Chai Pe Bulaiya : author Leela Soma

This post has been in the offing for more than a month and got delayed due to travel , health issues and bad internet connectivity. Today’s guest is a chocoholic( dark chocolate with Hazel nuts being her favourite indulgence).She’s won many writing awards and lives in Glasgow. Want to know more about her? Read on…    
Lets meet author Leela Soma  in Chai Pe Bulaiya today.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Also include some pet peeves, crazy/fun stuff about yourself . 
Born in Madras( yep it will always be Madras not Chennai to me) India. Came over to Glasgow, Scotland in 1969 and never left it. I feel a right Indo-Scot now having lived here longer than my birth city. I was a Principal teacher in a secondary school teaching political studies ( called Modern Studies in Scotland) to 11- 18 year olds. Now retired and happy I am able to indulge in writing which I loved but never had time for. I’m a chocoholic, dark chocolate with hazelnuts is my favorite forever indulgence. I claim to go to the gym but have typical middle age spread unlike our Bollywood Sri Devis!!  
Tell us about your book/books  
Book shops in Scotland had never any books by Indian – Scots and I felt strongly that I must contribute to the literary scene here. Our stories are as valid as the Jewish, Polish, Italian Scots so I set about writing what was dear to me. Twice Born came out in 2008 followed by Bombay Baby in 2011. Twice Born is about a young Indian girl arriving in Glasgow and the book features  culture clashes and has a bit of a twist in it. Bombay Baby was about a Scottish couple getting an Indian baby. It was a photograph in the Times 
Buy Twice Born here 
What inspired you to become a novelist? 
Novel writing is hard work. I’d been to a writing course on Saturday mornings when I was working full time. I joined a local writing group Strathkelvin Writer’s group and in the very first year I won the new writer’s trophy for my first 10,00 words of Twice Born. The judge Robin Lloyd- Jones said ‘many writers start a novel but never finish it.  Make sure you finish the novel.’ That was the best advice I was given. I was also inspired by so many young authors in India and of Indian origin in USA who were publishing their stories. Perhaps Monica Ali in London winning the Man Booker Prize with Brick Lane made me realise that people here are interested in the lives of other cultures.  
Buy Bombay Baby here
Watch the trailer here 
Is any character from your books based on anyone in your real life? 
They do say write what you know. The first novel certainly had elements of characters and incidents that happened to me or to my friends in Glasgow.  
Buy Boxed In here 
Who are some of your favorite authors? 
So many. R.K Narayan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, James Kelman, V.S Naipaul.  
What are the best and the worst parts about being an author? 
The high is when you get a sentence or plotline that is perfect or near perfect.  Great feedback from readers is so encouraging to a new writer. I had a lady who bought the book in Belgium and she took the trouble to email me her joy at reading the book.  The worst is the discipline of getting down to at least 4 hours of work every day, even when the writing is not going right. That ‘glueing the bum on the seat’ as they say is way too important. 
Tell us about your writing / editing process. When do you normally write? Any lucky charms that you believe make you write better? 😉  
I usually go to the gym for a swim or an Aqua class, then have lunch. I sit at the computer from 1 to as long as it takes. Sometimes I skip the gym and work at the novel all day with breaks. Poetry is more early morning scribbles almost like in a dream-like state and I have a notebook on my bedside table and the poems just flow from somewhere deep within you. Novels are about making sure you have a structure and following it. Though characters can take over. In Twice Born the character Aunty BB did take over and I had to cut out a major chunk of her story. Maybe there is a wee book in there somewhere! 
How do you unwind after a rigorous writing session?  
Family life is important and I make sure I don’t  write in the evenings. That time is for family, going out, socializing , going to friends book launches or to the various lit group events that are so rich in Glasgow. 
How did you feel when you received the author’s copy to your first book?  
Excited and filled with wonder that it has actually come to fruition, all that bashing away at the typewriter for hours on end.  
What pointers would you like to give to aspiring authors? How easy or difficult was getting published for you? 
Publishing world is going through enormous changes. I would say believe in your writing , do it with a passion, and keep at it.  
What’s on the menu next?  
That’s a difficult one to answer. Lots of things going on. The Pot Hole Press published a collection of short stories ‘Boxed In’ in 2013, I have finished a family memoir , only for my family, not for general public consumption, a book of poems is in the offing, some more short stories are in the bag. I was a finalist in a crime festival pitching for a new crime novel so that needs to be worked on. So all I can say is watch this space. 
Excerpts from the book / reader review excerpts 
FB: Leela Soma 
Twitter handle: Glasgowlee
Leela, thank you for dropping by and hsring your works with us. Good luck for all you future projects!