Writer Gal Letter #3

The List: TOP 9 YA Characters Who Kick Ass and Take Names (and turn me into a fangirl)

The List is a series of blog posts which explores the things I love about books, reading, men, shoes, art and pop culture in, you guessed it, list form.

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Harry Potter. Edward Cullen. Percy Jackson. All genre-bending teenage/ young adult heroes that basically made even grown women’s hearts swoon.

In the case of the pansy-ass sparkling vampire, he even spawned off a successful fan fiction franchise, which let’s face it, stars a much-hotter dude than the original ever could. That being said, I am and always will be, I heart Team Edward complete with a t-shirt and everything.

It is incidental that all three heroes sold millions of copies of books and their series are the most popular thing in the history of writing. Not literature, because FSOG does not great literature make.

But as I am always ready to go on a YA-reading binge, I have stumbled across a lot of great, talented authors who could give Stephanie Mayer a run for her money. And heroes, who I SWEAR, are such cool, much awesomer than their real-life, grownup counterparts.

You call it reading, I call this research but hey, all for a good cause in search of writing the next perfect novel.

Anyway, with this much reading (35 books in as many days) I fell in love with the genre all over again and the characters who made it so popular.

Young adult love is this AMAZING space to explore so many issues of identity: political, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. And any of these authors will guarantee you a good time, so go ahead and pick ‘em up after giving this post a read.

Here are my top nine Young Adult Heroes of all time in descending order

9. Seth Summer

Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy has star-crossed lovers Seth and Grace become werewolves at different times, pulled together by a deep, abiding love that is best captured by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Stiefvater’s prose is stunning and lyrical but it is Seth’s longing that shines through clearly with each book.

Seth is reluctant Alpha in the making, wounded by his tormented relationship with his parents and his desperate, hopeful love for Grace is a thing of absolute beauty. Read it all in one sitting to get a new twist on ancient werewolf lore.

8. Prince Ash and Shakespeare’s Robin Goodfellow

Julie Kagawa has quickly become one of my new favorite YA authors to watch out for. Her retelling of the land of faerie (one of two entries on this list) using characters from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is spot on and funny and with a heroine -Meghan Chase – who is mouthy and courageous and dependable.

She isn’t prone to hand-wringing except when pining over Winter Prince Ash, or ‘Ice-boy’ as Puck loves to call him. While there is no actual love triangle since Meghan clearly has the hots only for Ice-boy, the two characters are memorable for their hateship-friendship and of course, Ash is one hot Faerie Prince. He is also very open with his feelings once he sheds his ice-boy persona and that is such a welcome change from the contemp heroes who make you work for it!

7. Percy Jackson

Between Harry and Percy, I’d choose Percy simply because he has more character flaws and he is so very messed up with his choices (choosing to take a dip in the River Styx, picking a fight with Ares!) His choices are messed up but his courage and battle tactics more than make up for his hubris.

Plus, the demigod is loyal to a fault (Harry/Ron fighting over the Horcrux!!!) and that gives this dangerous boy-next-door pizzaz that everyone’s favorite wizard lacks.

6. Rath Roiben Riven

Roiben is one of Holly Black’s many, many creations . But by far, he is my absolute favorite, although Prince Carden from The Cruel Prince is fast catching up.

Stuck up, annoying, and proper almost to a fault, Rath Roiben more than makes up for the trouble he causes Kaye Thomas from the Tithe trilogy by giving up his rightful place as King of the Unseelie Court to be with her! (Yeah, these princes and their foreswearing…lesser mortals stand no chance, do they ladies?)

Rath Roiben Riven is not his actual name but if I give it away here, y’all might use it to make him fall in love with you and we can’t have that, can we? Read the book to find out what his real name is!

5. Carswell Thorne, Wolf, Emperor Kaito and Jacyn Clay

Marissa Meyer, the other Meyer has written a fabulous retelling of fairytales with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Winter is by far my favorite because it has all the heroes and their storylines merging together to form a great finale. Not a disappointment at ALL!

And yeah, Kai is a pretty great guy for falling for Android Lunar Princess-in-hiding Cinder, it’s Wolf’s absolute devotion to Scarlet and his absolute berserker that really got me. Same for Sargent Jacyn Clay with Princess Winter (their mad-love and Snow White-worthy ending made reading 800 pages of Winter so delicious!)

And if there was a prize for Most Irreverent Pirate Of All, it would go to Captain Carswell Thorne. He is badass, funny and droll! It’s an irresistible combination of charm and piquancy and unexpected vulnerability that made Cress and me fall for him, hook, line and sinker.

4. Patch Cipriano aka Angel Jev

So Becca Fitzpatrick’s Patch in the Hush Hust series has this way of talking to heroine Nora Grey that made me feel like I was in the middle of a French film. Every line was full of double meaning, innuendo and so damned classy despite it all.

And, on top of that, he was determined to save her (over and over again) when he’d been sent to kill her! He does display stalkerish tendencies but his Italian black-eyes more than make up for it and color me impressed when he gives Nora a necklace with his real name on it. Promise. Ring. Much.

3. Dimitri Belikov

Technically Richelle Mead’s baddest of the badass Dhampirs Dimitri Belikov is not YA young, (he is 24 when he is introduced to us in Vampire Academy), and when I first read of a guy who is six-seven and snooty and uptight with a liquid vodka Russian accent to boot, I was like WHAAAAT?! No, not working for me. Then I saw the movie (badly-made, deliciously cast) and I was all onboard the Dimitri train.

