Q) Tell us about the idea behind the book?
2018 was a year that those of us in Kerala will never forget. It changed the way we looked at the world and ourselves.To never take anything for granted. The fear of the unpredictable still lives amongst us. It was a year the deluge that ravaged most of our towns and villages, happened. It was also a time when we as a community came together to stand by each other. Most of us were on the street, either helping in rescue and evacuation or in distribution of essential commodities to the affected. The government, bureaucracy and the public came together to rebuild a devastated state. I too like many others was trying to do my bit for the community. It was during this time that I got to interact with those affected- friends, family, in relief camps. And it was their stories that inspired the idea behind Red River Rising. Though a complete work of fiction with elements of surrealism, it is the stories of courage and fortitude of the people who braved it all during the floods of 2018, that moved me to create the background for the story.
Q) How much time did it take in the process of writing?
Around 9 months. From the conceptualization to completion.
Q) Your favourite character from the book ?
It’s hard to tell. Each of my characters holds a special place in my heart. But I think Lakshmi for her tragic vulnerability and Radha for her strength and resilience.
Q) What did the process of writing this book teach you?
As with writing every book. It was a time for meditation and reflection. I also learnt the history and and life of the tribals in the region of Attapady.
Q) What inspired you to write this book?
As I mentioned before the collective experience was a moving one. The devastation, the pain, the loss and finally hope. I had no choice but to put it out there as a narrative.
Q) Which is your favourite part from the book?
Several parts gave me goosebumps while writing. Lakshmi’s dramatic scene during the onset of the deluge, Mani’s escape from the floods in the forest, the escape again from the relief camp as the floods ravaged, the unearthing of the bodies after the maelstrom in the middle of the forest. And of course the climax of the story.
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Q) A book that had an impact on you, which helped you in writing this one?
I can’t think of any book that inspired me to write the Red River Rising. But definitely the news reports and media played an important role in shaping the story.
Q) How do you plan your story? Do you first go with the plot or sketch the characters?
I always believe that writers don’t choose their stories. The stories choose us. We are just the medium for storytelling. You could always start with a structured storyline and then end up narrating something entirely different. I think such is the nature of the art. For me it all starts with an idea, an inspiration. That forms the crux of the story. And from there I develop a broad outline and characters and then the story just develops as I write. I don’t plan it. It takes its own form.
Q) Tell us about your plans. Planning a new book?
Writing is an innate process. For me it’s life itself. I live and breathe it. So there’s always a work in progress. One of my novels is already with Rupa publishers. I am awaiting it’s launch. I have another completed manuscript. And another one is a work in progress. By the grace of the Universe every story hopefully will find its home.
Q) According to you what makes a Good Story?
Stories that explore deep, inexplicable human connections, the human condition. One that opens our eyes to lived realities other than our own, worlds other than ours. For me such stories always make a fascinating read.
Q) How your life changed after the book was published?
Life remains as it always was. Like a river, it only flows and moves forward, irrespective of circumstances.
Q) What is a literary success for you?
Connecting with the readers, moving them with my storytelling and perhaps allowing them to see a different perspective of the world. In the end the realization and awareness of the interconnectedness of the Universe. That we are all essentially one. We need to see and acknowledge the sacred in one another and the world around us. If I can convince my readers of that, I’d consider myself successful. Also a Booker Prize would mean a lot. Lol.
Q) A message for all the readers.
Thank you for all the love and support you have given to Red River Rising, Zikr and Saudade. It has been a beautiful journey. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of it. Nothing means more to an author than this emotional connect with their work.
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