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Drunk on Ink Q & A with Tara Coyt and ‘Real Talk About LGBTQIAP’

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Tara Coyt is an award-winning marketing and advertising professional, author, speaker, photographer, and painter. Her book Real Talk About LGBTQIAP won a New Generation Indie Book award and was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award. Tara has also developed books for two NBA All-Stars, a Death Row Records photographer, and several entrepreneurs. She is also the founder of Coyt Communications and Get it Write, a coaching program for aspiring authors. Following her mother and grandmother’s examples, Tara has been active in community and  non-profit organizations since childhood. Board include appointments include the Atlanta-Rio Sister Cities Foundation, Atlanta Technical College Foundation, and Atlanta Writers Club. Tara has been a member of the Black Journalists Association, and National Association of Minorities in Communications, and is a graduate of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta VIP. She is an ally for LGBTQ equality, a GLAAD Media Institute alumnus, and has participated in Georgia Equality’s speaker training program. Tara Coyt and her twin brother were born in Cleveland, OH. She earned a BS, Natural Sciences from Xavier University (OH) and an MBA, Marketing from The Ohio State University. Tara resides in Atlanta, GA.

.About Real Talk About LGBTQIAP: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Pansexual 

The award-winning book, Real Talk About LGBTQIAP: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Pansexual explores over 200 questions about sexuality, gender identity, and biological sex. This conversational book also delves into discussions about freedom, equality, self-actualization, and the Bible, as well as current issues like bathroom laws, conversion therapy, healthcare, and religious freedom. Tara Coyt presents an extensive yet approachable discussion that includes a diverse group of LGBTQIAP voices from across the United States. Participants include LGBTQ Institute Executive Director Ryan Roemerman, Fulton County (Georgia) Commission Co-Chair Joan Garner, community activist Reverend Duncan Teague, transgender activist Vandy Beth Glenn, parents, students, doctors, educators, elected officials, and more. Coyt also adeptly examines information from advocacy groups, biblical scholars, medical professionals, researchers, and others. Real Talk About LGBTQIAP has been called an “everything you want to know” book for anyone who wants to know more about how humans experience and express sexuality, gender identity, and biological sex.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

TARA COYT: I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, and when I ran out of library books and my parents’ books I resorted to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The first book that rooted itself in my soul and never left was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. It is one of the most painfully beautiful books ever written. Around the same time I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, which convinced me that I could not stop speaking, writing, and acting on behalf of equality.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Wine unwinds. Coffee invigorates. Water stabilizes.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

Reading the newspaper should be mandatory. My brother and I grew up sitting at the kitchen counter reading the newspaper with my parents. I began with the comics, then added Arts & Entertainment, the front page, sports, and finally business. Newspapers entertain, inform, and expand our horizons. They can also spark conversations.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

None come to mind.

Favorite quote from your book 

There are so many memorable quotes in Real Talk, from every person I interviewed and few from myself. I also added quotes from Zen proverbs, greeting cards from my mother, activists, and celebrities like Lena Waithe and David Letterman. I’ll share the closing quote, which describes what I believe is my calling. It’s from The Goddess Tara, According to the Legends of Tibet: “Therefore, may I, in a female body, work for the welfare of all beings, until such time as all humanity has found its fullness.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

Malcolm X. There we encounter Denzel Washington and Spike Lee at their best. The film was beautiful, emotional, dramatic, and inspirational.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Charis Books in Atlanta.

(read the Drunk On Ink Interview  with Charis Books Here)

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

That there’d be some days I wouldn’t want to do this thing I love. Those days appear just before I’m about to reach a breakthrough, and knowing that pushes me forward.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

Some aspects become easier because, as with most things, there’s a learning curve. Then once I feel I’ve mastered something I discover another area that needs improvement.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Dog. My first dog was Bunny, a black Scottish Terrier my parents bought when my twin brother and I were 6 months old. Dogs require a lot of attention, and the reward is that they offer tons of attention in return.

Ideal vacation?

Visiting at least 2 cities or countries I’ve never been, with the love of my life. No crowds, warm weather, cultural activities, historic sites, delicious food, and a rental house or condo are preferred.

Favorite book cover?

Aside from Real Talk nothing comes to mind. It’s interesting that I don’t pay a lot of attention to covers, even though I’m also a visual artist.

Favorite song?

There is too much music in the world to ever select one song as my favorite. How do you do that when there’s Fela Kuti’s “No Water No Enemy,”Move Your Body” by Marshall Jefferson, “Valeu” by Tania Maria, “Europa” by Gato Barbieri, and artists like Tony Bennett, Karen Carpenter, Charles Mingus, Franky Beverly & Maze, Angela Bofill, Arturo Sandoval, Aretha Franklin, Michael Franks, James Brown, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, Sarah Vaughan, The Roots, Grace Jones, Sly & The family Stone, Fiona Apple, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Krall, Yo-Yo Ma

Favorite painting/ work of art?

I like works by Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Paul Cezanne, Diego Rivera, and Joe Barry Carroll, and have recently added myself to that list.

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

I always arrive early to set up the room and collect myself. Upon arriving at the Decatur Book Festival the room didn’t have what was requested so and I began working with the room monitor and others to get what was needed. I was so focused on getting the stage set that I never looked behind me until about 20 minutes later when my partner stopped me and said, “Turn around.” The room was full. The faces that stared at me ranged from children to seniors, and people of different races, sexualities, gender identities. You never know who’s going to show up to an event or if anyone will show up. Seeing a standing-room-only crowd brought me to tears.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

Pride and Prejudice

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

I’m proud to be a part of Joe Barry Carroll Publishing, which focuses on presenting uplifting and impactful stories of our shared human experience.

Last impulse book buy and why?

“Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson. I love reading about history and her first book, “The Warmth of other Sons” was presented in such an engaging way that prompted me to buy Caste without even reading an excerpt.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.  www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Maureen Joyce Connolly and ‘Little Lovely Things’, a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Maureen Joyce Connolly is a former owner of a consulting firm that helped specialty drug companies to develop medications for ultra-rare diseases. She received her Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and my Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. Her background in science and love of the natural world often informs and inspires her writing. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is her debut as a novelist.

About Little Lovely Things

Highlighting the potential catastrophe in the small decisions of everyday life, LITTLE LOVELY THINGS, asks the question–how does one reshape themselves after tragedy strikes? It’s 1993, the first Saturday in September—impossibly hot—and Claire Rawlings is driving her two girls to the daycare at the hospital where, as a resident, she is scheduled for rounds. Ignoring the troublesome signs of a sudden allergic reaction, Claire exits to safety, only to pass out cold. When she wakes, her daughters are gone. With lyrical prose and page-turning momentum, the story unfolds through the viewpoint of four characters: Claire, the devastated yet strong-willed mother; Moira, the transient who finds herself thrust into instant motherhood; soulful Jay, whose grisly discovery brings him to the center of the tragedy; and Andrea, the scrappy and wildly talented tomboy. Traversing the landscape of loss, LITTLE LOVELY THINGS ties together the threads of lives shattered, hope lost, and—finally—joy restored.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

MAUREEN JOYCE CONNOLLY: This question is unfair! There are far too many books I read as a child that would fit this bill in spades. BUT, if I had to pick a seminal work it would for sure be Jack London’s Call of the Wild and/or White Fang. I still think he is an absolute treasure of a writer and his ability to create atmosphere and a sense of longing is unmatched. London’s writing had me forging lifelong relationships with characters that were not human and that, folks, is an amazing thing.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Does vodka count? With olives or maybe a twist of lemon and extra cold. After that it’s wine and homemade lemonade (often with a splash of vodka – happy to send the recipe to anyone who is interested!)

