Interview 16- Sumana Roy

 Interview 16: Sumana Roy

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Sumana Roy with her nephew. Photo Courtesy: Sudipto Roy

Sumana Roy’s first book, How I Became a Tree, a work of non-fiction, was published in India in February. Her poems and essays have appeared in GrantaGuernicaLARBDrunken Boat, the Prairie SchoonerBerfrois, and other journals. She lives in Siliguri in India. In this interview we discuss trees, her book, fiction, poetry and her nephew among others.


Non-fiction

  • Let us begin with your book ‘How I Became a Tree’. How did you think of the title? It somehow reminded me of The Vegetarian by Han Kang and it also sounded like a self-help book to empower others through your journey.

SR: I cannot exactly remember how the title came to me. It certainly didn’t come to me before I began working on the book. I also cannot exactly remember when I began working on the book. I had been making notes on my phone and in notebooks for months, perhaps years. When they started to acquire girth, I began to notice a pattern in them – that in all these questions I was asking myself, there was the urge to live like a tree. It was an emotional response. Is it a self-help book? Every book – every piece of writing – is for self-help, I suppose. We are writing to clear things for ourselves, aren’t we? I like to joke that it should be put in the DIY category, but at that time I was groping for something whose emotional economy was self-contained. Stupidly, I chose the tree.

I haven’t read The Vegetarian. I might, some day.  


  • It has been shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2017. How does it feel and what is your view on awards such as these?

SR: Awards and prizes are a new kind of patronage in our times. This is a non-corporate and non-governmental prize. I don’t know what awards really mean, but in this case my first thought was that two readers who were writers had read my book. That touched me, as it would any person who writes.


  • One of my friends is quite passionate about trees and preserving them. She is part of an initiative which maps trees with the help of an app, finding out what environment helps them thrive etc.

Do you think the role of a writer is restricted to the page or should they be activists too?

SR: All art is, in some way, a kind of activism. I could be wrong, but I think it’s the temper of our times that we associate only a certain kind of politics and a slightly high-pitched tone with activism. This might be the influence of the news studio on our consciousness. When Marcel Duchamp took a porcelain urinal and called it ‘Fountain’, he was being an activist as well.


  • You recently won a fellowship to write a book on the Teesta. Tell us a little about it.

SR: I grew up in Siliguri. Most of our school picnics were on the banks of the river Teesta. By the time I was a student at university, I noticed that the river was dying. I’ve watched it turning comatose in the last two decades. I’ve been awarded a Carson writing fellowship by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich to write a book on the Teesta.


  • In one of your articles ‘Living in the chicken neck’ you talk about your debut book that you abandoned. You talk about Siliguri and how most debut manuscripts are autobiographical. Despite being longlisted for the Man Asian  Prize and it being a very dear topic to you, you knew it wasn’t meant to be. How did you find the courage to discard it?

SR: I thought it was a badly written book. How could I have allowed it to get published?


  • It was in the making for ten years. Nowadays in the rush to be published a lot of young writers get self-published. Do you think they lack the patience and wisdom to be a good judge of their own work?

SR: I don’t think self-publishing is necessarily a bad thing. Many of the modernists – Joyce and Woolf, I think – wouldn’t have had their books published if they hadn’t set out to do so themselves. Proust too, didn’t he? Laurence Sterne too, I think? I think a lot of good books will emerge from self-publishing. That is because publishers have almost closed themselves to books that lie outside marketing categories. Any new kind of writing will have to fight publishing boxes to meet the world. The new distribution system will also encourage and facilitate the meeting of these books with their readers.


Poetry

  • Your poetry is published in GRANTA, one of the more prestigious literary magazines of today. Where and how did you train as a poet?

SR: I read a lot of poetry. In fact, that is almost the only thing I read now. A few favourite poets in English, but mostly in Bangla.


  • Amit Chaudhuri talks about the ‘First sentence’ in his essay in GRANTA. Do you give much thought to an opening line of your poem? I think the opening line (break) of your poem ‘Are you lonesome tonight?’ is strong.

The door opens itself

SR: I think Chaudhuri talks more about the first paragraph than he does about the first sentence in that essay. For me, every single line in a poem is a first line. A poem is not a house with doors and windows, with fixed points of entry. It is more like the skin of the sea – I should be able to jump into it anywhere (and anytime). So every line is equally important for me.  


  • What is it about free verse that draws you to it?

