Shome Dasgupta created a lovely series in which writers talk about reading. Parisian writer Heather Hartley has contributed and so have I. It has been a pleasure to read how much reading means to others and I highly recommend Shome’s blog. Here, Shome talks about where he got the idea for the Writers on Reading series and his own book.
Can you tell us about your book i am here and You Are Gone?
Oh, it’s about two friends, and their stages of growing up between kindergarten and twelfth grade. It’s about their relationship with each other as they are finding out more about themselves and each other, whether they want to or not (I think). And while I have the chance here, I just want to thank Outsider Writers Collective and Press again for giving me a venue to share this story.
What is the first line of the book?
Mrs. Jasker was Jonas’s kindergarten teacher.
What prompted you to start collecting authors’ thoughts on reading? How many authors have you featured?
Well, there are at least a couple reasons. One, the idea of it just randomly popped into my head, and I thought it would be neat to collect a variety of thoughts on reading by a spectrum of writers in the same way we collect writers’ thoughts on writing. I also thought it would be a nice way to help promote writers and their works. The experience has been really great, and I’m so thankful to those who have already contributed – it’s up to about 150 authors so far. And I also thought it would be another way for people to share their thoughts on what has been a part of their lives since childhood, for the most part. It has been really fun – I’ve been able to meet a wonderful group of people, and I hope it continues to grow.
What books are on your nightstand?
I’m going through a re-reading phase right now – I recently re-read Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse, and I also have the screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums and Kōbō Abe’s The Box Man sitting next to me.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one – I’ve received a lot of helpful insights and advice from strangers to friends and family members to cats to fallen branches. And they all pretty much add to the concept of finding what makes you happy (or unhappy, if that’s what makes you happy) and trying your best to continue to find what makes you happy (or unhappy).
What advice would you give to writers?
Well, I don’t think I’m in that position to where I can offer solid advice to others as I think I’m still at a point where I’m constantly seeking advice from writers (and anyone else) in hope of gaining some experience and knowledge on this subject (and life). However, one thought that I’ve found really helpful is to try to figure out what is it, exactly, that makes you love a letter, or a word, or a sentence, or what is it that leads you to love the dearth of these elements.
I’m currently trying to find a place for a manuscript called Pretend I Am Someone You Like. And I’m trying to find a place for a children’s (or Middle Grade Fiction) manuscript called The Seagull And The Urn. There’s also this manuscript called Spectacles, a collection of linked mini-prose pieces, and I’m hoping to find a home for this one as well. I will be working on finishing up a collection of Indian-themed short stories, and I love to write shorter prose pieces and vignettes, which I’ll get into again – just trying to keep busy until Tentacles, Numbing comes out from Black Coffee Press in 2013. I’ll also be working on the On Reading Series. And reading, eating gumbo, and thinking about basketball and Tupac will always be a constant.