Kumari Kanchanji: “Many made us laugh and cry”

That the women have the power and control over their lives to become anything they want to. If they are determined and persevere, they can achieve their goals. Prime examples are late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and many more like them. […]

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That the women have the power and control over their lives to become anything they want to. If they are determined and persevere, they can achieve their goals. Prime examples are late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and many more like them. But as Mahatma Gandhi enunciated, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kumari Kanchanji.

Kumari’s mystery thriller, What A Girl To Do, has just launched and embraces women’s empowerment following one woman’s fight against a corrupt society. The message Kumari hopes readers gain is that women can achieve anything they want with perseverance and dedication.

The book captures a young female reporter’s determination to get revenge against a powerful, rich evil man, who caused her family to live in poverty and for her to work as a sex slave to survive. Many journalists have been killed while reporting on the collusion between crime figures and government officials. But with her personal vendetta, this femme fatale will stop at nothing to seek justice and bring down the criminal empire including risking her own life.

Kumari Kunchanji knows all about perseverance and rising to the top in a male-dominated world. After working for several Fortune 500 Companies, she is now the C.E.O. of a medical device company. She is currently pursuing her long life passion for writing with this release of her first novel based on greed, deception, money laundering, and sex-trade in India.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

Thank you for inviting me.

Looking back at my career paths, it seems they were chosen for me, not by me. You may call it Karma or destiny. Soon after I obtained my degree in marketing and finance, one of my professors in the graduate school recommended my name to a Fortune 500 company visiting the university to recruit female MBAs for their executive programs. They made me a highly lucrative offer, and I accepted. I thought I was a young, thick-skinned, driven woman with excellent business acumen, it would be an achievement to climb the corporate hierarchy. Soon working seventy grueling hours a week to stay on top of the competition became a challenge. Though I enjoyed the challenge and the trench warfare, it left no time for my writing, a dream I had been waiting to fulfill for a long time. It was frustrating. It dampened my inner desire to write novels and suspense thrillers. The impact broke my spirit and my momentum to scale the career ladder. I didn’t want to fall off the cliff, so I quit.

I started my own company, even though my chosen field was miles apart. I had hoped I’ll have time under my control, and I would be able to pursue my passion for writing. However, it didn’t work out as I had planned. I became busier than ever before. This was due to the product line I had selected to market. The product was Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a device deployed when a person has Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA kills over 350,000 people every year in the USA. When I realized many peoples’ lives could be saved if a defibrillator was available, I made it my mission to spread the information wherever I could. I used every media available to me to inform people that every place where people live, work, or worship should have a life-saving device.

It was like I had found my calling. I started speaking to various organizations on the importance of having AED and CPR training. I equipped the 9/11 Memorial, Visitors Center & Museum in New York City with necessary defibrillators au gratis. As a 9/11 Memorial founding member, I agreed to provide maintenance for the devices in perpetuity.

Despite the paucity of time, I continued to write. I wrote short essays on human relationships and articles on Sudden Cardiac Arrest awareness, which were published in local newspapers and medical journals, respectively. Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to find more time to finish work on a novel I had started a while back. This book is titled “What a Girl to Do When Life Throws a Curveball?” It is a compelling story inspired by real events set in India and the USA. A fast-paced page-turner, it is a portrait of a fearless femme fatale investigative reporter. And her relentless pursuit to avenge the murder of her father from a powerful mob boss, knowing fully well that she might end up six feet under.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

In our company database, we store the customer’s buying history on our internal servers. This information is needed in case of a recall by the FDA on any medical device. Our servers must be safe, secure, and ransomware proof. After reading about so many data breaches and ransomware demands from big-name corporations: Equifax Inc., JPMorgan Chase, T.R.W. Information Systems and Sears, and many state and local hospitals, I was concerned.

To learn how to protect and safeguard customer data, I attended a cybersecurity conference in Washington, DC. After the conference ended, I stopped by the hotel lounge to have a glass of wine to relax. There another attendee, seeing me sitting alone, joined me. I bought him a drink, and we started to chat about cybersecurity. It so happened that this young man was an IT cyber specialist from India, studying at MIT for his doctorate in Quantum Physics. He seemed very knowledgeable about the cyber intrusion. After a few free drinks, he seemed he was under the influence of alcohol. Suddenly, he began to brag about how easy it is for the hackers to penetrate the most secure servers of the State Department, NSA, CIA, and the other government agencies. He can do it without any difficulty, he said in his drunken stupor. Then suddenly, he neared his face near my ear and whispered, “Kanchanji, I’m not who you think I am.” His mouth curved into a big smile.

I was stunned. I became alert. I put down my wine glass and concentrated on every word that came out of his mouth. My writer’s mind jumped into high gear. The intelligence insights and covert workings he described were so intriguing that I instantly knew it was the stuff of a spy thriller movie. I immediately returned to my hotel suite, dictated the notes to voice memo on my iPhone, and jotted down some confidential info. It’s an incredible action-packed espionage drama I am writing to bring to the Hollywood big screen.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

It was the paucity of time. Being the CEO of my company that markets life-saving medical devices, I am involved in all business aspects. These activities leave very little time for me to write, as we all know that writing in itself is a vocation.

