dream come to life. Her first book, Pavlova and Pappadums – a collection of eight short stories’ is set to adorn the book shelves this month. The author’s patience and perseverance has finally come to fruition.
Indus Age reached out to the ever smiling Indian-Australian writer where she gets candid about the idea behind the name of her book, the inspiration, the challenges, and more. Excerpts:
By Nidhi Kumari
What was the inspiration behind your book, ‘Pavlova and Pappadums – a collection of eight short stories’?
It was my late father who encouraged and inspired me to write about my life and experiences as an immigrant in Australia and now, after living here for more than thirty years, my dream is about to become a reality. It is my great regret that he is not here to see it but I know his blessings will always be with me. I have dedicated the book to his memory.
How did you come up with the name of your book, ‘Pavlova and Pappadums’?
The truth is that it simply “popped into my head” several years ago and long before I had decided what I was going to write! It is a catchy title that makes it easy for the reader to identify the two cultures on which the stories are based and also pays tribute to the many descriptions of food and cooking that appear in the narrative. It is of course not a cook book!
The protagonist in each story of your book is a ‘woman’. Enlighten us more about it.
The stories are written from the perspective of a female mainly due to the fact that they are based on my own feelings, ideas and reflections about what life is like for Indian immigrants in Australia. Some of the experiences described in the book are my own while others are purely fictional. It is important for me to stress that I do not presume to speak for all Indian Australians as everybody’s life is different.
Were there any challenges when you were writing the book?
Yes, the main one was finding the discipline and inspiration to keep writing when life intervened and writers block threatened! It was also hard to come up with new ideas, plots and characters for each story and at times I almost gave up. Being a member of a group of dedicated writers, the Half Written Book Club of Woy Woy and having a mentor to review my work helped me to stay on track and bring my dream to fruition though it took almost four years to do it!
Writing requires immense patience and perseverance. Your comments on that.
As I said earlier, it helps a lot to be part of a group of writers all of whom have a common goal, i.e. to get published! You also need to believe in your ability as a writer and have enough richness of life experience and ideas to use in your writing. I don’t think I could have written this book when I was younger that’s for sure! Having a daily routine of sitting down and writing is also important of course.
Any writer/writers in particular you enjoy reading?
As a girl growing up in India I devoured books by Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and the wonderfully funny British writer P. G. Wodehouse!
As an adult, I enjoy medical thrillers by authors such as Tess Gerritsen (my favourite) and Robin Cook and also the dramatic novels of Sydney Sheldon. I have enjoyed autobiographies such as Lucky Man: A Memoir by Hollywood actor Michael J Fox and Never Say Die by the brilliant Australian surgeon Chris O Brien.
One section of the book you enjoyed writing the most.
I enjoyed writing the Preface to the book a lot as it gave me the opportunity to explain why I wrote it and also helped put my work into context in terms of the interest in all things Indian that we find in Australia these days!
Your advice to people who’ve been planning to write a book but tend to procrastinate.
All I can say is don’t give up on your dream and try and write something every day if you can. You can keep a notebook for jotting down ideas and thoughts, this can be a very useful resource once you start writing the book. Also, and I know this is a cliché, but you should write about what you know and feel passionately about if possible. That will make your writing more honest and authentic.
A piece of advice to aspiring writers.
Find a writers group if you can and keep going, even if it takes a while to get there. From my own experience, I can tell you that there is nothing more satisfying than getting a positive response from a Publisher who is keen to publish your work. That for me is priceless and no amount of money can buy that feeling. When that day comes for you, you will know that all the hard work, frustration and tears have been worth it!!
Pavlova and Pappadums,’ tells a tale of the Indian Australian migrants’ experience through the eyes of a woman but many of the Non-Resident Indians and Indians settled all over the world will relate to it. How do you intend to reach to more and more people?
After releasing the book in Australia in early August 2016, my publisher Brolga Publishing will distribute the book through their agents in the UK and USA and also convert it into an e book. I have also requested them to try and get it released in India and they will attempt to do this when they attend the annual International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany in October 2016 where publishers from all around the world gather to trade their titles.
Ultimately, it is my fervent hope that my book will touch people’s hearts and be well received.