All Those Tears We Can’t See
Interview by Dar Dowling
Q: Every book has a story about its creation, what’s the story behind ‘All Those Tears We Can’t See’
A: The creation behind this story is a precious one because this book is written from my own experience. Like Samantha when I immigrated to America a long time ago I had to start a new life in a newly adopted land, the language, culture, traditions, morals, beliefs, and everyday way of life were foreign to me, and assimilating into my adopted country while still retaining my culture and beliefs was even harder than you could imagine. I had disagreements with my children occasionally and then I learned to adjust to their views. I endured lots of hardship in my life and waited for a long time to fulfill my American dreams. I knew that with all these opportunities and hardships one day, it will bring a better life for me and my family.
Secondly, I always wanted to tell a complete story about India’s glorious ancient past and her spirituality, the incursion of Muslims of India and making India their homeland and the English invasion and changing the culture and progression, and America’s influence by modernizing and creating the IT boom. Of course, it was difficult for me to weave all the factors together through fiction as it was so broad but finally, I did it. As you see All Those Tears We Can’t See is a dramatic, cross-cultural coming-of-age novel that challenges Indian and American cultural expectations for women.
To create India’s and America’s inter-depended relationship through Samantha’s arrival to America and the birth of her daughter Monica, the 1st generation evolved in my novel. Simonti (Samantha) was stuck between her past, present, and future so the last thing she wanted to do was not to give up on her culture because she feared that the western culture will break off or break down the protected door she created for her daughter so carefully. This was the way it has happened and will happen in the future but the ultimate realization came too late for Samantha.
Though a lot of information about India was available it was always mixed with myth. I knew that the difficulty of understanding each other’s cultures was there. So I wrote about India’s middle class with its complexity, artificial liking for English style and social changes, desire for some revolution, and dreams of America’s influences. In the process, I made the characters very believable so that the readers can relate to them, empathize with them and sympathize with them even though they were only fictional characters. I always loved my readers. I heard their grief, their joy and compassion, and their understanding. I liked also reading books. My relatives always teased me as they used to call me a bookworm.
Finally, I have to address a serious issue. As this modern era is approaching with its all glamour and elegance at this present time in India where the middle class is brimming with lots of wealth, but societal unhappiness is on the rise. I never could imagine how rape could take place in this civilized modern world in a dark alley or open daylight. It was the talk of the town in 2012. Being an advocate I decided that moment I wanted to undertake this heavy burden on my shoulder so that people from all over the world would recognize how serious this situation is in India where horrible crimes are taking place without justice. When I was growing up we could go out at the night without fear since it happened very rarely. Now the parent provides bribery money for their sons who leave jail without punishment. The victim who suffered horrified indignity doesn’t get any justice. It was very hurtful for me to expose these current disorders but I had to pursue this venture so that an effective law can be passed. My intention is never to hurt anybody in this regard; I only wanted laws to be better with lots of protests and pressure. That’s why I dedicated my book to Joyti Singh Punday, the assault victim (Wikipedia) in her memory, and others who faced these dreadful incidents.
Q: While writing this epic book did you learn anything new about yourself?
A: I always had lots of imagination, curiosity, and analytical thoughts but I did not know that I could write an entire epic novel. One of my friends accidentally read my rough copy and she confirmed that I have some talent. That word was not entirely new to me. But I did not have any motivation behind it to write literary fiction and publish it. When I published the book the reviewers and the readers pointed out on Amazon that it was a wonderful story. With their encouragement, I felt enormous motivation and a dream to be a good writer. I invented that I could inform, entertain, teach, motivate, and show a beautiful creation with heart in it through writing. I learned that I am a very hard-working and dedicated person and if I want to pursue something I am capable of devoting all my time and concentrating the focus just to achieve it.
Q: How does it feel to be an author in the digital age now with technology being so prevalent?
A: Remember the time when we did not own any computer in our home but we had plenty of whitewashes to erase the spelling mistakes as all of us had a manual typewriter? I am not sure how many of us still use typewriters now. I am so happy that digital technology is here and is helping our job so much easier. Writing, printing, flyers, and presentation on computers or papers are all within our reach. I always write my novel with an MS word processor, store it and when it is finished I printed them out or send them electronically and I don’t even have to meet the person personally face to face. There is also another advantage we have nowadays we can present the job with a PowerPoint demonstration with graphs and financial and statistical calculations on a big screen computer. Zoom and virtual meetings are right there so we can take advantage of them if we don’t have enough time to travel. Now that the A1 Chat-GPT is invented to enhance our job even further, the future with more electronic tools is not very far behind.
