inKonversation: Janice Pariat – WordMaverick of October 2012
Poetry in prose – that’s Janice Pariat‘s style and what a style! The reader is left wanting to divulge more and discover just one corner more about the world that she paints with her words. One of those brave souls to head dive into writing full time, her debut book Boats of the Land is making a mark allover for her lyrical language, beautiful metaphors and soul touching short stories. She gets inKonversation at the pensieve as the WordMaverick of October 2012 we have the privilege of reading her once again. Read on:
Congratulations on the debut book Janice. Your book takes the reader to the beautiful northeast with all its mystics and myths. What was the inspiration?
Thank you so much Reshmy, although I’d like to point out that my stories are set in some parts of the northeast – Shillong, Cherrapunjee and small pockets of Assam. It’s rather difficult to pick a particular source of inspiration when there are so many – childhood, stories I’ve grown up with, the urge to write, the art of narration, the blend of the mundane with the fanastic, political and social upheaval, the landscape itself.
Apart from writing what keeps you busy?
Walking. Wherever I am, Shillong or London, I like going for long walks. The things you discover! Entire novels in the park or over a bridge. I also read, wander around museums, dutifully attend my part time job. Hunt for good sushi.
When and how did the writing bug get to you?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing. Terrible little stories with characters, plot lines and settings filched from Enid Blyton. I kept journals in school which I filled with angst and heartache. The last story in my book ‘An Aerial View’ is a much reworked one that I wrote about six years ago.
You have been on the writing scene for long, so I presume getting the book published wasn’t too much of a struggle? Correct me if I am wrong.
Not that long really 🙂 I only started writing for a living when I joined Time Out Delhi in 2008, and I began freelancing in 2009. Publishing a first book is always a struggle – you don’t quite know how things work, what a good deal is, who to put your faith in. Finding a publisher, the right publisher, is not always easy.
Do share the story of the first time you got published – the struggle and the exhilaration.
When I was about twelve I wrote a piece on ‘Parents’ and it was published in the local daily – The Shillong Times, I think, as part of a children’s special issue. It was a sickly-sweet little article on love and unconditional acceptance but I was so thrilled I cut it out, laminated the paper and hung it on my wall. All these years later I still feel the same excitement seeing my name on a page.
Boats on Land had a very poetic feel to the prose and some beautiful use of metaphors. Is it safe to say that your writing style is an amalgamation of prose and poetry, which we will get to see more of?
I’m glad you thought so 🙂 My writing style is hugely influenced by poetry – in fact it falls in the space between the two. I find that poetry infuses language with ambiguity and lyricism and there’s no reason why prose cannot be the same.
Tell us about your literary favorites, Janice – Book/ Author/ Genre.
This is awfully difficult – if only because I have so many to choose from. Virginia Woolf for her startling lyricism, Philip Pullman for his quotidian brilliance, Orwell for clear windowpane prose, Nabokov for exquisiteness of language.
After a short story collection, will we see you writing novels soon? What’s the next writing project you are working on?
Perhaps. It depends on the story I’d like to tell and which form it chooses to take. At the moment I’m chiselling out a novella – precariously balanced between short story and novel.
Your words of wisdom for newbie writers.
Be self-critical. And above all, don’t write if you can live without writing. Oh, and have fun.