Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss

SHOBAN BANTWAL|Ethnic Fiction – Risk or Reward?

August 2, 2010

No writer can assume that her career is without risks. Writing stories for public consumption comes with innumerable risks. No matter what the topic, fiction or non-fiction, someone out there abhors it, is offended by it, or decides to deride it publicly. I believe writing ethnic fiction is somewhat riskier than other kinds because it deviates from the typical readers’ perception and expectations.

While most Indian authors write serious literary books, I write mainstream novels with romantic elements, something I enjoy immensely. When I started writing my debut book, The Dowry Bride, I wondered if there was a market for such a story. Would any agent bother to look at a manuscript that was so outside the box? It fitted into no particular genre, the setting was unusual, the theme controversial, and the author unknown. It was “Bollywood in a Book.” It could be a perfect recipe for disaster. Nonetheless I started querying various agents.

It took me a while to find the right agent. Naturally I had my share of rejections, since fiction is so subjective–one agent’s food is another agent’s poison. Editors are no different. After some effort, when three agents offered me representation, I was thrilled that at least three people in the literary world thought my story had potential, despite its unusual elements.

Of course, the next challenge was to find a publisher. My talented agent managed to accomplish that feat by selling the rights to my manuscript to Kensington Books in a two-book deal in April 2006. At last, I had found an editor who thought my stories had promise. In fact, she seemed passionate about it because of its ethnicity and diversity.

For that I am indebted to both these wonderfully supportive women who were willing to take a chance on an unknown author and unusual topics. And the risks they have taken alongside my own have paid off. After three successful novels, my fourth, THE UNEXPECTED SON, was released on August 1, 2010. Early reviews have been excellent, full of praise.

Information on my Bollywood style books, including excerpts, videos, reviews, photos, and contests, is on my website.

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