Author, Keene State professor lands two-book publishing deal | Local News

Last year, Brinda Charry distilled over 100,000 words and worked over a year on a 123-word summary for a statewide competition. Now, she has a two-book deal with a national publishing house.

After winning the competition, she said in an interview Monday, she was encouraged to look for a literary agent.

The stadium competition was part of the 603rd Writers Conference organized by the NH Writers Project. Chari, a professor of English at Keene State College, said the nonprofit – a Manchester-based organization that supports book development in Granite State – has been an important resource in the publishing process.

“Living in New Hampshire, you kind of feel a little too far from New York and the other major publishing centers,” she said. “And I think the book project does a great job of building a sense of community.”

It was Shari’s presentation of her novel “East India”. The book is a fictional account of a real person – a 14-year-old boy and the first person from the Indian subcontinent to appear in American colonial records. The boy, referred to as Tony in records, arrived in Virginia in 1635 and worked on a tobacco plantation.

Shari first came across Tony several years ago in a post from the US Consulate in India.

She ditched the idea, initially planning to return to her to write an academic essay, but eventually decided she wanted to return to the world of fantasy. Through a story set in the seventeenth century, Shari feels that the “East India” has fallen at the intersection of her passion for the Shakespearean era and the story of a little-seen immigrant.

Shari, who immigrated from India to the United States 20 years ago, has published novels in India and the United Kingdom, but “East India” was the first time she had tested the American publishing system.

The 603 Writers’ Conference took place in October of last year, and within a couple of months, Charry heard again from Eric Simonoff of talent agency William Morris Endeavor, who asked to read the entire manuscript.

Chari said that Simonov liked the introduction and writing of the book, but there was a caveat – he suggested rewriting the second half of the novel.

At first, Charry felt hopeless and unsure how to improve what she already had. She said that it took a few days to think about the proposal, but in the end she saw where Simonov came from.

“I just got back to the drawing board,” Shari said, and withdrew her offer from the other clients she offered.

And while the proposal came at a difficult time—Shari’s mother, who lives in India, was ill, and was back there to help care for her—she said she had never considered giving up the business.

“It just occurred to me that it might pay off for anything, all the effort,” Shari said. “But I decided to do it. If nothing else, I would do it myself… This was the novel that had been waiting for me for a long time.”

In the end, those efforts paid off.

With the remastered version complete, Simonov offered to act in the spring, according to Shari. A few publishers expressed interest in the novel, and Charry eventually chose to go with Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster who has worked with a group of famous writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, according to the company’s website. The book was also sold to Scribe, a British publishing house, which will print the book in the UK and Australia, according to a press release from NH Writers’ Project.

Between editing, publishing and marketing, Shari said, it will likely be at least a year before a book hits bookshelves. But in the meantime, she has another project to work on.

Shari said with a laugh that the second book that was included in the deal is still in its early stages — “that early point where you’ll also despair of what it will be like.”

But she is committed to the genre of historical fiction and is considering another book that focuses on eastern Indian character, this time set in the 19th century and northeastern United States. Over the winter break, plan to visit the New York Public Library to delve deeper into research.

Historical fiction can be challenging due to the amount of research required, and the need to find a balance between historical accuracy and engaging narrative. But as an academic, Shari said she enjoys the research and hopes to provide readers with another historical perspective.

“I hope people realize the kind of long and complicated history of the East India presence in America,” she said. “And I hope they also realize the kind of complexity of that particular racial identity.”

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