SR: I’ve never dreamed in rhyming couplets or iambic pentameter. Perhaps that’s why.


Fiction

  • Let us talk about your short story ‘My Mother’s Head’ published by Himal SouthAsian Magazine. Some beautiful lines I experienced in it like these:

–  I felt helpless but also distant – this thing called pain is like god; one needs to experience it to believe in it.

–  I began to detest the burden of that love.

As a poet, do you approach your fiction at sentence level too?

SR: Always. Like every line in a poem, every sentence in prose matters to me. In fact, I think there is very little to distinguish between a line in a poem from a sentence in an essay or a story for me.


  • How did you conceive this story? I noted two themes through which the sentences throb: Pain (Physical/Emotional) and Love (Filial). I thought you did well in bridging the gap (if there’s any) between mental and physical health. When you construct a story, do you pay emphasis to theme or dialogue or…?

SR: The story wrote itself, I think. Like most things I write about, this came from a very personal space. I know the people in the story intimately, as I imagine all writers know the characters in their stories.

There is so little to tell between physical and mental health. We call it “heartbreak” because we feel the heart breaking, for instance.

To answer your question, I’m conscious neither of theme nor of dialogue. I’m only aiming to be as honest as I can to the life in the story – it is difficult to turn that into words.


  • Your story reminded me of Jerry Pinto’s book Em and the Big Hoom. The need to capture the memory of the mother and coming to terms with it is alive in both stories. Any comments?

SR: One of the first stories that I wrote – I began writing very late, in my early thirties – was “My Mother’s Lover” (Pratilipi). That was ten years ago. “My Mother’s Head” (HimalSouthasian), which was published last year, is, like “My Mother’s Lover”, an exploration about the relationship between a mother and daughter. As a daughter, I feel that there are many things that I shall never know about my mother – I’m interested in her childhood, in her adolescence, in her love stories, in her secrets. A mother knows more about her daughter than a daughter shall ever know about her mother. It’s a very unequal relationship in terms of such knowledge, and also the direction and duration of affection. I haven’t read Pinto’s book yet, and so I cannot comment on the similarities of our ambitions, if any at all. Our mothers are our best lovers – I’m interested in that love and its unknowability.


Publishing

  • Tell us a little about the ejournal you co-founded

SR: Manjiri, Debojit and I wanted to create a forum which would allow space for literature (poems, essays, stories; artwork) around what was considered the non-serious, particularly in a self-important and serious country like India. I wanted “Are You Serious” as the name of the journal, but that URL was unfortunately already taken. So we came up with Antiserious, though we are anti-everything, including anti-anti.


  • What do you think about the current publishing scenario in India?

SR: I wish there was more space for poetry and for the essay. Also, shorter forms – the short story, the novella, the long essay. I think we tend to imagine that there is a ‘market’ – or lack of it – for certain forms and subjects. But that such a market is only an imagined construct is proved by the success of a new kind of Hindi films in the last eight years or so. What would be good – and it’s possible to do that – is to bring in more variety in our writing.


  • Tell us how Aleph chose your book for publication.

SR: I submitted my manuscript to Aleph. I consider myself extremely fortunate that David Davidar wrote back to me on the third day after my submission. I’ve enjoyed working with Davidar and Aienla Ozukum at Aleph.


General

  • Who are your influences and by influences I don’t mean writers. You are quite fond of your nephew as your Facebook posts show. Has he appeared in your work?

SR: I’ve written a few poems about my nephew. An essay or two. Writing about him is a good reminder to me that the people we write about are not necessarily our readers (like Friday wasn’t in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe).

I find questions about influences very difficult to answer – they presume a kind of extreme self-awareness, as if it was some kind of organ transplant. I think I’m influenced by everything around me, both things I like and those I don’t.


  • Any advice to young writers?

SR: None. Except to reject advice perhaps.


  • Favourite books?

SR: Amit Chaudhuri’s writing – his novels, A Strange and Sublime Address, The Immortals, Freedom Song, the essays, his book of poems, St Cyril Road and Other poems; James Salter’s sentences which I read like I do poetry; Aranyak, Middlemarch, the poems of Shakti Chattopadhyay and Jibanananda Das, Tagore’s songs (the most beautiful collection of sounds I’ve ever encountered); essays in The Common Reader, The Sacred Wood, The Collected Prose of Robert Frost.