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

I truly think that all forms of literature should be mandatory reading at some point in our lives. Each one brings something different to bear. A novel is a well-developed long piece of fiction that requires a deeper attention span as opposed to short story which must be rich thematically due to its relative brevity. Poetry is the reigning monarch because it is a distilled spirit (sort of like vodka), drawing literature down to its very essence. Essay, mired in viewpoint – I would also include personal essay here – is important for critical thinking. So, all of the different formats, done well, challenge and develop different parts of our brain.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Jane Eyre. I don’t like gothic. At all. Sorry. But I’m absolutely certain I’ve missed out on something important.

Favorite quote from your book 

In order to heal we must learn different ways of doing things. In my book, I have a therapist instructing my main character to

“Learn to adapt, to walk sideways. Like a spider on the wall.”

I get a lot of feedback on that one!

Favorite book to film? And why?

The English Patient.  Watch Trailer Here. Because I think that it is a rare instance of the film not only capturing but actually enhancing the terrific novel by Michael Ondaatje.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

The iconic Strand bookstore in New York City – they hosted the launch of my debut novel! My personal locals – Newtown Book Shop in Newtown PA & Doylestown Bookstore in Doylestown PA. I also have to give a warm shout out to Bethany Beach Books in Delaware for their incredible support, Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord Michigan for being amazing and Cottage Books in Glen Arbor Michigan for being so damn cute. I could go on.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

Ooohh. I wish I had known how lonely it can be. I have always been on teams in my career where I could bounce ideas off of others and feed on group energy. While I understand how much I need my space, it can be difficult to work in isolation so much. Ideally, I’d have another author working several rooms away. We would meet up for coffee and vodka-based cocktails and discuss our work-in-progress several times per week. That would be a dream.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I have only published one! However, I am much further along on book number two than I ever imagined so I am going to say yes at this point with the caveat that my answer is subject to change.

Dog, Cat, Or?

I’m a bit pet obsessed. I currently have Pumpkin, an aging orange tabby cat, Huckleberry, a rambunctious Jack Russel terrier and our new puppy, Rhubarb aka Ruby, a delightful and very curious Norwich terrier. I had to include a medley of separate pictures because it’s impossible to get them together for one.

Ideal vacation?

Glen Arbor Michigan with all of my family. It is on Lake Michigan and is the most beautiful place in the world to me.

Favorite book cover?

Oooohhh…interesting question. I actually am loving Deborah Goodrich Royce’s new cover for her new book, Ruby Falls, but is has not been released yet. Therefore, I will state that I love Tishani Doshi’s Small Days and Nights.

Favorite song?

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On – okay, anything Motown.

Favorite painting/ work of art?

Monet’s The Studio Boat. It’s at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the greenish-white of the door practically glows in real life. The artist at work in a floating studio is both a study in serenity and a nod to the ephemeral quality of the creative life.

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

At the Doylestown book festival September 2019, I started to cry the moment I met author Kate Moore. It was embarrassing. She wrote this incredibly lovely book called Radium Girls about women who worked freely with radium before they understood the health consequences. The story of how their lives were ruined – which ultimately led to the beginning of OSHA – is heartbreaking and Moore conveys it with great tenderness for these women. I love it and was overcome when I saw her in real life.

A trailer for the film Radium Girls

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

I love Pride and Prejudice – doesn’t everyone? However, my favorite film adaptation is Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. I think it can be easy to make Jane Austen’s work a bit too ‘precious’ on the screen, but this one just struck the right balance.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Lit Journal – I have so many! But I will choose Juxtaprose since I think they do it just right.

For small presses it has to be Coffee House Press and Milkweed because of their continued support of new talent and diverse range of voices.

Last impulse book buy and why?

Oh – I cannot resist non-fiction books about the natural word and have to say anything by Sy Montgomery or Helen MacDonald is a winner for me. I just grabbed Vesper Flights by MacDonald and cannot wait to read it since her H is for Hawk was one of my top ten favorite books of all time. Waiting with bated breath for the next book by Elisabeth Tova Bailey who wrote The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating – a must read!

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addresses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.  www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Molly Greeley and “The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Burgh’ a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Molly Greeley is the author of The Heiress and The Clergyman’s Wife, both based on characters in Jane Austen’s fiction (Anne de Burgh and Charlotte Lucas).  Molly Greeley was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her addiction to books was spurred by her parents’ floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A graduate of Michigan State University, she began as an Education major, but switched to English and Creative Writing after deciding that gainful employment was not as important to her as being able to spend several years reading books and writing stories and calling it work. Her stories and essays have been published in Cicada, Carve, and Literary Mama. twitter    instagram

About The Heiress

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without? In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune . . . and her life.
An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

MOLLY GREELEY: There are so many early books that I absolutely loved, but I think the first one that deeply impacted me, in that it made me look at the world in a totally new way, was Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

 To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Wine at the end of a tough day; otherwise coffee.

 A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

I have a hard time saying anything should be mandatory for anyone, because different works speak to different people. But poem #25 from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Pictures of the gone world is one of those pieces that just stunned me when I first read it.

Any classic you wished youd pushed through in your teens?

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

 Favorite quote from your book ?

“… I saw the princess so very clearly—unnaturally still and silent on her narrow bed until the moment the enchantment broke. As I watched from behind my lids, the princess blinked, sloughed off the covering of cobwebs, and rose, looking astonished, from her bed.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

Probably Girl with a Pearl Earring (trailer)  based on the novel by Tracey Chevalier   (inspired by the eponymous painting). I love how the whole movie looks like a Vermeer painting, and for the most part it stayed true to the book, just bringing it to gorgeous life.

 Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor will always be number one in my heart for all the hours I spent there as a kid (back when it was Little Professor), curled up reading in the big painted throne. Where I live now, though, we have two wonderful indies downtown: Brilliant Books, which is cozy, with awesome staff recommendations and a cute play area in the back for kids; and Horizon Books, which has a great selection and is a big space with yummy coffee that serves as a sort of community hub.

The one think you wish youd known about the writing life?

That it was truly possible.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

 In my experience… yes and no. I think for me personally, marketing myself is always going to involve going way outside my comfort zone; but I think I’m getting, if not more comfortable with it, at least more accustomed to the discomfort of it! Writing I think is as hard as ever, except for the fact that since I’ve now completed two novels, I understand better that just because this day (or this week… or this month!) involved more deleting than writing, it’s all part of the process, and doesn’t mean that a finished book isn’t waiting on the other side.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Cat(s), always and forever.

Ideal vacation?

Returning to Scotland with my husband, this time with our kids, too. My husband and I met on a college study-abroad trip to the UK, and Scotland has been, for both of us, the place we’ve felt most at home. We’ve been meaning to go back for years and years, but life kept getting in the way (this year we were going to go in August, but… Covid…).

Favorite book cover?

Aside from The Heiress’s cover, which I am still amazed by, I think I’d have to say the cover to the edition of The Secret Garden that my dad gave me when I was seven or so (the 1987 “Illustrated Junior Library” edition from the Putnam Group, if anyone’s curious!). It’s just a melancholy, gorgeous picture of Mary, the protagonist, in the garden, and so evocative of the general feeling of the book.

Favorite song?

Kathy’s Song, by Paul Simon

Favorite painting/ work of art?

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but if I have to… probably Henri Matisse’sThe French Window at Nice.” There’s something calming about it (and I maybe-sorta-kinda see my fantasy-self in the woman sitting in front of the window, reading and enjoying the view).