Q: If you could have dinner with any of the characters in ‘All Those Tears We Can’t See’ who would it be and why?
A: All the characters in All Those Tears We Can’t See are very interesting and beautiful in their way so it would be very difficult for me to choose any particular one. But since I had to do it I will pick Samantha. She had shown the courage and struggle of starting over in a new place with different languages, cultures, and traditions where it seems like a brand new world. It reminded me of the cultural dynamics of immigration when I suffered tremendously in my mind. Like her, I cried many nights when I left my country, my parents, sister, friends, and relatives.
I knew Samantha would not fancy any American food, yet dinner with her would be an exotic one. She probably will invite me to her home and will make Somosa, Birriany, lamb curry, Malaicurry with shrimp and a few more dishes. It would be a seven-course dinner.
I particularly liked her because she is a protagonist in this novel with a very strong personality. She maintained her culture against all odds even when Amit, her husband respected her for her beliefs yet wished one day she will change to the American way and with American clothing. The irony is that also with her daughter, Monica picked up Western culture even though her mother sacrificed her career to bring her up in an Indian way. I felt sad when her hard work failed and a big mistake on her part which ended up in a heartbreaking tragedy. I also liked her loving relationship with her daughter and the concept of the American Dream. I can relate to her in this respect only instead of a daughter it is my son.
Q: This book has been so very popular with the readers can you tell us if you have a new book or project in the works?
A: The first book I wrote was In Pursuit of Love, Spirituality, and Happiness. I loved that story. One of the readers was curious why I chose Hawaii instead of India. India’s Majestic Everest brings out the Devine feeling that would have been suitable for the creating ground of Spirituality. But I wanted to write about America. I told him contrary to everybody’s belief that America has a soul which lay in the mighty Mountain ranges of Hawaii which flow volcanic lava that shows us how the earth was created in the ancient time. The 2nd book I wrote is about an immigrant’s epic journey from India to America to pursue her American Dream, her struggle, and her fight against all odds.
I always like to write a variety of subjects to provide different cultures, tones, and mentalities. Human minds fascinate me as it works with an array of psychology. After the controversial matter, I thought I will give my mind some rest and take refuge in writing a soothing love story. But it did not work out that way, as usual; the complexity again occupied this Fiction. It is a love story with a backdrop of AIDS tragedy. I wrote about 13 chapters but 6 more chapters have to be written and then editing could start. I finished writing about LGBTQ which has to be edited as well. And the last one would be my favorite story about a 9/11 firefighter hero. I like to accomplish as much as I can but writing is a very complex matter and it has to be handled with care.
Q: When finishing a new book what is your favorite way to celebrate?
A: After finishing this book I felt relieved. It was so much work. So to reward me my husband brought 12 red roses, a bottle of Champaign, and a heartfelt handwritten card to celebrate. But the irony is that I had to clean the mess afterward.
The second set of Press questions:
Q: ‘All Those Tears We Can’t See’ is a compelling read and includes many intriguing characters. What is one of your keys to creating such dynamic characters?
A: You have asked a wonderful Question. I would like to discuss all key points of the strength of the characters as it is hard to pinpoint just one. The Theme of this book, the cultural and educational values, the drama, the eventful journey of Samantha, and the constant entertainment all played a dynamic role to create those versatile and profound characters. But if you want me to pick one then the theme was the most important key point as it followed Samantha’s journey of self-manifestation in pursuit of acceptance, love, the American dream, realization, and adaptation.
Q: Downtime is necessary for many writers and artists to get their creative mojo going. What do you do when it’s time for you to relax and unwind?
A: I heard many creative people take time off from writing when they reach a saturation point. I also felt the same way when I get bored and could not think of a good idea. Some of my friends suggested that maybe singing will help as it takes the stress out of the system. I tried that but it did not work because in the first place you have to have a good signing voice otherwise, everyone will leave the room. So I gave that up instead I drank a little Irish Bailey and danced with my friends and it did wonders because it was not formal and not stressful. I tried also Yoga once but it gave me more stress than you could imagine so I gave up. Catching up with a movie or talking to my kids and friends without feeling guilty that I did not have time for them did work for me. Another thing that worked was creating mouth-watering dishes to enjoy with my husband without thinking about who will end up cleaning the dishes.
Q: As an author how do you define success on both a professional and personal level?
A: On a professional level I would appreciate very much if the work I created with hard work brings a variety of readers to read my book. Ultimately of course it will be my dream and every writer’s dream to imagine how it will play out as a TV drama or a movie on a silver screen.
