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Featuring : Author Interview , My Review & An International Giveaway


Title:  Shiva’s Arms
Author:  Cheryl Snell
Publisher: Writer’s Lair Books
Category:  Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 193 pages
ISBN:  9780615340814

 A glimpse from the book cover:

“Shame! This is your fault only,” Amma yelled, shaking her fists.  “You godless girl, you have weakened my family, my son’s caste lost because of you!”

“You’re the one!  You won’t be satisfied until you’ve destroyed everything, smashed it to bits with your tiny bare feet!”  Alice pointed to Amma’s brown toes.  Amma looked down and flexed them, the war suspended for a second until she ran to the kitchen.  Pulse throbbing at her temples, Amma snatched a pair of pliers to her heaving chest, hiked up the hem of her sari, and scurried upstairs.

My Review:

OK, I will be honest here, when I accepted the book the only reason behind was “India” my home country, I am a sucker that way.. when ever I see foreign writers writing something involving India , I have to read !!! and for that I have shared my share of good, bad and the ugly.  But this time, I am happy to say,  it was “good”.

Ms. Snell is a remarkable story teller. The story evolve around intercultural marriage. Husband is Hindu, wife is American.  The wife tries to take part in her new husbands culture and mold their lives around his.  That feat, is sometimes a difficult one.  Often times the wife is expected to take on the religion or culture of the husband and add to that an overbearing mother – in -law : “Amma” (boy, Indian mils can be really overbearing :))  Some women are never able to learn how to be a part of a new way of life, while maintaining their own identity.  When that happens, sometimes love can be enough, and sometimes marriages crumble.  In this particular story, whether the marriage survives or not.. for that you have to read the book.

I loved the book. I loved the way she writes. And I can imagine the research she had to go through to write accurately about an unknown culture..kudos to that ! I look forward to more from her.

Author Information/Bio:

Cheryl Snell has published over four hundred poems and stories online and in print. Her books include both fiction and poetry, and Prisoner’s Dilemma, her recent volume of poetry and art, won the Lopside Press Competition. Snell has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net four times, and her poem “Fire on the Cuyahoga” was chosen by Dorianne Laux for inclusion in the Sundress’ Best of the Net Anthology last year. Follow her author’s blog about all things Indian at shivasarms.blogspot.com

More Info:

You can get more information on the book at Writer’s Lair Books, including an excerpt.

You can also visit Cheryl Snell’s website for all kinds of goodies, including an author interview, a trailer, and recipes that you’ll want to try!

BUY IT:  This book is available on Amazon for purchase.

Now let’s welcome Ms. Snell for an interview ::

Me: Tell us little about yourself/your childhood?

Ms. Snell :  I was born in Canada and raised in the Midwest. I come from a family of scientists and artists.My love of words can be traced to my dad. At the table, he would recite Chaucer, Coleridge and Robert Burns, complete with brogue. He had a great library, and I had full run of it.

Me : What’s the inspiration behind your turning to a writer?

Ms. Snell: I always loved language and wrote for my own pleasure, but I also loved music. I trained as a classical pianist, performing in recital halls throughout my twenties. I turned to writing again only when I married my South Indian husband. It was a way to understand my new community. I suppose. Didn’t Faulkner say, ” I never know what I think about something until I’ve written on it.” Amen to that.

Me: Did you visit India, especially South India, for inspiration before writing Shiva’s Arms?

Ms. Snell: No, India came to me, in the form of my husband, his friends and relatives, his stories of his young life and everything I’d missed.

Me: How much of Shiva’s Arms is from your own personal experience?

Ms. Snell:  Everything and nothing – the irony of literary fiction since Flaubert ! the set up, unsuitable American bride marries Hindu NRI , parallels my life. But the characters are fictional, not portraits of people I know, although some may fancy they see themselves in the story. After all, it speaks to a universal conflict . Everyone known an Amma, right?

Me: Is this book for every reader or targeted towards a particular group/culture?

Ms. Snell:  It’s character-driven literary fiction. In writing it, I restricted myself to the customs of South Indian Brahmins , and they seem to appreciate that. Since my husband was raised as a Hindu Brahmin, I could fact-check everyday’s writing across the dinner table – not that I didn’t do a great deal of research myself ! I can still count in Tamil.

Me: What can readers expect before reading this book? Especially for readers unaware of Indian culture?

Ms. Snell: They can expect a fast-paced, realistic story on a timeless theme , told in lyrical language, and layered with cultural details that build resonance in the mind. I use exotic words contextually and describe the wonderful food of the festivals. There are recipes and glossary in the back.

Me: What was the hardest obstacle you faced while writing this book?

Ms. Snell:  Revising it. Again and again. Shaping and molding, and chipping away all the parts that were not the true story. I wrote a good deal of poetry while I was writing the novel , as well. One genre helped feed the other. My poetry books became clearer and more narrative, while the fiction became lyrical and less dry.

Me: What’s next for you ?

Ms. Snell:  I’m in the middle of a few things – another novel, a volume of stories , another in an ongoing series of my poems paired with my sister’s paintings. We have a Pico press called Scattered Light, also, and we will be bringing out the second edition of  Nanette  Ramayan Riviera’s memoir soon.

Me : We readers always like to know, what real authors are reading so, what do you have in your bookshelf ?

Ms. Snell : On the shelf I can see from here , there’s the complete works of  Shakespeare , some Faulkner, and Henry James , The Brothers Karamazov, The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead , John Doss Passos’s U.S.A Trilogy , C.S. Lewis’s The Secret Screwtape Letters . I like to read novels by poets , like Jack Kerouac , Kathy Acker , Michael on Datjee , Randall Jarrell, James Schuyler, Kenneth Patchen, Djuna Barnes, Tobias Hill , and Elizabeth Smart. Two birds with one stone !

Me: What’s a normal day in Cheryl Snell’s life ?

Ms. Snell:  I begin my day by listening to Bach. There is something about his nuances of harmony that transcend the ego and ground me at the same time. Music and writing has so many elements in common – line and dynamics and rhythm, and it’s difficult to assign value. I’m immersed in all of it , and the process of mastering a piece of music is not unlike getting a piece of writing right. When at last I set whatever it is aside, the work continues underground. The rest of my day is spent doing ordinary things , being a professor’s wife , a  collaborator on my sister’s project s, providing a comforting  presence during my mother’s decline.

Me: Did you get a writer’s block? How do you overcome it?

Ms. Snell: I juggle too many genres to suffer from writer’s block. A switch of focus seems to work whenever I feel the stream start to run dry.

Me: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Ms. Snell: Read widely and deeply. Write everyday. Read more than you write.

Me: Is there anything else you want your readers to know?

Ms. Snell :  I’d like them to know hoe deeply they are appreciated.

Thank you very much Ms. Snell , for taking out some valuable time to do this interview .

* Giveaway *

Open Internationally.

2 copies for grabs.

July 16th – July 26th

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  • Reading Ms. Snell’s interview, tell me what makes you want to read the book?

Thanks to Shana Johnson @ Writer’s Lair for this review copy and the giveaway.