The People behind the Retreat

SHABNAM SAMUEL, Founder & Organizer

SHABNAM SAMUEL, the founder and organizer of the retreat is an author, creative writing coach and a motivational speaker.  She teaches memoir writing workshops in schools, retirement communities, to individuals and through the library systems.

As a writer, she has been writing ever since she went away to boarding school as a seven-year-old. Her letters home were essays!!

Her essays have been published online in various magazines and sites.

Shabnam’s first book, a memoir, called A Fractured Life was published by Green Writers Press in the US in 2018. She is now working on two books simultaneously, one a sequel to her memoir and the other a historical fiction.

Shabnam has called the suburbs of Washington DC her home for the last thirty-five years. When she is not writing or teaching you might run into her on hiking trails or a bike trail.

More about Shabnam at


SWETA SRIVASTAVA VIKRAM is an international speaker, best-selling author of 14 books, and Doctor of Ayurveda who is committed to helping people thrive on their own terms. Her latest book, The Loss That Binds Us (Loving Healing Press), will be released in April 2024.

As a trusted source on health and wellness, most recently appearing on NBC and Radio Lifeforce and in a documentary with Dr. Deepak Chopra, Sweta has dedicated her career to writing about and teaching a more holistic approach to creativity, productivity, health, and nutrition.

Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nine countries on three continents. Sweta holds a Master’s in Strategic Communications from Columbia University. Voted as “One of the Most Influential Asians of Our Times” and winner of the “Voices of the Year” award (past recipients have been Chelsea Clinton), she lives in New York City with her husband and works with clients across the globe.

She is also a Reiki Practitioner with two decades of practice. Sweta also teaches yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence as well as incarcerated men and women.

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NAYANIKA MAHTANI once harboured dreams of becoming a stage actor, but she followed the proverbial left side of her brain to do an MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore – and became an investment banker instead. She is now an award-winning author and screenwriter, based in London.

Nayanika’s books are published by Penguin Random House. With genres ranging from historical fiction to multi-generational family sagas, her books have received critical acclaim, ranked as bestsellers on Amazon and won awards.

Nayanika has also co-written the story and screenplay for the film, Shakuntala Devi, with leading
actor Vidya Balan in the titular role. The film was released on Amazon Prime Video, ranking amongst Amazon’s ‘Most Watched Hindi Films Worldwide’.

Nayanika’s latest YA novel, Across the Line, is in development as a film, for which she has adapted the story for screen. She is presently working on a film and web series for leading Indian studios.

Nayanika has been a regular speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival, as well as at various other lit fests in the UK, USA, UAE, India, Pakistan and Bhutan.

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LISA MAY BENNETT, based out of Washington DC, is the author of the forthcoming book Yes, You Can Become an Author: Writing, Self-Publishing and Marketing Your First Book, and the memoir My Unfurling: Emerging from the Grip of Anxiety, Self-Doubt, and Drinking.

After a successful, decades-long career in marketing and communications, Lisa finally realized her dream of becoming a published author in 2022. Now she is on a mission to encourage more people to tell and publish their own stories.

More about Lisa at