Interview 5- Janice Pariat

Interview 5-  Janice Pariat

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Janice Pariat is a North East Indian writer. She is the author of Boats on Land, a short story collection [Recipient of 2013 Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award and the 2013 Crossword Book Award for fiction] and Seahorse, a novel.

This interview was conducted through e-mail.

This interview has great timing! I’m currently reading the author’s debut book Boats on Land.

boats

The stories are magical, the themes remind me of the stories a dear one used to narrate to me. 

In this interview we will discuss her short story Fish-eye (based on the theme- gender violence) which was published on the Out of Print blog in April 2015.

Summary of the short story

The ‘unnamed’ protagonist in the story lives in a paying guest accommodation in Delhi. She is an independent girl who lives life on her own terms. She lives in a single sharing room due to which she enjoys a certain degree of freedom in comparison to those who share rooms with another person. But this freedom is short-lived when she discovers she is being watched.

Read it here.

Welcome, Janice.

  • What inspired this story?

JP: Unfortunately, a true event. I lived in a paying guest accommodation in Delhi many years ago, and suffered the same voyeuristic attentions of male persons in the house. I’ll never forget that feeling: of being invaded and violated even though I hadn’t been “touched”. Even more unfortunately, I’m not the only one. Many of my female friends have similar terrifying stories to share.  


  • Why didn’t you name your protagonist?

JP: I don’t name many of my protagonists. In fact, many of my characters in Boats on Land remain nameless. I only name them if I feel there is a need to, if their experience is in some way particular to them, and the name adds to their context in terms of place or ethnicity. The protagonist in Fish Eye is an every woman. 


  • How does voyeurism fall under the radar of gender violence? Do you think such violence is capable from females towards males?

JP: It springs from consent. If voyeurism is conducted under safe, consensual conditions, it doesn’t constitute a form of gender violence. If it isn’t, as in the case of the story, it is. Because it is a violation of a person’s privacy, of their body. It’s a visual “rape”. I think this kind of violence can be perpetrated by anyone who is in a position of power vis-à-vis the other, regardless of whether they’re men or women on either side of the equation. Living in a world that’s dominantly patriarchal though does mean that it is often perpetrated by men on women. 


  • The question I was left with after reading your story were:

 Is one really safe from prying eyes… anywhere? In a shop’s changing room? In your lover’s apartment? Online?

Your comments, please.

JP: I’m not quite sure how to answer this. As I said, it’s a question of consent. And in all of these spaces, real or virtual, there resides the danger of that consent being given or withheld not taken into account.


  • Would the protagonist’s plight seemed greater to the reader had you included ‘filming’ to the voyeuristic act?

JP: Including the element of filming would have meant that there would have been a record. A record that could’ve (and probably would’ve) been shared online or via mobile phones so yes, it would have left more of a “mark”. But yet who are we to place any kind of trauma on some notion of hierarchy. That this trauma is worse than something else. How can we undermine someone’s suffering in that way?


  • Any story that deals with this theme that comes to your mind?

JP: With voyeurism? Nothing I can think of immediately, I’m afraid, but I’m sure there are many.


Thank you!

Interview 4- Rheea Mukherjee

Interview 4- Rheea Mukherjee

Rheea’s debut short story collection ‘Transit for Beginners’ was published by Singapore based publisher ‘Kitaab’ early this year.

Hello Rheea,

So excited about this interview! Never thought I would interview you for your debut book when I had first encountered a short story of yours online a few years ago.

This interview will be about your book and other things literary.

  • The title of your collection borrows from a story in the collection. How did it become the title of the book?

RM: I was in grad school when I wrote that story. It was actually the first name that came to me, and it stuck. The collection of short stories was entitled ‘In these Cities We Dream’ and the manuscript went in with that title. Later on, as my own voice evolved, I realized that the title no longer represented my tone nor personality: it was a little too corny. Transit for Beginners made sense for the entire collection. Where are we all, if not in transit?


  • I began your collection with the stories that I had read online previously. I thought that beginning with familiarity would make the reading more enjoyable but how wrong I was.

‘Unspeakable’ as an opening story is beautiful. I felt like I had been sucked into a portal where I had transformed into a shadow amidst the characters living out the scenes. How did you decide on ‘Unspeakable’ for the opening story?

RM: Unspeakable is very different from a lot of my work. It was written at a time of emotional turmoil, and I guess the story represents that time in my life. It would be very hard to recreate that style, I honestly think it’s one of those abnormalities in a writers’ life, but bah, what do I really know?


