At BookArt101, we are delighted to have Devi S. Laskar, Author of the captivating novel – ‘The Atlas of Reds and Blue’
We had the good fortune of interviewing her, and we are certain her answers are going to inspire the inner writer in you! 🙂
|Q) Firstly, congratulations on being an inspiration to many. Rarely have we seen someone make such a huge impact on society with their debut novel. Kudos to you! How does it make you feel? Has your life changed since the publication of your debut novel? If so, how?|
A) My novel debuted when I was 52 years old. I had no expectations — I was an older author and I had written a book about racism and misogyny. I wasn’t sure anyone outside my family was going to read it.It has been a wonderful surprise to see my little experiment resonate with so many people. My life has changed in that I feel part of a larger writing community, and for that I’m very grateful.
Q) Do you hear from your readers much or read their book reviews? How do you handle criticism?
A) I have heard from a lot of different readers all around the world, thanks to social media, especially Instagram. It’s wonderful that this book is sparking conversations about race and racism. It’s only through candid debate that things will change.I’m a bit of a professional student, and I’ve had my fair share of awful workshop critiques over the years. So, I think I’m handling the criticism well 🙂
Q) As we know, “The atlas of reds and blues” takes place over the course of one day. How challenging was it for you to write that? How is it different from the usual stories that we read?
A) So the structure I used is based on Aristotle’s Incline, which is the structure that screenwriters use to write movie scripts. I was introduced to this form by an old friend in my long-standing writing group. I thought it was appropriate for my main character who has been shot and is lying on her driveway, bleeding.
She does not have the opportunity to get up and have conversations — I gave her synesthesia and offered the frame of being able to hear what the police and neighbours are saying. This book is an experiment,and I’m grateful it was been well-received by readers.
Q) Since the novel is centred on the theme of the American nightmare of racism and abuse of power which derives inspiration from your real life, how difficult was it to recall such an incident and pen it down for your readers? How did you overcome it?
A) I don’t believe in catharsis. I didn’t write to feel better, and having written this book, I don’t feel better about the incidents of 2010. I’m grateful that I was able to write a story that communicated how I’ve changed as a person and as a writer.
When I first started the story that became The Atlas of Reds and Blues, I was writing a family story. As a former reporter I was trying very hard to be accurate. Ten years later when I sat down to rewrite and re-imagine this story, I was very interested in this family as they intersected with racism, how this family was simultaneously unseen but at risk in the community.
I let go of the reportorial accuracy and focused on the truth I was trying to tell through the chapters. This story has some autobiographical elements, but the main character is not me.
Q) What do you think makes a good story? Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
A) I think the best stories are riddled with conflict. It is our instinct as writers to protect the characters that we create and love. But if we can just throw them into the street as motorists speed toward them (metaphorically speaking), then we will have better stories, stories that are full of conflict and suspense and anticipation.
I think writers should be in the habit of writing. every day. I know in this time of pandemic, it’s very difficult. I have set my expectations to “write a sentence each day” — anything beyond the sentence is dessert, cake and ice cream. But I still sit down to write that one sentence, to keep my writing practice alive. Only with practice will writers improve.
If you enjoyed this interview you will also enjoy our blog on ‘To kill a Mockingbird’, here.