Wednesday, April 30, 2014

'Without self-respect, we detract from our own power' -Cristiane Serruya (An Interview)


“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”  ― Coco Chanel

 This is the quote that comes to mind after the discussion I had with her. To stand shoulder to shoulder with your head held high along with people who are considered to be a step ahead of you, is a big thing. Even more when it is just a pre-conceived notion and nothing more. To make a strong foothold at a place where the sand beneath your feet is slipping constantly is no ordinary thing. That's what I got to learn from her.

So here we are, with Cristiane Serruya, author of The Modern Man and The Trust Trilogy, as promised in my last post

How does it feel to have released the final installation of the Trust series? (Are you happy to have completed a circle or sad that your relationship with the characters has ended?)
 
I was very happy when I put the last full stop in the book. It was an exhilarated mission-accomplished feeling. It was a long and exhausting journey, worth every step. I almost wrote ‘The end’, but it seemed pretty wrong to me, because to my surprise I didn’t feel that I was abandoning Ethan, Sophia or Alistair, or that the last book was the end of the story. In fact, for me it is just the beginning. Ethan, Alistair and Sophia are even stronger etched in me. It was as if when I finished their stories I had set them free. They are not mine anymore, they belong to the world and I can still be with them whenever I want. I just have to grab A New Beginning, Betrayed or Pandora’s Box and read them. :)


Would you like to tell the reader something about the latest installation of Trust: The Pandora’s Box?

Hmm, I should keep it a secret, but… Okay. Expect twists and turns galore until the end because while dreams will come true, nightmares will turn reality into a gruesome place. Don’t read it without a box of tissues by your side. I can guarantee at least one tearful moment. I say at least because I cried many times. 
Although sad, these scenes will change the way the characters see life and how they behave. 
Tragedy and redemption show how deep love, trust and respect can affect our lives and make a difference in the way we feel about the others and about ourselves. 


Even though your books are labeled as romantic fiction, there are a lot of important issues like women’s abuse, male domination and female harassment that are underplaying in the story. Are they a product of research or merely imagination stemming from the reality of the world that we are living in today?

 
Both. I have two theses on the abuse of women’s and children’s rights. Even though they were done about twenty-five and twenty-three years ago, the principles that founded them are the same: ethics, morals, values hardly change throughout the years where respect is concerned. Or they shouldn’t. 
So, it’s real life with a great dose of research, which inspires me to write. Look around you, listen to your family’s stories, your neighbors’ daily lives, read the newspapers. There are so many stories waiting to be told and not enough time to write about them. I think it is necessary to relate to all my characters, at least in some way and that I must understand and do a thorough research of what I’m writing about.


In your opinion would these books contribute to the betterment of the condition of women? In other words do you consider it as a way of empowering them with your words? How?
A book, as every form of entertainment, should pass on a positive message. It was one of my intentions when I started writing. Not only empowering women but society in general. I know that my main target is women in general, but there are men who like romance too.  So, why not give them something to think about? 
If women’s lives and rights are battered, underrated and reneged, how can men live in peace? One cannot live without the other. There can be no peaceful and loving relationship where male dominance and female submission are overrated. 
In my opinion, we are yet to learn how to live in society. Many people don’t know how to respect themselves and others, and what morals and principles mean. Too much freedom and too many pleasures only lead to disaster. 
We, as human beings living in society, have to review and revisit a few of our so called rights and a few of our so called freedoms, or else we are going to lose a great deal of what we have achieved, because for every act there is a correspondent counter-act.  
 

Have you ever faced discrimination as a woman at any point of your life?


Well… Not that I remember, no. But then I have never thought of myself as a woman during work. I was just another lawyer doing my job. I guess that helps a lot, I was a force to be recon with as much as my male colleague was. 
Also, it helps that I have never used mini-skirts or over-d├ęcolletage blouses to work. I was feminine without being vulgar. There is great parcel of women that use their bodies in a wrong way.
We, women, have to have self-respect. Our bodies are not meant to be used as a tool to gain status or money. It’s ours, yes; we are the only ones who should have a decision over it, yes; but without self-respect, we detract from our own power.
It takes a self-confident man to understand and respect that women are equal to them as human beings, although different in stature, strength, body functions and – yes! – rights, but if we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect men to respect us?  

