Thursday, 17 November 2016

Winners and Losers

The US presidential election has been a long journey. And on November 9th, I had to explain to my daughter how a man labelled as racist, misogynistic and politically inexperienced got to be the leader of the free world.

In the interests of balance, I also had to explain why so many people disliked and distrusted his opponent too. My daughter was bewildered as to how these two ended up as America's choice for the next president. Join the club, love.

But it's (hopefully) taught us two things.

1) The polls aren't always right. Remember Brexit.

2) There is a huge swathe of people out there who feel disenfranchised, forgotten, ignored, and badly done by. They believe the current Administration has failed them and they've made their voices known. They want change. The trouble is, some communities (Muslim, LGBT, Hispanic) fear the change may be for the worse.

Trump has promised to be a president for ALL people. For those of us watching from the outside, we can only hope that's true.


Christmas is just weeks away. Anyone with OCD like myself will already have written their lists and started their shopping. My husband is more laid back, which usually means he has a last minute scramble to buy presents. We always have a battle over when the tree goes up. My daughter starts clamouring for it come mid-November. My husband would be happy to leave it till Christmas Eve. So we compromise - sometime around December 10th, the Ghosh household will be bedecked with bows of holly. 

If you're looking for a unique present this year which will do some good and has more meaning, do check out the Alternative Gift Shop at Build Africa. This is the charity I'm a patron of, and the gifts are really cool. You can buy much-needed items for villages in Africa and donate them in someone's name. That person will get a beautiful postcard recognising their contribution and telling them what it means. Just 5.00GBP buys soap for a child;  17.00GBP buys honey bees for an African farmer; and if you can stretch to 70.00GBP, you get to help educate a girl! And that really is an amazing gift.


Visit the website at and make a difference this Christmas. Now, unashamed plug over, time to get back to scrutinising another long-running election contest with hilarious competitors. Yes, X-Factor, I'm talking about you. 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Starter For Ten

It's been a while since my last blog. Apologies - it's a combination of being too busy and, when I do have time, too lazy. But here I am again, and it's been a weird month of ups and downs.

The Ups - several publishers have now read my manuscript, encouraged by my hard-working agent Piers, and all of them have enjoyed it. Just to fill you in, I've written a YA supernatural novel about an Indian teenage girl who discovers her mother belongs to an ancient demon-slaying organisation. The story has its roots in Hindu mythology, which was a big part of my childhood.

One publisher wrote "I thought the concept for this one was brilliant and I'm always keen to bring a broader range of cultural influences to the list". Another wrote "Shiulie is clearly a gifted writer with such a natural YA voice that flows wonderfully and pulled me into the story immediately".

The Downs - the first publisher already had several YA authors on their books and didn't require any more. The second decided they wanted a contemporary story, not a paranormal one. My agent got a 'thanks but no thanks' in each case.
I confess I'm only able to tell you this after spending some time wallowing in self pity. Rejection is hard to take, especially when you've spent the best part of a year honing what you think is a great adventure, only to be told no-one wants to publish it. But now I look at their comments and I realise my style of writing isn't the problem, in fact the publishers like that a lot. They just want a different story. So I can either quit - or start again. Back to the drawing board.

An interesting email in my inbox this week. "I am the assistant producer of the television series 'University Challenge'...... Would you be interested in taking part in the Christmas special?" For those who don't know, University Challenge is a formidable BBC quiz show where teams from universities compete to answer questions like "in cytogenetics, what term describes the entire chromosomal complement of a cell which may be observed during mitotic metaphase?"  (Feel free to have a stab at the answer in the comments section below!)  

At first I thought it might be a hoax. But on closer investigation it turned out to be true - I was being asked to be on a panel of four representing the University of Kent. Now, my first inclination was to refuse. This quiz is hard - I mean, really, really tough. It's a sure-fire way of revealing just how desperately ignorant I am of anything not involving Middle East politics.

Jeremy Paxman, University Challenge host
But then I thought, what the hell. Looking like an idiot on national telly can't possibly feel worse than having your precious manuscript turned down by publishers. So I said yes.

Filming is in a couple of weeks. I am yet to speak to my fellow team mates, and I have no idea how to prepare, other than trying to memorise all the key dates in British history over the past 200 years.

But maybe I'll get lucky - maybe quiz master Jeremy Paxman will ask me all about about the Arab Spring. I'll let you know how it goes in my next update.