Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Author Interview with Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Hello all! I'm very pleased to have Mohana Rajakumar, author of The Migrant Report, to the
Underground to share some of her knowledge. I always say I love learning from fellow artists and authors, and so I'm very pleased to have Mohana here today. I hope you'll all help me in welcoming her here today.

If you'd like to check out more of your work, you can find her at her website here: www.mohadoha.com

1) What initially inspired you to write and become a writer? 

I came to writing through a love of reading. My mother took us to the library every week and as a child it was a ritual to pick out books - I thought everyone did this until I got to college. Now I share this joy with our sons.

2) You've mentioned having a busy life being a mom and a university professor in the Arabian Gulf. What does your routines for writing sit down? How to you organize your time to optimize your productivity?

I write very intensely every November, during National Novel Writing when we do 1600 words a day for 30 days. The rest of the year I'm tinkering, mostly in the mornings and Saturday afternoons, getting novels ready to launch in July or December.

3) What made you want to write about the migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf? 

Everyone talks about "the workers" but they rarely get to speak for themselves. Also the way we speak of them is either as dangerous unknowns or objects of pity. I wanted to convey their agency.

4) Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you carefully plan out your story before starting or see where the plot takes you?

Oh I outline the first 10 chapters down to the four scenes in each chapter. After that, the story tends to take on a life of its own and gather momentum. Otherwise the whole thing is like a soup without any salt - a disaster! I've tried it the other way - "pantsing" and it's much messier.

5) What as the hardest part of writing the Migrant Report? How much of your experiences of living in the Arabian Gulf did you put in the story?

Whenever you take on a voice that isn't your own, male, other nationalities, you have to be as careful as possible not to generalize. The only way to do this is through lots of research and beta readers. Of course living there helps tremendously!

6) What is it like writing and publishing in the Arabian Gulf?

I love bringing readers into places they haven't been before. It's also exciting to bring somewhere that's on the margins of the western centric world into focus.

7) You've talked about sensitive subjects on your blog and how writing can help us confront difficult subjects and find solutions. What kind of things did you learn about the migrant workers that really surprised you and hoped to address with your book? 

How sometimes they work against each because many of their situations are so desperate there is no sense of solidarity.

8) What is your advice for authors who want to approach publishing their own ebooks?

Write every day and get the best editor you can. :)

9) What kind of reactions have you had from your fans regarding your books? Any stories to share?

People love reading about places they want to learn more about. Others appreciate seeing where they live put into context, not the hyperbole or stereotypes of the nightly news or Hollywood movies.

10) Is there anything you can reveal about the sequel to the Migrant Report?

Life gets darker and more complicated for everyone - particularly Ali and Manu who are charged with the first vice squad.

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