1. Hearty congratulations for the great reviews which the Dove’s lament is receiving. How does it feel?
Absolutely amazing! I didn’t anticipate the great reviews, and I didn’t think I’d find such a wide audience – my understanding was that it was too heavy a book, but I am glad that more and more people are reading these stories and adopting the fact that they should be inquisitive of the truth, and to take action on that truth.
2. Tell us why the book is named the Dove’s lament?
The abject lack of peace is as good as eroding the very sanctity of what the dove stands for. The idea was to convey how the dove is lamenting the lack of peace in the world today.
3. Please tell us how did the concept of the Dove’s lament come to you?
The concept came after the stories were written. I wrote these short stories at different points of time over 2013-2014, and by the end of it, I had about 25 stories. My publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee of Readomania, and I, sat together to pull out 12 of the stories that we wanted to share. This then culminated in The Dove’s Lament.
4. The book has stories weaved around all the conflict prone areas of the world. What kind of research did you undertake for the book ?
The research came easily because I’ve worked with organsiations on all these issues. I’ve been involved (and continue to do so) with many non-profits that looked and continue to look at these issues and addresses the humanitarian need that results from these issues. In the process of hands on involvement, one learns a lot from their interactions and activities, and that culminated in the book.
5. Please tell us something about your childhood.
I had a beautiful childhood with a loving family and lots of reading. Of course, what one goes through as a child forms one’s thought processes, and as a child, there were some instances of bullying, racism, abuse and a few run ins with harshness with external elements – but I’ve learned to move on beyond them, and to use my understanding of the pain and the emotion to create a sense of empathy within.
6. What kind of books do you read? Who are your favourite authors?
I am very intrigued by cause centric literature, history, politics and conflict/peace themes. I have many, many favourite authors, but I’ll go with Susan Abulhawa, Jodi Picoult, Noam Chomsky, Lloyd Jones, John Boyne, Jean Sasson, Khaled Hosseini, Siba Shaqib, Ashay Abbhi, Deepti Menon and Judy Balan.
7. How much time do you devote for writing? Give us some tips as to how working professionals should take out time for writing?
I never set aside time. I allow my desire to write to rear its head when it wants to, and I fully allow it to disrupt whatever I am doing. As professionals who work and seek to take out time for writing, I see that my pattern is perhaps the worst piece of advice since professional commitments can take a beating – but I’ve been blessed with the ability to be scatterbrained enough to multi-task, so I have had a fortunate stint so far.
8. What would be your advice to budding writers?
Stay true to yourself. It’s not going to help you if you look externally – look within. Write because you love to write, not because someone else is a writer or because it’s in fashion these days!
9. How was your experience of finding a publisher?
Easy! Readomania is GOLD!
10. These are the days of aggressive book marketing. Books have to be promoted. Your take on this?
True. With a book coming out ever so frequently, you really need to stand out. Marketing is your only way – but even in that, you’ve got to be creative!
11. Do you think printed books are going to disappear soon and it is all going to be about e-books?
No. A lot of traditional readers continue to read out of books, purely for the feel of a book in their hands. I guess it’s also vital to keep in mind that electronic content has its own limitations!
12. Tell us about your future projects.
I’m working on two books now, one fiction and one non-fiction, although when I say I’m working on them, I’m actually just looking up at my ceiling and toying with the idea, with a sense of vague cluelessness about how things will take shape. BUT, it’s the direction I want to be thinking in! I’m also working on editing two independent volumes that centre around non-fiction themes.
13. Tell us something about your NGOs and the kind of work you do.
The Red Elephant Foundation is a civilian peace-building initiative that is built on the foundation of storytelling. We work by looking at individual drivers of peace – gender, culture, religion and nationality, to begin with. We then address it through cultural diplomacy, culinary diplomacy, dialogue diplomacy and advocacy.