Alka Dimri Saklani is the author of “45 Days in a Cancer Hospital”, “Beyond Secrets” and “A Promise That Changed Everything”. Her debut novel “45 Days in a Cancer Hospital” was longlisted for Crossword Books Award 2013. Writing is her first love, the love that seized her when she was just 8.
She holds MBA degree in HR and worked with a leading MNC before turning to a full-time writer.
Born and brought up in Vadodara, a city in Gujarat, her roots hail from “Dev Bhumi” Uttarakhand. Apart from writing, she loves music, reading, travelling, and spending time with her two naughty kids.
About the book (Book blurb)
Noel is a counselor who risks his career for volunteering in an orphanage.
Nidhi is an engineering student on the surface, but deep down a broken girl in search of some unanswered questions.
Appu is a sweet little orphan, unaware of the cruelties of the world.
Despite being miles apart their stories interweave in Aashiyana – the orphanage. Their little journey together changes their lives in a way they never imagined.
One recurring nightmare, one unexpected phone call, one stolen diary, many lies and secrets, and a calling from the past are just the highlights. And when they depart, they are not the same anymore.
They didn’t hurt each other, it was a game of destiny. Will they ever be able to rediscover themselves and more importantly, will their paths ever cross again?
Beyond Secrets is a novel with layers of suspense and different nuances of relationships. And one question that can’t have just one answer – How long does it take for a scar to heal?
We will talk with Alka about her new book ‘Beyond Secrets’.
What is the story behind your book. Where did you get your idea for the book?
Beyond Secrets is the story of a counsellor, Noel, who visits an orphanage as a volunteer, but the moment he steps there the place sounds eerily familiar and he starts hearing odd voices. Trying to settle amid the unsettling feeling he meets Nidhi, his co-volunteer. He hates her for her brashness, but only until he discovers the soft broken girl hiding beneath the robust façade. Knowing the hurdles of their relationship they fight against the growing attraction towards each other, but to no avail.
One unexpected phone call derails Noel’s life and thrust him to a nameless life. His brother Sam’s diary is his only companion in his lonely days and going through its pages, he discovers Sam’s pain and realises that here was the real counsellor of the two. He finds redemption in the words of his brother and returns to the fold, a new man.
Weaved around different nuances of relationships, this story is, above all, a tale of resilience.
Regarding your question from where I got the idea of my book; Long back in a presentation I heard something about a counsellor who failed to counsel himself when his love life failed. I loved the concept. Though my book differs totally from the content of that presentation, idea originated from there; story of a counsellor who failed to counsel himself.
Challenges you faced while writing this book and in your life as an author?
“Beyond Secrets” is a hard-hitting book as many of my readers call it. Some of the scenes were too intense and I couldn’t help but feel it all at some point. There are scenes that involve some religious conflicts, I rewrote it many times to assure I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
What is your life mantra?
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up. (Quote by Regina Brett)
What is your writing process like?
I mostly write when my kids are off to school.
Anything special about your book that you want to share?
I believe we judge a lot and maybe that’s why we fear being judged. We don’t know what battle others are fighting, so we have no right to judge them. I have written my story from different viewpoints, stressing on the point – the decisions people make aren’t always their choice, sometimes it’s the only option available.
According to you, what are the three qualities an author must have to achieve success?
Carving realistic characters is one of the most challenging part of writing a novel. Different people will react differently to the same situation. How is my character going to react? His actions and his thoughts need to be consistent with his personality type. So, a writer also needs to be a psychologist at some level.
You must be willing to learn and improve. Don’t let positive reviews get to your head and negative to your heart.
Reading is the mantra. Read as much as you can.
What are your plans for next book?
The next book I am writing is a sequel to “Beyond Secrets”. There is a sweet little orphan whose story ended on a bitter sweet note, so I was wondering what happens to him after that and when I got to know from my readers that they also wanted to learn more about him I knew I must write his story.
What advice do you have for young writers?
First and foremost, finish the manuscript, be ready for criticism and no matter how good your English is, get your book edited by a professional editor.
Share a quote or line that has been your inspiration.
Quote by Richard Bach – You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.