I write in spurts. Sometimes, on weekends, I pull all-nighters. I skip most social get-togethers and watch TV sparingly. And often wish that there were 48-hours in a day.

To all the aspiring writers, I suggest that don’t let obstacles derail your path to success. Success comes to those who persevere. Work on your craft to achieve your goals.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started to write, the funniest mistake I made was to start work on several stories simultaneously, on two laptops. One was for the home and the other for work. After working for many weeks, I realized I had a mix-up of file-names on my laptops. I tried to extract the relevant files, but it was so time-consuming that I had to discard many well-written pages. I laugh about it now. However, it was not funny then.

My advice is be mindful about how you name your files and store them. To be able to retrieve your files, give each a unique name. This is especially important when using more than one computer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Some time ago, I was flying from Los Angeles to Chicago with my husband. Midflight, settled in my seat, I was busy jotting some notes on the I pad, and he was perusing Weekend Edition of The Wall Street Journal he had picked up at the Airport. Suddenly, pointing towards the newspaper, he said, “Kanchanji, I would like to see a headline in the Books Review section that reads: “CEO of a Medical Devices Company Writes a Mystery Murder Thriller.”

“Sounds far-fetched,” I replied.

“But your novel fits the bill. It has mystery; it has a slew of murders and intrigue. It has a fearless femme fatale investigative reporter pursuing an underworld tycoon, who is afraid of her chutzpah. The novel is based on true incidents. It could even be a Wall Street Journal story.”

He made it sound so intriguing, so interesting, I instantly knew that “What a Girl to Do When Life Throws a Curveball?” must have a sequel. It was then and there, I started weaving a plot that would segue into the novel’s continuity. Besides this, I am editing two movie scripts I had written earlier. One is based on the current novel, and the other is a cyber espionage thriller.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

Though there are many in the book, the most interesting story, I believe, is about two strong-willed young women. Alishia and Zeena. Alishia is a glamorous socialite, scion to a multibillion-dollar fortune.

Zeena Amman is an attractive, ambitious award-winning newscaster at a T.V. Network in New Delhi, India, the teeming capital city of more than 20 million people. Not many of her viewers know that this high-living stellar reporter has risen from sheer poverty through hard work and perseverance. As an investigative reporter, Zeena is famous for digging the past of the rich, famous, and some not so famous. But the irony is, despite her Sherlock Holmes-like detective-skills, Zeena doesn’t know half of Alishia’s fortune could be hers.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

That the women have the power and control over their lives to become anything they want to. If they are determined and persevere, they can achieve their goals. Prime examples are late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and many more like them. But as Mahatma Gandhi enunciated, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

This is a debatable question, which has no concrete answer. Many authors’ writings have changed the thinking of the masses. Some started revolutions, others imparted the wisdom of ages. Many made us laugh and cry. What is great is, thus, subjective. It’s how the generation in which we live perceives what greatness is.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e., perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Besides time management, I would say discipline and perseverance. I spent three years of my precious spare moments to coalesce the thoughts swimming in my head, which I wanted to put on paper. Without discipline and perseverance, this 700-page novel, “What a Girl to Do When Life Throws a Curveball?” would have remained in my mind’s deep recesses.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I draw inspiration from the scriptures, namely Bhagavad Gita, Bible, and Vedas. They teach us to pursue truth, be kind to all, help the needy, and lead life in the service of God.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Since the day I established the company (17 years ago), my mission has been to save lives from the sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) scourge by educating people. To make them aware that Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. It kills twice as many people every year as colon, breast & prostate cancers combined. According to the latest American Heart Association’s Heart & Stroke statistics, over 356,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually in the U.S., and nine out of 10 victims die. American Heart Association estimates that up to 50,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if someone had initiated the Cardiac Chain of Survival. The cardiac chain is administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) early. Providing immediate defibrillation and advanced cardiac life support. Surprisingly, not too many people know that.

Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. This usually results from an electrical malfunction in the heart that disrupts its pumping action. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death if it’s not treated within minutes. Use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and administering CPR, or even just compressions to the chest, can improve survival chances while waiting for the emergency help to arrive. I suggest everyone learn CPR and make sure every place where people live, work, or worship has a life-saving automated external defibrillator (AED).

An AED is a portable medical device designed to treat sudden cardiac arrest. This electronic marvel is smaller than a laptop and consists of a microprocessor capable of analyzing the heart’s rhythm through a pair of electrodes. When these electrodes are attached to the chest, the AED diagnoses the cardiac arrhythmia of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. If it detects, an electric shock is needed to start the heart, it can deliver the shock automatically to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

You don’t have to be a medical doctor or an EMT to be able to use an AED. Any layperson can. The device, when activated, gives step by step instructions on how to use it. This device has saved countless lives. I have heard from the SCA victims who survived and from the EMT personnel who used this device. There is no greater testimonial than that, for me, to keep on my path to educate people on the SCA scourge. My mission continues.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

From my website: www.kanchanji.com

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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