  • If I’m not wrong, paper comes from trees, right? What is your view on print books?(Your book is in print. Isn’t it counter productive to what you are trying to convey through the book- your love for trees.)

SR: Publishers – I’ve seen two such books, one from Brazil, the other from Kerala – have tried to reverse this by attaching seeds for plants and trees along with books or a mechanism to plant the book which is engineered to grow into a tree. But, of course, it’s only a token gesture.


Thank you for speaking to me Sumana!

Her book is available for sale here

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New story published in Coldnoon

‘Your place is where? The place you were born and raised or the place you are from. Where does your loyalty lie? You are not good at picking sides. You are always neutral. Who would want to listen to you rambling about your place? Let’s say you pick the place which helps your parents earn a livelihood. The place they braved during the Gulf war, your cousins had fled from Saddam’s fear. Your parents stayed.’

Doom, Coldnoon

Interview 15- Tishani Doshi

 Interview 15: Tishani Doshi

 

‘The question of biography is endlessly fascinating for readers and endlessly irritating for writers, mostly because I think it implies a lack of imagination. If you admit that you draw from life then it’s thought of as kind of lazy—What? You didn’t make anything up? As if it’s some kind of cut and paste job. Whereas anyone who’s ever written knows that writers are constantly taking from life, theirs or other people’s, and there’s a process during the writing when that gets transformed into something else, and that transformation is the most interesting part of writing. My paternal grandmother died when I was quite young, and as far as I know she never ate a potato in her life. I’m not sure if it’s true, but does it really matter? The poem is its own truth. It goes beyond my grandmother and lands in an entirely different place.’

published by Desi Writer’s Lounge. Read here

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(Author photo credit: Peter Åkesson)

Tishani doshi is the author of five books of fiction & poetry. At 26 an encounter with the choreographer Chandralekha led her to an unexpected career in dance. In 2006, her first book of poems, Countries of the Body, won the Forward Prize for best first collection. She is also the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award & winner of the All-India Poetry competition. GIRLS ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODS, is her third full-length collection. She lives on a beach in Tamil Nadu. www.tishanidoshi.com

Interview 14- Chandramohan S.

Interview 14- Chandramohan S.

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Chandramohan S. is an Indian English Dalit poet and literary critic based in Trivandrum, Kerala. He is part of the P.K. Rosi Foundation, a cultural collective (named after the legendary, pioneering Dalit actress) that seeks to de-marginalize Dalit-Bahujans. His poems were shortlisted for Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize 2016. His second collection of poems is titled “Letters to Namdeo Dhasal” is just published. A few of his poems have been used at many protest in addition to being  anthologized in LAND: An Anthology of Indo-Australian Poetry (edited by Rob Harle) and 40 poets under 40 (edited by Nabina Das and Semeen Ali). He was instrumental in organizing literary meets of English poets of Kerala for the Ayyappa Panicker Foundation and for Kritya Poetry festival.


This interview was conducted by e-mail. Chandramohan’s latest book ‘Letter’s to Namdeo Dhasal’ is out. Here we discuss his poem ‘The Immigrant Experience’ from the book primarily. 


 

The Immigrant Experience

The immigrant word in a poem

Sounds like “Prufrock”,

To be as conspicuous

As a fly in buttermilk.

The immigrant word in a poem

Is accompanied with a footnote

Like a GPS tag

On the ankles of the poems

The immigrant word in a poem

Is the paper boat on the

High tide of strife

Washed ashore like the corpse of a toddler.

The immigrant word in a poem

Is locked up in a solitary confinement

In the prison of syntax.

The immigrant word in a poem

is a dysfunctional mating call

Tethered to a stable of phonetics

The immigrant word in a poem

is in the dock

for outraging the modesty of a poetic form

The immigrant word in a poem

Is entombed on a desecrated tombstone

at a war memorial.

 


(i)                 What inspired you to write on the ‘immigrant’ theme?

CS: I think the notion of syntax of poetry becoming a prison for an experimental poet struck me as an interesting notion. This poem sprouted  from it.. Also the image of toddler washed ashore had haunted me just like many others. To use language tropes to describe worldly scenarios fascinated me. Hence this poem.

 


(ii)               I found these lines the most captivating:

The immigrant word in a poem

Is accompanied with a footnote

Like a GPS tag

On the ankles of the poems

 –

Why do you think writers choose to have footnotes at the end of poems as explanations even amidst the existence of Google (You do it in the first poem)?