  • Indian mainstream publishers are not very receptive to debut short story collections. Novels have a better chance. Your comments?

RM: It’s a tricky time. Short stories always do better, or are more likely to be picked up when you are more established as a writer. Novels are easier to bet on, because the likelihood of you setting up a brand is easier. That’ said, I don’t fault the publishers. We’re losing the art of reading: the act of reading for a sense of exploration, the act of reading to enjoy new boundaries and look at things with new perspectives. A generation ago, people would pick up anything: short stories, a novella, a novel, just to read. Now we need to read brands, we need to read for the sake of making better conversation. The rest is satisfied by social media and quick internet articles. Oh, well, right?


  • How did you discover your publisher ‘Kitaab’?

RM: I have a FB friend, Anu Kumar who has written quite a few books. I saw that one of her latest books was a collection of short stories. Short story writers have to keep an eye out for this kind of thing. I asked her about Kitaab, she asked me to write to Zafar Anjum. I did, and a year and half later my book was (finally) published.


  • What are the perks of being published by a small press?

RM: Being appreciated for the writer you are. No intrusive editor manipulations. The small press really aims to give all writers a voice. They give you a chance, and it’s not a chance people should shrug their shoulders at. Finding a press that is not betting on money as much as it wants to just release quality voices to the world- that’s something only ridiculously passionate people can do. That’s what Kitaab is- a press with a larger vision for what writing means to this world.


  • Unlike a novel, a short story collection runs the risk of being abandoned at anytime as a reader can gauge the quality of writing from any story in the collection. How much effort went into deciding which stories would be included in your collection and the order they would appear in?

RM: This is a great question, because the answer is; not much time at all. I took out two stories that were in the collection, simply because I thought they were lame. But I did think about Unspeakable starting the book off, and Keeping Pace ending it. I am not really sure why, but I think everything comes full circle. Or, at the very least the reader might come to the conclusion that things coming full circle is irrelevant to begin with.


  • Is ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ an MFA thing?

I recently read an article by Namrata Poddar titled ‘Is “Show Don’t Tell” A Universal Truth Or A Colonial Relic? in which the author implies (IMHO) that ‘telling’ or ‘oral narration’ comes from the East and that ‘Showing’ or ‘Written word’ comes from the West. Any comments?

RM: Yes, I think ‘show don’t tell’ is very American. It’s also what they drive home in the MFA culture, it’s all about scene building. It’s not all unwarranted, there is a lot to learn about constructing scenes and moving a story. It can empower your reader, and let them feel the textures of your story, it also lets them interpret things that are not spelled out. That said, I think the MFA style relies too much on scene building. Our culture has its roots in oral storytelling, we instantly trust a narrator, and we rely on them to guide us through the story. I personally like this style, but I do include a lot of scenes in my work. If you look at Pamuk, Camus, R.K Narayan you can see the difference in storytelling, VS say, Foster or Gaitskill. I think reading both kinds help both the reader and the writer. For me, it helps evolve my own style, where narrator, scene, and ‘showing’ all blur together.


  • I remember, in one of our discussions you had said that you read a lot of stories that are well-written but not all of them are good ‘stories’ which have the ability to translate to great literature. Can you elaborate on this?

RM: Yes. You can have a lot of craft, but if a reader is not left with fragments of story long after they’ve read it, then something has fallen flat. As a writer, we need to say something about our world, our place in it, our injustices, our privileges. This can be said in many ways; Orwell is a great example of using Science Fiction to demonstrate how frightening humans can be. I think writing for the sake of writing will show, no matter how tremendous your craft is. I think everything is political, even Harry Potter. Everything you write has a history of culture, gender, sexuality, political movements, and anthropology behind it. It might not reflect directly on the pages, but as a writer you bring that in. You are making history as you write. For example, I am writing in a time of perceived binary reductionist political thought, a time incendiary headlines. I am writing on the privilege that thousands of feminists have given me. I am writing at a time I am being informed my selective media. I am writing in a global Indian city. All these things have a direct or indirect impact on my writing.


  • After completing your MFA, there would have been the thrill, the pride but did you feel worried that readers would perceive your work as just-another MFA result?

RM: No, not really. I didn’t think my work is representative of the MFA cliché, I also think the MFA cliché exists, but it has as many exceptions.


  • You had conducted the Bangalore Writers’ Workshop a few years ago. Can you tell us a little about the literary talent you encountered in Bangalore then?