The French Window at Nice. late 1919 by Henri Matisse

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

I haven’t had the pleasure of going to any literary festivals yet (being a total introvert, though I would love to attend one someday, I also don’t totally mind that I haven’t been yet!). But I have gotten some absolutely wonderful messages from readers who read The Clergyman’s Wife and completely made my day. I think readers (myself included) often underestimate how much it means to a writer to hear that their words have been read and enjoyed.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

My favorite novel is Persuasion; I love the tone of it, which feels different, to me, than many of Austen’s other novels; and the fact that the happy ending still feels absolutely perfect. My favorite film adaptation is Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (trailer); I just love everything about that movie, from the performances to the soundtrack to the beautiful scenery. It’s my happy place.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

A few years ago, after my first child was born but before I became pregnant with my second, I suffered a miscarriage (the fourth of five), and wrote an essay about it, which was published in the online journal Literary Mama. For mothers who have literary aspirations or who just need to see their lives reflected in what they read, I can’t recommend the site strongly enough. It’s full of wit and humor and tears and frustration and love, and the stories and essays run the gamut of the mothering experience.

Last impulse book buy and why?

This is Sadie, by Sara O’Leary, for my kid who had just learned to read. Honestly, we didn’t have a ton of money to spend on anything except necessities at the time, but she had worked so hard to learn, and I just loved the illustrations and sweet prose and wanted to reward her hard work. I’d gone into one of our local bookstores just to browse (shoutout to Brilliant Books, again!), and came out with Sadie’s story.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addresses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.  www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Donna Miscolta and “Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories” short story colllection

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable, a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan

Donna Miscolta’s third book of fiction Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories is due out from Jaded Ibis Press in September 2020. Her story collection Hola and Goodbye, winner of the Doris Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman and published by Carolina Wren Press (2016), won an Independent Publishers award for Best Regional Fiction and an International Latino Book Award for Best Latino Focused Fiction. She’s also the author of the novel When the de la Cruz Family Danced (Signal 8 Press, 2011). Her book reviews, stories and essays have appeared in various print and online journals. She grew up in National City, CA but has lived most of her adult life in Seattle. Find her at donnamiscolta.comTwitter    Instagram

About Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories  

Set in California in the 1960s and ’70s, the linked stories in Living Color take Angie Rubio year by thorny year from kindergarten through high school, offering a humorous, biting, but always compassionate portrait of the artist as a shy, awkward Mexican-American girl. Against the backdrop of the Cold War and civil rights eras, Living Color delivers the milestones of American girlhood—slumber parties, training bras, proms—through the eyes of “brown, skinny, and

bespectacled” Angie, who learns early that pageant winners, cheerleaders, and the Juliets in school plays are always white, and that big vocabularies are useless in navigating cliques and clubs. Living Color: Angie Rubio Stories traces Angie’s formation as a writer, from the diffident, earnest child who jots down new words in a notebook to the emboldened high school student publishing unpopular opinions in her new “loud-enough-to-be-heard” voice.

 

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

DONNA MISCOLTA: I read Little Women multiple times while in elementary school. It was about sisterhood, dreams, ambitions, and rebellion. I sort of had those things, but not in the same way these fictional little women did. If I failed to be like them, I could always rely on the fact that they weren’t real and lived in a long-ago time. So for me, it was escapist literature. 

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Water. Also fruit smoothies. Mint or chamomile tea on dreary days. I’m derailed by caffeine and alcohol.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

I love Lauret Savoy’s book Trace. It’s both her personal journey to uncover the story of her forbears, which included slaves, Native Americans, and white settlers, and a broader history of the land. A geologist, her exploration of the land upon which her ancestors lived, suffered, and died reminds us that everywhere we walk in America, no matter how it has changed through natural or manmade forces, it is land that belonged to someone else. Tied in with its geological and ecological history are human stories, painful, unjust, and vital to our understanding of ourselves as a country.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Anna Karenina. Maybe I was a little afraid of its voluminousness. Now I have an unread copy on my shelf, one I picked up at a book swap some years ago. It’s a 1944 edition with illustrations. It seems a bit fragile so now I’m a little afraid of breaking it if I were to read it.

Favorite quote from your book

She went off in search of illumination.

Favorite book to film? And why?

 The Remains of the Day is one that stands out to me. The performances by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were so exquisitely wrought. The melancholy and sense of loss evoked in the book were made big-screen-real.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Elliott Bay Book Company has been a vital part of both my reading and writing life. I always feel at home there. I also have a fondness for Phinney Books, a lovely narrow, little store with an excellent reading series in pre-Covid times, a delightful newsletter, and T-shirts for sale labeled Made-Up and True.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

I wish I’d known sooner that it was something I could have. The writing life just means that you include writing as part of your life. It took me a long time to acknowledge the deeply suppressed desire to be a writer and then to just do it.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

Writing is always hard, but now I’m probably more confident that I can eventually get something good out of what often starts out flat and directionless.

Publishing doesn’t seem to get any easier. I feel lucky to have landed with the three small presses I did. I’ve tried at various time to get an agent but it’s like when I was ten and had to go door-to-door to try to sell Girl Scout cookies. It was demoralizing. There was no answer. No one home. Or it was, no thank you. Or I love your cookies, but… The but, always the mystifying but. Yes, rejection is part of the process, but …

The marketing mystery does get a little less mysterious each time. You learn something with each book. Still, I’m not great at it, so I’m always grateful for my press’s efforts to get my book noticed. And I’m grateful for opportunities like this one to share information about my work and the quirks and impulses behind it.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Cat. Sometimes plural.

Harriet the Cat

 

Ideal vacation?

Last year my husband and I visited several cities in Spain, including Málaga where we rented an apartment overlooking a small plaza in the Centro Histórico. Each morning from my sixth-floor window, I watched the restaurant staff set up tables and chairs in the plaza, smelled the coffee, and listened to the greetings. We left the apartment mid-morning to explore the city. After lunch, we rested, then walked to the beach. Each evening we listened to whichever musician happened to claim a spot in the plaza. It was at that time of the day that I wrote. Later after the music stopped, I watched the restaurants close and listened to the sound of tables being folded, chairs stacked, and awnings collapsed. I watched the lights dim and then I drew the curtains and wrote some more. At some point, I heard the footsteps of the last person leaving the plaza. I want more of this kind of vacation.

Favorite book cover?

Well, besides the cover of my previous book Hola and Goodbye, which has a gorgeous papel picado design, I also really love the cover of my friend Anne Germanacos’s first book In the Time of the Girls. It’s stark and moody and suggests much depth of emotion.

Favorite song?

Oh, that changes with time and mood, but a perennial favorite is Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going on?” The voice, the vibe, the lyrics with that big question trying to make sense of the world – all of it making you both sad and hopeful. Lately, I’ve been charmed by Jose Conde’s “Bolitas de Arroz con Pollo.” It’s a song about food – rice and chicken – to a mambo beat. It’s delicious and fun.

Favorite painting/ work of art?

I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but Oswaldo Guayasamín’s painting Lárimas de sangre is one of the most affecting and grotesquely beautiful paintings I’ve seen. It hangs in the Casa Museo Guayasamín in Quito. It’s dedicated to Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda and Victor Jara, all of whom were killed during the 1973 U.S.-backed, right-wing coup in Chile.

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

At an AWP conference several years ago, Robin Miura of Blair approached me after my panel ended to introduce herself. I had earlier learned that my story collection Hola and Goodbye was a finalist for the press’s The Bakwin Award for Writing by a Female-identifying writer, with Randall Kenan making the final selection. Meeting Robin, whom I immediately liked, made me hope more than ever that my book would win the prize and publication with Carolina Wren Press, which it did. I’m forever grateful.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

Pride and Prejudice is the one I’ve read multiple times. Favorite film adaptation is the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

In 2014 my story “Ana’s Dance” won the Lascaux Review’s Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction. Since then, I have received periodic emails from editor Stephen Parrish asking for publishing news to share in the Review’s newsletter. It’s such a generous gesture by Parrish to stay in touch with contributors and show an interest in their published work subsequent to their appearance in Lascaux Review.

Last impulse book buy and why?

