Author interview with Sangeeta Kathuria of ‘The Scarlet Promise’

‘An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. This invisible red thread will never break and you will either find your way back to me somehow or me to you.’

This is the promise that Jack makes to Esha at the end of their precious week together in London. Esha has to return to India for her wedding to Dev, which has been arranged by her wealthy parents. Aware of her cultural commitments and knowing in her heart that they cannot have a future together, their separation is marked with a single promise. The turbulent years that follow are recorded in Esha’s journal, in the form of letters to Jack, which eventually find their way into his hands and which rock his world to the core. The rigid traditions and formalities of the social world of Amritsar, in which Esha is trapped, and to which Jack has no access, may well stretch their scarlet thread to breaking point. Can a single promise made seven years ago bring together two star crossed lovers in this gripping tale, spanning two cities?

Will these two star-crossed lovers reunite, or are they destined to live out their lifetimes apart? We’ll meet these lovers and more when I chat with Sangeeta Kathuria author of ‘The Scarlet Promise’ in today’s author interview. Sangeeta, looking back, what inspired you to explore this tale of lovers who live half a world apart?

This book was inspired by an online magazine article I read about a young woman in India who committed suicide when she found no way out of a marriage that had been arranged by her parents. She had tried to stick to it to keep to her promises to her family and in line with traditions, but when there was no way out, she ended up killing herself in desperation.

Do you think that any of your life experiences have made into the tale to compliment the original idea’s you had from reading that article?

Only from my own experiences of what I have seen first hand about the society and traditions that plague Esha’s life, in the city she lives in.

How did the characters come to life from your first-hand knowledge of the society and traditions that Esha experiences?

At night when I used to try and go to sleep. I conjured them up when I was alone, in the really quiet moments of my time when I could just create them. I would visualise the way they looked, the way they behaved and then in the morning, I would write it all down in my notebook.

When you returned to the notes and crafted them into the story we can read today, what central idea did you feel that you were sharing with readers?

That hope prevails in the darkest of corners and there is a way up and beyond when one is at their lowest in life. Above all, I wanted to tell my readers how true love can indeed prevail and bring a turnaround in one’s life, just as Jack did for Esha when she was at the point of no return.

I also wanted to show that there is no true love other than pure unconditional love that would bring two souls together which I have attempted to convey in The Scarlet Promise.

True love and hope prevail, those are two pretty awesome things to explore in any book. What do you personally feel that you took from getting these ideas into a complete story?

The biggest learning experience for me was finding out through research, just how many Esha’s there are in the world who give up their dreams or love to keep up with family and traditions and society and how many don’t live to tell the tale. I also learned alot about the shocking statistics of domestic violence in marital relationships that were upsetting.

Do you feel that your approach to these themes of family, love, tradition and marriage is current, or do you feel that it will become more relevant in the future?

I believe that the themes explored in my book is very much a problem of our current times but I also sadly feel that it’s something that won’t be ending in the foreseeable future.

Even though it’s very relevant and will continue to be, are there people who shouldn’t read your book?

I don’t think this book would be suitable for someone who has been sexually violated. My book deals with the horrors associated with marital rape and suicide, so there is a trigger warning that should be understood before the book is read. If someone has been through this trauma and doesn’t wish to relive this, then it’s not one for them.

Warnings on tough topics like rape and suicide are important, especially when there are no solid rating systems for books like there are for movies. So, what feedback have you already received from readers who have taken the time to explore your book?

Amazing responses. I have had one reader who has been a victim of domestic abuse who loved the theme of hope and positivity that the book brought them. Some readers have loved and hated the characters, telling me how real they found them. I have had readers who have told me they cried for Esha and her pain and I felt that was perfect because that is exactly what I wanted to achieve. I wanted readers to know and feel her pain.

What have been the positive and negative comments that you have most strongly reacted to said?

The toughest criticism was that a reader said the book hadn’t been strongly edited and would have been perfect with better and tighter editing. I had really worked hard on editing so that was something tough to deal with. The best compliment was when a reader who had been through the similar experiences reviewed on Amazon that she felt Esha’s pain and was able to relate through my writing. I found that comforting knowing that my writing had resonated with someone.

Editing is a mammoth task and one that can just about always be improved. But it’s great to see you’re already making great strides connecting with readers! Is creating connections with your readers on the top of your mind as you write, or do you find yourself focusing on something else? What can you tell us about your mind as you write?

My mind is like a jumble sale when I’m writing. There is always so much up there and I question how my mind can hold so much information. I’m thinking of multiple stories and books, and genres and storylines. I’m creating all these characters in my mind all the time when writing and just want to vomit it all out on paper as soon as I can. I think of other great characters that I have read about and how they help me to create my own characters.

Were there any steps or preparation that you undertook when you were first starting out to help you create your own characters and plotlines to get you to the goal of becoming a writer?

I didn’t prepare for it. I just did it. I have been writing from a very young age. I learned to write when I was probably 6 or 7 when I used to write in my diary. It was the ease of using writing to unburden myself of my problems which were such a comfort factor that it never left me. I wrote my first picture book at 10 years old in primary school, a Christmas story which I hope to rewrite and publish some day. I then wrote three YA romances on my typewriter when I was 13 years old and 3 YA horrors when I was 18. I also have been blogging and writing poetry for some years and The Scarlet Promise was the first book that I actually thought was good enough to publish and get out to the world.

Wow, you’ve been writing for quite some time! Do you feel that your voice as an author has developed over the years as you’ve kept the writing practice up?

I have only published one book so far so I think I have a bit of a way to go before I can truly answer this question. Currently, I am writing a thriller and I am looking at things in a very different way compared to how I was when writing a romance.

We’ll get to the thriller in a minute, but before that, I’d like to know if you’d started to think about how you could pull all of these books together by creating an author brand. Have you started on the branding journey?

No, not yet. I am still so new and raw. Only one book old and I feel I have a way to go before I can truly answer this question.

*Laughs* It really can be hard to judge when you’re only one book in, but I think you’re already started down the branding path by getting your book cover designed. Who did your cover?

I had a professional book cover artist, Amrita Chowdhury, do the covers for both my novel and my poetry book. She was fantastic and knew the trends for covers for different genres. We worked well together and I will be asking her for help in future projects too.

And we’ve already touched on one of your future projects, your thriller. What can you tell us about that thriller of yours?

I’m currently in the middle of a psychological thriller about a female doctor being stalked and the repercussions of secrets that are about to crumble her world and that of her family. It’s a difficult genre but very exciting to write.

That’s so exciting! I wish you the best of luck in this new, difficult genre, and hope that your newest journey into the world of writing is tonnes of fun! Sangeeta, thanks for sharing a taste of your author journey today, and I hope to hear more about the next stage soon!

Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘The Scarlet Promise ( ASIN: B07D8LG6PC )‘.

Want to find out more about Sangeeta Kathuria? Connect here!