Can't you ever be serious?' I said, mortified. 'It's difficult,' he said. 'There's so little in life that's worth it.
I am buoyant and expansive and uncontainable--but I always was so, only I never knew it!
I saw that this was how we would live out the next decades, dragging ourselves from one expected action to the next, hoping by meticulous duty to bring each other some small measure of happiness. But the comfort that duty offers is lukewarm at best. Happiness, like a mischievous bird that hops from branch to branch, would continue to elude us.
Often, writer's block will occur when I don't understand a character or his/her motivations. So I will make notes analysing characters.
A book can be wonderful and powerful and accessible and artful all at the same time.
My favorite part was when my grandfather and I would make a special trip to Firpo's Bakery for red and green Christmas cookies and fruitcake studded with the sweetest cherries I've ever tasted. Usually Firpo's was too expensive for our slim budget, but Christmas mornings they gave a discount to any children who came in.
I've long been interested in the tale-within-a-tale phenomenon. I'm familiar with many tales which use this framework or the device of many people in one place, telling their stories, or multiple storytellers commenting on each others' stories with their own.
I came to the plain fields of Ohio with pictures painted by Hollywood movies and the works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. None of them had much to say, if at all, about Dayton, Ohio.
To make money for college, I worked in our college dining room.
'The Moonstone' was all I could have hoped for. A mysterious, cursed jewel, wrested from India, only to be stolen later from a great British mansion. Enigmatic, dangerous priests who follow it across the ocean in hopes of wresting it back.
If you look back at the great classics and the epics and myths, they were for everyone. Different people got different things from them, but everyone was invited to participate.
To me, characters are at the heart of great literature.
I was caught on the freeway for hours when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The entire city had to be evacuated. I observed lives threatened by catastrophes and a whole range of behaviour. What could people do during a crisis?
The ancient world is always accessible, no matter what culture you come from. I remember when I was growing up in India and I read the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey.'
Strong women, when respected, make the whole society stronger. One must be careful with such rapid changes, though, and make an effort to preserve, at the same time, the positive traditions of Indian culture.
It's never really easy to be successful as a writer when you're trying to write literary fiction. You've already limited your readership limited by that choice.
I grew up in Kolkata in a traditional family. We had friends who lived in mansions just like the one in 'Oleander Girl.' Growing up, I was fascinated by the old house and the old Bengal lifestyle.
I work very hard at creating complex characters, a mix of positives and negatives. They are all flawed. I believe flaws are almost universal, and they help us understand, sympathise and, paradoxically, feel closer to such characters.
As I've written more, and as other Indian American voices have grown around me, I strive harder to find experiences that are unique yet a meaningful and resonant part of the American story.
I started putting down my thoughts on paper out of loneliness while I was studying in America. I was very close to my grandfather, and when he died, I couldn't visit home. I started scribbling those thoughts.