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Drunk on Ink Q & A with S. Kirk Walsh and ‘The Elephant of Belfast’, 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

Kirk Walsh is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her work has been widely published in the New York Times Book Review, Longreads, StoryQuarterly, Electric Literature, among others. Over the years, she has been a resident at Ucross, Yaddo, Ragdale, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Walsh is the founder of Austin Bat Cave, a writing and tutoring center that provides free writing workshops for young writers throughout Austin. The Elephant of Belfast is her debut novel; it will be published by Counterpoint Press on April 6th, 2021, and by Hodder/Hachette in the Commonwealth, the UK, and Ireland in April and September 2021. She is at work on a second novel about Detroit during the Forties and Fifties.

About The Elephant of Belfast

Belfast, Northern Ireland, October 1940. Twenty-year-old zookeeper Hettie Quin arrives at the city docks in time to meet her soon-to-be charge: an orphaned three-year-old Indian elephant named Violet. As Violet adjusts to her new solitary life in captivity and Hettie mourns the recent loss of her sister and the abandonment of her father, new storm clouds gather. A world war rages, threatening a city already at odds with the escalating tensions between the British Loyalists and those fighting for a free and unified Ireland. On April 15th, 1941, Belfast is attacked for five hours, with 674 bombs falling, and almost a thousand civilians being killed. During the bombings and its aftermath, Hettie does all that she can to save her elephant, and survive the destruction and escalating sectarian unrest of the city. Even though Hettie is still only twenty years old by the novel’s end, she’s aged at least a decade, her life and perspective transforming in tragic and unexpected ways. Taken altogether, The Elephant of Belfast reflects a complicated portrait of loss, grief, love, and resilience.

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

S. KIRK WALSH: I was late to reading because of learning disabilities. I started reading in earnest during my teens one summer; it was the horror series, starting with Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews that got me going. Much later, I read the skillful short stories by Steven Millhauser, and one might argue that his memorable story “The Room in the Attic” falls somewhere on the same thematic continuum as Flowers in the Attic. (I’ve read this Millhauser story multiple times because it’s a memorable romance where the two teen characters never touch and barely see each other in the attic’s darkness.)

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Cortado.

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

The Autobiography of Red  by Anne Carson. This slim volume demonstrates how the power of storytelling and prose can defy category and move the soul deeply.

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

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

 Favorite quote from your book 

Page 179

(when the bombs are falling near the zoo): “The animals’ calls gained more definition. The growls of lions and leopards. The roars of the black bears. The cackles of the hyenas. The shrieks of the monkeys and baboons. The brays of the sea lions. It was as if a call and response were taking placing between the animals, and the shadows and darkness transformed into its own sort of mythic cathedral with all its devout congregants praying in their distinctive tongues at the scared altar of their greater animal god with hopes of reaching a higher state, a higher consciousness, so they could endure this suffering of higher proportions. They were singing, singing to something.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

Ice Storm, watch. The film and the novel by Rick Moody both live up to each other.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Bookpeople and Malvern Books in Austin, Texas; Literati in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Three Lives Bookstore and Corner Bookstore in New York City.

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

Most of the time, your family won’t read your work, so don’t worry too much about how they might react. On the more practical side of things: Open a retirement account early (whether you have a job or not).

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

Yes, a little. It’s nice to have readers, individuals who are waiting for the next publication and asking how your work is coming along. This will be my first novel published, so it will be a new experience. That said, each project is different and I feel like I’m always learning something new about myself and the writing process.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Cat!

Ideal vacation?

I like to write in the mornings and hike in the afternoon. (Thankfully, my husband likes to do the same!)

Favorite book cover?

I love The Night Guest by Fiona MacFarlane. Trinity by Louisa Hall. More recently, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. And in April 2021, Elizabeth McCracken has a new story collection, The Souvenir Museum, coming out with a balloon dog on its cover. It’s quite amazing (and I can’t wait to read).

Favorite song?

