Cross Connection is Part-Fiction, Part-Reality, All Heartfelt: Seema Punwani on Her Debut Novel

In an exclusive interview with Mumbai Live, Seema Punwani throws light on being a single parent and juggling life as a marketer, author and a student of Creative Writing.

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A young woman living in Singapore, shopping her heart out in Boston and having a great career path paved ahead in the field of advertising. You might think, to be a free soul in one of the most happening cities in the world, she has things easy and on a platter, but things are more complicated than they seem.  

But people are seldom who we imagine them to be. The stories we assume for them are not the stories they tell themselves. Seema Punwani’s debut novel ‘Cross Connection’ is a story of a protagonist named Sama, who does not feel contented no matter in which part of the world she is, there’s always a feeling of bereft and melancholy residing deep beneath the skin. In this exclusive interview with Seema Punwani, who juggles her life as a single mother, marketing executive, author and a student of creative writing, we delve deep into her characters and her book which she proudly labels as ‘Part fiction, Part reality, All heartfelt’.    


Tell us something about Cross Connection?

Cross Connection is a story about second chances, at love and in life. The book probes on the real-world issues about finding love. Not the Mills and Boon and fairy tale kind, but within the parameters of real life. I also wanted to explore the idea of telling a story from two different point of views. A woman’s version is seldom the same as a man’s. She looks for the subtexts of emotions (while decoding emoticons) and he is interested in the facts as they stand. Cross Connection is the same story told from two different perspectives- the female protagonist Sama and male protagonist Zehn.

Throw some light on the introduction of the book that reads - 'Part Reality, Part Fiction, All Heartfelt'

Cross Connection is a story that was originally inspired by my life but then took a life of its own. Some of the crazy dates mentioned in the book have actually happened to me, some are an exaggerated version of the truth and many are completely a figment of my vivid imagination.

Your book also deals with themes like loveless marriage, friendships, scams by dating sites, what has been your personal take on these?

While being in love is a beautiful feeling, there are other loves besides romantic ones. I believe we attract the right kind of person in our lives when we are comfortable in our own skin. First, we need to love ourselves. Romance will follow.

Also Read: Re-Script Your Life By Reeta Gupta Perfectly Exemplifies How A Tragic Childhood Can Be Both, A Burden And A Benediction


Being in the field of marketing and working in the advertising industry for years, what do you think is the best marketing strategy to promote one’s book?

Authenticity is key. Know yourself and your book and then build your personal brand. Have views on topics that are related to your books. Your readers want to get to know you, and not such hear about book sales and promotions. Engage with them and don’t just sell to them.


3 authors who have mastered marketing strategies

I know that’s ironic for a marketer to say, but your product and its distribution is more important than marketing. Your book needs to be written for a clear target audience and it cannot be any literate person with a pulse. It is important that your books are available where people are browsing - in the real and online world. Writers who engage with their audience beyond their books are appealing to me. I think Twinkle Khanna does a good job in connecting with her audience.  

Views and tips on single parenting

Two most important tips which will make single parenting a little bit easier:

1) It takes a village. Even married couples need help from the extended ‘village’ to raise a child like parents, in-laws, friends, neighbours. Single parents need even more support. It is important that you don’t hesitate to ask for help.

2) Find the little girl inside you. Overtime she probably got lost in the demands of her kids, in the commands of her husband, in the complaints of her in-laws, in the expectations of her boss, in the commitments of her family, in the claims of her career. I urge you to find her inside of you and coax her out to live the dreams that she had set for herself. You need to find happiness within yourself to raise a well-rounded child.

Also Read: A Book For The Writer, Of The Writer, By The Writer- How To Get Published In India By Meghna Pant


Favourite authors and current read 

I love reading books by non-English writers. Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Shadow of the Wind), Swedish writer Fredrik Backman (A Man called Ove) and French writer, Antoine Laurain (The President’s Hat) are few of my favourite writers. Among the Indian authors, I am a big fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and The Palace of Illusions is one of my favourite books. I am also an Austen cliché. Mr. Darcy is single-handedly responsible for all my romantic delusions and Pride and Prejudice is my most cherished books. Elizabeth Bennett is a character that is so fabulously crafted that women 200 years later find themselves in her. Currently, I am reading The 'Tattooist of Auschwitz', a book based on a true story of a Holocaust survivor.

Tips for aspiring authors

Writing, like any other profession, means you have to work at it. Not only when inspiration strikes, not only when you are in the mood, not only when you dreaming up a character you adore. You need to write through the tough times. One of the best books on writing advice is ‘This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage’ by Ann Patchett. She says, and I believe, there is nothing like writer’s block, it is simply procrastination. So, if you want to be a writer, keep writing.

Cross Connection is a book that is refreshing and must be read to explore new dimensions, thoughts and way of life, both, in the outer world and in introspection. 

Also Read: Travelling Is Like Falling In Love, You Can't Experience It Without Letting It Change Who You Are: An Exclusive Interview With Meghna Pant

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