CS: Footnotes are meant to ameliorate cultural differences. The poet fears that his reader may misunderstand him and hence the compulsive need for a footnote. Observe that this is more prevalent in translated poems. This GPS tag on the ankles of a poem was inspired from a real life event where a US university had closed down and the erstwhile students had a GPS tag on them to prevent them from escaping or falling off the radar of the emigration dept or so. Secondly a simile linking “footnote”  and “GPS tag on the ankles” of a poem bring a smile to my face.

 


 (iii)      In this poem, you have captured the contemporary meaning of ‘immigrant’ with references made to the Syrian toddler, overseas couple calls and more. Any comments?

CS: Yes. Definitely. I was happy I could capture the situation with these lines.

The immigrant word in a poem

Is the paper boat on the

High tide of strife

Washed ashore like the corpse of a toddler.

Geographical as well cultural dislocation has been amply documented in poems of Meena Alexander to name one of the many.


 (iv)    In your bio I noticed that you identify as a ‘Dalit’ poet just like some writers identify as ‘immigrant’ writers. Why these labels?

CS: These labels signify priority. It is that experiences that characterize such labels have been felt first hand by them or us. Dalit knows the pain of social exclusion and other kinds of trampling on their dignity just that the geographically or culturally dislocated writers speak of the “immigrant experience” . It could interest you that the recent collection of poems by the acclaimed poet Vahni Capildeo is titled “ Measures of Expatriation.”

 


(v)                You have used the repetition technique for emphasis here. Why?

CS: Just like a Dalit individual is under pressure to prove his “merit” , there is a pressure on the immigrant word to rhyme with the rest. This repetitive phrase of “The immigrant word in a poem” could grate on the reader of this poem just like an immigrant word with obscure connotation could irritate people.


 (vi)      The first poem from the collection, you talk about Dalit suicide with Rohit Vemula as case in point in a footnote. Just like the immigrant poem, it is very current. Why this need to sound current and political? Do you think you will be read more if your themes reflect current affairs?

CS: It is not sounding current and political. They “are” current/contemporary and political( everything is political in a way). I do aspire to be read widely even if my poems are not on contemporary themes since some of the issues I raise may transcend literature. Dalit psyche is politicized from time immemorial.


(vii) An excerpt from this poem was included in an article by Nabina Das recently, for Scroll. You have been published in online journals. How do you think online journals make new voices reachable to others?

Yes. Very much. I think social media and online poetry portals have contributed in a big way towards democratizing our discourse. A lot of margin-speak has gone mainstream due to this. The single largest civil rights movement in India could be the Dalit movement for social justice be it Rohith Vemula protest, Una or Jisha murder case. Our voices are getting heard . Recently Cordite Poetry Review based in Australia had hosted a collection of Dalit and Tribal writers from India.


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Thank you!

Interview 13- Rebecca Lloyd

Interview 13- Rebecca Lloyd

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Rebecca Lloyd writes short stories, novellas and novels. Her story collection Mercy, nominated for a World Fantasy Award, was published by Tartarus Press in 2014 alongside The View from Endless Street, a collection with WiDo Publishing. Her recent publications include Ragman and Other Family Curses (Egaeus Press) and Jack Werrett, the Flood Man (Dunhams Manor Press). She was short-listed for the Aestas short story prize 2016 with Fabula Press for her story The Ringers, her novel, Oothangbart, was published in October 2016 by Pillar International Publishing, and her novella Woolfy and Scrapo was published by the Fantasist magazine. Her latest collection, Seven Strange Stories, was published by Tartarus Press in 2017. She is presently working on The Child Cephalina, a Gothic horror novel set in 1850.


1- (i) What draws you to the literary horror genre?

Several different things draw me to this genre— firstly I suspect that it is by far the most difficult genre to write well within, and so it’s very challenging, and I like that, because if writing feels too easy, it doesn’t stretch you and you don’t learn anything new. Secondly, I don’t have any interest in lightweight subjects or ideas like romance or comedy, although I am very happy when other people make me laugh! The original writers of Gothic/horror/dark material were writers that I admire, people like Mary Shelley, Walter de la Mare, Henry James and some of the Southern writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty and Caron McCullers. Although these last three are not thought of at all as ‘horror’ writers, some of their works are dark, Gothic and very strange. In truth, I find the word ‘horror’ in connection with writing embarrassing because B movies and modern writers like Stephen King have put their own brand on the idea and we get left with drawers full of hopeless zombies and shape-shifters of various kinds, all of them terrible clichés. [Although Stephen King has had some great story ideas.]


