Flights of fantasy

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As ‘Child of Two Worlds’, the second book in her ‘Sand and Sea’ series, hits the stands, fantasy author based in Turkey, Ann D’Silva chats with NT BUZZ

ANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

Q. Tell us about the ‘Sand and Sea’ series. What can readers expect from your latest book ‘Child of Two Worlds’?

‘Sand and Sea’ is a three-book series in English. The first book ‘Footprints of the Sand’ was published in January 2019 and is presently a bestseller. It has a 4.8 rating on Goodreads and a 4.3 rating on Amazon. Published in English, it is also translated into Turkish and scheduled to be published in Turkey in 2021.

The ‘Sand and Sea’ series is a woman-oriented premise of a woman’s journey spanning a troubled childhood, emotional hurdles, and suffocating relationships. It is about her unshakable faith in divine guidance and the unveiling of how destiny favours the brave hearts who never give up. It’s a story of soulmates trying to find each other in the frivolous fast-paced life of the 20th century. The series deals with the social stigma women face and how the female protagonist’s choices are challenged over time. It’s also a mystical journey with nature that plays a key role as the Sand and Sea who are guardians to true lovers. The veil of why the Sand and Sea are inseparable is dropped and the importance of soul connection is highlighted, which transcends beyond the limitations of language, race or nationality.

‘Footprints in the Sand’ is the journey of the female protagonist Hannah and her emotional battle to meet her soulmate from her dreams in a land far away.

‘Child of Two’ is the continuation of the story from the point of view of the male protagonist and how life challenged him each step of the way, egging him towards his fate. The second book is also about the child of destiny who is the nucleus that connects all the characters – who she is and how she came into the life of Ozcan and Hannah. There’s an emphasis on dreams, parallel lives and the goal to finally settle karmic debt. The book touches on adoption and the devastation of life and innocence of the Syrian refugees as well.

Q. Was fantasy always the genre you wanted to write in?

I think fantasy allows free play as the mind can develop imagery that is not in the realm of sight. Fiction allows a writer that freedom of

expression.

Q. This is your second novel. How was the process of writing it different compared to your debut?

This series has been in the making for over 30 years. It’s a compilation of many experiences of my life – it’s still a work in progress. I decided to publish it after taking two years to research the locations in Turkey and to develop the plot. Publishing was easier than putting it together.

Q. With writing, there’s the adage to “write what you know”. How much of your personal experiences and relationships did you put into the book?

Over 70 per cent [of the book] is inspired by my life. And yes, it is easier and more organic to describe something if you have experienced it yourself.

Q. What parallels do you see with yourself and the protagonist, Hannah? Do you see her as an alter ego?

Hannah is similar to me and for that matter relatable to many women living in an urban city, dealing with pressures and expectations of family and society. She is a woman trying to walk her own path on the edge of a knife yet is brave enough to embrace her entity as different as she has a different calling. She did not choose the dice as it was rolled for her in life, but her only desire is to be true to herself. These characteristics resonate totally with who I am. I embraced the broken in me and celebrated every spurt of hope and faith, which have guided me in my life.

Many of my female readers relate to Hannah and love her character for being fiercely courageous to walk the path laid before her. Hannah is determined to go to the end to face the fate that awaits her.

Q. Can you tell us about what went into building the fictional world in ‘Sand and Sea’? What was the inspiration for it and why it’s constructed the way it is?

I love scriptures. I was born Catholic but chose to revert to Islam in 2017 as it was my spiritual calling. There are countless quotes about the beginning of creation in the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran and I have used those references in my book. That old wisdom helped me to present the first lovers, Sand and Sea, majestic as they were and continue to be before man was made. Scriptures helped me understand the old wisdom penned in its verses, as well as better relate to why mankind is made from dust and water, for nature is in mankind more than we choose to notice.

This knowledge helped me build their characters as well. In book one, Sand (Kum) and Sea (Deniz) are silent observers and whisperers to true lovers aligning their paths but in book two, ‘Child of Two Worlds’ they are real characters who interact with the characters. I shouldn’t share more as I don’t want to divulge the mystery.

Q. What elements (or characters) did you especially love writing?

I especially enjoyed writing the philosophical wisdom of nature. The other would be writing about the spirit world; the essence of the soul, out-of-body experiences through dreams, the portal of the sea to travel to parallel lives, past life regression and angel visions.

Q. The book taps into real-world issues as well like the loss of dignity through war, the displacement of the Syrian refugees, adoption, and the reverence towards nature. Why did you feel compelled to explore these issues?

The Syrian war was a reality of our times and the colossal loss of life and displacement of families. I am very moved by it. I travelled to Turkey, to visit the camps and have great respect for the Turkish government and people to allow five million refugees into their country and provide so well for them. Adoption is another subject close to my heart as I feel no child should have to face the cruelty of losing their family or being abandoned; it is a terrible pain to be unwanted.

My books will always have a social message as well as challenge minds to think of the injustices in society. That is who I am, I feel deeply for many subjects and this is my way of sending a message to the world through my books.

Q. What’s next for you?

I have just begun. I do not seek to define my path only to follow it with a surge of energy and a prayer in my heart. I am presently writing the third and last book of the series and hope to give it to the world by the end of 2021. I want my books to transport people to magical places of hope as well as let my readers experience countries and their cultures. ‘Sand and Sea’ is also a travelogue of India and Turkey. For those who have not travelled to these places, they can experience it through the book.

About the author

Mumbai writer with a Goan connection, Ann D’Silva has spent over two decades in the corporate world in senior management roles across the globe. Her CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative ‘India Heart’ works for women empowerment in rural India.

Passionate about words, she eventually discovered that writing was her calling and being a storyteller was an expression of her creativity. She is also an avid traveller, blogger, fashionista, and entrepreneur. She relocated to Turkey in 2019 and lives in Istanbul.

‘Sand and Sea: Child of Two Worlds’ is her second book from the trilogy, and her first book, ‘Footprints in the Sand’, is translated into Turkish.