Last year when travel was still a thing, it was my first year as a retiree and I managed to visit three Spanish-speaking countries. Each time, I felt compelled to visit bookstores. In Oaxaca, Mexico, I bought El cerebro de mi hermano, a memoir by Rafael Pérez Gay about his philosopher/ writer/ diplomat brother’s degenerative disease. In Madrid, I bought a novel by a madrileño; in Málaga, I bought a novel by a malagueña; and in Quito, I bought a novel by a quiteña. I bought these books because I love books and love to support bookstores wherever I happen to be, but also because one of my goals is to become fluent in Spanish before I die. I figured reading books in Spanish is one way to accomplish this. The only book I managed to finish was the memoir by Gay. I read it twice, in fact, dictionary at the ready. I hope to get back to the others one day and I hope to be able to read Spanish with more ease when I do.

 

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more.  www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

 

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Mike Chen and “Here and Now and Then”

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan 

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Mike lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @mikechenwriter

About Here and Now and Then

To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere- and any-when…Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142. Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late. Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember. Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process. A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

MIKE CHEN: The first book I really remember reading and re-reading from my class library — I believe it was 3rd grade — and loving so much that I bought it too was A ROYAL PAIN by Ellen Conford. It was the first book I can remember where the voice really grabbed me; it was snappy and snarky and the dude in it referenced Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Coffee. Coffee to ramp up, coffee to wind down, coffee for everything. Black coffee, to quote Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks, black as midnight on a moonless night.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? Why?

This is kind of an obscure answer but I tell all genre fans to read the Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith novelization by Matthew Stover. It is the closest Star Wars will get to literary fiction as it plays with structure and voice and POV. Regardless of what people think of the prequel trilogy films, this book creates such well-rounded characters with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and the Dark Side of the Force (he writes The Dark as its own character and it works so well) that you empathize in the no-win situation that spirals out of control. With the disclaimer that other than a few short political asides, Padme still gets the short shift. This Tor post sums it up better than me.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

My dad loves The Odyssey and The Iliad, which you would not think given that he’s an immigrant engineer from Taiwan. I promised him I’d read those someday and I…still have not. Fortunately, he will probably never see this. I did take him to see the Troy movie with Brad Pitt though, which he thought was terrible, and rightly so.

Favorite quote from your book ?

I am terrible at picking these so I am going to replace “favorite” with “random” and let it rip:

“It’s fine. Really.” From Chapter 10.

Favorite book to film? And why?

I was obsessed with Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles in my teens and I still maintain that the 1994 Neil Jordan film is a near-perfect adaptation with brilliant performances, cinematography, and score.

 Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

I heart the Books Inc chain in the Bay Area.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

I wish I understood 3-act structure better much earlier, particularly the Save The Cat model. That helped me transition from merely writing good dialogue to crafting a tight story.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I’d say yes and no. The pervasive fear of failure doesn’t seem to go away, at least not among the people I’ve talked to. And coming up with good ideas is still hard. At the same time, I feel like knowing something is working has become more intuitive, and so the actual craft of writing something that’s not a god damn disaster is probably faster. That’s just experience and working agents and editors to point out your bad habits.

Dog, Cat, Or?

My wife and I have always had dogs and cats — currently one dog and three cats. But I think I will always lean dog if I have to pick, even though they are often lovably dumb. On the flip side, my wife says she will always take the smart asshole cat over dogs. We balance each other out.

River the greyhound with two excellent books by Kat Howard

Ideal vacation?

London is one of my favorite places in the world. I lived there during summer 1998 and summer 2000, and I haven’t been back since but I would love to stay there again for several months and re-absorb into their culture.

Favorite book cover?

Can I say my own? It IS a stunning cover!  My pal Dan Stout has a pulpy noir-meets-aliens book coming out soon called TITANSHADE and it is the coolest freaking cover I’ve seen in a while. I seriously just grin when I look at it.

Favorite song?

You’re talking with a music nerd who spent 15 years playing in bands and DJing, so “favorite song” unleashes a whole slew of caveats and sub-categories.  As in, I can talk it by instrument, by lyrics, by genre, by decade, etc. There is no right answer, but plenty of wrong answers! But my favorite song of the past five years or so is called Human Child by cult indie rock band Belly — my Spotify stats will verify that this is the only song that played more in 2018 than my daughter’s Disney Princess songs. In fact, I am wearing a Belly t-shirt in the attached photo!

If I have a movie made of my second book (tentative title THE PAUSE, January 2020 from Mira Books), that song would play during the final scene leading into the credits roll. Tanya Donelly’s always-amazing lyrics thematically match that book so much. I’ve been working on that book in various incarnations since 2011, so when I first heard that song in 2016 it was this weird bit of synchronicity, and I’m not talking about the Police album (which is also great).

Other picks spanning various sub-categories: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker by The Ramones (punk), But Not Tonight by Depeche Mode (new wave), Birth in Reverse by St. Vincent (art rock), All The Way by Ladytron (electronic), In Undertow by Alvvays (dream pop), Perfect World by Liz Phair (singer/songwriter), 1984 by David Bowie (the David Bowie category).

Favorite painting/ work of art?

I love pre-raphaelite artWaterhouse, Burne-Jones, etc. I was really into Arthurian myths in my teens and 20s, and this art style really fell into that. Waterhouse’s The Tempest is still probably my favorite painting.

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

At Worldcon 2018, when I was just at the ARC stage, there was an authors night at a local bar. Authors were encouraged to bring a book for raffle so I brought an ARC. I was surprised when someone actually picked my book — and even more surprised when he hunted me down and asked me to sign it for him.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? Why?

My knowledge of Austen is REALLY REALLY BAD. So…uh…there was a British film called Lost In Austen where a woman wakes up in Jane Austen’s fictional world and that was enjoyable.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

I fully admit to not being as knowledgeable about presses as I should be. But at Worldcon 2018 I did spend an evening drinking and talking about Doctor Who with Remy Njambi from Rebellion Press, which just may qualify it as The Best.

Last impulse book buy and why?

My TBR pile is already unwieldy and impossible yet there were $2 Kindle sales for ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson and THE CALCULATING STARS by Mary Robinette Kowal and I could not resist.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Ruth Franklin and “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life”

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan 

 

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic. Her book Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (2016) won numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2016, a Time magazine top nonfiction book of 2016, and a “best book of 2016” by The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, and others. She is also the author of A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (2011), which was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Writing. Her criticism and essays appear in many publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Review of Books, and Harper’s. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.

About Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life

Instantly heralded for its “masterful” and “thrilling” portrayal (Boston Globe), Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the literary genius behind such classics as “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House. In this “remarkable act of reclamation” (Neil Gaiman), Ruth Franklin envisions Jackson as “belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe and James” (New York Times Book Review) and demonstrates how her unique contribution to the canon “so uncannily channeled women’s nightmares and contradictions that it is ‘nothing less than the secret history of American women of her era’ ” (Washington Post). Franklin investigates the “interplay between the life, the work, and the times with real skill and insight, making this fine book a real contribution not only to biography, but to mid-20th-century women’s history” (Chicago Tribune). “Wisely rescu[ing] Shirley Jackson from any semblance of obscurity” (Lena Dunham), Franklin’s invigorating portrait stands as the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary genius.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with?

RUTH FRANKLIN: The first book I was truly, madly, head over heels obsessed with was Emily of New Moon, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s coming-of-age story about a girl who wants to be a writer. I even named two trees in our backyard after Emily and her best friend, Ilse. Emily was everything I wanted to be: orphaned, psychic, and an amazing writer.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Dirty martini (gin, obviously) with lots of olives.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?

It should be mandatory just to read, period.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Moby-Dick. Will I ever make the time for it now?

A favorite quote from your book J

Can I give my favorite Shirley Jackson quote instead? It’s the first line of The Haunting of Hill House:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”

Your favorite book to film?

