Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Author Jaya Kamlani

To highlight the plight of so many women, children, and even men, who are victims of domestic violence, I will be spotlighting several authors this month who have woven tales of domestic violence.  We begin, however, with a nonfiction book, written by Jaya Kamlani, who heavily researched the topic in India, her birth country.

AUTHOR: Jaya Kamlani
BOOK TITLE: To India, with Tough Love
GENRE: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace
BUY LINK: www.amazon.com

Please tell us about yourself.  Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a full-time writer.  For my book To India, with Tough Love, I split my time between research, writing, and editing.

When and why did you begin writing?
Upon retiring from my consulting career in information technology, in 2000, I plunged into what I have always wanted to do.  I read. I wrote.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I research, read, and write poetry. The book on India required years of extensive research.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
When I have a writer’s block I read news, research, edit, or interact on Facebook.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I learned much about socio-economic issues of India and how corruption leads to poverty in the country.  Seventy percent of India’s population lives in the villages.  I visited and interacted with many non-profits/NGOs who are doing much to uplift the rural poor, educate their children, and empower the women.  I also learned about rural development, and how NGOs are bringing water to the villages where there is scarcity, and introducing solar energy in remote villages that are outside the range of the state’s electric grid.  The socio-economic issues addressed in my book are universal, to varying degrees.  My book offers solutions to many of these problems.

Any advice for a new writer just starting out?
I suggest they read books in the genre they are planning to write and not to rush to get a book published.  Writing a good book, especially non-fiction, takes time to research and write.  If possible, they should join a writers’ group in their communities.  They are a good avenue for support.

Who is your publisher, and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is CreateSpace –– Amazon’s publishing arm.  I saw their ad on Facebook and connected with them through their website. www.createspace.com

What is your marketing plan?
To India, with Tough Love has been donated by a philanthropist to the libraries of twenty leading colleges associated with the University of Mumbai.  I believe that if change is to come to India or any country, it must begin with the youth.  They are the future of the country.  Later, the book will also be donated to the colleges of Delhi, India’s capital city.  I am looking for philanthropists to purchase copies of my book for their university and local libraries in the US, India, and other countries.  I post articles and discuss issues mentioned in my book on Facebook.  I post my book information on various group sites of which I am a member.

What are your current projects?
I am presently wrapping up my memoir, which I plan to publish in early 2014.

What do you plan for the future?
Write another book.  I have written many poems.  Perhaps it might be a book of poetry.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I am on Facebook and Linked-In.  People can also leave me a message on my website: www.jayakamlani.com

Any other news you’d like to share?The brutal Delhi gang rape and murder case of December 16, 2012 is covered in my book.  I held off turning in my book to the publisher so I could write about the incident, the aftermath, and the world reaction to it since I had already written an entire chapter about the injustices that women endure in India.  I have also written about corruption in high places and the polluted environment of the country that is contributing to global warming.
Why do you feel qualified to write a book on this theme?
Domestic violence is a very common problem in India.  Having heard, read and seen how women are treated by their male family members and elders at home, I felt compelled to bring attention to it.

Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction? Why did you choose to write it this way?
This is a work of non-fiction.  By highlighting the hard facts based on news articles and world organization reports, I wanted to raise awareness and bring change in attitude towards women and children who have been exploited in India.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope the readers will get to know the real India, not the propaganda released by the country’s political machine.  In a nutshell, India is not a safe place for women and children.  It is also a country riddled with corruption and ruled by mafia.

What is the toughest part about writing about this subject, and how did you get past it?
I was saddened to read about the moral decay in the country where I grew up.  Often I got teary-eyed when I read about the many ways in which women and children are exploited there.  Still I continued reading and writing because I felt change must happen and those at a disadvantage should not continue to suffer in silence.  If we do not put out the fires in one country, they will spread rapidly to other countries, such as through human trafficking.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
I read the Indian, US and UK news, world organizations reports published by the World Bank and UN agencies, such as UNICEF and UN Human Rights Commission.  I also traveled through India to gather first-hand information and interacted with founders of many NGOs.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life? (Has anyone ever realized it?)
Abuse of women and young girls has long been a common occurrence in India.  Growing up in that country, I saw it all the time, although it has been decades since I migrated to the USA.

What about your book makes it special?
The book provides a narrative of my fact-finding journey through India.  It also offers solutions and highlights the noble work done by many individuals and NGOs who are trying to uplift the rural poor, educate their children, and empower the women.  For example, I have shown the creative ideas one human rights organization has implemented to curtail domestic violence in India.  Due to its success, with the support of The Clinton Foundation and UN Secretary Ban-ki-Moon, the organization has taken the campaign global.  My book is not limited to domestic violence.  It addresses the many injustices suffered by women in India, such as rape, female feticide, child marriage, as well as child labor, sex trafficking, and poverty.
Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
I prefer not to write about sexual scenes, but the brutal Delhi gang rape story, which received worldwide coverage, was so gripping and compelling, it had to be told.  I hope this heartrending story brings a major change in men’s behavior and attitude towards women.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The challenge was keeping up with the daily stream of breaking news on India that just kept pouring in.

Book Description: To India, with Tough Love

How deep does the river of corruption run in India? Can a country truly evolve if its citizens relentlessly pursue economic growth regardless of social consequences?

To India, with Tough Love is a thought provoking book that portrays a slice of India often overlooked by mainstream media. Jaya Kamlani’s colorful narrative of her personal journey through the villages and city slums brings a greater human understanding to social issues and the impact of globalization.

Her extensive research shows how economic development and widespread corruption have fanned the flames of India’s cardinal sins -- toxic environment, poor sanitation, farmer suicides, caste apartheid, extreme poverty, injustice to women, and child exploitation. She cites the real reason behind the abrupt departure of former World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz.

While addressing the root causes of social injustices, the author acknowledges that many of these problems are universal. She reminds us that human rights and environmental issues cannot be ignored for the sake of growth if meaningful progress is to be achieved in any country.

The book concludes with inspiring examples and interviews with social entrepreneurs who are driving change in India.

Jaya Kamlani is a former Silicon Valley technology consultant and graduate of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. Her passion for social change began as a young teen when she taught English to her family’s illiterate cook. Jaya has been living in the US for over four decades and presently calls Atlanta home.

Visit www.jayakamlani.com for the book trailer, journey photos, and news feed on social issues.


  1. Thanks Susanne. Appreciate your taking the time to read Penny's interview with me.
    Jaya Kamlani

  2. Please visit my YouTube channel for a multi-media preview of "To India, with Tough Love". https://www.youtube.com/user/jayakamlani