Story Masters Ink November 2022 front cover. Christina JTell us a little bit about yourself, your books and any new projects you are working on.

My professional background is a Bachelors in Computer Engineering and a Masters in Systems Engineering. Similar to Celine, one of the characters in “Royal Planet”, it sometimes feels like I randomly picked Computer Engineering as my major in college. But in reality, when I was a teenager, my Dad bought a computer and I’ve always enjoyed playing and programming with it. I come alive when trying to solve any type of problem. I have a positive yet critical approach where I’m confident a solution is hiding, waiting to be discovered. Engineering is a structured approach to solving problems and so it fits into how I approach life. Engineering solidifies a good foundation for all aspects of my life. One of the other characters in my novel is also an engineer because I wanted to call out the importance of females in engineering but also, it was the right “puzzle piece”. Her engineering background is key to the story. I was the first woman of Indian descent to become President of the engineering student branch at my university. Similarly, another character Roxy was inspired by my experiences in college and interning as a young engineer at different companies.

After undergrad, I began my career as a Systems Engineer while pursuing my Masters degree and then became a Project Manager at a large United States Defense contractor, where I gained extensive technical and business experience. I specifically worked on the communication systems between fighter jets on different platforms. Once the system was fully integrated, I spent time at air force bases testing and ensuring it worked. I co-wrote a paper that was published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I won the Meritorious Performer Award and our team won the Global Chairman’s Gold Award in Innovation, which is one of the company’s highest honors.

In parallel, one of my dreams growing up was to have a dance school. Like the character Victoria in my novel, I was a dance teacher. I enjoyed bringing people together for the love of the art. I would choreograph and teach Bollywood dances when I was in high school and then throughout college. Once I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I opened my own dance school with locations in New Jersey and New York. I would choreograph and teach Indian dance to students of all ages on evenings and weekends and would perform all over the country. It was hugely successful! Between both “jobs”, I felt grateful at the end of each day doing what I loved.

“Royal Planet” is an uplifting story, with many twists and turns, that will keep the reader guessing about what’s next. A world with words, traditions and battles that are unlike any other.  At its core, it’s a humorous, action packed, emotion filled story about a group of individuals who become friends and are fighting to transform their world for a better future. It’s a wild adventure that my children found fun and interesting, while touching on various topics without feeling lectured. Symbolism is used to get the points across, so that regardless of the age of the reader, they will recognize the true meanings in the story.

Along the way, this story touches on topics that are just as relevant to our world as it is to theirs – colorism, racism, adoption, trauma, addiction, narcissism, relationships, self worth, family dynamics and much more. This is important to me because for most of my professional career, I was the only woman and minority in my team. And so I have learned to bring people of all backgrounds and opinions together to achieve success. I want everyone to feel included. It’s important that we all celebrate who we are, regardless of what others might think or even what we ourselves may feel.

I wasn’t planning to write another story after “Royal Planet”. I felt like I gave this story my all and while I loved the process and the challenge, I felt that I was ready to move on to another adventure. Having said that, I can’t stop myself from thinking about my characters and how they got to where they were at the start of the story and so now I have a very definite idea for a prequel. It’s funny because just like “Royal Planet”, I know exactly how the prequel should begin and exactly how it should end, right down to the last words to write.

But I haven’t started writing it yet because I’m focused on finding the right audience for “Royal Planet”. It’s important for me to find that group of people who will enjoy my novel and are inspired and touched by it.

The story of “Royal Planet” poured out of me so easily because it felt like I was watching the story in my mind as a movie. The worlds that I created and the richness of the characters felt so real that I would like to watch the actual movie of my novel. It would be fun to work on a movie script. It would be great to see the characters, the worlds, the friendships, the actions, the emotions come alive visually for everyone to enjoy!

1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I love to challenge myself and do new things. I have a firm belief that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve been successful as a classically trained dancer, performer, emcee, pageant winner, actress, engineer, program manager, investor and marathoner. I’m always looking for my next challenge. I love learning to do new things and to bring an engineering approach to new problems. I enjoy taking a problem and breaking it down into its fundamental pieces and then assembling it back together into a solution.

Growing up, I loved Disney animated movies like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and others. All those timeless classics brought to life by the wizards at Disney.

And so as I was looking for my next challenge and thinking through the recent Disney live action versions of those movies, I felt that I would like to create a story that would inspire children today, the same way those stories inspired and engaged me as a child. A story that would stand the test of time.

One morning, it all magically came together for me. I had been telling my children an improvised bedtime story. Every night, I was adding to this story and eventually that story became the basis for “Royal Planet”.

2. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?

Two years; 1 book.

3. What made you want to self-publish?

I didn’t want to go through the process of finding a publisher once I was done with the book.  Also, I wanted control of the marketing aspect.

4. Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend Gatekeeper Press?

Yes, I would recommend it.  It was helpful to have people who knew the process of publishing a book help with the steps like ISBN, Library of Congress, copyrights, etc.

5. What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?

I started out marketing on Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon. Though I soon found that Amazon provides the best return and metrics for marketing my book since it is on Amazon.  So once I figured that out, I doubled down on Amazon and spent all my marketing budget on Amazon Advertising.

6. What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?

Set aside a specific time each day to write! If nothing comes to mind then just sit in silence/meditate for the time allocated.  I lost months writing when the pandemic first hit.  Zoom schooling with young children was not fun!

7. What social media platforms are you on?

Instagram and my own author website.

8. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?

It’s critical to know who is the target audience for your book. The reason is that the more you know who your target audience is, the better you can spend your marketing budget to reach that audience versus trying to reach everyone. It’s important to light a spark and hope it spreads like wildfire through your target audience and then hopefully, to everyone else.

9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2023 (and beyond)?

It does feel that with all the great content being created everyday such as shows and movies on Netflix, Disney+, new books, new music, new games and more, it’s harder and harder to get people to take time out of their day to read a book. With so much content coming out each day and heavily marketed, people are inundated with options. You really need to be extraordinary for people to read your book and then recommend it to others.

10. Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?

I’m honored that my debut novel won the 2022 Story Monster’s Purple Dragon Awards – 1st place in Historical Fiction, 2nd place in Chapter Books and Honorable Mention in Science Fiction/Fantasy, Humor, Young Adult Fiction, Cultural Diversity, Middle Grade Fiction and New Author.

If people are interested in checking out my novel, you can get it at or feel free to contact me at [email protected]

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