By book three Shadow Spell I was totally swooning over Dimitri and rooting for Rose Hathaway (she can totally take Buffy’s place as a vamp-loving demon hunter any day) to get it on with him. Honestly, he was the only Strigoi vampire I could imagine macking with, even as I read feverishly for the cure that would change him back to the loving, warm (more action/less talk) Dimitri that Rose adored.

2. Kaz Brekker And The Crow Five

So I can NOT stress enough how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. She dazzled with her first Grisha trilogy, but in my humble opinion, she’s come into her own with the Crow duology! Set in the same world as the Grishas but a separate storyline, Six of Crows’ ringleader Kaz Brekker, alley rat turned king of the Ketterdam docks is that rare hero: Bad to the bone, vulnerable to just the heroine Inej (OH! WHAT A JOY SHE IS!) and so smart you could kiss him for his brains alone. He limps (a la Dr. House) and has his personality to match but there is so much going on with Kaz, it’s like reading about a character who constantly plays chess like a grandmaster.

Crooked Kingdom, the next in the duology was a revelation – in terms of storytelling, character reveals and an ending I did not see coming. But Kaz and The Crow Five have eternally earned my love and devotion forevermore.

I cannot wait for the next book in the Grishaverse – King of Scars, featuring beloved characters from both series.

1. Jace Wayland

So Jace Wayland has been my favorite YA hero since 2009 when City of Ashes, the second book in the Mortal Instruments’ Trilogy released and I read arguably, the BEST finale ever written in a book.

Sure, I find Cassandra Clare’s Clary Fairchild to be occasionally whiny, but Jace kicks ass up, down and four ways to Sunday. Jace is a jerk, an arrogant know-it-all with no apparent vulnerabilities and also vaguely stalkerish tendencies. Plus, he lashes out when he is hurt and at the end of City of Bones, he turned out to be Clary’s brother! EWWW, right? Wrong.

Cuz then comes CoA and everything I loved about young adult heroes became this boy, the yardstick by which I measure all future young adult heroes by.

Demon hunter extraordinaire, a musician in his spare time and using humor as a defense mechanism Jace is ALL that you want from a hero, YA or otherwise. He is Nephilim (half mortal-half angel) brave, badass, reckless, smart, and uses his heart to his own detriment.

His friendship with Alec Lightwood and Isabelle Lightwood is a rare and wondrous thing to read in modern books and he perfectly embodies the Perfect Outsider alienation emotion with every character reveal. He also has these amazing amber eyes that…well, you get the picture! I could gush about this boy forever!

Honorable Mentions

Magnus Bane, Alec Lightwood, Will Lightwood, Simon Lewis, Jem Carstairs: While not as exciting as Jace, the other heroes (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices) created by Clare too are worthy of also-ran mentions. Will and Jem are another perfect example of Parabatai and Will is so charmingly irreverent, he and Carswell Thorne might well kill each other or become best friends if they ever met each other. Simon is hands down, the cutest. Vampire. Ever.

Peeta Mellark: Yeah, Susan Collins’s doomed Tribute could have made the top eight if Kaz hadn’t come along and upset the apple cart. But the truth is, he is NICE enough to make a great hero, just not badass enough. He is smart as all hell though with that camouflage trick in The Hunger Games, isn’t he?

Malyen Oretsev: I am become a blade. Leigh Bardugo’s hero from the original Grisha trilogy has this tattooed on his back as the series progresses and he realizes how far apart from the heroine Saint Alina Starkov he really is, how he can never be powerful and magic like her. And how his hunting and killing skills are the only things of value he has to offer her, apart from his wasted, beautiful heart. Extreme sighs alert.

Cabel Strumheller: Lucy McMann’s words are like bullets. Fast, piercing, lovely and sure to leave a scar. Her hero Cabel is no one special. Just an ordinary high school student with a very gifted girlfriend who he is madly in love with. And that’s EXACTLY why he is so awesome. He lets dream catcher Janie from the Wake, Fade, Gone series take the lead and provides silent backup and never once tells I told you so to her even when she almost gets raped/killed in a dream. Isn’t that just what we all want in a dude?

Angel Akiva: Just his name was enough to make me reconsider all my notions of love and happy ever after, and in Laini Taylor’s first book Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was flat out falling for Akiva (meaning shelter in Hebrew). But in the second book, things took a dark turn and he started crying a LOT. I mean, a LOT! His fighting skills took a drastic backseat and he became an also-ran instead of ending up in the top 9. May I add that the series too took a drastic turn for the depressing in Days of Blood and Starlight. 

So, there you have it, folks. My dream list of yummy heroes. Demigods, fairy princes, fallen angels, alley rats and more made the cut. Who’s on yours? Tell me in the comments below.

Till next time,
Xx
Writer Gal aka Aarti V Raman.

PS: There is one hero who I refuse to mention here who has equal claim on my silly reader’s heart as Jace Wayland: Half-Bad trilogy hero Nathan Blackwood, who becomes such a comically tragic figure in the end, it reads like an emo song. I mean! WHY! WHY did he have to die Sally Green? Why couldn’t he have just lived with Gabrielle’s happy memories such as they were?

Till next time,

Aarti

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Writer Gal Letter #2

Let’s Talk About Flesh And Bone

Let’s Talk About is a series of blog posts where Writer Gal gives her (unsolicited) take on pop culture – aka TV series and movies – that she shamelessly binge watches in the name of ‘research.’

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Sarah Hay and Sasha Redetsky in Flesh and Bone, Pilot

The greatest love will, of necessity, bring us great pain – Thomas Merton

As a writer of romance, this statement holds true on all accounts for me. Actually, to all of us, doesn’t it?

Hell, never mind romance. Let’s ask Edmund Hillary or Philippe Petit or even our homegrown awesome superheroes at ISRO who launched Mangalaayan with half the money in half the time if they had an easy time of it. Theirs was a labor of blood, sweat, and tears.

