WHAT GENRE ARE YOU MOST COMFORTABLE WRITING IN?
I love reading fiction but I definitely prefer writing non-fiction. I think this is because I have always been fascinated by people’s personal stories. Sometimes these stories can truly be stranger than fiction. I believe there is something unique in everyone’s life. And that everyone’s life is worth documenting. It’s incredible to me how often I have heard someone say, “Oh, your life sounds so extraordinary. Mine is very boring and mundane in comparison.” And yet, if I talk to that person long enough I can always find something special and unique that is worth writing down. This, for me, is the thrill of writing non-fiction.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD WRITER’S BLOCK? AND, IF SO, WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Yes, indeed, I have had writer’s block. Sometimes it can last not just weeks but months. I used to stress about it a lot and try to force myself to write when clearly nothing was going to emerge on the page. I have since learnt the best way to deal with writer’s block is to ignore it, find something else creative to do – in my case making elaborate belts, necklaces and bags – anything just to keep my fingers busy and my mind off the fact that I have temporarily lost the ability or the desire to write. This usually works for me. And, at least, when I finally the words do start flowing again, I have produced something in the interim that is creative and that I can sell or give away as presents.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPIEST?
I love to travel. I love to meet new people, see new places, taste new food and learn about different cultures, religions and customs. Living and working with refugees with disabilities and with indigenous communities gives me so much pleasure. Listening to their stories, learning about their lives and seeing for myself how content they are with what we, in the West, would consider so little. So many of us forget today that simple living can often be the most satisfying life to lead. I would love one day to show my grandchildren how to live simply and how much pleasure there is in scaling down one’s life to the minimum.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FICTION AUTHOR?
Currently my favourite author is Rohan Mistry whose towering novels about India are so vivid, so descriptive and so visual that I can totally immerse myself and believe I am there experiencing everything he is writing about. I end up knowing the characters so well and empathizing with them. I feel their pain, their anguish, their sorrow, their joys and their afflictions. There is so much going on in his books, like a vast kaleidoscope of sounds, smells, colours, life and death. I would love to write such epic novels – fiction, so true in every minute detail, that it seems like non-fiction.
WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FROM?
Since I write mostly non-fiction I get my inspiration from life in its many shapes and forms. I observe people. I listen to conversations. I like to blend into the background so people don’t notice me. That way I can be like a video camera, overhearing, watching, recording mental notes in my head and then scribbling them down later. Not, of course, in any sinister way but simply as a fascinated observer. I love the process. I learn so much from watching and listening to others.
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Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
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