RM: I founded in 2012 with Bhumika Anand. I was there for two years, and we worked with over 150 students during my time. What’s most prominent about our students? Our education system comes to mind. Here were many talented writers who had to relegate their time to writing after finishing their ‘respectable’ degrees. Most of them were working, and most of them wanted something much more out of life. I think we trample on so many budding artists in this country, just because we direct them into one way of urban success. That said, many of the writers I taught are making the best of both worlds, some are full-time writing now. I think we need a damn artists’ revolution in this country.


  • You began taking writing seriously at 22. How were the years since then and now, that built up to your book? Did you ever think of giving up writing in the face of many rejections?

RM: Well a part from the fact that my very old work makes me want to vomit all over at the mere thought of it? Well, I’ve grown. I’ve also been lucky to see many perspectives. I’ve worked as a coffee barista, and in fast-food, I’ve worked as counselor at a psychiatric hospital in Colorado, as well as a counselor in a domestic abuse shelter and a step-down-fro-jail facility for boys aged 10-19. I’ve lived between the U.S and India for most of my life, and adapting to both cultures was hard, but also made me who I am today. I’ve taught at BWW, and now I am the co-founder of Write Leela Write a design and content laboratory, and we do a ton of branding for Indian startups. So I guess, career wise I’ve been all over the place, and that has impacted my writing. I am very grateful for how chaotic my life has been.


  • My favourites from the collection are ‘Hungry’, ‘A Larger Design’ and ‘A Good Arrangement’ among others.

RM: Hungry is a favorite of mine. I think Sai really attached himself to me. In my head he was a simple boy from small town with moderate ambition. He just happened to get caught up in something really immoral: secretly videotaping couples having sex in the hotel he worked for. I think it’s represented of all of us: we’re all doing something to make ends meet, and some of it directly or indirectly is morally compromising. I think in Urban India our ways of contributing to excesses and vulgarity is so indirect, that’s why it’s easy to pretend everything is ok. In the end though, Sai makes a choice, and I think we all have a choice at any moment, to free ourselves of the constructs of society. 

A Good Arrangement, I’d rather not talk about, if I must be honest it was a quick story I wrote, and I am not proud of it. I think there is a lot of lazy writing in there. But hindsight is always 20/20.

As for A Larger Design, I’ve always been obsessed with mental illness and the medical constructs of it. I explore this more thoroughly in my second book, which I am working on.


  • What is the biggest challenge for you when you switch from fiction to non-fiction?

RM: My non-fiction tends to be a lot more socially political, and I see myself going in that direction if I expand on it. I like social observation, I like writing about the nuances of our micro-cultures and how that impacts the larger narratives and headlines in our world. Fiction is more liberating because I can reimagine things and experiment a whole lot more. I was just at the Seemanchal Literary Festival this last week. As a writer it was kind of life changing. For an Urban English Indian writer to step into a small town (Kishanganj) in Bihar, and to witness the hospitality, life, and reality of the state was mesmerizing and powerful. We had several writers, who have made their names in Hindi, Urdu, Malay, Tamil, and English. The main theme was humanity through literature, and that is something I identity with as a writer. To be a writer, you must have purpose, or at least acknowledge the lack of purpose in this very confusing world. I think we have to get really serious about things to see how un-serious things really are, how comedic, how ironic.


  • You write for Scroll. Two articles that I found very interesting were:Why self-publishing is not the best future you can give your book and A seven-point manifesto for the Indian literary magazine.

RM: I do write for Scroll occasionally. I’m allowed to be sarcastic and bring in social observations with practically no censorship. I am grateful for that opportunity. The two articles you mentioned there are my more circumspect ones. I do feel strongly about self-publishing I think vanity publishing can spell doom for the art of writing. I am old school that way, you have to put in the work, you have to face the rejection. Otherwise it’s as easy as uploading picture on FB. This is not to say that there aren’t successful books that have been self-published, I think a lot of good writers do this, and the market is such that sometimes it’s the only hope. But I think the practice itself is detrimental to our work. By the way, my latest Scroll article is about the Seemanchal Literary Fest.


  • You have two dogs. Henna and Nimbu. When will we see them in your writing?

RM: Hmmm… what is it with writers and pets? Yes,me and my partner Indra are dog parents, and Nimbu and Henna do show up, but let’s just say they are metaphors.


  • Your book has a blurb by Arunava Sinha and PrajwalPrajuly. How important is it for new writers to have book blurbs by well-known authors?

