Hello everyone! It’s been long since I have done an author Interview on my Blog. Mostly talking about reading updates and book reviews on the blog, I realized author interviews play an equally important role for seeking out the answers cropping up while reading, if only we could ask the authors of the books we loved.
So, gearing up with the interview section on my blog, I’m bringing you Anukrti Upadhyay, author of Bhaunri and Daura. I’ve read her book Bhaunri and extremely loved it.
You can find my review of the book Bhaunri HERE.
About the Author:
Anukrti Upadhyay has post-graduate degrees in Management and Literature, and a graduate degree in Law. She writes in both English and Hindi; Daura and Bhaunri are her first publications in English. She divides her time between Mumbai and Singapore.
Tell us about the writer in you.
What an interesting question! Well, the writer in me is a curious creature, curious about everything, falling leaves to a cat mewling at night. She gets absorbed in other people’s stories, their pain, their joys. Words are both her blessing and her bane and she wouldn’t exchange them for all the pearls in the sea.
How the story of Bhaunri and Daura originated?
Daura and Bhaunri both emerged from two discrete images – a lush, beautiful tree and a nomadic woman with unbearable eyes. Both the novellas started out as 10,000 words long short stories and were rewritten several times till, they reached their present form. Daura and Bhaunri are stories of the desert but they are also tales of people encountering the madness of love. If I have to rationalise, I would say they are inspired by the hardship and beauty of Rajasthan, fraternal twins born of the harsh desert.
I loved the character of Bhaunri and it lingered on my mind for long even after finishing the book. How did you come up with a character as fierce as Bhaunri? Where did you get your inspiration from?
I am so glad you loved the rebellious Bhaunri! She is difficult to love! I can’t say what was the inspiration for Bhaunri, the character and story came from the same place from which all stories come – a place unseen and yet much-visited inside us. Bhaunri is my ode to all the hardy, beautiful, independent nomadic women I saw from afar and was fascinated by. They seemed so assured of themselves and so full of life. They endured all hardships – violence, oppression, poverty and yet sang songs and loved and dreamed.
I was awestruck, astonished when I finished Bhaunri. I loved the ending. How did you manage to write it? How the idea of such an ending crop up?
Thank you so much for the very kind words! I can’t say I consciously crafted the ending. It seemed to emerge organically as I wrote Bhaunri and in the several re-writes I did, it remained unchanged for how else could someone like Bhaunri possess her husband completely except in that way.
How the publishing process of both the books were like? Have you been rejected by any publisher to publish these books?
I don’t have an agent and come from a completely different world from the word of writing and publishing (I am a lawyer by training and worked for international investment banks till last year). I think I was very fortunate to have Daura and Bhaunri accepted by the first publishing house I sent them to. so I just emailed the manuscripts to HarperCollins and Rahul Soni, the Executive Editor for literary fiction, liked them. And that, as they say, was that!
Do you pen down the sketch of the plot you’re working on or it just comes on its own during the writing process?
I don’t write a plot or outline. The story emerges as I write and that is great for if one knows beforehand what is to happen, writing it out would become a bit boring. I was as surprised as you were with Bhaunri’s ending and by Daura’s too. The ending of Daura changed, though between the first and the final draft.
When do you usually write, day or night? How much time do you spend on writing?
I write mainly at night. Till a year ago, I worked full time and it was the only time to write. It still feels the most uncluttered, alone time with only the sluggish sounds of night around. But I work on drafts and edits any time I can.
Describe your writing space.
I write in a small room with floor-to-ceiling windows al around looking out on green trees and birds and butterflies. I like to sit on the floor and write in a notebook with a pencil.
If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?
I would like to ask Murakami Sensei about how he creates his fictional world that traverses the real and surreal so effortlessly, and at a craft level, how he conceives and knits the various strands in his stories and last but not the least, where can I find Mr. Nakata?
What books or authors have most influenced your writing?
My father. He was a very fine poet and writer and he, and my mother who always encouraged me to read, gave me my love for words and stories.
What are you currently reading?
Palm-of-the-hand stories by Yasunari Kawabata. I am rereading it. It is amongst my favourite books. I am a Japanophile. In fact, a large part of my new book, coming out later this summer from HarperCollins, is set in Japan.
Tell us one reason why the reader must pick up your books.
That’s a difficult question to answer! Perhaps to experience love, beauty, and mystery in the desert. What made you pick up Bhaunri?
I hope you enjoyed the Interview. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.