Monday, October 22, 2007

The Dowry Bride by Shobhan Bantwal

The heroine of my debut book, THE DOWRY BRIDE, is a twenty-one year old bride. She’s smart but naïve at the beginning of the story. She learns one or two tough lessons in living as the story progresses.

What's her name?

Why did you pick that name?In Sanskrit, Megha means “cloud.” The reason I picked the name is because she feels her parents named her Megha since she cast a shadow over them rather late in their lives, when they were older and already had two girls. She was an unexpected baby. Besides, a girl in many Indian families is considered a burden, and hence a shadow or dark cloud.

Give us a brief description of how she looks.She’s tall, rather thin, with big brown eyes, a full mouth, and long hair that reaches her waist. She wears it in a single braid. She wears saris at all times because of the culture she’s raised in.

Is there anything unusual about her appearance?No particularly unusual, other than the fact that she’s taller than the average Indian woman.

Who does she love? Why?In the beginning she doesn’t love anyone, including the arranged marriage husband she’s been forced to marry. But later in the story, she falls in love with the man who shields her from her evil mother-in-law. She loves him (Kiran) because he has all the wonderful qualities she admires in a man – loyalty, bravery, and mostly, a kind and generous heart.

Does this person love her?Yes. He has always been in love with her, even when she was married to another man, but has never mentioned it to her because in an old-fashioned culture it is wrong to have anything to do with a married woman. Besides her husband is his own cousin. He can’t hurt his own family by declaring his feelings.

Tell us about her family.Megha’s father is retired and not in good health, which makes him cantankerous. Her mother is still quite young and beautiful, but she’s timid and totally under her husband’s thumb, so she can’t help Megha when she’s clearly in trouble. Megha’s two older sisters are well-settled in comfortable marriages even while Megha is a little girl because of the difference in their ages.

Where is she from?She is born and raised in Palgaum, a small (fictitious) town in southwestern India. She is also married to a man in the same town.

Does her hometown affect her behavior, thoughts and attitude?Yes, very much so. When she runs from her in-laws and her husband after she discovers their plot to kill her, she has no place to go, precisely because it is a small town and she will be easily found. Also later, when she and Kiran fall in love, she’s afraid to surrender to the sentiment because in a conservative town they will be discovered and bring shame upon their respective families. Her thoughts and behavior are directly affected by the small town atmosphere she’s been raised in.

What does she want out of life?
Most of all, she wants to be independent and have a career, and at the same time she wants a caring man in her life, marriage and family.

What's her biggest secret? (Only share if it isn't a spoiler in the story.)
She doesn’t really have one, until later, when she falls in love with her husband’s cousin.

Did you write more than one story about her?No. THE DOWRY BRIDE is the first and only story about Megha.

How would she describe you?She’d probably consider me a woman who’s too outspoken and too forward for her tastes. But she would probably envy my courage to do what I please, something she hasn’t learned to do.

Is there anything else about your heroine that we need to know? Feel free to share.Megha is good with words and has always dreamt about being a journalist. Her father won’t hear of her pursuing a career because in his old-fashioned world, women don’t need to work. They have to depend on their husbands for support. And Megha abhors the thought of being dependent on a man. But in her world she has no choice but to obey her father.

Please provide your website link.

What is the link to buy your book?

It was wonderful to meet her. Thank you for bringing her to meet us.Thank you for inviting me to share my heroine with you and your readers. I enjoyed creating Megha and love talking about her. This is the first time someone has specifically asked me so many interesting questions about her and her alone. I appreciate it.

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