Sunday, 29 April 2012

Does There Always Need To Be A Love Triangle?

Why does there have to be a love triangle in every YA novel these days?

Think about it- a large number of YA novels these days have the same romantic plot/subplot of a girl having to choose between a two guys. Plus, the love triangle is usually quite typical. The first option is the 'nice guy'   who the heroine considers as more of a friend and the second option is the more attractive guy who might also represent something potentially risky.

Are love triangles that common in real life? I must admit I'm just a teenager and the couples I see in school are the only ones I know of, but I've never heard of a real love triangle. In school, there were kids who just went unnoticed and there were babes and dudes who had love polygons, not triangles. At the end of the day, nothing was serious and real love didn't exist within the limitations of classrooms and hallways. So why is it that writers need to have their teenage protagonists falling madly in love with not one, but two people at the same time?

At first I thought it was because the idea of a love triangle appeals to many people's fancy, especially girls. Most girls love the idea of having two boys fighting over them, and since it can't possibly happen in real life, they find a way to live their dream through books. Plus, a love triangle brings some edge to the storyline. You can use big words like CHOICE, DECISION and TRUE LOVE and make it appear as if the ultimate choice made by the protagonist can change everyone's lives.

All that being said, I must admit, I sometimes really enjoy these stories, if they are written the right way of course. I am still dying to find out if Laurel eventually chooses David or Tamani in the Wings series.

I decided in the very beginning that I didn't want a love triangle in 'Unexplained Disappearances'. Instead, I have a short, simple romantic subplot. Aria cares for her friend Riyan, but given the high-risk circumstances they are in, neither can express their feelings. Writing romance has never been my forte, but this time, I'm willing to give it a try.

So do Riyan and Aria get together in the end? Or do they just stay friends? As I always say, you won't find out unless you read the book.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Riyan Majumdar

Riyan is a boy Aria first meets in college. He seems strangely concerned about her, which makes Aria distrust and dislike him. But it later turns out that Riyan has a similar story to Aria's, and he is only curious to know just how similar their lives are.

I modeled Riyan on all the popular guys in school I have met over the years. Aria describes him as 'presentable'  (translation: handsome) and notes that he has a way of charming all the other students in college. However, I also wanted to show that the 'cool guy' isn't always the hero we dream them up to be. Riyan, despite being a smooth talker and instant hit with most people, is like any ordinary teenage guy when it comes to eating like a pig and taking catnaps.

Riyan is not perfect. He is a stress smoker and often gets distracted. He wants to be friends with Aria, but Aria doesn't trust anybody. Riyan is a big help in Bangladesh, as he is the only one who speaks Bengali.

Riyan is also what some people would call the 'hero' of the story, if you decide to ignore the fact Aria is a true heroine and he doesn't come close in the heroism scale. Aria admits to 'liking' him, but is too practical and cautious to act upon her feelings.

I loved creating Riyan. He is one of the most complex characters I have ever created. Now that I have my whole storyline all figured out, I know that Riyan will be a character that any reader would remember. 

Ismene Alastor

Let me introduce you to my newest character- Ismene Alastor.

Ismene is a nineteen-year-old girl from Vermont, USA. She married a boy from school when she was eighteem. A year later, her husband went missing. Ismene is out looking for her missing husband, Shiv, along with Shiv's brother Krishna.

As far as her appearance goes, Aria observes Ismene to be 'cute' with shoulder-length hair and deep blue eyes. Everybody's perception of her is rather belittling- since she impulsively married in her teens, she is automatically considered hopelessly emotional and unfit for a dangerous mission. She is sometimes considered a liability, as she is the only one in Aria's group with no articular skill or resources.

Don't be fooled by the short description of Ismene. She may not have the biggest role in the book, but she definitely has one of the most important ones. I would love to tell you more, but I can't give away the whole story, can I?

Keep checking out this blog to know more about all the characters of 'Unexplained Disappearances'.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Next Stop: Beijing

Aria and her team is now done with its stay in Bangladesh, which means its time to move on to a new location.

