Friday, May 24, 2019

Neel Mullick Author Interview


Photo Content from Neel Mullick

With degrees in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA, and Business Administration from INSEAD, France, Neel Mullick is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially-aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru), and is helping IIMPACT (India) break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities.

He lives on three continents, spending his time between New York, Brussels, and New Delhi, has survived ten days (and nights!) at an airport, and a free fall five-hundred metres from the sky.

Concerned with the inverse correlation that seems to exist between society’s progress and the empathy with which it interacts with the universe around it, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

        
  


What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I think most people are surprised or rather shocked to find out that I have survived ten days (and nights!) at an airport, and a free fall five-hundred meters from the sky.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?
It would have to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull. First of all, I could fly! Having been a paragliding pilot for some time in my life and flown some of the most beautiful sites in the world, I can vouch for the limitless joy of that. Even though I believe no one’s perfect, I am familiar with the anguish and ecstasy that comes along with the pursuit of perfection. The journey requires immersion, which to me is the not only the key to happiness but also the antidote to aging!

Can you tell us when you started DARK BLOSSOM, how that came about?
To be honest, neither did I find writing nor the story. They both found me, at a time when I was struggling with empathy in my life. The characters started taking shape in my imagination and their strife was but an exaggerated version of what I was going through. All I wanted to do was crawl under their skins and describe the world the way they were seeing it. But my innate self wanted to do in an entertaining way and I soon realized that this required a double dose of empathy. First, I needed empathy for my characters to take them through their range of expressions. Equally importantly, I needed empathy for readers if I was to have any impact on them. And this was the catharsis I needed to fill that void in my own life. Now that the bug has bitten me however, I can’t seem to get enough of it!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I’m confident that other writers feel similarly, but when I start writing, even food and sleep seem like a distraction. More literally however, it is a full-time job that requires me to manage two key portfolios of product management and information security that keep me from writing the most.

For those who are unfamiliar with Sam, how would you introduce him?
Phew! That’s a tough one. Let me explain. Sam’s character is a reflection of my fascination with how people judge the motives of those around them. In fact, my curiosity is so overwhelming that I have incentivized readers’ reflection on this topic with a contest at www.WinTrip2NY.com. So talking about Sam might not only be a spoiler but also give away hints! He is an immigrant living in New York who has assimilated well and worked hard to become a successful entrepreneur. While his tribulations with untold loss are real, his characterization has been deliberately abstract.

What part of Cynthia did you enjoy writing the most?
That’s a very thought-provoking question. I’ve found myself thinking back to Sam and Lily but not as much to Cynthia. Even though the story is narrated from Cynthia’s perspective, it’s still mostly about her helping them with their struggles. But the denouement – that’s all about her! And it was the most challenging part of writing Dark Blossom. It took me many, many attempts before getting to the final version – finding the right balance the structure of the climax and the pace of exposition was not easy. In fact, it was a request from the publisher the night before the book went to print that got me to treat the last chapter objectively. And it was writing it that I not only learned the most from but also enjoyed the most.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
I’m not sure if this qualifies as advice but perhaps food for thought? It’s my most significant learning about storytelling. I have realized that a good story takes place at the intersection of personal authenticity and people’s perceptions. While the former can get one to the first draft, it’s brutal honesty and painstaking diligence with the latter that gets to a well-edited final manuscript. And I’d love to hear what readers think of that…

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
Not to sound either abstruse or obtuse, but show me a leader who doesn’t use nationalism to draw lines between humanity and I’d like to become or be born as that person. 

In one sentence, how would you sum up the internet?
It’s both a web of information and deceit, so be very, very discerning.

If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?
Try taking a roll of tissue from a talking cat and you’ll find out yourself.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
Now that I’m aware how gratifying writing a book can be, that’s a no-brainer! I’d start writing much, much sooner.

Where can readers find you?
I’m on the web at www.neelmullick.com and given the somewhat unique way I spell my name, all my social media handles (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Wattpad, etc.) are also @neelmullick.

TEN REASONS TO READ DARK BLOSSOM
Only ten? Here goes…

1. The first really is to do with why anyone reads a good book, irrespective of genre – to be moved enough not only to escape reality but also to feel strongly. If what current readers have to say about it is correct, Dark Blossom is indeed ‘unputdownable’. While readers seem to be enjoying it as a psychological thriller, to me it remains a story of love in spite of loss and of empathy in the face of adversity. Few books can promise that. 

2. Stories, especially good ones, have formed the warp and the weft of our existence. And what makes a story good is not only that it makes one want to keep turning its pages but also that it compels one to introspect. Dark Blossom does both. And if you don’t believe me, see what Bloggers Bash’s Blogger of the Year 2018 Linda Hill has to say about it at https://lindasbookbag.com/2019/04/23/dark-blossom-by-neel-mullick/

3. Incentivizing such reflection even more is the contest at www.WinTrip2NY.com. Answering just one question can help you win a business-class ticket…

4. And an economy-class ticket to anywhere in the world…

5. And an iPad Mini!

6. #Read4Charity: When you buy a copy of Dark Blossom, 50% of the royalties go directly to www.iimpact.org, an NGO devoted to the primary education of girls from the most impoverished sections of India.

7. Moreover, if the philanthropist in you is even more dominant, then instead of partaking of your winnings from #WinTrip2NY, you can decide to donate the cash equivalent of your prize to a charity of your choice.

8. While Dark Blossom is not autobiographical, there is one incident that is narrated exactly as it happened in my life. If you can guess it, let me know and I’ll either personally buy you dinner or send you a Dark Blossom-inspired laptop sleeve that I have designed myself.

9. Letting a new author onto your bookshelf and into your lives is never easy. But if you let me, and if you like me, then you’ll be ready for my subsequent works. While I definitely intend to write more, I also intend to donate more of the proceeds to social causes.

10. Speaking of further writing, I have already begun work on my next novel. It’s also going to be narrated from the perspective of a young woman, Abigail, who has just started her first job as a nanny at a prominent bureaucrat’s home. The story starts with her charge, six-year-old Stewart fighting for his life in the pool. And Abigail soon discovers that the boy’s older sister June may have been the one who pushed him in. While hoping the plot is captivating enough, I am also excited to inform you that it will bring another version of the contest at www.WinTrip2NY.com along with it. Just in case you don’t win this one…


Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son's thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter...

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions--one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia's daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.


You can purchase Dark Blossom at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you NEEL MULLICK for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick.
jbnpastinterviews

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