In 2015, the Starz original series Flesh and Bone (8 episodes, available on Netflix) finally became available. I’d heard buzz of it on, haha, Buzzfeed about a group of dedicated ballet artists who take on the prestigious American Ballet Company of New York by storm, all over again.

I was excited, and finally free enough to start watching it. I loved the first two Center Stage movies which were set at ABC. The movies were a bit cheesy, I agree but they showcased a delicate art form in a gorgeous way.

Flesh and Bone makes no such mistake. There is no cheese in the script. It is raw and violent and visceral. Am sure, most of it is an accurate portrayal of how things are run in the business but what really struck me about the whole new cast of characters (apart from the sexy Sasha Redetsky) was that all of them are driven. Driven, determined and damaged.

All of them have great personal pain that translates to a moving rendition of choreographed movements.

It begins with the carefully colored title sequence with a haunting melody by Karen O, interspersing ballet moves with high-heels and a bird taking flight and losing blood. The stark analogy is not lost on anyone who watches the pilot.

This story is about pain.

Period.

It continues with the very first shot, that of an upturned ballerina doll lying askew on the floor. There is something so very WRONG with the picture that one cannot help but be intrigued and worried at the same time.

All hallmarks of a good storyteller. (Flesh and Bone has been created by Breaking Bad alum Moira-Walley Beckett).

But the dance is at its riveting best when Claire Robbins ( Sarah Hay, Golden Globe nominee), the naïve but painfully graceful ingénue performs a solo adagio to Debussy’s Claire de Lune, at the behest of Paul Greyson the viciously demanding artistic director (he is not Peter Gallagher, that’s for sure) I could see that it was not just dance, not just chasing perfection that was making her eyes glassy with unshed tears.

She has a secret and it hurts her soul and gives her art a dimension it would not otherwise have. I won’t reveal what it is, but suffice it to say, this is NOT Center Stage Part 3. It’s fresh and interesting and dark AF.

Singers and dancers have always been revered and yet reviled, a fate that has escaped musicians and painters. I won’t include writers in any of these categories, because hey, I am writing the post.

A haunting melody, a moving lyric or a soulful tune has touched our soul in an ephemeral way that remains with us forever. And the people who create this art, this consumable art I would say have had the touch/don’t touch tag attached to them.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that singing and dancing have long been considered a domain of people who are not interested in true exaltation. Maybe singing and dancing have been associated with courtesans and troubadours from time immemorial giving the arts a less-than-perfect shine.

Maybe people are just that weird, I don’t know.

Flesh and Bone also deals with another important aspect of working in entertainment. What does it take to become a star? Is it just talent, good looks, casting couch or more?

Anyone in entertainment will tell you how hard it is to breakthrough.

The blood, sweat, and tears that we put into ourselves (yes, now I include us writers) whether it is just to write that novel, or sell it, never mind market it into a bestseller will make an ordinary Joe weep. Yet, we plod on for the love of it. Even if it causes us great pain.

Tara Trivedi from The Perfect Fake has to answer this question: how far are you willing to go in order to get what you want? How much blood, sweat, and tears is she willing to shed?

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To find out more, read The Perfect Fake, when it comes out in July 2018.

Till next time,

XX

Writer Gal

 

Writer Gal Letter #1

An Intro To The Perfect Fake

The Intro Series is a series of blog posts explaining the muses/inspirations/origins and, most times, the problems faced by Writer Gal as she deconstructs her own books.

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Bad boys.

Women hear the phrase and shiver delicately as visions of a guy in a leather jacket, a ripping motorbike (or Jeep, if that gets you going) and piercing whatever color eyes spring into their minds. Yeah, not for nothing do we have overactive imaginations and make the world go round with our bodice-ripping scenes.

Bad boys.

The quintessential hero of many a romance: dark, brooding, oftentimes mysterious, with an agenda of his own, that the heroine gets to discover really late in the game and…let’s say it, an ass that just won’t quit.

Heathcliff, Kaleb Krychek (Ok, I admit it. I LOVE Kaleb. I LOVE HIM), Sebastian St.Vincent, Derek Craven, Cian McKenna, and Shiv Naren Pal (see what I did there!) are just a few examples of these less-than-upstanding men.

But the way they love is, in the words of another bad boy Leo Ramsey “like a madman who won’t stop till he dies.”

I know. Sigh.

Bad boys.

The guilty pleasure that every romance reader looks for because if THAT bad boy can be tamed by THAT good girl, then so can mine if/when I find him.

My aim in breaking down this hero is not to objectify him (ok, not consciously) but to make it absolutely clear that when it comes to the opposite sex, we women are probably guilty of far more literary transgressions than men.

Cut to December 2015.

I haven’t written anything substantial this whole year. A variety of factors contributed to this fact, first of which is my preoccupation with doing well at my workplace. The secondary but equally important reason was, I had no one to write about. Yeah, I started a lot of cool stories and abandoned them all (Shilpa Suraj knows more about these) and nothing fit.

Nothing stuck.

Nothing made my brain catch fire and the scenes to start showing up like my own personal movie screen inside my head and my fingers to dance over the keyboard till they ached.

I, unlike Shilpa and a lot of other totally talented romance writers, need a muse. A living, flesh and blood man who makes me sit up and take notice of him and compel me to write him (TVD fans, pun totally intended!)

About two weeks ago after NaNoWriMo 2015 ended, I started my last attempt at finishing something that year.

This novel has gone through a lot of iterations and the heroine just about refused to meet the hero making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to write her. After all, what good is she without having the chemistry of a good-looking, sexy, totally relatable man to play off of?