After a lot of thought, the location I have settled upon is Beijing.

Of course, there is the obvious question- Why Beijing? First of all, I want most of 'Unexplained Disappearances' to be set in Asia, even though I already have two American and one Slovenian character. Asia is, well, exotic even for someone who is an Asian. Also, it is virtually unexploited in YA literature. But Asia is a place where you can travel just about a hundred kilometers and you will already notice changes in people's clothing, cuisine and habits- such is the diversity of Asia. Plus, I am attracted to the rawness (not primitiveness) that Asia seems to offer, because in every country, even in the biggest cities, traditional culture still remains a dominant factor in directing people's lives. A mix of tradition and modernity- that's what Asia represents.

Secondly, I have always wanted to go to China, but the last time I expressed this wish, SAARS was a big problem in China and there was no way we could go. So now, I am living my wish through Aria.

What does Aria do in Beijing? Well, she is out to meet a rogue photographer writer named Husang, who is making waves in the art and culture scene of Beijing, but also has a past which has him indebted to the same people who were involved in Aria's brother's disappearance. But now he wants to break free from debt and Aria wants her brother back, so the two can help each other.

Are you excited? I hope you are, because I am.

Keep checking this blog to see where Aria goes next. And here's a clue about her next destination- it's going to be EXOTIC!!!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Katniss versus Aria

Just watched the 'Hunger Games'. While the movie continues to make millions in the US, it's out of theatres in my city already. In fact, the day I watched the show, there were almost no people in the theatre, and there was only one show in the entire day. Nevertheless, the movie has played a big role in bringing 'Hunger Games' to India, as it was formerly virtually unknown in the subcontinent before the movie came out. Admittedly, movies play a big role popularizing any work of fiction overseas. I have seen a continuing trend in India- YA books become popular here only after the movies come out. Nobody knew of 'Twilight' here before the films. I had just one friend who knew about 'Percy Jackson'. And now, people are finally acknowledging the 'Hunger Games' franchise after it has already been Hollywoodized.

So let's admit the obvious truth- to become a mega success as a YA novelist, you need not only a good agent and publisher, but also a good producer and director.

But keeping aside the discussion about books being turned to films, I must say, I absolutely loved 'Hunger Games'. I mean, what wasn't to love? I loved the dystopian setting which is futuristic but still highly probable for our future. I loved the subtle political commentary about the totalitarian Capitol which never becomes a political sermon. I loved the true struggles of the character- starvation, oppression, poverty. I loved the editing- some parts of the book have been omitted, but the film still comes together as a whole without looking patchy. But above all else, I absolutely fell in love with the leading lady- Jennifer Lawrence aka Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss is a strong girl who gets caught up in a political cross-fire to save her family. (Read more) As much as I loved the character itself, I just have to say a few words about the actress who played her- Jennifer Lawrence. She is undoubtedly one of the brightest young talents in Hollywood right now. Not only is she very beautiful, but the fact that she was in a sci-fi movie and still managed to have everyone praising her acting skills speaks volumes about her talent. Besides, she's already been nominated for an Oscar and is one of the youngest Oscar-nominated actors ever.

Thinking about Katniss made me compare her to my darling character, Aria Suri. I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the two. Both embark on dangerous missions for the sake of family. Both are the emotional backbones of their family. Both are focused and practical, as opposed to ultra-feminine and silly, as is the case with a lot of female protagonists out there. They both have the will power and determination to fight until death.
Katniss Everdeen

Aria Suri

So, I decided to do a comparitive study of two. Both characters have been analysed by me in the table below. Read the table and tell me what you think. Who would you rather root for? It might be a little hard, becayse Katniss has already taster silver screen glory while Aria remains in unpublished backwaters, but try to have an open, objective mind.