“Romulus” by Sufjan Stevens. It reminds of the airport in Detroit (my hometown) and the brokenness of my mom (she passed away this year and suffered with mental illness for many years).

Favorite painting/ work of art?

The works featured in the Cy Twombly Gallery at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. The building was designed by Renzo Piano, with an overhead design that diffuses natural light through a sailcloth ceiling and change the quality, light, and color of the paintings. For me, visiting this minimalist space—and taking in Twombly’s epic works—verges on a spiritual experience.

Cy Twombly Gallery, The Menil Collection

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

Over the years, I’ve moderated at the Texas Book Festival many times. This coming year will be the first time that I will be an author. In 2019 (the last time the festival happened in person), I met three individuals in quick succession at a cocktail party: Pamela Paul (the editor of the New York Times Book Review), Samantha Power (who was wearing a beautiful emerald green velvet blazer), and Thomas Mallon. I got a chance to chat with Thomas Mallon and it was very inspiring to hear more about his thoughts on being both a book reviewer and a novelist. A lot of people don’t think the two can coexist, but he believes that the two disciplines are essential to one another—one must read professionally to write professionally. This has been my approach, too: I took a class in graduate school taught by E.L. Doctorow called “The Craft of Fiction,” where Doctorow taught me how to become a close, critical reader, and this inspired me to become a book reviewer so I could continue this conversation with literature after I finished graduate school. It was validating to hear this from a critic/writer who I admire so much.

Do you have a favorite film, or two, or three?

The Celebration by the Danish director Thomas Vinterberg (he was apart of the Dogma 95 movement and following its strict rules of filmmaking). The story converges on a patriarch’s sixtieth birthday celebration and animates the hidden traumas and fissures of this extended family with a rare kind of emotional intelligence and deftness. Watching the film is like an emotional sock in a stomach. I also love The Best Years of Lives (1946) directed by William Wyler about three World War II vets returning to civilian life in their hometown after experiencing much action and trauma on the frontlines. First-time actor Harold Russell won the Academy Award for his performance (he returns home with no arms and uses mechanical prostheses; Russell lost both his hands while teaching detonation work and a defective fuse going off while he was handling it).

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

Pride and Prejudice. I love the character of Elizabeth Bennet. Favorite adaptation: Sense and Sensibility watch (1995 directed by Ang Lee).

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

American Short Fiction, an excellent literary journal out of Austin, Texas, which publishes emerging and established fiction writers.

Last impulse book buy and why?

Sleepovers: Stories, a debut collection by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips and published by Hub City Press. One of my students recommended 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:

Savannah Johnston, Rites, short story collection

Sonora Jha, How To Raise a Feminist Son, non-fiction essays

Ilana Masad, All My Mother’s Lovers, a novel

Eman Quotah, Bride of the Sea, a novel

Awais Khan, No Honor, a novel

Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society, a novel

M. J. Irving, Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice, YA novel

Saumya Dave, Well Behaved Indian Women, a novel

Aruni Kashyap, There is No Good Time for Bad New, poetry collection

Gayatri Sethi, Unbelonging, a memoir

Jenny Bhatt, Each of Us Killers, short story collection

Nancy Johnson, The Kindest Lie, a novel

Yousra Imran, Hijab and Red Lipstick, a novel

Sejal Shah, This Is One Way To Dance, memoir

Madi Sinha: The White Coat Diaries, a novel

Chika Unigwe, Better Late Than Never, short story collection

Anju Gattani: Duty and Desire, a novel

Christopher Swann: Never Turn Back, a novel

Zetta Elliott: A Place Inside of Me, middle grade fiction

Veena Rao: Purple Lotus, a novel

Tara Coyt: Real Talk About LGBTQIAP, non fiction

Maureen Joyce Connelly: Little Lovely Things, a novel

Molly Greeley: The Heiress, historical fiction novel

Donna Miscolta: Living Color, short stories

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 Savannah Johnston and ‘Rites’, short stories

Drunk on Ink is an 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.

