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'Why not a female spy?': Sydney mum pens debut novel in lockdown, wins medals

Sydney-based Soma Chaudhuri has won recognition for her debut novel, 'The Old House by the Woods'. Source: Supplied by Soma Chaudhuri

Soma Chaudhuri decided to fulfil her long-held dream of writing fiction as she couldn't socialise with friends and colleagues during the lockdowns in New South Wales.

Ms Chaudhuri grew up reading the tales of a fictional Bengali investigator named Feluda.


Highlights

  • Soma Chaudhuri's debut book 'The Old House by the Woods' has won two bronze medals
  • Ms Chaudhuri self-published the book on Amazon in February 2021
  • She migrated from India in 2003

"This character was first written by famous Indian movie writer and director (late) Satyajit Ray in the late '70s and I am sure most Bengali kids have read about Feluda and his adventures," Ms Chaudhuri tells SBS Hindi.

"I used to wonder what if Feluda was a woman and why can't a woman play the lead protagonist role," she adds.

 

Ms Chaudhuri claims she is the first Australian Bengali woman author of Indian origin to win book awards for a self-published book.
Ms Chaudhuri claims she is the first Australian Bengali woman author of Indian origin to win book awards for a self-published book.
Supplied by Soma Chaudhuri

Ms Chaudhuri, a Test Lead at Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, migrated from India in 2003. But she never got the time to fulfill her long-held dream of writing fiction until the pandemic last year.

Ms Chaudhuri says she first took up her illustration hobby as she likes to draw. She then involved her husband and their seven-year-old son in the artwork.

"It was a good way to keep the family away from all the worries and the overwhelming flow of bad news from all over the world," Ms Chaudhuri said.

"While illustrating, I realised I could fulfil my long dream of writing a fiction story with a female protagonist. Hence, the character of Riya Robertson was born," she said.

Soma Chaudhuri with her husband and their seven-year-old son.
Soma Chaudhuri with her husband and their seven-year-old son.
Supplied by Soma Chaudhuri

Ms Robertson, her sister Jenny and their investigative journalist friend Andy Armstrong solve a 'spooky' murder mystery in Ms Chaudhuri's debut book 'The Old House by the Woods.' 

Ms Chaudhuri decided to self-publish the book on Amazon under her pen name Soma Kar in February 2021.

"I was very pleased to receive appreciation from one of Amazon's top 100 reviewers, Grady Harp, known as a 'Vine Voice'," Ms Chaudhuri said. 

"Mr Harp wrote: A fresh new voice in the genre of solid mystery writing, greatly enhanced by the author's artful illustrations makes this introduction to a new series impressive," she said.

Ms Chaudhuri sent her books for awards in self-publishing categories. 

Last month, her book won bronze medals in the children-preteen category at Reader's Favourite 2021 Award Contest and the mystery/suspense category at the 2021 Global Book Awards.  

She plans to publish her second book in the series next year.

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