Rebecca. Film and book are both great.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Shout-out to my locals, Community Bookstore in Brooklyn and McNally Jackson in Manhattan. I’ll never get tired of browsing in The Strand. On my book tour, I visited Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg and was blown away by their gorgeous building and huge selection.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

Writing anything—a biography, a book review, an email, this questionnaire—takes at least twice as long as I think it will.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each book published?

I definitely found the process easier for my second book than for my first. But I wrote my first book with two tiny children and tried to market it while going through a divorce, so just about anything would be better than that. In all seriousness, though, one thing that helped with SHIRLEY JACKSON was that I connected with readers throughout the writing process via social media. There are a lot of Jackson fans out there, and it was fun to be able to share tidbits about my research along the way—like the barn full of previously undiscovered letters I was lucky enough to find.

Dog, Cat, Or?

#TeamCat all the way.

Mimi (black & brown) and Houdini (gray)

Favorite book cover?

Funny, this question gave me the most trouble of them all. I’m not a very visual person, and either book covers don’t linger in my mind or they become inseparable from the experience of reading the book itself.

Favorite song?

Heroes” by David Bowie or “Aicha” by Cheb Khaled (for sentimental reasons).

Favorite Small Press and Literary Journal?

Europa Editions, although do they still count as a small press after publishing Ferrante? Pushkin Press has the most adorable little editions of classics. As for literary journal, RIP Tin House.

Last impulse book buy and why?

I’m embarrassed to say I impulse-buy books all the time. I just treated myself to two new cookbooks—Saladish by Irene Rosen and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—because I’m bored with all my food. I also just bought both of Zadie Smith’s essay collections to potentially use in a criticism class I’ll be teaching next semester.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Colleen Oakley and ‘Before I Go’

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan 

Colleen Oakley is an Atlanta-based writer and author of the novel Before I Go. Her articles, essays, and interviews have been featured in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Redbook, Parade, and Martha Stewart Weddings. Before she was a freelance writer, Colleen was editor in chief of Women’s Health & Fitness and senior editor at Marie ClaireClose Enough to Touch is her second novel.

About Before I Go

Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer four years ago. How can this be happening to her again? On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant “Cancerversary” with her husband Jack to celebrate four years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s an aggressive stage four diagnosis. She may have as few as four months left to live. Death is a frightening prospect—but not because she’s afraid for herself. She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife. With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack’s perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy’s forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness—or her own?

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with?

COLLEEN OAKLEY: A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Wine!

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?

Too many to list!

Book: White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

Essay: The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates (published in The Atlantic)

Poem: Good Bones by Maggie Smith

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

No, I was a nerd and read everything required of me. However, I didn’t come to love Their Eyes Were Watching God until I re-read it as an adult. It’s now one of my favorite books of all time, which I think is an interesting, beautiful thing: how books don’t change, but the experience of reading them can vary wildly based on a reader’s perspective.

Favorite quote from your book 

“I suppose all couples feel this way at some point—that their bond is the most special, the strongest, the Greatest Love of All. Not all the time, just in those few and far between moments where you look at the person you’re with and think: Yes. It’s you.”

Favorite book to film?

Atonement. It perfectly evoked the very same emotions I had while reading the book. Which is to say, I cried buckets.

 Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

All of them! But I especially love Annell Gerson at The Book Miser in Roswell and all the foxy foxes at FoxTale in Woodstock.

The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?

That the quicker you grow a thick skin the better— I’m still waiting for mine to come in.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

No.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Dogs!

Ideal vacation?

Somewhere picturesque, quiet, off the beaten path with perfectly crafted cocktails and endless books to read.

Favorite book cover?

The Immortalists  by Chloe Benjamin

Favorite song?

For Good, from Wicked the Musical

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

A Public Space Journal

Last impulse book buy and why?

Becoming, by Michelle Obama. How can anyone resist? She is everything.  My TBR pile is already unwieldy and impossible yet there were $2 Kindle sales for ROSEWATER by Tade Thompson and THE CALCULATING STARS by Mary Robinette Kowal and I could not resist.

 

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Emily Midorikawa and ‘A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf’

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan 

Emily Midorikawa is the author of A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bront?, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, co-written with Emma Claire Sweeney and with a foreword by Margaret Atwood. Emma and Emily also run the website Something Rhymed, which celebrates female literary friendship. Emily is a winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize. Her journalism has appeared in, among others, the Daily Telegraph, the Paris Review, The Times and the Washington Post.

About A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood tells the stories of the literary friendships of Jane Austen and amateur-playwright / family-governess Anne Sharp; Charlotte Bronte and early feminist author Mary Taylor; the seemingly aloof George Eliot and ebullient Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf, most often portrayed as bitter foes, but who, in fact, enjoyed a complex creative bond.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? Why?

EMILY MIDORIKAWA: As a child, I loved Enid Blyton’s mystery stories and also her school stories, especially the Malory Towers series. I was a big fan of Judy Blume too.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

I love a cup of tea or a glass of red wine.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading? 

Anything by Jean Rhys is worth reading. I read After Leaving Mr Mackenzie when I was a teenager and it completely blew me away. Her writing made me feel that (in skilled hands like Rhys’s) there were no limits to what language could do).

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

I’ve somehow never got round to reading War and Peace.

Favorite quote

I love Harriet Beecher Stowe’s comment in a letter to George Eliot that book-writing, from an author’s perspective, resembles ‘a hand stretched forth in the dark passage of life to see if there is another hand to meet it’.

Favorite book to film? 

Peter Weir’s 1975 film of Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic at Hanging Rock is immensely atmospheric and stays true to the atmosphere of the novel. I love re-watching it. I think Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, adapted from Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, is great too.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

This is really tough, since I have quite a few favorites, but perhaps it’s Persephone Books in London – home of the publisher of the same name. They publish works by neglected, mostly female authors from the mid-twentieth century, and their small shop is a lovely place to discover forgotten literary treasures.

The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?

It’s easier with good friends. As a child, I bought into the well-worn stereotype of the isolated writer – someone shut away in a garret with only their words for company! As such, I imagined writing would be a very solitary profession. Of course, the nature of authoring a book means that you are bound to spend many hours cooped up on your own, but my interest in writing has also led me to make many wonderful fellow-writer friends. I’m lucky to have met my Secret Sisterhood co-author Emma very early on in our careers, and so I’ve had her at my side right from the beginning. We give each other writerly advice, swap early drafts of stories, celebrate the good times together and help to pick the other one up whenever the going gets tough.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

In a way it does. You at least have the knowledge that you have done this before. You know that you can finish writing a book or a story. Regarding the publicity side of things, you’re also able to learn from past successes and misfires, in terms of what has worked or not worked in the past. On the other hand, each new project brings its own challenges. In many ways, it was a joy to work with Emma on A Secret Sisterhood, but when you have two authors – both with strong opinions – working on a single book this means that you are going to spend a lot of time debating the fine detail. This could occasionally get frustrating, but in the end we realized that, by arguing things out between us at a desk, we had taken our manuscript through a really rigorous drafting process even before we showed the final draft to our editors.

Dog, Cat, Or?

I have no pets.

Ideal vacation?

My mother was Japanese and I lived in Japan for a couple of years when I was in my early twenties, so I always love revisiting Japan – both the nostalgia of returning to old haunts and the excitement of discovering new places.

Favorite book cover?

I feel very lucky that the cover designer for A Secret Sisterhood did an excellent job of conveying what lay inside. Aside from this one, though – which of course holds a special place in my heart – I really like the beautiful yet chilling design for The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin.

Favorite song?

Again, it’s very hard to pick just one, but ‘Think’ by Aretha Franklin would be right up there.

Favorite painting/ work of art?