Katniss Everdeen
Aria Suri
I don’t like Katniss’ name much. FYI, she’s been named after the plant  better known as Sagittaria and her surname is similar to a character from ‘Far From The Maddening Crowd’. Her name has been criticized widely and some say it’s the worst part of her characterization. Katniss isn’t exactly a phonetic pleaser. I mean, it’s not exactly pleasant to hear. However, I’ll give it full marks for originality and uniqueness.
As I’ve written before, ‘Aria’ is derived from the word ‘Aryan’. It’s usually a boy’s name, but I modified it to make it suitable for a girl. I wanted it to sound ambiguous so that nobody would know where Aria is from.
Katniss has olive skin and dark eyes and hair- typical of all the people in her district belonging to her class. She is also a victim of starvation.
Aria has long, thick dark hair and big brown eyes. She believes there is nothing special about her appearance, but everybody else seems to notice how she can easily pass off as someone from a different country. She dresses simply and doesn’t believe in showing off her beauty.
Dilemmas and Struggles
1.      Her father died in a mine explosion.
2.      Her family suffers from poverty.
3.      She has to hunt illegally to get food for her family.
4.      Her family totally depends on her.
5.      She participates in the Hunger Games as a replacement for her little sister.
1.      Her brother disappeared a year ago.
2.      Her family suffers great emotional distress. Her mother couldn’t handle losing her son and is a patient of depression.
3.      She is the only one who can save her family from whoever took her brother away from them.
4.      She takes care of her mother’s medications and has to hide her own feelings for the sake of others.
5.      She embarks on a dangerous, potentially lethal mission to find her brother.
Katniss is a highly skilled archer, hunter, and trapper, having learned these from her father and Gale, honed to keep her family from starving. She uses her archery and her daring to score an 11 (out of a possible 12) during the pre-games judging. She has been well educated on edible, medicinal, and poisonous plant life of District 12.
Aria is a very skilled academic and manages to get into a great college despite her family problems. She knows something about everything, which often comes in handy. She is an expert in crisis management, and is able to logically think through pros and cons before making any decision.
Romantic Entanglements
Katniss is a vertice in a love triangle involving her friend Gale Hawthorne and her fellow Hunger Games winner Peeta Mellark.
Aria admits to ‘liking’ Riyan Majumdar, her friend from college whose father is also missing. However, in an situation wherein she is surrounded by true danger at all times, she doesn’t allow herself to act upon her feelings.

So, what do you think- If the two young ladies had to battle until death in a literary battlefield, who would survive? free polls 

So, what do you think- If the two young ladies had to battle until death in a literary battlefield, who would survive?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Latest Location for Unexplained Disappearances

Right at the beginning, I had promised that 'Unexplained Disappearances' would span across continents. So let me introduce you to the firs to foreign nation Aria travels to- Bangladesh.

Why Bangladesh, you may ask. It's not exactly the ideal setting for a YA novel. Most YA novels are either set in hypothetical places (eg, Panem). The romances are set in places with woods, rivers and flowers. Dystopian fantasies are set in a post-apocalyptic world. Basically, Bangladesh doesn't feature in the YA literary map at all. And that's exactly why it's perfect for 'Unexplained Disappearances'.

My grandparent migrated to India from Bangladesh in 1947, during the Partition of India. In a way, my roots lie in Bangladesh, even though that might be a little bit of a stretch. Two years ago, my grandparents revisited Bangladesh. It was then that I decided I would use Bangladesh as a setting for one of my stories. Specifically speaking, all the action unfolds in the outskirts of a city called Khulna.

And this is why Bangladesh comes into the story- Nova says that she is the last person who can lead Aria to her brother. Nova receives a vague and mysterious phone call from a man called Taha Chaudhary, who says he is both the reason behind Nova's mother's mother and a man instrumental in Aria's brother's disappearance. If you have any questions, well, I won't answer them now. I can't just give the mystery away, can I?

But Aria and her team is in danger and they have to always be on the move. So next time I post, Aria would already have traveled halfway across the world with the single-minded person of finding her brother.