From literary cosmos

From literary cosmos

meet the author

From literary cosmos

Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter, shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016, follows protagonist Nomi, who returns to India, and Jarmuli, where she had a tumultuous childhood.

The novel explores the dark secrets and unpleasant truths that plague the fictitious temple town. In a recent interview, the author touched upon aspects of the book and the DSC Prize, influences on her writing, and other activities.

Excerpts from the interview:

What was the inspiration behind ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’?

The book grew from a long short-story in which three old friends go for a holiday on a beach. As I grew interested in the tangential characters in that story, one of whom was Nomi, the novel started taking shape.

What does being shortlisted for the DSC Prize mean to you?

Writing is such a solitary occupation. These nominations make you feel as if people you know and respect have read your work and thought well of it. 

How important are awards in the literary field, especially for writers?

They bring new readers; they often help with the sale of rights into foreign languages. So they are helpful.

How important is it for fiction to mirror society? When you write, do you feel there’s a message that must reveal itself through the telling of the story?

No, I never think of messages or society. If I can’t create characters and a world that involves me completely, I can’t go on with the writing. That’s all that really matters to me.

Was it a childhood dream to be a writer?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I have trouble thinking of myself as a ‘writer’. I think of myself as a jack of all trades, including book designing and dog walking.

Where did you spend your childhood? What are your fondest memories, and do they influence your writing in any way?

I suppose all childhoods deeply influence writing — I spent a lot of my growing years in forested places or small towns; my books usually reflect this. My happiest childhood years were in Hyderabad. It was an ideal-sized town then and we could wander alone, cycle, and climb trees. I went to Nasr School, run by the very imaginative Anees Khan, where our brilliant English teacher, Chandra Dorai, made us write a lot during our classes: stories, essays, anything we wanted. She knew how important freedom is for anything creative.

Which authors inspired you while growing up? Who are your favourite authors now?

My favourite childhood book was one called the Golden Goblet, about an orphan boy called Ranofer who thwarts a wicked tomb-raider in ancient Egypt. I loved Asterix and Tintin and Blyton and Jennings and the nonsense verse of Sukumar Ray. Right now... I’ve been going through a spell of reading 19th century fiction as well as travel writing and letters.

Does being a writer inspire your work at your publishing house, Permanent Black?

Not really. Our publishing house does scholarly books, mainly history and politics, and my involvement is only in designing book covers, plate sections and so on.

How important is discipline in writing, and what role does inspiration play?

Ideas come only after long periods of intense thinking or being involved with the writing, and once I’ve begun a book, I become obsessed with it. But it’s not as if I write every day. In fact, I find a hundred ways to put it off. When I am writing, the day is divided between the research for it and the writing.

Outside of writing, what activities keep you going? What do you do to unwind after a hectic day?

I make pots; I walk my dogs; I cook and garden... the usual things.

Is it possible for a writer to make a living out of writing alone?

If you are very fortunate. It’s always wise to have a Plan B.