Abstraction White Rose by Georgia O’Keefe

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

Back in the autumn of 2017, Emma and I were delighted to give the keynote speech at the George Eliot Fellowship’s 46th Annual Lecture. Among the audience members was a sixth-form student, Jess Molyneux, who had travelled some distance to be there. We enjoyed talking with Jess and were so happy when she got in touch many months later to ask if we would be interested in featuring a post by her – on the literary friendship between Charlotte Mew and  May Sinclair – on our blog Something Rhymed. It’s always nice to meet readers at festivals, and especially when that meeting turns out to be just the start of a connection that stretches into the future.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation? 

Sense and Sensibility – the Ang Lee picture starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet – is full of warmth and humour. I first saw it at the cinema when it came out in the mid-nineties and I feel that it has stood the test of time.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

The Good Journal – a new British magazine featuring the work of UK writers of color.

Last impulse book buy and why?

A writer I follow on Instagram posted an image of Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian tale of deception, adultery and arsenic by Kate Colquhoun. I was instantly intrigued by the sound of this Victorian true crime and ordered it right away.

 

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Shabnam Samuel and ‘A Fractured Life’ a memoir

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and set in contemporary Pakistan 

Shabnam Samuel is a writer, coach, social media trainer, and the founder of the Panchgani Writers’ Retreat, an international writing retreat based out of Panchgani, India. The retreat incorporates mindful living along with creativity and wellness following Ayurveda principles, with yoga, meditation and writing workshops. As a writer, Shabnam has been writing ever since she can remember. Her essays have been published online in Brain Child Magazine and Your Tango.  Shabnam also hosts a local TV show called Dew Drops and Words that broadcasts to 2.4 million viewers on the MHz network in the Washington, DC area. You can find her on YouTube under the name ‘Dew Drops and Words’. Shabnam is also a business coach and she mentors with the Empowered Women International in Alexandria, Virginia, an organization that helps train low-income, immigrant, and refugee women on how to be a successful entrepreneurs.

About A Fractured Life.

Abandoned by her parents as a three-year-old, and ultimately leaving her home country India for a new life in America as a young mother of a three-year-old son, this is not only an immigrant’s story, but a poignant and powerful memoir that is at first, one of sadness and continuing adversity, but ultimately one of strength, purpose, and the universal triumph of hope. It is a story of dislocation, disruption, and despair, and brings focus to the silencing of girlhood and womanhood and how with time, love, and support we can work our way out of that silence.Raised by an orphan of the Russian Revolution and an Indian Sepoy who, during WWI was stationed in Iraq (Mesopotamia), her story arc begins in a small town called Cuttack in the East of India and takes her to the capital of the most powerful nation in the world, Washington DC. It is a humanizing story of mixed races, religion, and continents. Shabnam Samuel was twenty seven when she moved to the US, carrying with her a troubled marriage, an almost estranged husband, and a three-year-old son. Hoping to create a fresh start from everything that was holding her down, it took Shabnam twenty-five years of trials and tribulations to finally find her voice, her strength, and her place in this world.

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with? 

SHABNAM SAMUEL: The first author I fell in love with was Enid Blyton. The families that she created with the Famous Five, were families that I longed to belong to. They had everything, that I did not have.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Chai, Chai , all the way!

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?

Okay, don’t laugh, Archie and Jughead comics!!  In your youth to show you that life should be one where you can laugh and as an adult to tell you not to take life too seriously.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

Moby Dick. I gave up mid way.

Favorite quote  

I do not understand the mystery of grace-only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us”-

Anne Lamott. I am not sure which of her books this is from. I want to say Bird by Bird, but I could be wrong.

Favorite book to film? 

The Godfather. Everything was so brilliantly portrayed. The voice, the intonations, the accent, just about everything.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Curious Iguana in Frederick, MD

The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?

That once you write a book (non-fiction) you are supposed to keep writing essays that revolve around your theme.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I am not so sure. This is my first book.

Dog, Cat, Or?  

Parrot.

Ideal vacation?

Sea, sun and my ideal partner.

Favorite book cover?

Can I say mine?

Favorite song?

As of now a Bollywood song called Hawayein from the movie  Jab Harry Met Sejal.

Favorite painting/ work of art?  

My son’s drawing  of a lion and a poem he wrote to go with it when he was 9.

Any Lit Festival anecdote you want a share? A great meeting with a fan? An epiphany?

I was at the Bangalore Literature Festival in October and the women and girls who came up to tell me, how my book inspired them to write their own stories.

What is your favorite Austen novel, and film adaptation?

Sense and Sensibility. I loved the costumes, the drama, the humor the bonnets!!

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Green Writers Press out of Vermont.

Last impulse book buy and why?

You know, I actually never buy books impulsively. I buy a lot of them but each one is carefully considered. I read mostly memoirs, but will buy all friends books that I am connected to.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Elise Hooper and ‘The Other Alcott’ a historical novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in contemporary Pakistan 

Elise Hooper lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she writes and teaches literature and history. The Other Alcott is her first novel. Learning to See will be releasing January 29, 2018.

About The Other Alcott

Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right. We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.  Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.  Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

SONIAH KAMAL: First author/book you read/fell in love with?

ELISE HOOPER: I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t think much about the authors behind them until I was about nine or ten and visited Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, MA. It sounds silly, but it wasn’t until I traipsed through her little bedroom and saw the desk at which she wrote Little Women that I realized that actual people wrote books and maybe I could write them too.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Depending on the time of day, I’m happy to unwind with an iced tea or cocktail.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?

Oh boy, how about the Constitution?

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

This is an unpopular opinion, but I’m not a huge fan of Wuthering Heights. I’ve tried several times and just can’t slog through it.

A favorite quote from your book 

“I long to turn back the clock and mend the rift between us, though now that I think on it, if I could go back in time when would I go back to? When was our relationship ever simple?”

Your favorite book to film?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, but I remember thinking that The Joy Luck Club adapted surprisingly well to the big screen.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

I have so many favorites! My daughter’s swim team practice is close to Island Books (Mercer Island, WA) so this is the independent bookstore that I visit the most. The staff is awesome and they always offer great book recommendations.

The one thing you wish you’d known about the writing life?

I held off on trying to write a book telling myself I needed to wait until life settled down and my kids got older. Well, it took a while, but finally I realized that life doesn’t settle down one bit as kids get older, it just changes. So I just dove in and started working and have been surprised by the delight I’ve taken in writing as my girls have developed as readers and writers. My daughters have seen my books take shape and I love that there’s no mystery about the creative process for them. They understand that if you want to produce something, you have to sit down and work on it for a long time. Creative work doesn’t just appear in a poof of special magic sparkle dust. It comes from hard work and a whole lot of elbow grease.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

I’m not sure yet because I only have one book out, but I can let you know after Learning to See is released (January 29, 2018).

Dog, Cat, Or?

Dogs all the way.

Favorite book cover?

This is a tough one! I just got up and scanned my bookshelves. Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese is gorgeous. All of that gold? Mmmm.

Favorite song?

We’re still gaga for Hamilton at my house. I’m still trying to get all the words down to “Satisfied.”

Recommend a Small Press and Literary Journal?

Flights, the literary journal produced by students at the school where I teach.

Last impulse book buy and why?

A staff recommendation tag at Elliott Bay Book Company drew me into buying Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt a couple of weeks ago. It described it as a feminist Lonesome Dove and I was SOLD!