Savannah Johnston is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, HTMLgiant, and Gravel, among others. She lives in New York City.

About Rites:

In this collection of short stories that focuses on the modern-day experiences of Indigenous people living in Oklahoma, Johnston documents the quiet sorrow of everyday life as her characters traverse the normalized, heartbreaking rites of passage such as burying your grandfather, mother, or husband, becoming a sex worker, or reconnecting with your family after prison; the effects are subtle, yet loud, and always enduring. Whether Johnston’s characters are coming of age and/or grappling with complex family dynamics, Johnston delivers the economy of loss and resilience that marks this post-colonial collection with biting, captivating prose that demands to be read from start to finish.

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

SAVANNAH JOHNSTON: I had a very strong love for The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland as a child. I suppose that says a lot about me and how reading was a literal escape for me to a different world. I was not blonde, white, or small (I was always super tall for my age until I maxed out when I was in sixth grade at 5’10) but I really identified with the feeling of being out of place and the idea of going to a new world and discovering my own power really spoke to me.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Water! Chai if we are feeling like we need a hug. For some reason chai brings me comfort, I can’t explain it.

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

I really do love The Way To Rainy Mountain. It was one of the first adult-oriented NDN stories I read and it really has a special place in my heart. And knowing that N. Scott Momaday was from where I was, that meant a lot.

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

I think I would have appreciated Great Expectations more in middle school, when I abandoned it, than when I powered through in college. It has all the drama I wanted as a middle schooler, and as a college student I just found myself cackling like, “This woman is just hanging out in her crumbling manor waltzing around in a WEDDING DRESS training a literal child as some kind of long con revenge? YES PLEASE but also, what the hell, Charles?”

 Favorite book to film? And why?

I’m going to go with Winter’s Bone. (book) Why? It managed to capture the spirit of the book and didn’t compromise for happy endings or any glossing over of the book’s core themes. The trauma is there and it is raw and on the screen.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

I love Books of Wonder despite not being a child or a YA author! Their shop is just delightful and the collectible books they have are to die for. I could never afford one but I just like looking at them.

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

I was a bit of an obsessive perfectionist for a long time (I like to think I’ve relaxed), and I wish I’d known how important it is to believe in and trust yourself. SOMEONE out there needs your voice, and part of the process is refining that voice and making the effort to get that voice out there.

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

This is my first book, so I’m not sure yet! I gave my mom the one contributor copy I got when I published my first story, and her dog ate it when she moved houses, so that is lost to the sands of time. I want to think it will get easier but I have an anxiety disorder, so that seems unlikely.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Dog and cat! My partner and I adopted our beloved Bruce one year after we lost our 14-year-old dog Charles. Bruce was only a bit over a year old when the pandemic hit, so he became really codependent on one or both of us being home all the time. My partner is a school teacher and my job takes me out of the house, so we essentially got our dog a kitten. Enter Diana! She and he bonded immediately and they are the best of friends. They tear up our apartment daily.

Ideal vacation?

My ideal vacation is anywhere with a river. I don’t trust lakes and the last time I was in the ocean a manatee zoomed by and my immediate thought was, “What is she running from?” I would like to see my murderer, thank you very much.

Favorite book cover?

I love the cover of the edition of Alice my middle school library had. It was probably printed in the 60s or 70s and had the original artwork of her glowering at the table with the Mad Hatter. I haven’t ever found a similar edition.

Favorite song?

This minute? Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U.” In general? My Chemical Romance, literally anything from their first album. Like pick a track, they are all iconic! When I was a kid, my sister and I used to drive around dumpster diving and listening to MCR and Panic (my car, my emo).

Favorite painting/ work of art?

“Melancholia” by Dürer. Hashtag same, Albrecht.

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

I’m not sure I have fans, per se. My grandma did tell me my book was dreary the day before she died. I said thank you.

Do you have a favorite film, or two, or three?

