Meet today’s #AuthorInTheSpotlight Leela Dutt | A Distant Voice in the Darkness | @rararesources

Joining me today is Leela Dutt who is chatting about her recent novel, A Distant Voice in the Darkness. Welcome Lesla. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?

Hi I’m Leela Dutt and I write novels and short stories. I grew up in Golders Green with an Indian father and a Danish mother. Since reading history at Oxford I’ve been a teacher, a journalist, a proof-reader and reviewer for the Big Issue Cymru, and best of all I ran a database about housing research for the university. I live in Cardiff, close to seven grandchildren of whom six survive, and one giggling grape-eating great-granddaughter who goes to football practice at the age of three.

What inspired you to start writing? 

All my days I’ve needed to write things down because life is so extraordinary, and I want to remember it.  Someone once told me that my letters to his family from abroad were much better written than my fiction, so I thought I’d try to turn my experience of travelling into a novel.

Tell me about your journey to publication

My latest novel A Distant Voice in the Darkness is published by 186 Publishers, who read an earlier draft and encouraged me to re-write it exploring the characters in greater depth.

In a nutshell, what is your book about?

It’s a long-distance love story which begins with a burnt marmalade-covered chicken in Cardiff, and moves on to Nigeria, Rome, Copenhagen, and further afield to India, South Africa and other continents.  Eleanor has to abandon her student boy-friend Alec and eventually finds fame by publishing sketches of her travels, getting into danger during an armed uprising in Lesotho.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

It is a line from Longfellow in a poem about longing and separation.  “A distant voice in the darkness… So on the ocean of life we pass.”  I think it’s beautiful, and slightly sad, and reflects some of what happens to the characters in my book. (Although they do have a happy ending!)  But so many people meet, and are drawn apart by the ebb and flow of life.  What happened to that boy you met when you were nineteen?  Could you have built a happy life together?  Ah, if only…

How did you celebrate publication day?

The very next day I set off on Eurostar for a holiday in Paris, so it was some time before I could tell anyone. After another holiday visiting relations in Denmark and going to Legoland with various grandchildren, I was finally able to hold a book launch by zoom, which was the real celebration.  With zoom you can invite absolutely everyone you know, and you don’t have to provide any nibbles or Prosecco.  I was lucky enough to have a fantastic interviewer in Dr Lucy Windridge-Floris, who is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and English at Cardiff Metropolitan University; she held the whole show together.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

I’ve got lots of ideas for new short stories bubbling away underneath – some of them will be funny, downright silly, because people do seem to like my ridiculous stories, and some of them will make readers think and perhaps cry.

What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?

I love all the novels about Botswana by Alexander McCall Smith, in his series on Mma Ramotswe, the private detective.  They are gentle and full of humane wisdom, and for some weeks after I’ve finished one Mma Ramotswe stays with me and influences the way I see my life and the people around me.

What are you reading just now?

I’ve just finished Richard Osman’s third murder novel in his Thursday Murder Club series, and immediately pre-ordered the fourth book, so I hope he is hard at work writing it for me.

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

Quaker Faith and Practice because I have never got round to reading it right through.

Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?

No because films are always a disappointment if I have already read the book. The characters are now embedded within me and will never be the same in someone else’s film.

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

My website is and I am on Facebook as Leela Attfield.  I have a YouTube channel as Leela Dutt, which has a few very short videos where I read my stories or talk about about writing issues.

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

It would be fun to be Joyce in Richard Osman’s murder series – she pretends to be a humble old lady, put down by her successful and sophisticated daughter, but in reality she’s intelligent and competent, and notices a lot that other people around her miss.

About A Distant Voice in the Darkness

“A distant voice in the darkness… So on the ocean of life we pass” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A chance meeting at university leads to a relationship that spans marriages, the world and the decades in this sweeping and fulfilling novel from acclaimed author Leela Dutt, a story that reaches from the British countryside, through the glamour of Rome and the exhilaration of India to the turbulence of the South African invasion of Lesotho. Through it all, Eleanor Larsen-Bruun pursues a successful career and yet never loses her love for the man she met so many years before. At the peak of her success, fate seems to offer the chance to begin again something that was started so many years before…

Purchase Links

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More About the Author

Leela Dutt is an outsider, an only child brought up in Golders Green by an Indian father and a Danish mother. She has travelled all her life since the day her mother had to tuck the toddler under her arm while she struggled up a steep metal ladder on the side of a warship in order to be taken to Denmark.

Leela lives in Cardiff. After history at Oxford she was briefly a teacher, a shop assistant and a journalist. She then took a degree in computing, and set up and ran a database about housing research for Cardiff University, before joining the Big Issue Cymru as a proof-reader and reviewer.

Social Media Link

A Reading from A Distant Voice in the Darkness

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