By Shobhan Bantwal
When I made the impulsive decision to start writing fiction at the ripe age of fifty, I knew it would be a serious challenge. I had never written anything more creative than school essays and the thesis for my master's degree. Nonetheless I had to start somewhere, so I began by writing articles and short stories about Indian-American immigrant experiences.
Much to my amazement, between 2002 and 2005, I successfully wrote over thirty articles for various Indian-American publications, and three of my short stories won awards/honors in fiction competitions.
But when it came to full-length novels, I had grave doubts. Would the mainstream American establishment be willing to accept stories that hinged on arranged marriage, dowry abuse, virgin brides and grooms, and male dominance? Would they even consider characters like compliant wives and mothers who, despite college degrees and flourishing careers of their own, catered happily to the men in their lives?
In spite of my trepidation I took a calculated risk by writing romantic fiction, a sub-genre that I branded "Bollywood-in-a-Book." I introduced serious social issues in contemporary India to American readers by weaving them into fun, romantic, entertaining tales.
After two frustrating years of agent-hunting I finally landed a great agent, Elaine Koster (now deceased), a publisher-turned-agent
I would love to hear about your own unique publishing stories.