Meet a writer series – Sonja Chandrachud

Dubbed the ‘Desi Rowling’ by the media, Sonja deftly brews up fantastical tales filled with magic, mayhem & mischief. The Potion of Eternity & Pearls of Wisdom are the first two novels in the much loved Hilarious Hauntings Adventures five book series. As part of the DOA Detective Files she has written ‘Trouble at the Taj’ and the new book ‘Revenge of the Pharaoh’ which will be released on December 22. Sonja currently resides in Pune.


What got you writing? Can you please share your story?

With my dad in the Army, I had an extraordinary childhood growing up on the NE border with goats, hens and Sherpas for friends. Then came Africa with its black mambas and joyous people, next was the mystical Bedouins of Oman, the frenetic energy of the Big Apple, laid back prairies of Wichita and finally, home, the Peshwa city.

With people floating in and out of my life, reading was my only anchor and local stories became my friends, my window to the vastly different worlds I was lucky to experience. Writing was and still is, my way trying to connect with the world and a chance to share my passion to travel to spaces unknown.

You have lived in Africa & the Middle East as well.  What was it like?

Africa is truly the Dark Continent with its rich and diverse history, unexplored lands, lyrical languages and multiracial culture, all of which transformed and liberated my thinking at very early age. The Middle East is another exotic experience that opens your mind to a culture steeped in tradition and yet in sync with modernity. Living in a country takes you back in time, infusing your senses with infinitely unusual perspectives that emerge years later to shape the way you live.

Your books are for children and young adults. Any particular reason for choosing this genre?

Children’s literature is the most liberating and imaginative platform for a writer. Unlike adult fiction, it has no boundaries or preconceived prejudices or limitations set by society, you can truly write from your heart as your reader is all embracing and enthusiastic in their response, which makes it so very worthwhile.

Both Hilarious Haunting & DOA Detective Files have really wonderful and quirky characters. What are the other secret ingredients in creating a good story for children?

Secret ingredients for creating a great story for children are five – Strong, believable plotline, quirky and believable characters, a sense of humour, dollops of adventure and no moralizing.

Marketing books for children is very challenging. Can you please share the steps taken to promote your books.

Apart from updating my website and FB author page regularly, my book launches are very interactive where dramatization, dance and quizzes based on the current story make the evening a memorable one

What is your view on the reading habits of children today?

Children are reading though what they are made to read and what they would love to read are poles apart – it is time to throw out the old fashioned, moral filled stories and write what they can relate to so that the love of reading becomes a habit be it a paper back or e book.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading two stories right now – re-reading Life of Pi and Asterix and Cleopatra – I love Asterix and Obelix comics – so brilliant!!

When can we expect your next book? Any plans on writing a new series?

My new book DOA Revenge of the Pharaoh will be officially launched on 22nd Dec 2012.  No plans of a new series, I have to complete the Hilarious Hauntings third book first!!

For more details, please visit


Meet a writer series – Ashwin Sanghi, author of The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant & The Krishna Key

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About :
Ashwin is an entrepreneur by profession but writing historical fiction in the thriller genre is his passion and hobby. Ashwin was educated at Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai, and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He holds a masters degree from Yale and is working towards a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. Ashwin lives in Mumbai with his wife, Anushika, and his son, Raghuvir.

Ashwin Sanghi’s first novel, The Rozabal Line was self-published in 2007 under his pseudonym, Shawn  Haigins. The theological thriller based upon the theory that Jesus died in Kashmir was subsequently published by Westland in 2008 in India under his own name and went on to become a national bestseller, remaining on national bestseller lists for several months.

Ashwin’s second novel, Chanakya’s Chant, a political thriller with roots in ancient Mauryan history, shot into almost every bestseller list in India within a few weeks of launch. The novel went on to win the Crossword-Vodafone Popular Choice Award and UTV acquired the movie rights to the book. The novel has remained on AC Nielsen’s India Top-10 for over 18 months.

Ashwin’s third offering, The Krishna Key, a fast-paced and riveting thriller that explores the ancient secrets of the Vedic age and the Mahabharata. It was released in August 2012 and shot to #1 on the A.C. Nielsen all-India fiction rankings within the first week of its release.


1. You have successfully balanced the roles of a businessman and a writer. What was your greatest challenge during this transition?