One of the promises I tried to fulfill for the readers was an experience to feel something and to learn something from the trials/tragedies/successes of others, and if it creates this sensation with my audience then in a professional level it is joyful for me. I have tried to create an international odyssey for a first-hand look at India in the modern day (and also much of the past), and an internal, emotional, and contemplative journey along with Samantha, who confronts her preconceived notions of life and love. I created a valuable lesson by offering education and entertainment to my modern American audiences who would gain from the exposure of a different culture and tradition. The third one is Drama — This work packs a punch from Samantha’s past trauma to the trauma with Monica—not to mention the forbidden love—there is much in this work that will wrench its audience with great effect. A priority for me wisely was not to let my audience get bored. There is always a stimulus, and maintaining the value-per-page is evidently and rightfully a high Priority and that is my professional satisfaction.
For the personal level as it makes me feel I have accomplished something to be worthy of being called a writer. I tell the story that makes us cry, touch my reader’s heart, gives the taste of spiritual adventure and so on. When I create the subjects and plots I try to gives them the feelings I personally experienced so that they can relate to them in a personal way. It takes away the burden from my mind.
Another compelling thing is to create and maintain relationships with people around the world which gives me the best satisfaction. When I inspire the reader and educate them that are another personal reward to me.
A well-known writer once said, “To find rest and repose amidst an incredibly busy and bustling life — an oasis found through the writing process and its fruition.” I can’t describe it better than that.
Q: ‘All Those Tears We Can’t See’ is an amazing read. What was one of the challenges you faced while writing it, and conversely one of your successes?
A: As the modern era is approaching with all its glamour and elegance in India at present where the middle class are brimming with lots of wealth, the societal unhappiness are on the rise. I never could imagine how rape could take place in this civilized modern world in a dark alley or in open daylight. I decided that moment to undertake this heavy burden on my shoulder so that people from all over the world would realize how serious this situation is in India where horrible crimes are taking place randomly. The victim who suffered horrified indignity doesn’t get any justice. Samantha and Monica was an example in my book. If we ignore this assault on women and look the other way it will never be solved. This was the most hurdle and very hurtful for me when I have to expose these current disorders in my own country nevertheless I had to pursue this venture so that an effective and stronger law can be passed.
This book brought success to another level too. The American Dream created a wonderful sensation in my audience so they read the book to find out how it has been achieved. The take on Immigrants was very successful as they realize how hard it is to be in that position It was difficult and traumatic for young Samantha to leave everything behind and starts a new life in the U.S., where the language, culture, traditions, morals, beliefs, and everyday way of life are foreign while retaining her own culture and beliefs. The concept of the new generation was new as cherished young Monica grows up with Western values, she has plenty of things on her mind — and in her own independent heart — which have little to do with attempting to remain steeped in her mother’s Eastern ideas about correct social mores and her culture. That resonates with the readers as well.
Q: I am sure you have a lot of fans. What was the most interesting feedback or question you have received from a reader?
A: Over the year I have known many wonderful readers as they have supported me, congratulated me, praised me, criticized me, and scolded me. I have more than 600 followers. I have received many interesting feedbacks from them. I was very much touched by one of the goodreads.com readers who wrote, “Painful tragically drafted with extremely deep passion. I will forever remember this masterpiece novel.” This feedback brought tears to my eyes.
Pat Patterson, another reader said, “I could understand the conflict of coming to another country for opportunity and missing your home where friends and people understand.” I thought this comment was amazing since he understood how immigrants felt leaving their country.
Another comment was, “A sad, but thoughtful story integrates the two cultures. I didn’t agree with some of the medical parts of the story, but that’s because I work in medical and I’m critical of that!” Is it not funny that she was more concerned about the medical facility than the victim?
Becky Holland was amused. She said Loved it!
“Truth-telling, hide your face, but you know it’s true – what a nice little read. And that is the kind of writer we need – especially these days. Entertain us, yes, but dear writer, if you can educate us or make us feel “woke,” then do it. Gita Audhya does it.” Who can comment better than that?
“I felt that the quality of the narration brought this across beautifully, and I also appreciated the commitment to history and small cultural details and differences, in which the author does a wonderful job of educating us. Then she compared me with Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club.
Most of the time I got admiration but once one of the readers was very upset with me because she thought I gave more credit to Samantha who prevented the relationship with Brandon and poor Monica, for whom I neglected to write about her in detail. I was happy to feel that she created a relationship with Monica deeply even though she was just a fictional character
This was the achievement I got writing this book and I am very proud of it.