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Mike Chen: Here and Now and Then, a novel

Ruth Franklin: Shirley Jackson A Rather Haunted Life, biography

Colleen Oakley: Before I Go, a novel

Emily Midorikawa: A Secret Sisterhood: The literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, biography

Shabnam Samuel: A Fractured Life, memoir

Elise Hooper: The Other Alcott, a novel

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel

 

 

Bearing Too Many Burdens: BEYOND BOLLYWOOD, THE SMITHSONIAN EXHIBIT ON INDIAN AMERICANS

by Sushumna Kannan

Beyond Bollywood is a promising title–to go beyond a culture’s stereotypes is as hard as any task could get. As we walk through this much-awaited exhibit on Indian Americans that is currently showing across different cities in the US and will do so until 2020, we realize that perhaps we expected a little too much of the title. For, in attempting to rid ourselves of one set of stereotypes, we often find them replaced with others—others that are somehow better or more positive stereotypes to have than the older ones. This is not to say that Beyond Bollywood is less important and could have been given a miss. Instead, in Beyond Bollywood, we witness a genuine and deep struggle to redefine a community against the current of simplistic, consumerish, dismissive understanding. However, such a redefinition is too arduous a task.

To replace Bollywood with a more realistic understanding of Indian Americans, the exhibit invokes yoga, fusion music born in the US with bhangra and hip hop, Indian art forms, festivals, Indian American doctors, dentists, engineers, motel owners and more. With orange-pink displays of catalogs accompanying large and small photographs–the exhibit is alluring and sleek. It is complete with multimedia installations that allow us to listen to music, watch videos and such. It has a hodge-podge of showcased items ranging from Indian jewelry, footwear, idols, lamps, postcards of miniature paintings, crafted jewelry boxes, musical instruments and other knick-knacks.

In a display titled, Desis, united we stand–a narrative on the aftermath of racial profiling of desis and protests against it is recorded. The “we” here is a proud Indian American community somewhat inclusive of other South Asians. The “we” includes second generation Indian American kids born in the US as well as Indians who migrated a generation ago and still are. This kind of clubbing of a large and diverse set of people makes it hard to understand who the intended viewer of this exhibit might be. The intended viewer appears to shift from the Desi community, to the second-generation kid to White Americans who eye us suspiciously in malls, parks and neighborhoods. While the exhibit is celebratory for the first two groups, it is informative for the last. Yet, it is not clear if talking of yoga and henna helped take the conversation forward.

In an accompanying display titled “divided we fall,” we are shown desis demonstrating for women’s rights and LGBT rights and protesting against racial discrimination, domestic violence. This nicely contemporizes the community’s involvement in American society, displacing the stereotype of the placid and safe Indian American. In a display titled “Let’s Dance,” again a celebratory tone takes over— “America has embraced Bollywood style dancing…” In a display titled “Freedom of Religion,” is another celebratory note on how diverse Indian Americans are. Yet, the true reference of this celebration is India itself–not just the fact that we enrich American landscapes with different architectural structures. Often, this reference back to India is missing. This leaves us feeling somewhat inadequate about the display…like we might have just heard one half of a sentence with ellipses at the end. An underlying assertion in this display is that Indian Americans are indeed a part of America–which is tragic because a number of White Americans do not think so–this sentiment of rejection accentuated by Trump’s recent policies.

In a display titled, “Freedom Here and There,” there is reference briefly to India and its freedom’s struggle. It reveals interesting facts about early immigrants who connected the struggles for freedom in India from British as well as their own for “dignity and rights” in the USA. More history on early immigrants from Punjab is intriguing. The history of Bhagat Singh Thind’s citizenship is extraordinarily fascinating. Yet, the ones on Spelling Bee, Cab drivers, motel owners and the like introduces Indian Americans to White Americans too sporadically rather than telling a more complicated story and capturing the less celebratory aspects of Indian Americans with dignity. A display on the American stereotypes on India with an update on how Indian Americans now play themselves onscreen and Bollywood has taken a hold in America is another celebratory voice. A display asking, “Who are Indian Americans?” kind of shifts to the White American as the intended audience, taking on the burden of providing information.

Beyond Bollywood has many interesting and arresting moments but no one vision that holds it together. It does not talk abou the uncomfortable and the celebratory voice loses its charm after a point. It could have, for instance, talked about how Yoga has adapted to America, with most teachers being non-American Indian. Or even invoked controversies about Yoga’s religious nature which parents often object to in schools. There could have been something more on Indian contributions to science and philosophy that connected to Indian Americans and something more on Indian dance forms–they appeared to lack details of the spiritual basis that is their bedrock. Arranged marriage, dowry and caste system should have been explained–unflinchingly, even if our theories of these appear impoverished, embarrassed, apologetic and un-decolonized at the moment.

How Indian Americans feel and relate should have been explored instead of an enumerative catalogue. The enumeration makes us wonder if nothing has changed since the British history of India at all and if India’s diversity still unnerves the western mind. At least, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, one sees an explanatory note on the excessive classification and categorization that was thought to produce knowledge. There should have been a mention of the summer holidays that second generation Indian American kids spend in India, what they love and hate about them, the parent-child conflict, the H4 work visa issue, immigration as such, home-sickness even when mostly at home in America and so on.

Lacking all these diverse narratives undercutting each other and offering only one grand narrative on Indian Americans, the Smithsonian’s curation of Beyond Bollywood reads like the State’s narrative through a government spokesperson who aims to please one and all and educates and informs in a diplomatic manner as well. On the whole, the exhibit bears too many burdens all at once–of being current, proud and useful. Despite this, the exhibit is timely, not because there is a rich narrative played out but because there is widespread ignorance about Indian Americans in American society, in 2018–more than a full century after the East and West met as never before, in the 19th century!

(this article originally appeared in Matters of Art)

 

Dr. Sushumna Kannan is teaches in the Dept. of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. She is Senior Book Reviews Editor at Jaggery Lit.  

Drunk on Ink Q & A with Jennifer S Brown and ‘Modern Girls’ a novel

Drunk on Ink is a blast interview series by Soniah Kamal author of  the novel Unmarriageable a parallel retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in contemporary Pakistan

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of the novel Modern Girls. She has published fiction and creative nonfiction in Fiction Southeast, Cognoscenti, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, The Southeast Review, and Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her essay “The Codeine of Jordan” was selected as a notable essay in 2012’s The Best American Travel Writing. She has a BFA in film and television from New York University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington, Seattle. This makes her uniquely suited to write film reviews, which would be great if she hadn’t stopped going to the movies when her kids were born

About Modern Girls

Modern Girls is the story of what happens when, in New York in 1935, an immigrant mother, Rose, and her unmarried 19-year-old daughter, Dottie, both discover they’re pregnant. The news upends their lives: Rose had eagerly anticipated returning to the political activism of her youth, and Dottie, with a promotion at work, had great career ambitions. With war on the horizon and traditions to uphold, the two must wrestle with their beliefs and their consciences as they decide how to reconcile their longings with the realities of this new modern world in which they live. Kirkus Reviews called Modern Girls “a clear-eyed view of the sharp, difficult choices facing women on the cusp of equality.”

SONIAH KAMAL:First author/book you read/fell in love with?

JENNIFER S. BROWN: I was a voracious reader as a child so picking the first is difficult.  I would say the books of Judy Blume, but that feels a little cliché and I can’t be sure that’s correct. I also loved Anne of Green Gables, the Nancy Drew books, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The first book I was passionate about, though, was a picture book that was read to me, Beady Bear . Reading it now though (as I still have my childhood copy), the message is terrible. Beady Bear, a wind-up toy bear, goes off to explore but gets stuck when he winds down. So the message is don’t be adventurous because you’ll end up scared and alone and in need of rescuing? Eek!

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Bourbon! And more specifically the bourbon drinks my husband makes, which depending on mood, is either a Black Manhattan or a Sazerac.

A novel, short story, poem, essay, anything you believe should be mandatory reading?

The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

Any classic you wished you’d pushed through in your teens?

