Today we have Mr. Ruchir Gupta, author – Mistress of Throne, in your spotlight section.
BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background.
RG: I am a physician in New York. I was born and raised here and currently reside here with my wife and two kids. I enjoy history and love telling stories via the medium of historical fiction because it allows those otherwise not interested in history to view the past in a very different way.
BNI: So, What all you have written / published till date?
RG: I have written mainly medical textbooks and articles. This is my debut novel.
BNI: What inspired you to write your first book and or this book?
RG: I really enjoy the Mughal history and often feel it has been glanced over as a “foreign” culture in India. In reality, the Mughal culture was a blend of Hindu and Muslim traditions. As I was reading actual historical accounts of this era I stumbled across the name of Jahanara, and was immediately mesmerized by her life story. Indeed, her story seemed like a novel in itself. It was at this time that I decided to write a book dedicated to her.
BNI: A 30 word tagline for your book
RG: “Mistress of the throne” is the story of the Mughal Queen of India, Jahanara, the teenage daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan, architect of the Taj.
BNI: How did you come up with the title?
RG: The original title of this book was “The Daughter Queen.” I changed the title at the behest of my publisher who wanted to have 17 characters in the title and something that was more gripping. I seized on the fact that Jahanara never married to describe her as a “mistress” and because she served her throne with the utmost devotion, I made her the “Mistress of the Throne.”
BNI: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
RG: The intended audience for this book is vast. Of course, seasoned history buffs will love to read it and learn about the times and the characters, but also a younger generation who often views Indian history as a dry potpourri of dates and names will find a strong connection to this book. Additionally, expatriates such as myself will take pride in knowing we are descendants of this culture.
BNI: Who is your favourite and least favourite character? What makes them so?
RG: Obviously my favorite character is Jahanara, the main character. She is wide, sacrificial, and just in her dealings and is forced to grow and mature at a young age. My other favorite character is Aurengzeb, the so-called demon of the Mughal era who committed atrocities against Hindus and ultimately destroyed the empire. The reason I like Aurengzeb so much is that in this book I wanted to portray him not just as a perpetrator but also a victim of the times. As a child, he was held hostage and then he lost his mother at a young age. I wanted to tie these two events together to show that his troubled childhood led to his development as a fanatic.
BNI: Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
RG: Jahanara is solely responsible for taking her father out of the melancholy that envelopes him after his wife’s death. It is she who brings her family together and helps to steer her family – and the kingdom at large – through these difficult times.
BNI: What was the hardest and easiest thing about your latest release?RG: The hardest thing was the research. Though Indian history is rich with characters and events, we have poorly recorded them. Thus, I had to rely on the facts as given by European travelers to India at the time to recreate that society. The easiest thing was actually writing, because I enjoy writing.
BNI: Share some interesting story about the book writing/cover development.
RG: The back cover of the book is the actual tomb of Jahanara in Delhi. The front is a picture of a young woman with her name written in Urdu in the background. Thus, we have tried to place Jahanara cryptically throughout the cover.
BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?
RG: I don’t know if there is a direct message in the book. There are several lessons that can be taken away: love your children equally and pay attention to their growth and development; give women the same rights as men; place family before wealth.
BNI: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions or similar events? Any plans in relation to this book?
RG: My readers are all over the world. The book has been sold in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Thus, I haven’t been able to attend any events for the book, but I am available via skype and facetime if any book club wishes.
BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
RG: I often get emails from readers because I have an email address on the back cover of the book. From what I have been told, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and what people like the most is how much they learned while enjoying a novel.
BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part- time?
RG: I am a part time writer, which is why it takes me so long to write a book.
BNI: Which writers inspire you?
RG: Ken Follett, Indu Sundarasen, Timeri Murari
BNI: What draws you to this genre?
RG: My love of history.
BNI: According to you, What is the hardest thing about writing?
RG: The hardest thing is character development. As a writer, one must shift their focus from character to character and stay true to each one’s personality. The dialogues of each character have to match the personality of the character as do the actions.
BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
RG: I don’t have any ambitions. I just like writing and seeing people enjoying my writing
BNI: What will be your one favourite tip to get through the writer’s block
RG: I would say just put everything down and do something unrelated to writing, such as running or watching TV. After you have given your mind a chance to settle, pick up a book from your favorite author and start reading their passages. Their writing will jolt your mind into the creative direction again.
BNI: What are your thoughts on book series? Would you like to have one for your latest book?
RG: Well my book is part of a book series entitled: ‘The Mughal Intrigues’. The sequel is already being worked on and most likely there will be at least 3, maybe even 4 books in this series.
BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?
RG: Just write without worrying about publishing.
BNI: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
RG: The market for publishing is tough and I had tried for over a year to get it published.
BNI: What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
RG: I enjoyed writing the battle scenes because I used more creative imagination for those scenes than for the others. I’m told these scenes are the best in the book.
BNI: What are your expectations for the book?
RG: I don’t have expectations. I’m just glad people are reading and liking the book.
BNI: Do you think book cover an important role in sales?
RG: Unfortunately contrary to the saying, most of us do judge a book by its cover. Thus, I’m sure people are picking up the book because of this.
BNI: According to you, what is the top most advantage / disadvantage of self publishing?
RG: I did not self publish so I cannot answer this question
Books News India thanks you dear Ruchir, for taking out time and and answering to our questions. We wish you success for your complete series of books.