Things started moving along. And my hero showed up, FINALLY! And he was…blue-eyed. I know, y’all are thinking, you wrote him, woman, you can make his eyes go any color you want: But have you ever had those moments where your hand moves of its own volition over the keyboard without you being aware of it and the words just show up onscreen? I mean that in a totally non-creepy way, of course. So yeah, Blue Eyes, showed up for me.

And bang, a light went on in my head. Of course, that made sense (to my feverish, writing-addled brain).

And then, I started rewatching The Vampire Diaries, because well…yeah, I do stuff like that in my spare time.

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To my folks, I explain it as doing research but really, it’s just super fun watching TV. The stories, the characters, the HOT men all make my brain buzz happily and sometimes (like now) even provide dazzling, undeniable inspiration.

Enter Damon Salvatore.

The Bad Boy with fangs who makes regular women go weak in the knees. And, he is blue-eyed, if you don’t believe me. He is a total badass who is intent on causing trouble, looks out only for himself and has absolutely zero patience with the heroine.

He also saves her every single time she needs to be saved.

And, his evolution from small-town villain to hero is so gradual, so unconscious that by the time he figures out he is in love with the heroine, you’re rooting for him to get the girl instead of cursing him back to hell. (He is a vampire, he can literally be sent there).

I have written a couple different heroes in Krivi and Brandon and The Last Time’s Abeer Goswami is nothing short of the Good Guy Next Door (more Stefan than Damon for all you TVD fans) and he was a lot of fun to write in his own sweet, unassuming but totally with a steel trap mind hot way.

I even wrote a few other versions of the Good Guy Next Door mixed with Alpha Male guy and yet…like I said, nothing fit.

Not until this Bad Boy showed up and showed me how it’s done. And this is what I came up with.

“No.” He stepped closer and placed his hands on my arm. Exactly where he had clutched at me. My skin hurt at the slight contact under the sweatshirt I wore. “I did it to protect you. You are…nothing. You have no connections, no influence whatsoever. You wouldn’t have been able to survive what Jeeva and Vanshikha would have done to you.”

“I am not NOTHING,” I whispered, tears welling up in my eyes. My nose was red and my face was numb and my eyes looked deranged and still I had tears left to cry.

It was unbelievable, but there were still levels of hurt that I could feel when he spoke.

“I am being honest here,” he shot back. “And you don’t want to hear it. That’s fine. But someone had to think clearly. Make the hard choices. And make sure you were safe from them both.”

“So you did all this for me?”

He nodded. Slowly. One tear rolled down my cheek and I couldn’t stop it.

Now, that is some morally questionable, yet unforgettable man. No?

The Perfect Fake releases in July 2018 on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. 

Till next time,

Xx

Writer Gal

Feature Image: A Shawn D’Souza Original for Aarti V Raman. Designed on Canva. 

Image Credit: Beniceorleave/Google

Video Credit: YouTube

A Tale Of Four Millennial Women

What we talk about when we talk about being loved and loving ourselves and mostly other people in 2016. Ok, what I talk about, TBH.

This is not a political post or a social issue post. It’s not even a movie review even though I am writing about movies and the Millennial women in them.

It could be termed as a pontificating rant but that’s ok, because sometimes, you just have to…just have to rant to express everything your heart is feeling *cue single tear rolling down eye as I break the fourth wall and connect with y’all, my dear readers*

Let’s start with the nerdiest woman in the piece.

Her name is Vee Delmonico and she appears in NERVE – she is 18 going on 40, a high school senior living in Staten Island and an aspiring photographer who dreams of going to art school. She is a big nerdy nerd almost directly lifted from Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me (complete with skinny jeans and sweatshirts) and crushing hard on the high school jock who doesn’t know she really exists.

Vee is all of us who were invisible, unnoticed and picked on back in high school who were just waiting to get out and do something amazing, something extraordinary with the rest of our lives. Because all of life cannot be high school, right?

Well, Vee gets a chance when she becomes a player in a real life Dare Or Dare Higher game NERVE and goes on a series of escalating dares with the totally yummy, totally strange Ian starting from kissing him, alienating her two best friends, and ending with driving blindfolded through midtown Manhattan and later on a full-on shootout in the final showdown.

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When Vee’s best friend tells her to leave the hunky guy who got her into this ugly predicament, Vee very calmly answers, “I got myself into this mess. And I’ll get myself out.” In short, Vee changes her personality a little at a time, grows up and ya know what? Gets the hunky guy.

Next, we meet Amy Mitchell from BAD MOMS.

She is 32, an overworked mom of two pre-teens living in a privileged, predominantly white neighborhood in suburban America. She also has a part-time Millennial job selling pretentious branded coffee to supermarkets, airlines and hotels and a boss who could be her younger brother. He is also a douchebag, which may or not be because he is younger but definitely contributes to the shitty time Amy is having in her life.

Amy’s biggest fear in life is that she is a bad mom because she can’t do enough things for her kids while holding down a part-time job that requires fulltime work hours. Then there is the cheating husband, the entitled white dude who takes two meetings and a nap and calls it a full day.

Amy’s barely holding it together when she realizes that the biggest bully in her life is not the husband, the kids or even the douchebag boss. It’s the PTA and the coterie of Mean Girl Stepford Moms who head it and who expect all other mothers to be as perfect and Stepfordy as them (baked goods shall not have wheat, milk, yeast, sugar, nuts, among other no-nos).

Mission: Impossible.

Amy decides to take the bull by the proverbial horns (or boobs as the case may be) and becomes PTA president, bringing about a culture of Bad Moms who are trying their level best to raise good, kind kids instead of perfect robots who go to Harvard.