There was no ‘transition’ because I did not really change roles… I simply decided to pursue a hobby rather passionately. Even when I wrote my first novel, The Rozabal Line, I did not know that my writing would eventually evolve into a parallel career. Although I have written three novels, I continue to work five days a week as a businessman. I only write in the mornings, on weekends and during an annual writing sabbatical. The challenge, if any, is to create walls between business, writing and family so that one does adequate justice to each element.

2. Your three books have been widely praised for their methodical research. Can you give us an insight into your research process?

Let’s take The Krishna Key as an example. The research was at several levels for this book. First, I wanted to examine historical material that could tell us that Krishna existed, not merely as a mythological character, but as a historical one. Second, I wanted to examine the events of the Mahabharata in order to interpret them in a contemporary frame of reference. Finally, I needed to study archaeological evidence in relation to Dwarka. I ended up reading over fifty books—including the Mahabharata, Harivamsha, and Kalki Purana—besides more than a hundred research papers and spent several weeks on travel. After having collected over five hundred pieces of historical material, it was very difficult to decide which ones would make it into the book. I eventually used only two hundred. That’s the nature of thriller writing, you can never compromise pace or plot even if you have very interesting material.

3. You have spoken of the importance of the plot in your novels. Can you describe your method to developing such interesting plots?

There are three things that make the novel—plot, plot and plot. I always start with the plot. Initially, the plot may not be too detailed but I will have an overall idea of the direction that the story is meant to take. Having developed a rough construct of the storyline, I then plough into my research. This may take several months or even a year. During this phase, I make meticulous notes and ensure that all the interesting material that will eventually be part of the story is filed correctly. Post-research, I revisit the plot in order to flesh it out with the knowledge acquired from my research. This entire process of plotting, researching and then plotting yet again can consume well over a year. Only once I have the entire book mapped out chapter by chapter in excruciating detail do I begin the actual writing. Characters are always incidental to my plot.

4. What is your view on the current scene in Indian fiction writing?

I believe that we are seeing the effect of one key demographic: the fact that over 35% of our population in India is below the age of twenty. We have a huge surge in first-time readers and their numbers are absolutely staggering. It is this young demographic that is fuelling the sales of campus romances, chick lit, and IIT/IIM inspired novels and novellas. On the other hand, there is an entire generation of Indian readers in its thirties and forties that had remained starved of commercial fiction written in an Indian voice. For most of my growing up years I had to depend on foreign authors for my dose of genre fiction. Most publishers were only interested in promoting either non-fiction or literary fiction. This has changed dramatically in the past decade and the result is a flourishing commercial fiction segment written by authors whose sensibilities and stories have some deeper emotional connection with Indian readers rather than the average foreign paperback. This is a wonderful development.

5. How do you deal with the constant feedback-both encouraging & discouraging that is the internet?

The only views that I always listen to are the views of my readers and fans. The problem, however, is that one can never create a work that will appeal to everyone. No matter how good your work, you will always find someone who didn’t appreciate it. That’s the very nature of a creative pursuit. I don’t discount readers’ opinions when they criticise, in fact, I listen to them very closely. But the ultimate decision on whether I wish to incorporate their advice into my next work is entirely mine and I would never give up that liberty. The day that the direction of your work is determined by assorted opinions you cease to be yourself.

6. Going forward, what themes are you looking to explore in your upcoming books?

All three books penned by me as of date have been in the historcal-mythological space. I do plan on writing a few books that stray from the historical element soon. My next two books will be pure fiction. One will be a business thriller and the other will be a crime thriller. I hope to complete both books by end-2013.

For more on Ashwin and his books visit his website

Book Reading – Vikhe Patil Memorial School

On 31st Oct & 2nd November, TenderLeaves organised a book reading session and other fun activities for the students of Vikhe Patil Memorial School, Lohegaon, Pune. The participants, aged between 5 to 9 years, were split into groups of 60 students each. Ms. Priyanka Maurya from TenderLeaves read from books such as Little Black goes to the Circus, Curious George goes to a costume party etc., to the children and got the children involved in fun games to draw a few characters from the books being read, spelling words from the story and other group / individual activities. This session was thoroughly enjoyed by the children and was graciously welcomed by the School principal, Mrs. Mrinalini Bhosale and the staff community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The 11th Pune Book Fair is happening this week!