Cris at her  Graduation (23 years ago)


You have two lovely daughters. Have they read your books? How do you think it will affect their lives as readers?  
 They know bits and pieces about the story, and that it has sex scenes and talk about abuse, but no, they haven’t read the TRUST TRILOGY yet. I am a bit strict and they are too young to be interested in erotic novels.  
My oldest daughter, Raphaela, is fifteen years old and loves to read already, but romances are not her preferred genre. Giovanna, the youngest, is only twelve and I don’t think she will ever be book obsessed. But having an author for a mother, who is also addicted to reading and loves art, creativity abounds in my home.
                   Raphaela has already read THE MODERN MAN, as I gave a small lecture for her class in High School. She was very proud.And I was even more, not because I had written the book, but because she was proud of me. 


Any future projects in the pipeline?
  Sure! I’m compiling my poems into a book and planning to launch the TRUST trilogy in Portuguese.
Also, I have started a new hot romance: Carolina’s story. Of course, it’s going to talk about some important and contemporary issue, as I did in the TRUST TRILOGY.  I have not narrowed it yet, but I have many ideas in my mind. 
I also plan to write about Felipe, and the twins, Victoria and Valentina. So, you see, I have many projects to share with my readers.
  

India is a country where women are considered to be ‘devis’ or Goddesses and yet it is also a country where rape is one of the most common crimes against women (According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,206 rape cases were registered in India in 2011). Media is often blamed for it. Pornography is also said to trigger rape in men. How much would you agree with it?
I want to raise an interesting point.Pornography has always been available to men, but not as much to women. 
Due to the depth and breadth of the erotic material that are available these days, especially on the internet, people are exposed to areas of their sexuality they previously did not know would be arousing to them. Also, they can have access to it in the early stages of their formation, which is very damaging. Although some of these arousal patterns can be normal or just slightly unconventional, others can be fetishistic and pathologic, known in psychiatry as paraphilias. But the problem is that they are not shown as such; they are shown as desirable, erotic and fashionable. 
What is considered erotic and what is considered pornographic nowadays? The limits have been blurred. We have even created a new literature genre called erotica trying to justify what we are reading because pornography has a very negative connotation. 
Women are starting to have different thoughts, ideas and behaviors toward sex and their bodies; they are experimenting different things and are still not so sure about their boundaries,and that affects men in many ways. India is a very traditional society. I would say that as in every traditional society the new is scaring and not so easy understandable – for everyone. So, maybe this is an explanation for the growing rate of rape cases registered. 
I’m not excusing any violent acts – they have no excuse whatsoever – but I wonder how much men are feeling insecure, confused or even disgusted by some practices – that were supposedly reserved for prostitutes – especially the new, trendy ones that are being freely and wildly divulged by the media. 
So, I partially agree that media are to blame for the increasing violence against women. In my opinion, we are being exposed to unnecessary violent and sexual stimuli. We see rape scenes in TV series and next day the director says it was a consensual act; we read blockbuster books, in which babies are groomed and teenagers are raped and as adults, they state that it was the better thing that happened in their lives. With so many fashionable misconceptions, people tend to behave violently, badly and in abusive ways. 
I think we have had enough. Those who produce those media, with such negative subliminal messages, have to stop that and start behaving with responsibility.  It’s up to us to complain and renege the negative propaganda.  


  
Any plans to visit India?
Not now, but I will one day. India has always had a strong appeal to me.

The barbaric story of Genghis Khan; the beautiful women and their colorful clothes; the Hindu religion, with those amazing goddesses and incredible temples; its forests and orchids; and so many things- I’m sure I’ll be fascinated.

  Lastly, define yourself in as less words as possible.
In one word: openhearted. 




That you truly are! Thank you so much for sharing your views and being a part of an interesting discussion, Cris

I thank you, Divya, for hosting me in your awesome blog. This is an amazing opportunity to share my work and thoughts with your readers. 
I love getting in touch with readers, I’m available for those who are interested in asking questions here or in my website,  where there are news and reviews, including a song list for each one of the leading characters, and much more about the books and myself. 

So that was Cristiane for you. Powerful, strong - a woman of substance,  she  shed light on some of the pressing issues in India today and also stated the reasons for it, according to her. True to her style, that was Cris for us- simple, straight and vivacious!

Smile no matter what and life greets you back with one too!


Her Fan Page on FB: 
Twitter:  @CrisSerruya 
 

DISCLAIMER : The views put forth here are purely the author's and it is not intended to hurt anybody's sentiments.  These are just opinions and part of a discussion and in no way is it to be considered defamatory.