- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview with a very talented author from Qatar.
Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s award winning books have focused on various aspects of life in the Arabian Gulf nation of Qatar. From Dunes to Dior is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and named as Indie Book of the Day in 2013.
Love Comes Later is a literary romance set in Qatar and London and was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013, short listed for the New Talent award by the Festival of Romance, and Best Novel Finalist in eFestival of Words, 2013. She currently lives with her family in Qatar, where she teaches writing and literature courses at American universities.
Welcome, Mohana ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I started writing in graduate school as an elective – mostly short stories. My professor was encouraging, so I kept going. I tried for 10 years to get an agent before striking out on my own.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I became comfortable with using the word “writer” with a big W when I released my first eBook, back in 2012. Before then, I thought of it as a hobby.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I’ve learned the hard way that a good outline can save you tons of time and effort in the revising and editing. A chapter by chapter outline of what the scenes are can get to a solid first draft. Many of my books had soap opera like jumps in time. I also read everything I can about the topic I’m writing about.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love telling stories about parts of the world no one else is thinking about, like Qatar or Laos, where two of my books are set.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Waiting for someone to review your book! Or reading negative comments about your story/idea/characters.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I hope I was a glamorous silent film star J.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
Any time a reader says, “I couldn’t put this down.”
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Two sequels are in the works: one for a romance series and other in crime.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I love interesting, funny, unique stories, experiences, people.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write in whatever genre I find interesting. Memoir, fiction, academic: I’ve done it all.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Write. Honestly, there is no getting around getting your words on the page whenever you can, however much you can.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block: I have two children under the age of 6 and a full time job teaching university.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I participate in National Novel Writing Month every November (it’s free for anyone to join) and so the months of November-March are very busy with writing, editing and revising. The other months I’m tinkering and marketing.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Libraries or my office on Saturday afternoons.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Having the reader say, “I’ve felt like that before but I’m not a South Asian/woman/refugee/etc.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
So many to name but I always come back to Alice Munroe. Her writing is beautiful yet accessible and she also isn’t afraid to take her characters into the sadder moments of their lives.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
“I highly recommend this book.”
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Many of my stories are influenced by lingering questions inspired from my own life or stories other people tell me. In The Dohmestics, for example, there are several maid characters and several employers; the problems between the maids and mistresses have to do with urban legends and other pieces I’ve heard over the years.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Learn more about her
work on her website:
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Mohana. You certainly live in a very interesting part of the world. Keep going, and best wishes.