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Amy tells her eleven year old son, “I need you to do your homework so you don’t grow up to be an entitled white dude who expects the whole world to be handed to him in a silver platter. So you understand you have to WORK for things and not rely on your parents for everything.”

In short, Amy makes peace with who she is when she decides to not do everything and be everything to everyone, especially her children.

AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL’S Alizeh Khan steps up to the plate next.

She is twenty-something, wealthy in a ‘raees way’ and thinks nothing of charging a strange trip with a semi-stranger to daddy’s account – but only one room because it’s out of her budget. Alizeh has no discernible job which is understandable because ‘raees,’ and I wish we were all as lucky but her life choices are as bizarre as her clothes choices. She befriends a total stranger (again, making out with a total stranger is PC given what happens next), proceeds to judge everything about him from his bank account to his choice of girlfriend, talks in Bollyverse and considers herself to be almost unbearably cool.

In fact, she is so cool, so very CHILLED that we can think she is the original ice-maiden. Unfeeling and uncaring about anything except friendship, because it is safe.

Totally relatable because who hasn’t experienced such heartbreak that your body stops being and you become a living monument to dreams that were. Unfortunately, life teaches us to dream new dreams (scalable is the business term to be used) and we move on. But not Alizeh. She ping pongs between an incredibly hot DJ ex and an aspiring singer bestie over the course of the years. And, in between, she contracts cancer (no disrespect to the disease or its victims/survivors).

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Alizeh’s parents are nowhere in the picture even when they probably get the chemo bills and she is like totally COOL with it. For her, her bestestest friend is her only ‘khandaan,’ the only family she wants or needs as she dies. And she treats him like complete shit.

Alizeh says of the name tattooed on her hand, like it’s a beautiful, fucked up reminder of her past – “Yeh naam meri tabaahi hai.” Continuing in the same vein, “Pyaar mein junoon hai, dosti mein sukoon hai.” And lastly, in blatant defiance of the friend who manhandled her two seconds ago, “Kya mera pyar pyar nahi agar tum mere aashiq nahi?”

In short, Alizeh is the new age Millennial who has been there, done that, smoked the dope and decided long ago to check out of feelings because it’s too damn HARD. Or so I, as a viewer, assume because there is zero explanation/defense/justification given for the way she behaves and acts.

Lastly, but the fairest of them all is ADHM’s Sabaa.

A forty-something glamazon with impeccable makeup and even more inexplicable Urdu expressions that took me a fair amount of time to decipher and laugh over. She is a poetess with one fat book out and is able to live from the proceeds of said book in splendor in Vienna. Her house is a reflection of the breathtaking beauty she is.

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Sabaa handles fulsome compliments and strangers blubbering over her with equanimity. And is unapologetic about wanting to be alone, completely alone and being the object of a man’s desire, because affection is too damn hard. Sabaa has an ex-husband who poetically explains why she’s the only thing he has ever loved in his life and she is not fucking required to BE, for him to love her even though when she WAS there he probably cheated on her and messed her up so badly, she is scared to commit again. While she stands there stupefied watching this strange version of a male peeing contest occurring at an art gallery.

And because Sabaa is at least trying to be an adult she gets out of a toxic rebound relationship once she realizes things are getting out of her control. Sabaa says, “Mohabaat karna humare bas mein nahi. Par us mohabbat ka kya karna hai woh hamare bas mein hai.”

In short, Sabaa learns from her previous relationship with the philandering husband and decides to let go of the young stud who has been keeping her company while singing unchecked through the streets of Vienna (I think there are laws that prohibit this sorta thing in Europe. I could be wrong.)

The thing the tale is about

NERVE, while not the world’s greatest movie has an amazing tech-synth soundtrack and hits perfectly on the nerve of a generation of adolescents who live and die on their cell phones and pretend that being adventurous online is the same as being alive in real life with all its problems and pitfalls.

BAD MOMS made me appreciate my own mom so much more than I already do. To raise a child to have good values and to be a decent human being and not so entitled in a world that teaches material success is everything is admirable. Again, not award-worthy but the message is unmistakable.

Then we come to AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL. The movie that has resonated with Millennials in India and abroad because …because WHY?

Bollywood self-referencing, check. People roaming around aimless and clueless and having vague aspirations, check. People falling in and out of love and bed with turbo speed, check. Poking fun at olde world Bollywood, check. And not giving a shit as to what collateral damage they were causing with their behavior, double triple check.

I would like to pause for just a moment here and reiterate – A movie is telling us, just like real life, that it’s ok to fuck with people and not give a damn what we do to them. A movie that is made by a filmmaker who is known for being inspirational, aspirational, and INFLUENCING every person who knows what Bollywood stands for.

I don’t blame Karan Johar for making this movie. I truly don’t – apparently he loved someone a lot and they just wanted to be friends with him and he never got over it. And that is fine. It is. It sucks but such is life and you make lemonade if you can from the rest of the lemons handed you. Karan Johar had the means, medium, and time to sit and go through this cathartic journey the rest of us never got to go through.

But so much is troubling about the movie …so much that made me unbearably sad to think that THIS… THIS is what the average Millennial in India has become.

ADHM treats themes like love, friendship and non-linear relationships with casual indifference. The characters treat each other and themselves with damaging apathy all in the name of cool. It perpetuates an idea of true love and true friendship that did not resonate with me. (I say me because there are people who are enchanted by the idea of people hurting each other in the name of feelings!)

To think that this is what constituted for true love in this movie– couched in terms of stalking, throwing tantrums, inexplicable tears, casual sex and putting self before love…where friendship meant taking the other person for granted to such an extent you don’t tell them you’re dying.