RM: Well, I think first of all there might be plenty of great writers who don’t have access to well-known writers. But I think if you keep at your work and craft and are really doing your homework, you will make those connections. You have to be pushing your work, editing it, submitting it, and collecting rejections, through that process you meet people, you get things published in increasingly well-known literary magazines. You go to small writer festivals, you talk, you read other people’s work. Your writing karma usually will be blessed with some very genuine souls who read your work and tell you honestly if it’s good. It’s here where I’ll say, you are not looking for just well-known writers, you are looking for amazing people, people who understand the struggle and know the honesty it requires to be a writer. And you’ll meet those people along the way.


  • ‘Her moral compass frequently warned her that Brahmin girls from good families didn’t behave like this. But with every secret journey to meet him, the urgency of those mental alarms wore out, like ancient stitches from an old blouse.’

These lines from Reckless show your poetic streak. You have a few poems published online. When do we see a poetry collection from you (also a novel)?

RM: I am really not a poet.  I do have a couple of poems published in ‘Cha’. At first my writing was very lush. My new writing is a lot blunter,or so I think, and blunt writing can be poetic too, though it’s a matter of perspective.


 

Thank you!

 

Longlisted for DNA- Out of Print short fiction contest 2016

DNA- An English broadsheet daily from Mumbai, India.

Out of Print Magazine- An Indian literary ezine.

The DNA- Out of Print contest recognises quality fiction.

The theme for this year’s contest was ‘Dissent’.

33 stories have been longlisted.

My submission ‘The Untitled Story’ has been longlisted too.

longlist

The shortlist will be announced next Sunday.

Ten shortlisted stories will be published online in DNA’s e-paper and on the Out of Print blog.

Three stories will be chosen for publication in the DNA print spread ‘Just Before Monday’.

The winning story will receive a prize of Rs 18000. The remaining two finalists will receive an award of Rs 6000 each.

Interview 3- Mohit Parikh

Interview 3- MOHIT PARIKH

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It is the season of TOTO awards again. This interview is with the winner of TOTO award for creative writing in English 2015, Mohit Parikh, for his story ‘A Stroller in a Supermarket’ which was published in Identity Theory in 2013, his debut novel ‘Manan’ which received ‘Honorable Mention – Best Book (Fiction)’ at the The Hindu Young World- Goodbooks Awards 2015-2016 and a lot more.

Read the story here.

Italicised lines below are from the story.

Hello Mohit, How did it feel winning the TOTO award last year? It was a pleasure watching you read aloud at the event. You dedicated your award ‘to life’ on receiving it, if my memory serves me well.

What is your view on literary contests such as TOTO and DNA- Out of Print short fiction contest?

MP: When I was working on my first novel, I had no clue how good or bad I was as a writer. To measure myself, and to allow myself to experiment and take risks in story- telling, I resorted to submitting my works to US based literary magazines. But definitely the turning point came when OOP accepted my story and, then, TOTO happened – two years in a row. Those were one of the best things that happened to Manan, and I am extremely grateful to Sarita and team TFA. As a writer, though, I felt I was getting closer to something – some vague landmark that a young writer must reach at. You know, getting published in renowned magazines, maybe having a newspaper column, getting the chance to share stage at the big lit fests. That was a mistake. Self-created external goals while were driving me to write, they weren’t making me a better person. Which is why I took a hiatus.


Okay, let’s talk about your story ‘A Stroller in a Supermarket’ now. I loved it.

What drew me into the piece at first is the choice of the second-person narrative.

  • Was it easy?
  • What is your view on second-person narratives in general?
  • Any story in your view which has done that exceptionally well?

MP: A Stroller in a Supermarket came in a flash – I wrote its first half in a single sitting after returning from Hypercity. My mom was shopping for the usual stuff, and more – stuff she wouldn’t buy from the nearby kirana store – and I was watching her and other shoppers in some sort of disbelief. People seemed to be in a trance. I mean, my mom is a smart person – she is a maths teacher – and really great at budgeting and stuff. So it requires a lot of cunning to modify behaviours of people like her.  That got me thinking.

I also realised later that the protagonist closely resembled Tanuj Solanki’s ‘The Bachelor’, as I was reading a draft of his first novel then.

As for my views on second-person narratives, I don’t have any.

But one book that I think has done second-person narrative exceptionally well would be Georges Perec’s ‘A Man Asleep’.  A fantastic little story by young Perec.


You have used italics carefully in your piece. When do you think italics has been over-used or unnecessary in fiction?

