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Seeing a New Color for the First Time

Incognito Author Interview

Incognito Author Interview

Paradox is a collection of poetry that strips down and analyzes many aspects of modern society. What was the inspiration for the pieces in this collection?

We as humans, as a society, are brainwashed. For better or worse, we only learn from the information/algorithms given to us at a young age. And this is unstoppable, no matter what society comes after this one. But there comes a time when these conditions and rules become a burden because the rules become an obligation. Instead of being a person and enjoying the thrill that comes with wearing a mask, it is taken too seriously. It stops being a game when you can’t stop it; it becomes an addiction. And it becomes hell when you want to stop but are forced to keep playing by the rules. Paradox is a reminder that you can’t take yourself seriously because there isn’t anyone there. “you” are just another idea you take too literal. And I know what it’s like to grow up being the black sheep of the family/society; so, I know what it’s like to feel alone even when you’re surrounded by everyone. My way of thinking has always been considered taboo and has crossed the line of “we aren’t supposed to be talking about this or that” many times. I’ve noticed more and more people are beginning to question life because isn’t it a bit odd to appear on this weird rock we call earth, with no memory or instruction? I think the fact that life is so vague gives room for our beautiful theories and beliefs to breathe.

I enjoyed the paradoxes presented in this book because it prompted me to think critically about things I haven’t before. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Well I created Paradox in a way that is very ambiguous because I wouldn’t want every person to take the same thing from this book. I’ve had hundreds of people email or dm me with a different interpretation of Paradox. For some it was about mental health, motivating, psychotherapy or just a story. But if anything, self-awareness. I am not asking anyone to have a mystical experience or a complete breakdown after reading this book, but self-awareness is important to me. I ask my readers to be anything they would like to be but be aware of your choices. Part of me wants to do what Jim Carrey and Alan watts did for me which was showing me that I wasn’t the only one who questioned the things people normally take for granted. Jim Carrey especially. He’s considered someone who is known for making people laugh yet if you ever hear him talk, you can sense that’s not the only part to him.

What is a theme you find yourself always coming back to while writing?

What first introduced me into writing was my ability to place an emotion inside someone else’s body. That to me is magic. I am obsessed with leaving my audience with something to think over. After reading any of my works, you will either finish thinking about something you have never thought of or seeing your life in a new light. it’s like seeing a new color for the first time. and sometimes that color can be hard to describe but it’s amazing while it’s new.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I just finished my 7th book and am working on a few more but my next book, “Workings of a masochist Vol. I” will be available this fall. Workings of a masochist will be a bit darker and a completely different approach mainly because I will never duplicate my work. I feel that Paradox has been wonderful in positivity, but I want my second book to really hit hard on what people ignore. We all read books about the victims of relationships of any kind but never the villains. The people who are hurting instead of the ones who cause the hurting. Because often the ones who hurt are doing the hurting. As of now, I believe “Workings of a masochist Vol. I” will probably be my best book.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

what do you mean when you say I? normally we would respond by saying a center of awareness or a feeling of empowerment/selfishness. but after answering that question, another question comes which is “who is the one aware of yourself?” fire cannot burn itself in the same way you cannot look into your own eyes without using a mirror. by being aware of this illusionary feeling of a self, there is a separation. and if you think about that long enough to realize that there is no self, who is it that knows there is no ego? we often hide behind the masks we create; the mask embedded into our skin. we try to find our real selves in our mask which only leads from one maze to another. lost between sanity and madness. what would it be like to remove the mask you don’t remember putting on? what would it be like to know that you didn’t have to hold onto yourself so tight? these are questions we avoid because we aren’t sure just how deep the rabbit hole can go. but there’s always a way out of an illusion. you might not be the you that you think you are.

WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS CONTRADICTIONS

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Paradox

Paradox is an intense read. Even though it’s basically a paragraph or two centered on each page, nearly all of them are hefty topics. The book is divided into four sections. However, it does not follow a traditional storytelling pattern. Instead the sections refer to the emotions that are evoked during the read. It is a fairly all-encompassing book- I’d have difficulty naming topics that it didn’t manage to cover. Everything from love, life, death, technology, philosophy, wisdom, psychology, nature. Everything is critically analyzed, re-analyzed, and stripped down to the core. Technically, one could refer to this as a collection of poems but it seems to transcend categorization. Also, I’m pretty sure that’s kind of the point.