(ii) In one of our discussions, you mentioned that your work is more like Walter de la Mare than Stephen King. Would you please elaborate?

I think I meant that I would rather my work was thought of as being more like that of Walter de la Mare than Stephen King because de la Mare is a literary writer and Stephen King is a popularist one. 


2- I heard of you from Out of Print magazine editor Indira Chandrashekhar’s social media posts about the anthology PANGEA which you co-edited.

How was the experience?

It was great working with Indira on Pangea, we hadn’t met in person at that stage and we communicated and put together the anthology online. I learnt some editing tricks along the way, and I think the experience was useful when I came to work as Debalina Haldar’s editor on her novel The Female Ward.


3- Your story published in Out of Print titled ‘Finger Buffet’ is disturbing and hard-hitting. It is based on an incident you witnessed.

(i)What gave you the courage to write about it and submit it to a magazine?

One of the really good things about being a writer is that when bad things happen to you, you can sometimes exorcise them by making them into a story, so it wasn’t courage I needed to write about the incident, but just writerly instinct. I didn’t write about it straight away however, it took a while, and the police had taken my writer’s notebook because I was the only witness to the crime, so I needed that back before I started the story.

In addition to writerly instinct, I feel it is an absolute human obligation! I spent a lot of time after that visiting their families and consoling their mum and dads.


(ii) Would you call your story fiction or creative non-fiction?

I’d call it fiction because the story is told by a local white East Ender character, and it is his wife who comes across the slaughtered boys. Creative non-fiction tends to stick quite closely to facts, and Finger Buffet doesn’t do that.


4- Do your literary horror stories like in your book ‘Mercy’ that I’m currently reading, draw from the people you have encountered in real life?

No, I don’t particularly think so. Not whole people anyway. Occasionally I might be struck by a particular posture, a way of dressing, a spoken sentence that I come across while I’m out that later on crops up in my writing somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily happen at a very conscious or contrived level. Although, I have to confess that I once wrote out the entirety of an argument I had with someone, and it worked wonderfully in the story I was writing.


5- Your protagonists in ‘Mercy’ are dysfunctional in their own way posing a potential danger to society. They reminded me of the TV series ‘Criminal Minds’.

Your stories empathise with characters who have a twisted bend of mind and are somehow trapped in it. Any comments?

What I try to do is to write my characters as I see and feel them, and it really is for the reader to empathise or not with them. That’s not to say I am necessarily neutral myself to my characters, but I don’t go out of my way to lay down my personal position in a story, or in a novel. But because in my writing I’m not confined by moral judgements or notions of right or wrong, it probably can appear that I care about my particularly warped characters. But, I should say that I think most living people have warped elements about them, it’s what makes them interesting.


6- Other than the main protagonists I noticed that you pay equal emphasis to the characters who live/interact with such disturbed characters and the impact on them. Any comments?

I don’t ever think in terms of antagonists and protagonists and therefore I probably don’t confine myself to the same kind of writing ‘rules’ that some writers might use. I remember an occasion, a long time ago when one of my characters was a dead man, and the person who was critiquing the work pointed out that I couldn’t have a dead person as a character because he wouldn’t be able to speak … so it wouldn’t be realistic. But that was before the great blanket of vampires, the undead, and zombies came into play in fiction. I think the antagonist/protagonist idea should be booted out too as it is very rigid and restricting… a protagonist can also be the antagonist. I guess that my novel Oothangbart published last year says more about me and my writing than most of my other books put together. The way I feel about fiction is that it really is fiction and a writer can do what he or she wants with it…treat fiction like plasticine and build what you want out of it and ignore other people’s rules . I’m not sure that this answers your question very directly; it might just be simpler to say all characters in a book are important and all have their particular role to play.


7- Have you attempted other genres?

Well, I never particularly wanted to write within a genre in the first place, but I’ll go along with literary horror as an idea… but the part of it that challenges and interests me is the literary, not the horror. The novel I am working on at the moment is set in 1850, and so, theoretically, you could call it an historical novel, and I do make a big effort to do the research needed and get it right. However, the novel is also Gothic, and so like much of my work, it could easily fall between the genres. But not fitting in with other people’s constructs either in real life or writing is fine; it keeps you energetic. 