MP: I don’t know. If something is bringing attention to itself then probably it is unnecessary. As such, I don’t think writers should concern themselves with making rules about punctuations or styles.


I liked how you compare product descriptions to author profiles subtly hinting at books as a commodity and the purchase decision depending on the author’s credits. Any comments?

MP: Absolutely none. I am doing MBA right now, and every day I lam taught the nitty-gritties of how markets function by some very smart professors. The classroom experience has destroyed all the judgements I had had while writing this short story. Now all I can say is, I don’t know. I don’t know if commoditising books is a good thing or bad, or necessary or not, or anything about larger questions like where the society is heading etc etc. What I can comment on is how marketing strategies work and how you can leverage them for your own benefits. Though I may charge you for that.


‘There are no cool, dry and hygienic places in your small kitchen.’

It is in their best interest that you stay away.

These lines shows the narrator’s self-awareness. Why did you choose this trait for your protagonist as opposed to denial, wouldn’t that have been intriguing? Manan, the protagonist of your novel is also self-aware.

MP: Good question! All my characters have, I am told, hyper self-awareness. Which makes sense because my interests are personal growth and spirituality, and I am obsessed with the process of introspection. I always wanted to share and explore my own challenges in that regard through fiction, through my characters. Manan is a result of that.


There are fruits sometimes too, and cucumber and tomato and potato and radish to prepare sandwich the way your mother used to, but half of it rots and, though you can easily afford the waste, your schooling has ensured that you get guilt-ridden.

This describes ‘middle-class’ life extremely well, IMHO. Your novel Manan sheds light on Indian middle class life in the 1990s. What draws you to portray this in fiction?

MP: This is what I know? I’d left my job to write full time. I was living with my parents in Jaipur, in the very society I had grown up in. Little had changed in people from that generation, while I had found new ways of looking at the familiar. There were no young people around. All my friends had moved to metros, working as they were for MNCs. So I have tasted only bits and pieces of that other life, when I was crashing at their rented apartments for a week or two.’At home, I was surrounded by aunties and uncles, and overhearing fights between our maid and my mother or between park caretaker and school students who want to play football. So no wonder domestic is what I wanted to write about.

Another reason could be the huge impact that my upbringing had on me. Sanskrit, Moral Science, those Speaking Tree and HT Faith columns, mythological shows on TV, Gandhiji’s autobiography – I think I conditioned myself to think that desires were bad and greatness lied in restraint and self-control. And I always wanted to be great. So I struggled a lot during my college years and worked hard at unlearning all the childhood lessons.


Sharing spaces imbued in aroma is intimacy.

Reading this piece, the reader is alerted to the senses that the narrator uses the most in the story. Sight and smell. Any comments?

MP: Probably this helps in emphasizing the artificiality of the experience.


There is always the slight mismanagement in inventory, confusions in purchase offers, multiple billing of a single item, quarrels over accusations of shop lifting and resolution of conflicts by a staff which keeps hands over the shoulders of the conflicted parties and manages to convince in Hindi that it’s fine, things happen, like the times before people read self-help literature in your country.

Here there is a heightened sense of touch. Human contact. Any comments?

MP: I was eating at a Pizza Hut in Noida in 2009 – I mention the year because the service industry in India hadn’t flourished then. So this handsomely dressed young man comes to me with a smile, greets me, offers me the menu card, pours water in a neat, singular flow into one of those typical Pizza Hut glasses. I order something and he even recommends me a combo offer they are running. Soon, he is methodically cutting the pizza, putting a slice on my dish and alerting me of its hotness.  Pizza Hut was epitome of great customer service then. Anyway, so an hour later, as I pay my bill and walk towards the parking lot, I see that man dashing out of the kitchen backdoor with another guy. Their ties are loose. They are cigarettes they are lighting/sharing. And he says, ‘Bhench*d, aaj mausam kitna sexy hai’ – or something to that effect, I can’t recall.

In that moment, he was real.


How did you manage to draw the fine line between author and narrator in this story? For aspiring writers who will read this interview, any advice on how important it is to keep in mind what the ‘narrator’ knows as opposed to what the author knows while writing fiction?

MP: It is crucial to not confuse the narrator with the author, for obvious reasons. Stories aren’t mere vehicles to convey your ideas; many writers suggest you write essays if that is your aim.