Where people talk but no one really TALKS…and fuck no, no one listens. Is this what we Millennials do? Are we so obsessed with social media and having a good time and not really loving ourselves…ARE WE SO FUCKED UP we cannot differentiate between what passes for good love and good ol’ puppy love masquerading as something grownups might/might not do?

When did we all decide that it was OK to just coast? To just drift and not have any purpose in life, when did being an entitled white/brown/any colour dude become a thing? Why did I not get the memo? When did heartbreak boil down to throwing things around and losing all semblance and nuance of self-respect and sensibility?

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You are justified in thinking I am 30 going on 99 because I don’t get it. But the sad thing is. I do get it. Treating people carelessly, concealing heartbreak in glib comments and being obsessed with pop culture, wanting everything and nothing at the same time and having no clue what life is going to do to me tomorrow. I get it. And it’s awful. I am awful.

I guess this is why I aspire to be more a Bad Mom or A Nerve Girl or even Sabaa of the drownable eyes and laughable poetry.

It’s because I know, there is a part of me that is Alizeh. Alone and drowning in my aloneness, wanting but not really wanting a way out. Ayn Rand said, “The only thing I need to learn how to bear is happiness.” And that’s who I’d like to become, slowly, gradually, day by day.

Till next time.

Xx

Writer Gal

Author’s note: Thank you Omair Tarique of Scribbled Stories for allowing me to use one of your posts for this one. I just think, it really resonates with what I am trying to say about life and love and dealing with things because we should try and be better people. 

TBC Spotlight: My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

Romance writer, urban fantasy writer Falguni Kothari is back…Rated T for Tears!

 

My Last Love Story 

by 

Falguni Kothari


Blurb 

 

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreaking and poignant tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.***

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.

Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.

Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul.

I love my husband, and he loves me.

But Nirvaan is dying.

I love my husband. I want to make him happy.

But he is asking for the impossible.

I don’t want a baby.

I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.

I don’t want another chance at another love story.

Grab your Copy @
or grab this book free at #KindleUnlimited 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

 Falguni Kothari is a New York-based hybrid author, and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful and cultural threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media and loves to connect with readers.My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.

Stalk her @


        

 

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Phone Sex With Tom Hiddleston

*Imagine Tom’s smexylicious, deeply vibrant, whiskey-in-moonlight voice talking to you on the phone*

PWSTH

Under your ear

Where the soft fragrance of your musk mingles with hair and sweat

Where I sometimes feel a pulse beat

I press my lips there.

You shiver.

It passes through you to me, the shiver.

Where your back is touching my chest

Shoulder blades pressed to my pecs

Front to back, back to front

Our heartbeats aligned to the rhythm of that shiver.

I move a bit to the side

My lips, a hot breath stealing your musk, your sweat.

You.

And I take your tender lobe between my teeth.

You wait. I wait. You wait some more. I make you wait some more.

Somewhere in the universe, a star dies.

Then

I bite.

A lunging movement.

Your gasp echoes in me, deep within me

Where the animal lives: untamed, feral, wanting.

Wanting all, wanting everything, wanting you.

You arch in an involuntary movement,

Your arms going to bite my thighs with fingers turned claws.

The pain is jarring, welcome, claimed.

So I suck, soft, soothing, slow and delicious.

Like I would inside you, imagining golden, molten honey.

Or bubblegum-flavored ice cream, my favorite.

A treat to be lapped up, savored slowly, deliciously. Careful and endless.

Your skin feels like skin in my mouth

But taste is different, isn’t it?

Taste is memory, dreams, illusion,

Candy-wrapped hotness and lemonade mixed with jello shots.

It’s not real in the way your eyes go glassy when I touch your breasts, cup them

It’s not real in the way your lips part to form my name

My name.

“Harder,” you say. “Touch me.” Breath broken.

So I move my fingers

Just the tips over the back of your wrist, lingering at the tattoo of your pulse

Moving up, a whisper-soft touch over skin well-traveled,

Always new.

It’s slow, torturous.

But who is torturing whom?

Suddenly you grab my hand and press it against yourself.

Hard, demanding. Now.

But it is my game, my rules, mine. So I say, “No. No, not yet. Wait.”

There is delicious agony in waiting.

In having my hand caress the folds of skin on your stomach, gone slightly musky with sweat right now

While you wait, for my fingers to go north or south, the waiting pain in itself.

“Fuck you.” You laugh. Wanting me.

Sex mingles in the air like our scents, sweat. Our breaths.

It’s a drowning of you in me that I want.

I bring my hand up to your collarbone, the bones pricking ever so slightly

While you  contort your neck and kiss me

Kiss me like how you want to be taken – a little rough, a little wet, maybe against the wall.

Maybe right now.

Your lips, your tongue, your teeth say please

Please have me.

I am yours.

But you are and that’s what makes it easy.

That’s what makes it hard.

Until you turn fully and press into me, me into you.

Wrapping one leg over mine, my hand instinctively tightening on the inside of your thigh

For balance, maybe. To brand, for sure.

Tempting, joining. Asking and answering.

All within the space of a hot, wet, wide kiss

I lose my head, my place, my rules

And I back you to the wall

To wherever you want.

You laugh again, my victor.

Surrender never looked so sweet naked

And I take you till you come

Till next time,

Writer Gal 

Image Credit: hypable.com

Confessions of an incurable Hiddlestoner

I suffer from a serious condition. It’s incurable. It’s an addiction. It’s my life. I’m a Hiddlestoner – and I have a confession to make.

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 Today, we have the supremely talented romance writer, and my good friend from across the pond, Devika Fernando who is here to talk about her not so secret love– Hiddlestonitis. 

