#LeiCrimeKW Author Interview – Rasana Atreya

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How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?

The first time I heard of Lei Crime Series was when bestselling author Christine Nolfi suggested I write fan fiction set in that world. I love reading crime fiction and police procedurals – and this series was both – so I bought the first book in the series. Once I started to read, there was no going back. I was hooked!

On Christine’s recommendation, Toby Neal was kind enough to invite me to be part of Lei’s world. She gave me copies of all her books for me to get a sense of what this world was about. I read through all eleven, falling more and more in love with Lei Texeira, Michael Stevens, Wayne Texeira, Anchara, Kiet, Keiki, Pono and Kamuela, as I followed their lives through Toby’s spectacularly crafted stories.

Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.

Valley Isle SecretsI decided to write Wayne Texeira’s story in Valley Isle Secrets because I felt a sense of connection with him. He’s had it rough, mostly because of his own life choices. But he’s working hard to turn his life around. He’s in a 12-step program for drug addiction and he’s also working on learning how to manage his anger. He’s also a born again Christian and is working hard at bettering himself. While my own faith is different (I’m Hindu), I came to appreciate his values and his sincerity.

When Valley Isle Secrets takes place, Lei and Michael’s house has been burnt down by a suspect. The two are sharing quarters with Wayne in his ohana cottage on their property. Wayne’s helping them out with cooking and childcare. Lei is recovering – physically and emotionally – from her miscarriage, and baby Kiet has just come to live with them.

I picked Wayne Texeira because he’s closer to my age (I’m in my 40s), and he’s an ex-con, (which I’m most certainly not! ☺ ). I believe in second chances.

The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?

Valley Isle Secrets is more a murder mystery with a gentle twist of romance. Wayne’s been in an all-male prison for twenty years so he’s relearning his way around women. But, like his love interest, Ailani Mauihiki says, she’s not going anywhere.

The Lei Crime Series is set in Hawaii, but these novels/novellas could be set anywhere. Tell us about where you set your story, and why?

I live in India. I also write fiction set in India. My own (non #LeiCrimeKW) fiction falls somewhere between the women’s fiction and mainstream genres. So writing a murder mystery was quite an experience for me. But, like I mentioned previously, I love crime fiction in general, and police procedurals in particular. And I went to school in America so I identify with stories set there.

By the time I got through Toby’s books (two in audio – a fantastic experience!) I decided that Hawai’i was where I wanted to set Wayne’s story. Maybe it’s me, but I couldn’t see him in India! Never say never, though. His ladylove, Ailani, just might convince him to expand his horizons. ☺

I had enough fun this novella that I’m going to explore this genre more (though I won’t give up writing about India).

Tell us a little about your main characters. Why do you think readers will like him?

Wayne Texeira’s paid his dues to the society. He’s a changed man, he’s a better man. He wants to be a better father. He also takes pleasure in being a grandfather. He still has some anger control issues, but he’s working on them. I think he deserves a chance.

What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?

My other works mostly deal with India-based social issues. My first book, Tell A Thousand Lies, is about a dark-skinned young woman who fights for survival when she is caught in the crosshairs of a politician desperate to return to power. The Temple Is Not My Father is about the obscure (but cruel) practice of temple prostitution that still flourishes in parts of India. 28 Years A Bachelor is more light-hearted, but it still touches on the ancient practice of child marriage which, while officially banned, still flourishes in parts of India. It also deals with the issue of dowry, which is a huge contemporary problem, and the lack of female empowerment when it comes to making decisions that affect a woman’s own life.

I like to have fun with my characters so I try to have elements of comedy – sometimes mild, sometimes in-your-face – depending on what the characters are going through.

Share some of your story about becoming a writer.

Rasana AtreyaBefore I turned to writing, I worked in IT. My job in the Silicon Valley was to maintain computer servers. This meant that if a server went down at 3:00 in the morning, I had to be on site as soon as my pager went off (this was before cellphones, in the ‘90s). When we moved back to India, I had a toddler and an infant, and wasn’t able to work as a sysadmin, or in technical support anymore. So I was forced seek out a new profession. I had always loved writing. Even when I was working with computers, my manuals were the best written.

I started by freelancing for The Times of India. Going for interviews was a major hassle – for each interview, I had my entourage of nanny and driver (very affordable in India) and five-month-old who I dragged along to each interview. I also joined a mailing list for India-based writers. The moderator happened to post a fiction writing challenge, which completely changed the direction of my life. I quit writing non-fiction and switched to fiction.

Do you have a background related to your writing? Interests? What makes you interesting outside of your books? Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!

I have no background in writing. I hate to admit this, but I have a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. I love reading as much as I enjoy writing. I l also love music – classical (Western/Indian), Bollywood, Lionel Ritchie’s Hello! ☺ I love movies. Since I’m quadri-lingual to some extent (most Indians are trilingual), I love watching movies in Hindi (India’s national language), English and Telugu (my mother tongue). Can’t find Spanish movies in India.

Back when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I trained as a rape crisis counselor. It was my way of giving back to the community. It was very intense and very draining, and yet one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done.