How not to do it? I used to write at least 3-4 pages of unconscious writing – you know, non-stop writing without so much as lifting the pen from the paper – just to remind myself of what the narrator knows, where the characters are, what has transpired so far, and what might happen next. This exercise is extremely rewarding when there are breaks in writing sessions. Otherwise too, whenever I need to sort out my thoughts, I resort to this exercise.


Perhaps she attributes your unwillingness to the flurry of messages you will receive on your cell phone – hair solutions from Dr. Patra’s Homeopathy Clinic, love solutions from a hip new Indian dating website where Deepika and Natasha are waiting for guys just like you, and repeated shopping alerts from their own store.

I chuckled at ‘where Deepika and Natasha are waiting for guys just like you’. Is writing humour easy for you? (Your article ‘10 Pieces of Advice For Serious Writers’ in Antiserious comes to mind.)

MP: It does come naturally to an extent. As such, I am a funny person who faces at least two embarrassing moments every day because of his awkward and juvenile sense of humour.

In writing, it is much controlled. I think the more I allow the child in me to write, the more imaginative and funny the bits become. If the adult in me is writing (not editing, writing) then, I find, the characters are taking themselves too seriously or are constrained and even cynical.


You have many stories published in various literary magazines.

In your interview with Open Road Review, you said this:

Most literary magazines, in my experience, focus not so much on what writers are saying but how they are saying—how well. For young writers, therefore, these are great platforms to back their whimsical ideas and try things out. The only drawback, as far as online literary magazines are concerned, is that you don’t get pushed to master the skills of story-telling.

How do you suggest young writers get pushed to master the skills of story-telling?

MP: Watch movies. Movies have enormous time and money constraints so the good movies are really great at story telling. Besides, you watch it in a single sitting and so find yourself more involved with the whole what-is-happening-why-it-is-happening-and-what-will-it-lead-to thing. In literature, a single page, sometimes a single sentence can appear complete in itself. I get distracted after reading 3-4 pages – and there is always something on a page to admire or to ponder on.  


Tell us about a ‘Eureka’ moment while writing Manan without which the book might not have been possible.

MP: Many! Off the top of my head, I recall reading the first page of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and feeling ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that one can write fiction like that. 


You have used sound words in Manan like ‘Tee-dee-dut’ and more. Why?

MP: I don’t know. They just made their way into the prose.


How did readers receive the illustrations in Manan?

MP: I think they loved it. Urmila Shastry has done some real fine work. One downside however was the perception of the novel to potential readers. Many people – including fellow writers – thought that it was a children’s book or a graphic novel. So maybe I lost out on a few readers and found some others.


Hobbies apart from writing/reading?

MP: I play cricket. In fact, might I mention proudly, since last one month I have been practising real hard for an inter-IIM tournament. I also enjoy trekking. I tried my hand at directing short films but I sucked at team management and with handling equipment. So there went a dream crashing.


Is your next book a novel or short story collection?

MP: No clue. I jinxed three books by talking about them. Don’t want to take any more chances.


Tell us a little about working with Writer’s side- your agent and how new writers can benefit from agents like them?

MP: Kanishka is awesome. He is a bit like Batman – he is up all night, he is always keeping a watch over the industry from some hidden vantage point, he is extremely efficient and effective at what he does and nobody knows where he lives. I was fortunate that Kanishka liked Manan. Once he was in, everything else that followed was easy.

The one thing that singularly sets him apart from any other agent is his response time. He can get back to you in hours if he likes what he has skimmed through. Most agents and publishers sit on manuscripts for months.


If you could change one thing in Manan, now. What would it be?

MP: Making Chapter 03 and 05 less self-indulgent. Many readers I noticed took a break from reading when they came to these chapters. When they reached Chapter 06 they got up only after finishing the book. So maybe I did something wrong with pacing there.


How is writing a short story different from a novel for you?

MP: I did not consider myself a short story writer, until recently. Short stories were like net practices for me, a medium to try things out – craft and all – at the cost of earnestness and vulnerability that’s there in real writing. Ahem ahem.

At present, I am not so sure what they mean to me.


Favourite novels?

MP: Can I list books that influenced me during my college years? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda, Cosmos by Carl Sagan, Einstein: Life and Times by Ronald Clarke, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig, The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra and Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav.

I was 16 when I read Sherlock Holmes and that made me go ‘I know exactly what the author is doing here’. Before Sherlock Homes, Raj Comics were my favourite. Made my imagination fly. I still buy a comic book when I am at a railway station.

*  * *

Interview 1- Tendai Huchu

Interview 2- Tanuj Solanki