I love TV and movies. Anyone who really knows me will tell you my second best friend is TV. I can watch The Wizard of Oz, Empire Records, and any Mel Brooks film and you’ve got me happy for 90 minutes. Use your time accordingly.

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

This is embarrassing, because I don’t have a favorite film adaptation. Pride and Prejudice is my very obvious choice for favorite novel, but my visceral dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow ruined Emma for me. As a counter offer I submit Julie Taymor’s Titus.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Submit to Puerto del Sol! I worked on the magazine as a grad student and I can’t say enough about how great the team is!

Last impulse book buy and why?

The Maple Murders: A Riverdale Mystery. Because Riverdale.

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. 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:

Savannah Johnston, Rites, short story collection

Sonora Jha, How To Raise a Feminist Son, non-fiction essays

Ilana Masad, All My Mother’s Lovers, a novel

Eman Quotah, Bride of the Sea, a novel

Awais Khan, No Honor, a novel

Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society, a novel

M. J. Irving, Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice, YA novel

Saumya Dave, Well Behaved Indian Women, a novel

Aruni Kashyap, There is No Good Time for Bad New, poetry collection

Gayatri Sethi, Unbelonging, a memoir

Jenny Bhatt, Each of Us Killers, short story collection

Nancy Johnson, The Kindest Lie, a novel

Yousra Imran, Hijab and Red Lipstick, a novel

Sejal Shah, This Is One Way To Dance, memoir

Madi Sinha: The White Coat Diaries, a novel

Chika Unigwe, Better Late Than Never, short story collection

Anju Gattani: Duty and Desire, a novel

Christopher Swann: Never Turn Back, a novel

Zetta Elliott: A Place Inside of Me, middle grade fiction

Veena Rao: Purple Lotus, a novel

Tara Coyt: Real Talk About LGBTQIAP, non fiction

Maureen Joyce Connelly: Little Lovely Things, a novel

Molly Greeley: The Heiress, historical fiction novel

Donna Miscolta: Living Color, short stories

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 Sonora Jha “How To Raise a Feminist Son‘’, essays/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

SONORA JHA, PhD, is an essayist, novelist, researcher, and professor of journalism at Seattle University. She is the author of the novel Foreign, and her op-eds and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, The Establishment, DAME, and in several anthologies. She grew up in Mumbai and has been chief of metropolitan bureau for the Times of India and contributing editor for East magazine in Singapore. She teaches fiction and essay writing for Hugo House, Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, and Seattle Public Library. She is an alumna and board member of Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, and has served on the jury for awards for Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, and Hugo House.

Her latest book is How to Raise a Feminist Son: Motherhood, Masculinity, and the Making of My Family (Sasquatch Books USA and Penguin Random House India, 2021).

About How to Raise a Feminist Son

A love story that will resonate with feminists who hope to change the world, one kind boy at a time

From teaching consent to counteracting problematic messages from the media, well-meaning family, and the culture at large, we have big work to do when it comes to our boys. This empowering book offers much-needed insight and actionable advice. It’s also a beautifully written and deeply personal story of struggling, failing, and eventually succeeding at raising a feminist son.
Informed by the author’s work as a professor of journalism specializing in social justice movements and social media, as well as by conversations with psychologists, experts, and other parents and boys, this book follows one mother’s journey to raise a feminist son as a single immigrant woman of color in America. Through stories from her own life and wide-ranging research, Sonora Jha shows us all how to be better feminists and better teachers of the next generation of men in this electrifying tour de force.
Includes chapter takeaways, and an annotated bibliography of reading and watching recommendations for adults and children.

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

SONORA JHA: Like most South Asian children educated in urban, English-medium schools, I fell in love with Enid Blyton. The Magic Faraway Tree series held me in awe – truly, I was a little bit scared and yet compelled by the stories of encounters with wondrous people and experiences if you wandered away from home.

To unwind: chai, coffee, water, wine?

Chai forever. I grind fresh ginger every morning for my chai. The pounding in the mortar and pestle calms me and wakes me up at the same time. And my 4 p.m. chai is bliss.