I still have not read Wuthering Heights nor Jane Eyre. I own copies of both and they stand, forlorn, in my to-be-read pile. Both are on the top of my “summer books” pile. Alas, I will admit, it’s not the first summer that they’ve been on top of the pile.

A favorite quote from your book 

“…I realized that what takes just a moment in time can be stitched into an entire story that lasts an entire lifetime, can be tattooed and never forgotten. That one moment would stay with me across continents and oceans; through marriage and deaths; against the distance of decades, and that one moment is as real and current as the feel of my sweat on a August day or my son’s hand tugging on the bottom of my dress or a kiss from Ben under cover of the dark on a Shabbes night.”

Your favorite book to film?

In general, I’m not a huge fan of the book to film. I prefer either to watch the film or read the book. Invariably, when I do both, I’m disappointed. However, the one time I was completely enamored by both a book and its film (well, a mini-series) was Middlemarch (trailer). The miniseries on PBS enchanted me and didn’t suffer in comparison to the novel by George Eliot.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Indie books stores are my happy place! For many years, my favorite local indie was Porter Square Books. Porter Square Books is still dear to me, but my loyalty is now divided because an amazing new bookstore even closer to my home has opened, Belmont Books

The one think you wish you’d known about the writing life?

That being published is not a panacea. Don’t get me wrong: I’m beyond thrilled my novel, Modern Girls, is in the world. But it wasn’t a magical key to happiness and it doesn’t make writing books any easier and it doesn’t make me feel like an accomplished writer. I’m still struggling now as I did before.

Does writing/publishing/marketing get any easier with each story/novel published?

Gads, no! In fact, I think it makes it harder because now you have these little voices whispering, “Is it as good as the last one? Will your readers like it? Will your agent like it?” Before being published, I only had to worry about what I thought. I’m learning to tune out those voices, but it’s challenging.

Dog, Cat, Or?

I’m desperate to own a cat but my husband, daughter, and mother are all allergic, and apparently it’s bad form to make your family sick.

Favorite book cover?

This version of Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  is so gorgeous, I had to be talked out of buying it, as a different version included the sequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. While I like that cover too, I’m still tempted to buy the first version simply to display on my shelf. (And if you haven’t read these, they are magnificent windows into life in the 1920s and totally fun reads.)

Favorite song?

Right now I’m grooving on “Havana” by Camila Cabello, because the sound reminds me so much of home (Miami Beach, Florida). However, I also adore the old jazz standards, and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s “They Can’t Take that Away from Me” always gets me singing (which isn’t necessarily a good thing—I’m a terrible singer).

Ideal Vacation?
I’m a city girl through and through, and while I’m charmed by the idea of sitting by a lake with a book, I’m happiest when I’m simply wandering a city, discovering new things. As I write this, I’m in New York, and I’m dragging my husband around to simply look at buildings. Because I’m enamored of history (and hence historical fiction), I like knowing what was here before. The New York Public Library has a web site and app called OldNYC.org. It’s a map of New York and you can look up any corner and find archival photos from the NYPL digital collection. We’ve been wandering the Lower East Side, stopping every block so I can see what it looked like in the 1930s and 1940s (yes, I’m a geek). I love seeing the tidbits of history that remain.
Favorite painting/art? 
My mother is an artist and I grew up surrounded by artwork. She earned both her BFA and her MFA in sculpture when I was a child. While other mothers in South Florida worked as lawyers or stayed at home baking cookies, my mom learned how to weld. I’ve visited countless museums and I could name a million pieces I love that everyone is familiar with (and I especially love those that now charm my children; my daughter and I have made it a point to visit as many Degas “Little Dancer” sculptures as we can), my mom’s work is my favorite. Of all of her work, the one that sparks my imagination the most, is an installation called Seduction Forest 
Literary Festival Anecdote?
I can’t tell my favorite anecdote, because it involves naming names, and I don’t think I can do that. 🙂 However, I will tell my most disastrous reading: I flew to Florida (from Boston) for a talk/reading. On Wednesday, November 9, 2016. Oy! Of course I’d had no sleep the night before, as I’d been up late and then I couldn’t sleep so I was up early. What I remember most from that day is not the reading, but seeing the “Trump Triumphs” headlines on the New York Times. The turnout was, understandably, small, and the folks at the venue were so flustered they hadn’t made arrangements for my presentation to be projected. So numb with shock, without my visual aids, to a very small room, I gave my talk, which, considering it’s about reproductive freedom and immigration to the U.S., felt hauntingly timely. The audience was lovely. The organizers apologized and said they normally get a larger crowd, but I assured them, if I hadn’t already said I’d be there, I’d have been at home, curled up in a fetal position. That was a tough one!
Favorite Jane Austen Novel and screen adaptation?
I don’t mean to be a cliche, but Colin Firth! I watched that Pride and Prejudice, I don’t know how many times, just to see Colin Firth in that wet shirt. 

Favorite Small Press and Literary Journal?

I subscribe to a teeny-tiny journal called Inch, put out by Bull City Press. I mean teeny-tiny quite literally. It’s eight pages long and isn’t much bigger than my hand.  The prose is under 750 words and the poetry not longer than nine lines. Flash fiction is an obsession of mine, so it’s exciting when a new issue arrives in my mailbox.

Last impulse book buy and why?

Amy Bloom’s White Houses. I’m working on a novel based on a real person, and although I have a gigantic stack of books based on real people (wonderful books! The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict, Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman, Euphoria by Lily King…), when I saw the book on the new release table at Belmont Books, I couldn’t resist. I’ve read about Mrs. Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok in Loving Eleanor, but I was interested in a new take on it.

Soniah Kamal is an award winning novelist, essayist and public speaker.  Soniah’s novel Unmarriageable is a Financial Times Readers’ Best Book of 2019, a People’s Magazine Pick, a Library Reads Pick, an NPR Code Switch Summer Read Pick, a 2019 Book All Georgians Should Read, a 2020 Georgia Author of the Year for Literary Fiction nominee and more. Her novel An Isolated Incident was shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Soniah’s TEDx talk is about second chances and she has delivered numerous keynotes addreses. ‘We are the Ink’, her address at a U.S. Citizenship Oath Ceremony, talks about immigrants and the real American Dreams, her keynote at the Jane Austen Festival is about universality across time and cultures and she’s given keynotes at Writers Conferences. Soniah’s work has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Georgia Review, The Bitter Southerner, Catapult, The Normal School, Apartment Therapy and more. www.soniahkamal.com
She’s on twitter and instagram @soniahkamal

More Drunk on Ink Interviews:

Anne Boyd Rioux: Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, non fiction

Devoney Looser: The Making of Jane Austen, non fiction

Kristen Miller ZohnThe Currency of Taste- Gibbons Georgian Silver, coffee table book

Vanessa HuaA River of Stars, novel

Chaitli SenThe Pathless Sky, novel

Sonya HuberPain Woman Take Your Keys, memoir

Kathy Wilson FlorenceThree of Cups, a novel

Sara Luce LookCharis Books and More, independent book store

S J SinduMarriage of a Thousand Lies, a novel

Rosalie Morales KearnsKingdom of Men, a novel

Saadia FaruqiMeet Yasmin, children’s literature

Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder, a novel

Jamie BrennerThe Husband Hour, a novel

Sara MarchantThe Driveway has Two Sides, memoir

Kirsten Imani KasaiThe House of Erzulie, a novel

Thrity UmrigarThe Secrets Between Us, novel

John Kessel, Pride and Prometheus, novel

Lisa Romeo, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love After Loss

Rachel May, An American Quilt: Unfolding a Story of Family and Slavery

Rebecca Entel, Fingerprints of Previous Owners, novel

Jamie Sumner, Unbound: Finding from Unrealistic Expectations of Motherhood

Falguni Kothari, My Last Love Story, novel

Tanaz BathenaA Girl Like That, YA novel