Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Today I Interviewed Andrew Davidson

I interviewed Andrew Davidson today and it was wonderful. Well, I can't say that the interview was wonderful, but I can say the conversation was wonderful. I've never done an interview before in my life, and I already know I have a lot to learn from listening to the audio of it.

A. I have a weird voice.
B. I talk to loud.
C. I laugh too much.

This is all probably stuff my vast and rapt cyberfollowing already knows. This is even something I know. And yet, I didn't do anything to try to prepare for that.

I was really excited.

Andrew Davidson is the brilliant author of The Gargoyle, which came out in August of 2008. It is a beautiful story of universal love that transcends time, place and even social barriers. He writes with lurid confidence and then a gentle touch. The language is beautiful, the story is compelling, the images are beyond vivid. I really loved this book. So I was excited that I was getting the chance to talk to him, so I forgot that my voice is weird, that I talk too loud, and that I laugh too much. I will remember this for the next time.

I had prepared some thoughts, a few questions, noted some sections I wanted to ask him about, but I learned something else when I went back to listen to the tape.

4. When I get really excited about what I am talking about, I go out of order and I get sidetracked.
5. When he got sidetracked, I was thrilled to go wherever he went, which means I may or may not have remembered to ask the question I meant to ask.
6. I think the audio of the interview/slash conversation might sound like two really geeky bibliophiles talking about how jacked we get when we think about Tess. Okay, Andrew, no dis intended, I think geeky bibliophiles have it all going on and I was SO JACKED when you knew what I was talking about when I mentioned Tess and the "blighted star."

Meaning, when I do my first interview, I will have to remember to be poised and dignified. I was neither today. Andrew was very poised and dignified, but as he told me he has done thousands of interviews by now. Me? This was my first. As will be evident should you choose to listen to the audio. I will edit out my "Yah!" "I KNOW!" and "uh huh"s out of the written transcript.

So again, I get that wonderful feeling of having arrived at yet another place I always wanted to be. I found Andrew Davidson online and asked him to blurb my own novel, because I so loved his novel. To this request he very sweeetly responded and told me that he hadn't time to do that now, and through some further correspondence we agreed to do this interview. I really can't believe that I too am an author and I get to reach out to other authors (even authors whose books are really amazing) and ask them if I can talk to them. And that they might even say yes! Because I belong to that club!! And really there are only two clubs I wanted to be in: The Mommy Club, and The Author Club. And by God's grace, I got into both. So again I am replete with gratitude.

I will tell you more about the interview itself in a later blog, and I will publish the interview when I get it transcribed. It was really a great conversation for me, to talk to another person doing the same thing I am doing: writing books, struggling with similar problems and similar frustrations and having similar epiphanies. He was gracious and kind, and very forthcoming about his process and his literary muses, though I could have stayed on that subject for the whole hour and fifteen minutes we spoke. It was wonderful to talk with someone else who reads like I do, dissecting and stealing, lingering on a particular turn of phrase, a particular concept that was so perfectly put. Like I said earlier, when we began talking about books, Andrew mentioned Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which is one of my all time favorite novels, and I mentioned a particular line where Tess says they are "living on a blighted star." And he knows exactly what I mean, in fact it was he who reminded me of the exact quote. I told him that line informed one in As It Was Written, but I did it the opposite. In describing Dr. Raman Nair, I say he was born on a blessed star, and that choice of words was to oppose precisely the sentiment we feel when Tess is talking to Abraham, her brother. Her hopelessness versus Dr. Raman Nair's constant and abiding sense of good luck. I loved telling that to someone who understood how a line can last in your mind for decades, finding itself a reference point for all misery and hopelessness you have seen along the journey. Likewise, he understood how I have never since reading Tess, walked through a field of wildflowers and weeds without thinking of her.

It was a great conversation, and I can't wait to tell you more about it and to share the interview with you here. In the meantime, if you are looking for a beautiful book to read, go get The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. It's another one that will last in your heart.