I also love to travel. When I worked in IT (and had no kids), my husband and I traveled to many exotic places. Sometimes we stayed in hotels, sometimes we backpacked. One time in Greece I decided we would travel without any itinerary. My husband was game so we boarded whatever bus came along and got off at random places with just a Greek phrase book, and no hotel reservations. We met the most interesting people that way. Once, we slept in the airport because there were no vacancies in hotels.

I also took a year of Spanish while in the Bay Area, so I took six weeks off work and did a home-stay in Quito, Ecuador to better my Spanish. The first couple weeks – when my Spanish wasn’t quite there, and my hosts spoke no English – was interesting, to say the least.

The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?

All my books set in India deal with real social issues, ranging from skin-color related racism and superstition (Tell A Thousand Lies), the evil practice of dedicating girls to the temple that can result in prostitution (The Temple Is Not My Father) and the dowry system and child marriage (28 Year Years A Bachelor).

India is a land of crazy contrasts. Our strongly patriarchal society can (and does) control women to ridiculous extremes. Then there are women like me who have the freedom to live lives on their terms. So when readers write to me thanking them for showing them the ‘real’ India (because I write stories that highlight the lives of women less fortunate), I often don’t know who to react – I’m not any less real just because I’m not living a life of hardships.

What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?

I’m working on a mystery/suspense set in the American Midwest. I went to school in Milwaukee, WI so that’s not too much of a stretch. I’m also writing a sequel to The Temple Is Not My Father which I’ll probably call Daughter of the Temple. I’ve been having a long email conversations with a British Aid worker stationed in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and an eighty-six year old American woman about the latter. They have strong opinions on how they’d like me to take The Temple Is Not My Father story forward. I feel humbled that they are so invested in my stories.

Connect With Rasana!

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COMMENT TO WIN!

Comment on this post to win your choice of ebook from two drawings – the first one for Valley Isle Secrets (Wayne Texeira’s story), the second one for an ebook from Rasana’s India-based books – Tell A Thousand Lies (shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize), 28 Years A Bachelor, or The Temple Is Not My Father.

 Three winners will be chosen in each drawing.

31 Responses to “#LeiCrimeKW Author Interview – Rasana Atreya”

  1. Sandie Keeble

    Great that you chose Wayne to write about as I’ve always wondered about his back story. As a UK resident, I can’t purchase Lei Crime World books via Amazon UK, so love this chance to win one of the titles.

  2. Bonnie T.

    HOORAY! Another new author to get acquainted with! Rasana’ s works sound very interesting, but I will read her take on Wayne first. I’ve “met” so many new authors through the KWLCS! Corinne, A.J., Christine, Julie, J.L., Scott….. and more!

  3. Sonia Rao

    How fascinating it must have been, that trip to Greece.

    I am a huge fan of your writing, Rasana, so it will be even more interesting to read Valley Isle Secret because I’m sure it will be quite unlike your previous books. In fact, all the other books in the series.

    Thank you, Toby, for the questions that made this interview so insightful and yet, so much fun to read.

  4. Pranav B

    I have always loved reading your books and I can’t wait reading your next novel. Good to know so many many interesting things from your life. 🙂

  5. Janet Oakley

    Nice to meet you, Rasana. What an interesting life. San Fran, Milwaukee, blind touring in Greece. Good times. I definitely want to read your books (In English, I assume) and the Wayne Texeria novella sounds great. Welcome to the Lei Crime KW world.

  6. Sharon

    Rasana what an interesting life you’ve lead. Glad you picked Wayne to write about-different angle to explore. Would love to win your book.

  7. Kathy B

    Toby, thanks for introducing us to Rasana. I enjoyed the interview, and getting to know more about Rasana and her LCKW book, Valley Isle Secrets. I’m reading an ARC of this novella, and am spellbound by the storyline. Can’t wait to see where Rasana takes Wayne!

    Rasana, sometime we need to compare notes about living in the SF/Bay Area. We spent a very enjoyable seven years living there in the 80s, and some days I miss it intensely. Toby, thanks for finding another great LCKW author!

    • Rasana Atreya

      Thank you for your kind words, Kathy! And for taking the time to read the ARC.

      Regarding exchanging SF/Bay Area notes – absolutely! You have my email.

  8. Amy

    Great interview. Love Wayne so love the sound of this book. Look forward to getting and reading it. 😀

  9. M Ledin

    Absolutely love the Lei Crime Series and novellas. Have always been interested in the culture of India. Your novella sounds like a great book. Would love to read any of your books that you have discussed.

  10. Ramesh Grandhi

    All the very best, Rasana ji! I am sure Wayne’s adventures will appeal to a broad section of readers.

  11. Anjali

    Hi
    It was very enlightening to read this interview. As an aspiring writer I feel heartened to know that one doesn’t need to necessarily have a background in writing to become an writer. Kudos that you did it Rasana!
    As an avid reader thanks for introducing me to the Lei crime series… Looking forward to reading them all! Finally thanks to Toby for the wonderful interview!

    • Rasana Atreya

      I’m glad you found the interview encouraging, Anjali! The first book, Blood Orchids, in Toby’s series is fee now. Do check it out.

  12. Suneetha Balakrishnan

    I am going to buy this one anyway, but wanted to say what a lovely interview this was.