8- You now have 5 short story collections, 2 novels and anthologies to your credit. What next?

The Gothic novel that I’m working on now, The Child Cephalina. I finished the first draft in two and one half months by writing 1,000 words each morning, and now I have to start the second draft… the tidying up process. However, my last novel Oothangbart, has just come out and of everything I have written, this is special to me and I would love it to be read by youngish people who are having a hard time fitting in with the societies in which they live. I’ve never written a story like it before, and never will again. It’s a story of discovery, and it’s a love story and I really hope it moves people.


9- On your website you talk about the New Dark or New Weird genre that your long short stories fall under. What is this new genre according to you?

For me, the new weird or the new dark simply is an attempt to put the literary back into horror, so that a hybrid evolves, a type of writing that is beautiful in its own right, [no pun intended], is sensitive, original, contains not a single cliché either in sentence use or ideas themselves, has dignity, depth and nuance and so on. Put more simply, I hope it’s going to produce some stunning writing, and the one or two writers I’d put in that category are already doing so.


10- (i) Tell us about your new book ‘Seven strange stories by Tartarus Press 2017.

These seven long stories are my last year’s work. This time, I was attempting to write into the horror/fantasy genre deliberately, rather than it simply being where my writing best fits anyway. I particularly wanted Tartarus Press to publish these stories, as I admire Tartarus greatly, the care they take, the beauty of the books they produce, their taste in writers and their knowledge of the world of books. It was very pleasing to be writing long short stories as opposed to highly edited very short ones, and yet which did not quite have the burden and responsibility that undertaking a novel has. It also made a lot of sense of a holiday I went on in Sicily, as one of the stories was inspired by my trip there. Seven Strange Stories is now published, and available from Tartarus Press, or in bookshops.


(ii) You have been published before by Tartarus Press. What is your view on small niche presses as opposed to big publishing houses?

Well, there are two paths you can travel down as a writer looking for publication, and both have their dangers and disappointments. I don’t really have an opinion as such on independent presses and the conglomerates, but I do know quite a lot about both —my novel ‘Halfling’ was published by Walker Books, one of the giants in the publishing world. The onus is upon the writer to thoroughly research any publishing house that they are interested in, and you very quickly come to know which are the vanity publishers; sometimes you only have to glance at their websites to see that they are fake. This is quite a detailed subject and a complex one, but in general, the large publishing houses, whose names everyone recognises, have good distribution for their books and sometimes, good promotion of their different titles. Trouble is, on the whole, you need an agent to get you into one of the big houses, and with a few exceptions, agents are interested not in literature or books, but money, and they will treat your book merely as a commodity and then want 15% of your royalties. If you opted instead for an independent publisher, you might find that there was scant promotion of your book and very poor distribution. On the other hand a good and established independent press might have excellent distribution and promotion and a workable business model, they might pay you individual attention in a manner that the large houses aren’t famous for doing, and they could even have decent book jackets! So, in the end, I don’t have a view on small as opposed to big publishing houses, but I do wish other writers all the best in their quest to find one they feel comfortable with.


11- On a different note, I love your hair. Haha. It looks like fairy hair. What’s the secret?

The secret is being old, or am I really Gandalf’s sister? She’d be ancient anyway.


 

Thank you!

Thank you for the interview, Michelle, and the interesting questions.


 

Buy her books on AMAZON- 

Seven Strange Stories

Mercy

Oothangbart


 

Interview 12- Deepti Kapoor

Interview 12- Deepti Kapoor

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This interview was conducted by e-mail. It is about Deepti Kapoor’s novel A Bad Character, first published by Penguin Random House, 2014.

Summary of the novel (from Goodreads)

A highly charged fiction debut about a young woman in India, and the love that both shatters and transforms her. She is twenty, restless in New Delhi. Her mother has died; her father has left for Singapore. He is a few years older, just back to India from New York. When they meet in a café one afternoon, she—lonely, hungry for experience, yearning to break free of tradition—casts aside her fears and throws herself headlong into a love affair, one that takes her where she has never been before. Told in a voice at once gritty and lyrical, mournful and frank, A Bad Character marks the arrival of an astonishingly gifted new writer. It is an unforgettable hymn to a dangerous, exhilarating city, and a portrait of desire and its consequences as timeless as it is universal.

Read the interview in The Bombay Literary Magazine‘s latest issue.