On Author's Circle today, we're chatting with Pia Padukone about her debut literary novel, Where Earth Meets Water.
So Pia, Tell us about your new release?
Where Earth Meets Water is the story of Karom, a young man who is coming to grips with his own form of survivor guilt. In a strange twist of fate – or luck – he has managed to narrowly avoid a number of tragedies during which he has lost friends and loved ones while seemingly emerging unscathed. But his grief doesn’t end with him; the novel is also about three people who are inextricably tangled in his life, from his girlfriend Gita, who is determined to help him overcome his grief, his best friend Lloyd, who realizes demons of his own through Karom’s suffering, and Gita’s grandmother Kamini, a wise woman who is searching for a catharsis of her own.
That sounds like a lovely karmic masala story! Which brings me to my next question...
What started you on your karmic journey to be a writer?
My family – particularly my maternal grandmother upon whom the character of Kamini is based – was adamant about making me fall in love with books at a very young age. When I was five years old, my Ajji enrolled me in summer reading program at the library during which I had to read 15 books…I ended up reading 120! I fell in love with words, with reading, and with storytelling at a very young age. I was the District 2 Storytelling champion for three years straight. When I was twelve, my grandfather gifted me with an vintage typewriter upon which I tapped out my first “novel,” about a young girl who yearns to swim the English Channel.
So, you always had it in you...
Do you write at a laptop/desktop or freehand?
I generally write on my laptop, but there are times when I am on the subway and an idea will strike me, and I’ll type a passage into the notes section on my phone. I also always carry around a Moleskine notebook with me into which I jot down ideas and inspiration.
Sounds quite efficient! Do you have a day job where you honed your efficiency?
Until recently, I did have a day job and will have one again. I wrote Where Earth Meets Water in the early morning hours before I went to my “9-5” job as a copywriter at a pharmaceutical advertising agency. I use quotes because the hours with my job were famously unpredictable; sometimes I would work past midnight. As a result, I learned to write in the mornings before I went to work. These hours were precious and unadulterated because no one could take them away from me. I’ll return to copywriting in the new year; along with a child, it’s going to be a delicate balance finding the time to write my third novel!
Well, good luck to you in all your endeavours!
What do you love about writing?
One of the best parts about writing Where Earth Meets Water was that I wrote it for myself. It was a story that was inside me, and I couldn’t not write it; it was bursting to come out. I wrote it certainly hoping that one day it might get published, but without any preconceived notions of doing so. There was something very pure about the process as a result.
Always wonderful to do things for the pure pleasure of doing them as opposed to as a means to an end, ya?
Did you know the title before you started writing?
My working title was Fairytales of Freedom, quite a different title than Where Earth Meets Water. I learned, during the lead up to publication, that marketing a book is quite different than writing one. There are multitudes of decisions that can influence someone to pick up a book, particularly its cover and title. Ultimately, the title for the story was one that my editor found contained as a phrase within the pages of my manuscript.
I personally like Where Earth Meets Water more...
So, where do you get your inspiration?
New York City is one of my greatest muses. I derive inspiration from conversations I overhear on the subway, from museum exhibits, plays, etc. I’m also always inspired by what I read.
I can totally get that. Also, I'd say the same for Mumbai :)
How many books do you read/month?
Last year, I read 99 books; I was so frustrated that I didn’t make it to 100! It really depends on what else I have going on in my life, but I would say that I read at least one book a week.
Hope you make the 100 this year!
Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?
Facebook. I find Twitter daunting and the amount that some people tweet and manage to keep people hooked is truly an artform. Do people really care what I randomly have to say? I suppose if you’re a good Tweeter, they do!
If you could visit any place in the world or a place created by a book, where would you visit?
Hogwarts. I’d love to explore the inner workings of that magical place that birthed hundreds of talented witches and wizards.
You're in luck, then, as you can! I too am dying to go to the Harry Potter World at Universal. I have reports that its AMAZING! Maybe we can go together over a writer's weekend? :)
Are you writing something else at the moment?
Yes! My second novel will be published next year. It’s the story of two families who meet through a student exchange program. I visited Estonia earlier this year in order to research the culture.
Well, Pia, it was lovely talking to you and we look forward to the Estonia story as well as all your future works. Thanks so much for dropping by!
To connect with Pia, here are links to her:
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