Monday, April 20, 2015

Suman Saxena, Shifting Faces

AUTHOR: Suman Saxena           
BOOK TITLE: Shifting Faces
GENRE: Non fiction memoir

Please tell us about yourself. 

An optimist and a Can Do personality, Suman has done some serious soul-searching, and courageously put an important bit of her life squarely in the public eye. Suman has taken her love of writing to a new level with her latest novel, Shifting Faces. This is a poignant true story of a boy born in India, in the nineties, who migrates to the U.S. at four months of age, who has been dealing with a dangerous, initially life-threatening cranio-facial genetic disorder, since his birth. This is an amazing and inspiring story that catalogs this boy’s fight for survival in his early years, his development over the years till now, and his wins as well as losses along the way. The story is narrated in a light, conversational, sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching way, and includes many writing excerpts from the hero of this story himself and his sister in arms, in the form of essays and stories written by them at different ages. Suman has shared her love of wild life and her close encounters with them, and even mixed some philosophical meanderings in this saga, as she ponders the bigger picture in which we are barely a speck.

Suman aspires to bring this story in front of all families who adore children, and who may be facing unsurmountable challenges. She hopes that this true story of a brave boy fighting the big bad world on the one hand, and dealing with his ever-changing face and growing pains on the other, will inspire parents, care-takers, and youths who are living with genetic disorders.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? 

I work full time as a Technology Director, and write on the weekends or long holidays.

When and why did you begin writing? 

I love writing and have always wanted to write full-time. This is my retirement plan.

What inspired you to write your first book? 

My first novel is a crime fiction story called “Shot in the Dark: A Dark Steel Novel”, and is an ode to all the multitude of fiction authors that I’ve read growing up, who have taught me everything I know about life.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? 

I hike, and travel to wild life sanctuaries and wondrous locations. The world is a beautiful place, and so much to see.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

You can’t win ‘em all. Some people like what you write and some don’t. All feedback is good. It can help you grow, but you have to take the bad with a grain of salt, and not get dissuaded. An author’s voice is his/her own. Once you find what works for you, that gives you satisfaction, that should be it. If you are writing full-time as a livelihood, you have to be more cognizant of the reader, and what they would like to read.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel? 


Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? 

I’ve never had writer’s block, but it’s extremely hard for me to find time to write, with a full life of work, home, kids and friends. It takes me years to finish a novel.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

My first publisher was through query letters, but this book I’ve self published on Create Space.

What is your marketing plan? 

Social and multi-media marketing is part of my plan. Any way to get your book out there is good :)

What are your current projects? 

I’ve started the sequel to my first fiction novel.

What do you plan for the future? 

I hope to retire at 55 and be able to write full-time.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

I'm in the process of building a website.

Any other news you’d like to share? 
Shifting Faces has been accepted by the Cleft Palate Foundation as a resource for parents and teenage kids alike:

Tell me a little about your book. 

It’s a memoir that involves around my son, who was born with a cleft lip and palate. This story in a light-hearted vein takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of this boy from birth to eighteen years of age, and what he goes through with his genetic defect, and what as a parent, I, the mother goes through as well.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? 

I wanted to write it as an inspirational story for all kids and parents going through similar experiences.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Hope, and some strength to face their own lives a little more bravely.

What types of writing do you prefer, and why? 

I as a reader prefer to read pure fiction, because like everyone my life if neither perfect nor without its challenges, and I want to read to get away to a make-believe world where I don’t exist, but the characters make the story come alive. I personally like series of novels so that my characters have continuity. Which is why my fiction novel is the first of its series as well. I do read a few non-fictional books that are inspirational and may touch on an aspect that I can relate to in my personal life, that I can learn from. Food books are such since I like eating but not cooking so much.

What is the toughest part about being a non-fiction writer, and how do you get past it? 

The toughest part is how deep you want to go into the psyche and the experiences of the character you are writing about. There is a sweet spot, but with memoirs it’s all about how much you and your loved ones are okay revealing to the world.

What draws you to non-fiction writing? 

As a writer, it is perhaps the easiest kind of book to write since it is reporting on actual events that transpired, but it requires a lot of research and fact-checking, and has the added challenge of making the story interesting enough for the readers to pick it up.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book? 

I dug a lot into my own past and what transpired.

What about your book makes it special?

It’s a light read in day-to-day language, but with a strong message of hope that kids with genetic diseases can go on to lead very healthy and satisfying lives; and strife sometimes builds character.

Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?

My book has reference links at the end.

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing? 

Self-publishing is the new way to go, but traditional publishing has its own benefits. You have to choose what’s right for you.

Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?

I don’t have an agent, and don’t think it’s necessary.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction? 

Just write and read as much as you can. Don’t over-think it and don’t wait too long to publish it. It’ll never be perfect, since writers are their own worst critics.
What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Fun-loving; opportunist; planner; strong; wild-life enthusiast; smart; young-at-heart

What was the first book you published? 

It was a crime fiction novel called “Shot in the Dark: A Dark Steel Novel” under a pseudonym Sum Saxworth. The author website is and has a video trailer that’s pretty cool. Check it out…

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