There are many reasons people write. Maybe it starts with a dream, a passion that refuses to go away or a desire to live a life crafting prose. For Rajdeep Paulus, what started as a drive to embrace her dream to be a writer, when her children started school, also became a drive to help others by raising awareness of human trafficking through her work.
Swimming Though Clouds soon arrived. Though it has a beautiful cover and light-hearted title, it is a deep book, the first of a young adult trilogy that begins with a Post-it note, a tiny act of kindness that sparks hope, courage and a romance between two unlikely friends.
Talia longs to go back “to a time when mom made apple pie and my younger brother flew kites from the roof,” a time before her father’s actions left her motherless. Now she and her wheel-chair bound brother, Jesse, face the abuse of their father, a reputable Government official they call “sir”, alone.
The siblings are too afraid to let anyone know about the abuse, treatment so bad that many of the scenes made me wince. However, amid the horror, there are moments of tenderness that lift them up. Although Talia is not allowed to hold onto any reminders of her mother, she hides a strand of her hair in an overdue library book. The stream of Post-it notes she’s given by Lagan, a boy in her class, may seem trivial with everything else she has to handle, but they form not only welcome distractions but also a lifeline. The question is, will the boy’s relentless kindness give her the courage to seek help?
Rajdeep’s hope is, by the time readers reach the end, not only will they want to read more but also be filled with desire to help women like Talia’s mum through organisations such as nominetwork.org and look out for kids who, like Talia, are vulnerable and show signs of mistreatment. Rajdeep says that, although someone may be silent, they may be injured inside or out, with no resources left to cry for help. So befriend, ask and love without judgment.
Feeling she had such an important message to get out to the world, Rajdeep was eager to get published. She got an agent and, with this support, decided to publish independently. This arrangement gave her additional opportunities to build readership, accumulate reviews and navigate marketing. Her niece, Deepa Paulus, designed the covers and the results show real talent indeed. The book was even featured on Amazon’s homepage for an entire month.
Rajdeep’s also be committed to getting the word out about her work, blogging at rajdeeppaulus.com and attending young adult fiction festivals, selling and signing her beautiful books. Best of all, as her trilogy is social-justice-driven, she got involved with her husband’s recent charity bike ride which aimed to raise $500,000 to help end modern day slavery, giving all the proceeds from this summer’s book sales to the cause, something publishing independently gave her the freedom to do.
So what if you’d like to achieve your dream to be a writer, maybe producing a book that could help others at the same time? Rajdeep says to start by writing as if no one is ever going to read it in order to help prevent writers’ block. Then, when you’ve gone as far as you can go, have the courage to share it with others. They’ll be able to spot things you’ve become too close to see, helping you work towards making your book the best it can be.
Any goal can help keep us motivated as writers, be it a commitment, deadline or reward but how wonderful would it be if more of us felt the fire to write from the drive to help others?
Discover more about Rajdeep and her books on her website here.