17 July 2015

HFVBT Guest Post ~ Doctor Margaret in Delhi: The Azadi Series Book 2, by Waheed Rabbani

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

In Book 2 of The Azadi Series , this historical fiction novel continues with Margaret's journey from the time she and her Canadian husband participated in the 1854 Crimean War. Events leading up to the Indian Mutiny/Rebellion that breaks out in 1857 profoundly affect not only Margaret's life, but also of those who love her and others’ who wish her harm. The Azadi Series covers the turmoil that enflamed India from 1857 to 1947, and led to her independence. Those incidences engulf the characters of this story at that time, and then later their descendant's lives, again in the 1960s.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the author, Waheed Rabbani:

What inspired your interest in the Indian Mutiny?

Having studied mostly science and engineering subjects through my High School and University days, my knowledge (hate to admit it!) of Indian History was rather poor. Hence, during my retirement years, I started reading up on it. And, the more I read those dry history texts, the more interested I got, particularly how the Indian independence movement initiated with the “Mutiny.” By the way, most Indian historians prefer to call it “The First War of Independence.” Since I found the history texts rather tedious, I took up the challenge and began retelling the independence story in a fictional novel, which has evolved into “The Azadi Series.” (for those of you, who don’t speak Hindi, “azadi” means, freedom.)

You were born near Delhi – but how did you research life there in the mid nineteenth century?

While many of that period’s primary sources (diaries, historical accounts, and novels written at that time) are available in reputable university libraries’ archives, but these being out of copyright are now accessible on the internet! They provided valuable information about the life in India and Delhi during that era. Also, the largest depository of Indian historical archives is at the British Library in London. Again, the Internet has helped me out here as well, for the BL has put some of the material on-line, and for the payment of a modest fee they will send you photo copies, or download, some of the requested items. Hence, apart from visiting the local libraries, I did not have to travel to the BL in London, as some of the authors of earlier novels set in India, had to pour over the thick old volumes in the stacks there! Of course my visits to Delhi helped as well, if at least to visit the ruins of the old historic sites. 

Where and how do you like to write?

All through my engineering career, I worked the ‘early hours,’ from about 8 am to 4 pm. Which meant I had to get up early, and I’m happy that, now during retirement, this habit hasn’t fallen by the wayside! Initially I did sink into the ‘trap’ of doing my emailing, and social networking in the mornings. But soon realized that, being too tired by the afternoon/evening, I wasn’t getting any writing done. So listening to sage advice of other writers, I now devote the mornings strictly to novel-writing. I did purchase the most recommended software to assist writers, Scrivener, but don’t use it much. I am most comfortable writing using Word, and (still know how to) develop character information charts, time and plot lines, and other administrative spreadsheets, using Excel. Although, I mostly write using the ‘pantser’ and a basic outline approach, for I find it more creative, I am starting to outline (and timeline!) in some detail. Yes, these techniques have helped to speed up my writing and achieve my daily writing (ever changing) goal. 

Which historical fiction authors have influenced you most?

There are many. But to name a few: I was ‘blown away’ by M. M. Kaye’s novels (The Far Pavilions, The Shadow of the Moon), and loved Valerie Fitzgerald’s “Zemindar.” I’ve read and watched Paul Scott’s “Jewel in the Crown” several times. And of course, although not a novelist, the non-fiction writings of William Dalrymple (The Last Mughal). I reread most of the classical novelists, Dickens, Brontes, Austen, Tolstoy, Pasternak and others, regularly. And I’ll be amiss if I fail to mention some of our fine HNS authors. Being on the HNR Book Reviews Team, I get to read and review ‘a lot.’ 

What does the future hold for the Azadi Series?

So far I’ve covered, in Book 1, Doctor Margaret’s early life in the US and Canada and, following her graduation and marriage, travel to and service in the Crimean War of 1854. In Book 2 her story starts from her arrival in India, and after a brief period of stay with her parents at the American Mission at Futtehgurh, she serves at the Civil and Military Hospital in Delhi. Book 2 takes the readers up to the eve of the Indian Mutiny. Book 3 will cover the 1857 Mutiny, and Margaret getting caught up in it, in greater depth. Following books in the series will cover the Great Game (the Russian-British conflict in Afghanistan) and India’s Independence in 1947.

Thank you for this opportunity for an author interview.

Waheed Rabbani
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About the Author
Waheed Rabbani was born in India, close to Delhi, and was introduced to Victorian and other English novels, at a very young age, in his father's library. Most of the large number of volumes, in the library, had been purchased by his father at 'garage sales' held, by departing British civil service officers, in the last days of the Raj. Waheed attended St. Partick's High School in Karachi, Pakistan. He graduated from Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England, and received a Master's degree from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. While an engineer by profession, Waheed's other love is reading and writing English literature. He also obtained a Certificate in Creative Writing from the McMaster University. Waheed and his wife, Alexandra, are now settled on the shores of Lake Ontario in the historic town of Grimsby. More information is available on his website and you can find him on Twitter @WaheedR2009 and Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Tony, for hosting me on your Blog and the opportunity for the author interview. Sincerely, Waheed


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