Peace, and if you are reading this, send the muse!


Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Middle of Things

I started writing something and I just erased it all. I can't jump in like you know me, and though some of you were so kind as to come and tell me that indeed you DID give a rat's ass, I think I need to start at the beginning. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to things. And sometimes, they get jumbled up and it's okay, and sometimes it is just time to tell the beginning. I think this might be one of those times.

My name is Sujatha. I was born in Albany, NY a little over a year after my mother arrived here from Kerala, India. My father saved his money for one year to bring her. My father arrived in Albany in January without a coat or any boots. This injustice appears in my second novel entitled The Beginning of Everything. I say injustice, because you'd think someone from the postdoctoral fellowship he was coming to join might have clued him in on the weather. And you can't even buy a coat in Kerala. Someone should have met him at the airport with one of their old ones out of the closet. Maybe that's just me; I'd have done that. So would my father. My parents were married two weeks after they met. I was raised by the best of people.

Many moons later, I find that I am living my dream. I'd say this is the middle, because, though a lot happened in between my birth in October in Albany and living the dream, it had better not be the end, because I have a lot left to do. So we will say that where I am right now is the middle. So this blog is about the middle. I think that is a fair representation of things as they stand.

I had a job I liked well enough, but all I ever wanted to do was write novels. It took me a long time to build the courage to go for it, and when I began, I used to write from 10pm to 2am, because I worked, and I had two babies, and my husband was in Iraq. So I can say I began my first novel writing three paragraphs a night. Many of these paragraphs sucked. So that is where i began, sucking in the middle of the night. There is a particular taste to your day when you spend your very worst minutes on the things that mean the most to you. For me: my kids and my book. It tastes like something washed up from your stomach, and it tastes like that all the time.

Shortly after my husband came home from Iraq I quit my job to write my book and I finished it in 7 months. Then I got an agent, then I sold the book. I'll tell you those stories one day; they're good stories.

That book, my first novel, is called As It Was Written. It releases in February, 2010 from Thomas Dunne Books. I like to say that it is the story of Dr. Raman Nair and his five fat daughters and the ancient Brahmin curse that follows them from India to the States. It is a literary fiction with a broad cast of characters, a big family of beautiful girls and all the craziness that erupts as these girls navigate their way through love and life. There is a story within a story, an ancient tale woven into the modern tale. It is a story about the redemptive power of love, I suppose. Certainly it is a story replete with love, but also betrayal, loyalty and family, the ties that bind through time. I'll tell you more about it. And if you buy it, I promise to find a way to sign it for you.

So there is the beginning and some of the middle. The middle is an ongoing story. I think that is what the blog is about. The middle.

Peace and love,


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Test: This Is Only a Test

This is only a test. Could it be possible that people could give a rat's ass what I am thinking and doing? I can't imagine that could possibly be true, so this is a test. It is only a test. If I were to tell you that I am sitting here, a few minutes past midnight, pondering the possibility that there are people out there who care to read my random thoughts, posted a few minutes past midnight (meaning they are probably not even lucid thoughts, not even well formulated, certainly not pithy or entertaining), is it possible you would chime in and say, "I care! I care, Sujatha! Please, blather on and on! Tell me the color of your nightclothes. Tell me whether your curly locks are all down your back or twisted into an unattractive knot atop your head like a young Punjabi boy! Tell me if your children are asleep and what brilliant thing you read to them tonight. Tell me, what was for dinner, Sujatha? Please...what was for dinner?"

And in case there is anyone who cares, the answers are as follows: I have not yet put on my nightclothes, but I am wearing entirely too much brown, which is always a mistake, because I myself am brown; my hair is indeed in the unattractive top knot, but, at the moment, I am not nearly as cute as any little Punjabi boy; my children are asleep and I read Mean Margaret, which is actually quite delightful; and we went out to dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill with DH's old college roommate and his family.

If anyone cares at all, I promise to be more entertaining in the future.

Peace and love,