Although I would never disrespect this book by calling it self-help, there were some strange observations that I encountered while reading it. I was implementing changes in myself; sitting up a little straighter, noticing more, listening more carefully, and paying attention to the decisions I made. Some of the passages feel like a sharp, cold breeze that wake you up. It’s so easy to succumb to the lethargy and passivity of life, but a jolt like this is required once in a while. Even if it doesn’t have the power to tell you what to live for, it reminds you that you’re still alive.

The passages about the connection between technology, especially social media, and the ego, or mask that you put on, were especially striking. They managed to voice issues and thoughts that are extremely relevant to this generation. Often, when I’m on any social media platform, I get the feeling that there is something problematic about all the pretension. It’s easy to brush that feeling away, because if the herd is doing it, so can you. This book shoots down that voluntary ignorance and encourages you to embrace the discomfort. There’s no glory in watching life pass you by.

It’s a strange exercise of the brain, reading this book. It’s almost doing sit-ups and looking in on itself. A little dizzying but how often does your mind get to do adventure sports. It was a strange and refreshing read that left me in a introspective mood. It’s the perfect read for anyone who likes to be haunted with their thoughts long after the book is over, but in wonderful ways. Go in with an open mind, and you will leave a different person.

Pages: 234 | ISBN: 1792977816

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A Victim of Circumstances

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Arti Chugpai Author Interview

Phoenix tells the story of Sonam and her trials and tribulations as she builds her life as a woman in India. What was your inspiration for this heart-felt novel?

I have been inspired by experience and observation. My family background has been similar, and I have closely observed the lives of urban well-educated women in India. Despite a progressive education and multifaceted skills, they are expected to conform to obsolete family norms and not allowed to make life choices. This is especially true for the year 1983, when the protagonist Sonam wants to extricate herself from an abusive marriage. Indian society then was full of paradoxes: on one hand was the evolution of a knowledge society and unprecedented technological advancement and on the other deeply entrenched dogmatic beliefs in gender stereotypes. Instead of sympathising with a woman who was a victim of circumstances, her family and friends blamed her for her misfortunes and ostracised her.

I felt that this novel confronted gender stereotypes in a bold way. What themes did you want to capture while writing this book?

I have always felt strongly about the unequal playing field provided to women, even in the educated elite class, and the perception that they are appendages to male family members, whether father, brother or husband. Why should women be accorded respect only if they have empathetic men to battle for them? This discrimination is especially difficult to combat since one is pushing against one’s parents and closest family members whom one loves and respects. Through this novel, I wanted to highlight the need to cherish and support daughters as individuals regardless of the presence and status of their life partners.

I felt that Sonam was a multilayered character that was judged by her failings rather than her success. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

While her parents despair of what will happen to Sonam after she leaves her husband and judge her by her failure in relationship, she demonstrates exceptional skills and shines in her workplace as an achiever. Her personality growth from 1983 to 2017 despite all odds illustrates the triumph of the spirit over ostracism, bigotry, negativity and injustice. She is rejuvenated from the ashes, just like the mythical bird, phoenix.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

My next book, tentatively titled ‘A Journey Within’ has a very different story though it also deals with women’s issues. The lives of 16 Indian women of varying age groups intersect when they go on an all-women’s trip to Spain and Portugal. As events unfold during and after the trip, each of them reaches a realization that changes her life forever.

Author Links: Amazon | Website | GoodReads | Facebook

Phoenix by [Chugpai, Arti]

Caught in an abusive marriage, Sonam Aggarwal finds no family support when she struggles to break free. However, with unwavering grit, she makes a place for herself in the world and rises like a phoenix from the ashes of her dead marriage to discover true companionship and professional success. 

The evolution of a knowledge society in India that places a premium on human knowledge and skills regardless of gender finally bequeaths her a coveted place in the sun. The novel focuses on the core strength of a woman that asserts her value despite external trappings and women characters who go through their individual struggle with the inevitable challenges that threaten their existence. 

Phoenix, a novel, traces the life of Sonam and her upper class family in South Delhi from 1983 to 2017. It highlights the curious paradoxes in Indian society: its global leadership in digitalization contrasted with antiquated prejudices and gender stereotypes.

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