Pune’s biggest event for book lovers is here – the 11th Pune Book Fair. That obscure book you never could find online or in stores? Bargain prices like never before? The biggest collection of books in town?

It’s all here.

TenderLeaves will have a stall at the Pune Book Fair  – with books, fun events, great discounts and more! We will have discounts of upto 20% for readers on book purchases of this blog and our Facebook fans.

Here are details about the event:

Venue: Ganesh Kala Manch, Nehru Stadium, Pune

Dates: 7th to 11th November(Wednesday through Sunday).

Time: 11am to 9pm.

Entry FREE!

(There are special discounts for our blog readers and Facebook fans – to avail of these discounts, just let our team know that you’ve seen this blogpost).

TenderLeaves Classics – Books worth collecting at TenderLeaves

Sometimes it isnt enough to borrow a book. There’s always that timeless classic that you want to actually possess, not just borrow and return.

TenderLeaves presents TenderLeaves Classics – we offer for you handpicked selections of timeless books. These collectors’ works are more than worth the investment you put into them – and they’re up for sale at TenderLeaves.

Below are the selection of our handpicked books. Go on, pick one for your bookshelf. To order one of these, just write in to

(while you are at it, do drop in at the TenderLeaves stall at the Pune Book Fair for book bargains, fun events and much more. You can read more about the event – or RSVP on our Facebook page.)

Sr. No Name Of Book – Author Amount(Rupees) 10% Off  Net Amount (Rupees) Image
1 M.F Husain – Pradeep Chandra 4500 450 4050  
2 Mapping India – Manosi Lahiri 4500 450 4050  
3 Sunderbans – Biswajit Roy Chaudhary/Roy Biswas 1250 125 1125  
4 Rivers of India – Sunil Vaidyanathan/Shayoni Mitra 2900 290 2610  
5 Dilli’s Red Fort – N.L.Batra 1500 150 1350  
6 Wit and Wisdom – Mushirul Hasan 795 79.5 715.5  
7 Indian Art and Culture – Utpal K Banerjee 2495 249.5 2245.5  
8 Akriti To Sansriti – Harsha V Dehejia 2500 250 2250  
9 Rabindranath Tagore A Pictorial Biograghy- Nityapriya Ghosh 1500 150 1350  
10 Nirad .C. Chaudhuri – Dhruva N Chaudhari 1250 125 1125  
11 Bismillah Khan – Juhi Sinha 795 79.5 715.5  
12 Wild Wonders – Biswajit Roy Chaudhary 850 85 765  
13 Tagore’s Paintings – Sovon Som 1250 125 1125  
14 Indira Gandhi – Suraj ‘Eskay’ Sriram 495 49.5 445.5  
15 Satydev Dubey – Shanta Gokhale 495 49.5 445.5  
16 Chittorgarh – Dharamendar Kanwar 795 79.5 715.5  
17 East Coast – P.K.De 595 59.5 535.5  
18 Mutiny Memoirs – Mushirul Hasan 395 39.5 355.5  
19 The Honest Always Stands Alone – C G Somiah 395 39.5 355.5  
20 Things Indian – William Crooke 795 79.5 715.5  
21 Gupp & Gossip from the Hills – Ganesh Saili 395 39.5 355.5  
22 Walking Through Fire – Randhir Khare 395 39.5 355.5  

Pune celebrates Pulotsav this November.

Pune will celebrate the birth anniversary of writer Pu La Deshpande from November 4 to 8. Pu La Deshpande, as many of you may know, was a true blue Punekar – and set many of his works in the city.

There are loads of events in the city on the occasion at New English School, Ramanbaug, National Film Archive of India (NFAI) and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

But this is also a great occasion to pick up some Marathi books by the great manat TenderLeaves.

Head over to the TenderLeaves site here to check out his books.

TenderLeaves organizes book exhibition at Saama Technologies

TenderLeaves held a book exhibition for Saama Technologies Pune. The idea was to give quick access to books for folks who could buy books in their office – without traveling to a bookstore or waiting for delivery from an online store. We had classic books for employees – and we had activity books for kids of employees.

We expect to hold such exhibitions for other schools and companies soon. If you’d like to buy books that you typically don’t see in our catalogue (collector’s items, coffee table books, reference books etc.), or if you’d like  us to hold an exhibition at your workplace, school or college, write to us today at

This slideshow requires JavaScript.