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

The poetry of Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi. Because it’s about romance and revolution, two things no one should ever lose out on for a single day of their lives.

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

So many. So many.

Favorite quote from your book

“The first film I watched with my son was when he was one year old: Babe, about a pig. The last movie I watched with him just before he left for college was Stardust Memories, starring Woody Allen, so also about a pig.”

Favorite book to film? And why?

The Namesake. I love how filmmaker Mira Nair focused on Ashima, the woman, as the central character even though Jhumpa Lahiri’s protagonist was Gogol, the boy/man. I loved the book and the film.

Favorite Indie Book Store/s?

Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. I just feel so at home there. Even my dog is welcomed there. Oh, and Karen and Rick there love books so much, I can listen to them for hours talking about this book or that.

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

That there’s no perfect moment or ambience or mood or muse to draw good writing. You will have to steal an hour here or there until you realize that life itself is the writing life.

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

I think so. You get to know the rhythm a little better and also to expect the anxiety. I remind myself now to enjoy the process and let go of expectations.

Dog, Cat, Or?

Dogs forever.

Ideal vacation?

The beaches of Goa or Kerala. The Arabian Sea.

Favorite book cover?

Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.

Favorite song?

Who subah kabhi toh aayegi by Sahir Ludhianvi.

Favorite painting/ work of art?

Honore Daumier’s The Third-Class Carriage.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436095

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

On my Indian book tour for my novel Foreign, a woman in the audience asked me a strange question in Amritsar’s One Up bookstore. She asked me about a sentence in the book in which the protagonist says something like, “If pulling the rug from under one’s feet was so easy, better not to stand on rugs at all.” She asked me if this was something I had experienced in my life and I laughed it off and said no, it was all fiction, la la la. She asked if I’d write a memoir and I laughed that off, too. She said she would wait for that. So, yes, epiphany – she was urging me to write it and I realized I would.

Do you have a favorite film, or two, or three?

Mirch Masala (a #MeToo film before any other). Moonlight. Babe.

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

Sense and Sensibility, because it’s about women’s love and sisters and feminist leanings. The film adaptation by Ang Lee, in which Kate Winslet plays plays the younger sister, Marriane, is my favorite, because Winslet is riveting.

Recommend a Small Press and/or Literary Journal?

Sasquatch Books, even though it’s one of the leading independent presses in the country and owned by Penguin Random House, has retained the loving attention to authors and was such a pleasure for me to work with.

Last impulse book buy and why?

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, because I was craving words about the natural world and astonishment after the claustrophobia and monotony of a year in the pandemic.

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. 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:

Savannah Johnston, Rites, short story collection

Ilana Masad, All My Mother’s Lovers, a novel

Eman Quotah, Bride of the Sea, a novel

Awais Khan, No Honor, a novel

Natalie Jenner, The Jane Austen Society, a novel

M. J. Irving, Nova’s Quest for the Enchanted Chalice, YA novel

Saumya Dave, Well Behaved Indian Women, a novel

Aruni Kashyap, There is No Good Time for Bad New, poetry collection

Gayatri Sethi, Unbelonging, a memoir

Jenny Bhatt, Each of Us Killers, short story collection

Nancy Johnson, The Kindest Lie, a novel

Yousra Imran, Hijab and Red Lipstick, a novel

Sejal Shah, This Is One Way To Dance, memoir

Madi Sinha: The White Coat Diaries, a novel

Chika Unigwe, Better Late Than Never, short story collection

Anju Gattani: Duty and Desire, a novel

Christopher Swann: Never Turn Back, a novel

Zetta Elliott: A Place Inside of Me, middle grade fiction

Veena Rao: Purple Lotus, a novel

Tara Coyt: Real Talk About LGBTQIAP, non fiction

Maureen Joyce Connelly: Little Lovely Things, a novel

Molly Greeley: The Heiress, historical fiction novel

Donna Miscolta: Living Color, short stories

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