Every book I write has been inspired by Tom Hiddleston. Every book I read, every story that captures my attention, reminds me of him. Heck, I end up comparing all men to him: Thomas William Hiddleston. Stealer of hearts, lover of pudding, Shakespeare-enthusiast, word-magician, destroyer of ovaries, versatile actor, living inspiration, man of countless talents and secrets.

Why are all of my heroes inspired by him, and why do I love him? There are reasons, probably more than you want to hear. But now that I’ve started, I’m afraid I might never stop. And by the end of this post, you’ll happily join the club.

Tom Hiddleston is a man of many faces. And I don’t just mean that he looks hot with or without glasses, that he’s handsome with long black hair just like with floofy blond curls or with perfectly styled ginger scruff.

I mean that he can switch from sophisticated and suave – killing you with that polished English accent and oozing oodles of politeness – to singing a song, dancing his heart out or breaking into a spot-on impersonation of a celebrity. I love it that he can slip into lecture mode in a heartbeat, diving into his vast knowledge of literature (and many other topics) to bring something alive within minutes that teachers have unsuccessfully been trying to install in your brain for ages.

I love it that he can be a nerd at one moment and impossibly cool the next, that he supports charity, is passionate about equality, and generous to his fans. It’s endlessly fascinating that he switches from a six-year-old child with bubbling excitement to a teenager with a shit-eating grin and naughty wink to a gorgeous man charming the heck out of men and women alike.

How can anyone be so serious, so understanding, so well-mannered, so quietly strong, so sexy, so humble, so genuine, so dedicated, so charismatic, so thoughtful? It’s magic, I tell you, and I’m completely under his spell.

And don’t get me talking about his voice (Heaven on earth! He could read the phone book to me and I’d swoon.) or his hands (Big, and you know what that means. *wink*) or his eyes or that sassy eyebrow that has a life of its own or his snake hips…or any part of his anatomy?

Hang on ladies, for I haven’t even gotten to the good parts.

Tom Hiddleston – When will the Oxford Dictionary accept his name as a synonym for perfection? Can we sign a petition for that? – can act. He can ACT the bloody hell out of any role. Deliciously dangerous Asgardian villain? Check! Mysterious soldier? Check! Tortured baronet? Check! Suicidal vampire? Check! Irresistible spy? Check! King / knight in shining armour? Check! Yodeling Yankee? Check! Swoonworthy Victorian hero? Check! Dashing yet deranged doctor? Check! Relentless Roman general? Check! And there are a million more roles that show just how much potential this incredible man has stored away.

Still not completely taken in by the man who’s simultaneously ruined and made my life? You’re a tough cookie, aren’t you? Cookies… see, I can’t even think of something as harmless as cookies without remembering Tom Hiddleston teaching the Cookie Monster about delayed gratification on Sesame Street. Yup, I’m a goner, a Hiddlestoner… Just like the lovely lady who wrote this poignant post.

This. This right here is another reason why I can’t help feeling inspired by Tom Hiddleston:

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Is it any wonder that he is part of all the books I write?

The protagonist most strongly influenced by Tom is Daniel from SAVED IN SRI LANKA. I gave him an innate kindness, a love for books and poetry, and an insatiable hunger for knowledge (as well as a deep and sensual voice, mile-long legs, ginger hair and blue-grey-green eyes). Joshua from the FIRE TRILOGY has Tom’s calm strength and uncanny ability to make everyone listen, and the anti-hero Kyle from the same series was inspired by Tom’s remarkable performance as Loki. Michael from WHEN I SEE YOUR FACE is as caring, calm on the outside but deep on the inside and supportive of women as Tom. Lucas from KALEIDOSCOPE OF HOPES has derived his enigmatic charm, ruthless drive and regal bearing from Tom.

And Alejandro, the determined and irresistible hero from my latest romance novel SEDUCED IN SPAIN, gives life to Tom Hiddleston’s answer to an interview question, “a good boy in certain situations, and a bad boy in others”. Not only does Tom influence how I write my heroes, he is also one of the reasons why I write and publish, why I believe in myself and in creativity.

And really, do I need any other reason to love him?

Do you?

Thank you Devika, for reminding me once again what I LOVE about this man. And for popping over. We wish you all the best with the release of SEDUCED IN SPAIN! 

Xx

Writer Gal

About Devika:

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Having always loved to read and write, Devika Fernando made her dream come true in 2014 when she became a self-published novelist. The Amazon bestselling author has released several eBooks in the genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her German and Sri Lankan roots influence her writing.

She loves to talk to fellow Hiddlestoners (ok, others too!) on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Image Source: hypable.com

ARRA Wins! Woooo!

I started writing my first novel when I was studying in Melbourne and I have so many lovely friends here at Escape… This is such wonderful news. Also. Leonardo on the pic. Hugs and love to all of y’all. Xx, Writer Gal

The Escapades

So, when it comes to the Australian Romance Readers Awards, Escape has been feeling a bit like pre-2016-Oscars Leonardo DiCaprio. We had respect, sure! And lots (58!) of nominations! But no matter how many supermodels we partied with (OK, Down & Dusty cover models) (in our heads), we hadn’t won an ARRA.

Well I’m pleased to announce that as of last night’s ARRA awards dinner, we’re feeling a bit like smug post-Oscars Leo.

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Congratulations to the winners!

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Favourite Cover: The Horse Thief by Tea Cooper.

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Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance: Base by Cathleen Ross

In addition to these fabulous wins, we’re excited that this year’s favourite new romance author winner, Kerrie Paterson, is about to make her Escape debut with the May release of Return to Jacaranda Avenue. Here’s a sneak preview of her cover—look out for prerelease dates soon!

