Friday, April 28, 2017

Interview with author Karen Trollope-Kumar

Cloud Messenger: Love and Loss in the Indian Himalayas

Karen Trollope-Kumar is a Canadian family physician who has worked in farflung parts of the world, from remote northern towns in Ontario to the Himalayan foothills of India. She is an associate professor of Family Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and she also holds a PhD in medical anthropology, the study of health in its social and environmental context. She and her husband Pradeep Kumar spent many years doing medical work in India, and they maintain close ties to that part of the world. Her interests include hiking, traveling, reading and writing. She recently published an award-winning memoir of the years they spent in India.  “Cloud Messenger” is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Kobo. She currently works as a family physician at Grand River Community Health Centre in Brantford, Ontario. For more info, please see:

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? Cloud Messenger is a memoir about the most dramatic chapter in my life – the 11 years that I spent living and working as a doctor in the Indian Himalayas. I learned so much about medicine, about culture, and about the human journey itself, that I felt a deep need to share these experiences.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? “Cloud Messenger” begins when I first traveled to India and met the man who would become my husband. Pradeep was a young pediatrician who inspired me to marry him and move to the Himalayan foothills of north India. After our wedding, my husband and I began our medical work, a time of tremendous learning and exploration for both of us.  I learned about tropical diseases and also about how culture affects illness. I learned to speak Hindi and also about how to live in an entirely different culture.   Meanwhile, my husband and I had to build a lasting relationship and create a loving home for our growing family. Then, a series of dramatic crises occurred – an earthquake, an assassination and a political crisis – and suddenly our lives and ideals were at stake…  My target audience is older women with an interest in culture, spirituality or cross cultural experience. The book would also appeal to those interested in travel, anthropology, and medicine.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? The central message of my book is that it is possible to build bridges of the heart across the great divides of class, education and culture.  During the 11 years I spent in the Himalayan foothills, I established deep friendships with so many people – members of my Indian family, medical colleagues, the nurses who worked with us and the women of the villages of the Himalayas.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? I suffered from writer’s block for a long time because it seemed like such a difficult task to describe this extraordinary time in my life in words. Finally, I made a verbal commitment to complete the book to a large circle of my friends and acquaintances. They really kept me on task, and didn’t allow me to procrastinate any further! Once I got going, it was a real joy to write.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think it is heading? Definitelythe book publishing industry is undergoing some major shifts at present, with the Indie publishing trend growing by leaps and bounds. Overall, I think this is a positive development. Authors now have more decision-making power, although they do have to be much more involved in the marketing and promotion side of their books. 

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? My most difficult challenge was in finding my “narrative voice”. The first draft was a rather dry account of those years in India, with lots of medical and historical detail. But it just didn’t seem ring true. I think that a really good memoir has to be written in a personal voice, allowing the reader into the mind and heart of the author.  This is what happened when I wrote subsequent drafts of Cloud Messenger – it became a heartfelt and genuine story of that dramatic chapter in my life.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? At its heart, Cloud Messenger is a love story of a young woman who marries a man from a very different cultural background and moves to the Himalayan foothills, where she and her husband work as doctors.  But it is much more than a love story, because it blends interesting insights into medicine and anthropology with a fascinating account of travel in a remote part of the Himalayas. At the deepest level, it is an exploration of the human journey: What inspires us? What challenges us? And when faced with disaster and disillusionment, how do we go on?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby

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