Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Now, SRK, I'm Married

I first fell in love with Shah Rukh Khan as he- and his hair- bounced around the Swiss Alps falling in love with Kajol. His devotion to her as he followed her all the way to India, miraculously finding her in an undisclosed marigold field, his attempt to win over this man 

I'm sure he's a big softie underneath

by spending morning after morning caw-cawing to the pigeons alongside the bug-eyed, deep-voiced patriarch, which 16 year old wouldn't fall in love, I ask you?

I loved the King of Bollywood through his kitschy early years filled with neon colored Gap hoodies, his dramatic years playing a steady stream of NRIs, and his melodramatic years which some say includes everything he's ever done but of course they're just jealous.

Like this clip, (begin at 1.07), pure, understated drama, subtle as a Vancouver rainfall:

My love for him caused many a domestic dispute in my personal life. My then boyfriend was not a fan of my phone's screensaver, a picture of King Khan I had begged my sister to take at a London tube station. The night before my wedding, I got an email from the Mona Khan Dance Company saying they would be dancing with SR in San Jose the next night. Fortunately, we were wed in Vancouver; it might not have made for an auspicious beginning to my marriage to be found missing at my own wedding reception.

Sadly, my undying love wavered after one too many single-syllable action movies.

But like the 30 minute conclusion of Devdas, it's a slow death, not quite there, just hovering at the haveli door, crying, dying.

And now, in a plot twist even more surprising than when his reincarnated character crosses paths with a carbon copy of the woman he loved a lifetime ago, ladies and gentlemen, Shah Rukh Khan is chasing me. Like when you're five and the boy you love doesn't love you back till you stop paying attention and then he chases you around the playground incessantly, SR is everywhere. Begging me to come back.

How else do you explain me being mid-agent-hunt, on the website of a hard core New York agent and seeing she represents this book:

You see what he's trying to do, don't you? He obviously wants me back. He's arranging it so that we'll both be represented by the same agency and then meet in Bombay or New York or his next video shoot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge or the pyramids or the Swiss Alps.

Well, Bollywood Ki Jaan, I'm married now. So the answer is obviously an unequivocal, resounding 'we'll see'.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Progress: Slow but Sweet

Perusing the daily email I get from Publisher's Market Place over my morning coffee, I noticed something.

Like Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering when Eliza finally masters her vowels, I sat up, observing carefully to make sure it was real. I read some more of the newsletter. It was. It was real.

I was understanding what I was reading.

I understood that the first section was talking about book deals made the previous week, I understood their various breakdowns into foreign rights, film rights, etc. 

More exciting, I recognized the names of the big shots making these deals. Mostly from my research but also because I've been hobnobbing with some of them at the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference I've attended the last couple of years.

I found myself chuckling like an old timer:  Donald Maass scored a deal, he's on my list of agents to approach. Al Zuckerman is retiring from Writers House? But he's the founder; that's huge. Reagan Arthur scored another deal? She's so powerful; I wish I'd have known that when she drove me to the conference hall last summer at Squaw Valley. I would have talked about something much more enlightened than the quality of the Chunky Monkey smoothies at the Mountain Market in the main village.

I am now off to do a celebratory dance much like minute two below:


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Prowl

For the past thirteen days, I've had an exquisite headache that moves around from the space between my eyes to the space behind my earlobes. I can't fall asleep at night and I have even more road rage than usual (close family shudder at the thought here). All this is due to the new phase in my writing life: the hunt for an agent.

I read some wonderful books on how the heck to find an agent (my faves were The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, which was actually laugh out loud funny, and Noah Lukeman's How to Find- and Keep- A Literary Agent which kept me from jumping off any bridges with a clearly defined plan of action).

I'm starting with agents of writers I love, as per the advice in the above books. As with every other step along this journey, it's a roller coaster.

Yesterday, I found Sandra Dijkstra, who represented not one but two of my all time favorite authors, Amy Tan and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (whose name makes mine sound like Sandy Smith). After an hour of gleefully cross referencing her across various sites, reading her interviews in literary journals, and imagining our instant bond based on difficult to pronounce names, I came upon the sentence that I didn't read so much as cover my ears as it jumped off the page and shrieked: Ms. Dijkstra will no longer be accepting unsolicited queries after March 16, 2012. Yesterday was March 13.

By dinnertime, I came up with about five plans to get over this obstacle but you can imagine the toll on my nerves.

Today has been just plain bad.

I spent an hour this morning researching an agent who no longer represents one of my role models, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

                                         Chimimanda Adichie's inspiring TED Talk

This afternoon, I hit more walls as I discovered that many of the set-in-India books I love have authors who are British. Which of course means so are their agents.

The first book I ever read that was set in Karachi. It did for me exactly what the above TED talk is about. 

Some books I've enjoyed are by one time authors whose agents happened to choose them but the rest of their roster is completely different.

Such as the agency I just read/disqualified whose current releases page featured those bodice-ripping covers you see tucked into the back of drugstores, the ones you, as a lofty literary, walk right by with a mental scoff.

I've been doing this long enough now to know that every step along the way is a learning curve. I'll get there, I know.

In the meantime, the extra large bottle of Tylenol is moving from the medicine cabinet to my bedside.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ann Patchett Gives Stephen Colbert Smack Down

This is hilarious. Two of my favorite people go head to head as author Ann Patchett tells Stephen Colbert why independent bookstores are making a come back. And for once, Stephen is stumped.

Watch the interview here.

Or go to:

Friday, March 2, 2012

So Phi, when's your book coming out?

This is the question on everyone's minds. Possibly because, contrary to Parsi superstition that people's najar (evil eye) will annihilate any hope that I had, I did some chicken counting before any hatching took place and announced on Facebook that my book was "done".

What that meant was that the book was out of my head and onto the page. Its fate now rests in the hands of some dear friends who have bravely agreed to critique it.

So what's next?

1. Write a query letter where I describe my 350 page book  in 150 words, conveying clearly that my idea is original yet universal and doing so in a manner so succinct (yet expansive) that in the 30-60 seconds that any run-off-her-feet agent (whose inbox is crammed with at least one hundred of these letters a day) will devote to me, my letter will make her drop her venti latte and call me right up.

2. Find the right agent for me through careful cross-checking across various publishing websites, agency websites, Amazon, etc, weed through the scammers, and settle on one who is new enough to take on a first timer like me yet established enough to know the right people though not so big a name as not to be taking on new clients.

3. Send out flurries of query letters and in the interim, which could last one to 365 days, while away my time biting the skin around the beds where my finger nails once lay and wash it down with the dredges of whiskey remaining in the liquor cabinet.

And that is when the book is coming out.