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The love that I have got…

I love Australian cricket. But I love Virat Kohli and Sachin T. But he captured everything I feel about the game. Thanks Neel. Reposting this 🙂

Good things last forever

Dear Javed Miandad,

In 1996, Pakistan lost to India in the World Cup quarter finals at Bangalore.

When you got run out, I remember the dejected look on your face and it made me sad.

Yes, I am an Indian and I was definitely rooting for India in that match and in all matches against Pakistan. But though we Indians are cricket-crazy and Pakistan is our enemy-number-one, I was sad for you. In fact, your expression on getting out is etched in my memory. Why?

Because I knew that throughout your life your only goal was to defeat India in a world cup match. Whenever you came out to bat for Pakistan against India, I have seen a strange determination, a passion that you have to do your best against India. While you batted, fielded and sometimes bowled with your heart filled with hatred for India, I was lucky to…

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Letter to my future mother in law

…Cuz before the boyfriend/husband comes his mom

 

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Dear Future Mother in Law,

I haven’t met your son yet (at least none that I know of) but lately, as I watch my mother fulfill her duties as the model-perfect daughter in law to a mother-in-law-less (my grandmom is no more) family, more and more I have begun to think of you. I have begun to think of you as a real person, with character and flaws and dreams as much as my mother is.

Chances are, you’ll be like my mother: working at a ‘service’ job somewhere, higher or lower on the corporate ladder depending on your level of education, your own ambition that did not get buried in the endless rigmarole of caring for your family. And the depth of support provided for you by your in-laws at that time, when you were young, when you had passion and when you wanted things from your life that had nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. Not even your husband, my future father in law.

Did you want to be a doctor, like my mother, but ended up working in a bank or the government sector in order to support your husband? Did you also have to wake up at six in the morning, make breakfast/lunch, coffee/tea and other beverages before laying out your son’s school uniform carefully, along with the school badge before you woke him up? Did you sometimes miss the morning local (if you lived in a city like Mumbai) and spent the day in a foul mood knowing that those precious five minutes were life and death in your hectic schedule?

Did you spend your thirties and forties caring and sharing your whole life away: first with your husband, your in-laws (if they stayed with you), then your kids, their schoolwork, their schedules, their assignments and projects? Shoving your own dreams into a small drawer that could barely see the light of day. Did you also spend a lot of time praying for your son, my future husband, to pass his SSC exams, then his HSC, then his University and post-grad exams with flying colors so he could do WHATEVER he wanted and not just be an engineer or doctor that the whole family including your husband dreamed him to be? Did you fight wars on behalf of your children that they, till date, know nothing about and you’ll never tell them because you’re their mom? It’s what you do.

Did you fight wars on behalf of your children that they, till date, know nothing about and you’ll never tell them because you’re their mom? It’s what you do.

You protect, you shield and you love. Unconditionally.

Will you protect me too? Will you shield me too? Will you love me too?

But before you answer that, let me tell you something about me.

I am, by all standards of the word, ‘modern’, ‘unconventional’ and heathen-like. I do not believe in wearing bindis, or touching elders’ feet in abject genuflection or casting my eyes or voice to a lower tone while talking to said elders. I have opinions. I share them with the world, regardless of whoever is in front of me. But I am learning kindness and consideration and the value of silence where required. I hope that is enough for you.

I am also learning cooking. Not to make delicious dinners for your son or six-course meals for the entire family when all of you show up (or even six-course meals on an everyday basis if we all live together) but because I have discovered a joy, a calmness in cooking that has been missing recently in my life. I love buying fresh veggies for recipes looked up online, cutting them into the desired shapes and simmering the whole brew together if so required.

There might be days when I will hardly feel like getting out of bed, much less making tea and chiwda for all of us. Will you be non-judgmental and empathetic that day or will you icily talk about how my mother has raised a lazy ass?

I can never call you ‘Mom’ or ‘Amma’ on demand or because it is tradition, because I have a mom, my Amma. I call her names I can never share with the world for fear of being called a little girl. And, because, fuck it, it’s between her and me. None of you have a claim to my mom. Will that be ok with you? That I love her more than I can ever say, more than all the words I know of?

I hope you do not think me that woman who can never leave her family behind while she starts a family of her own. I would like to think of it as our families joining, melding, and expanding to make more room in our hearts and our last names. This is my dearest wish, Aunty. My other wish is to have such a warm relationship with you that calling you ‘Mom’ comes naturally and from the heart for me.

Which brings me to my last point. Your son is not the first man I have loved and my love is not virgin-white anymore. But I want your son to be the last man I love. And I hope to love him with all my heart, with everything that I am. But I love me too. I have a fulfilling career, a fulfilling life actually, with friends, purpose, excitement and things that you probably might disapprove of, if I go into much detail in. Some secrets are meant to be kept.

I drink occasionally, and I curse frequently (especially when I am writing) and I wear clothes that even my dad and I fight over. I am me. I am me in a way that I can never be your son’s wife.

And (Amen) he should love me exactly like that. As a whole person, separate and disparate from him. And yet, someone who will meet him measure for measure in triumph and tragedy and stand with him, proud to call him mine in anything he does. Who will help him take care of his family.

Would it be ok with you if he did the same with me? If he cooked us brunch on Sundays and let me sleep in? Changed diapers or did the dishes or any of the many chores on the nights I am busy writing or just too exhausted from my day to want to do them?

Have you raised him to think that none of these chores are beneath him? Have you raised him to be a man I can proudly and happily and with all my heart call mine?

This cannot be too much to ask for, can it?

Not when you’re a mom. Not when you shield and love and are wise in ways dads never are.

I hope to meet you soon. I hope you are too.

Yours,

Aarti aka Writer Gal