Woman behind India’s first paranormal English novel: Meet Karishma Attari
Shakespeare is her love. She is the upcoming writer of a paranormal novel, which, by her own admission, is the first paranormal novel in English in the country. That’s not where her passion for literature stops. She also runs two book clubs- Shakespeare for Dummies and The Super Readers Club. While Shakespeare for Dummies is for an older public, The Super Readers Club involved kids into reading and writing. We caught up with her for an interview about her novel and much more. Read on.
1. You have been a topper in your graduation and post-graduation studying English Honors. Were you always keen on academics and interested in literature?
I’ve always loved reading literature but I wasn’t particularly interested in academics until I got to college and had the choice of studying what I enjoyed. For me to care about something I have to relate to it and most subjects didn’t move me like English literature did.
2. What motivated your interest in arts, culture and literature?
I think we are born with a natural curiosity for things. I was fortunate to be in a household where rather than material things, art, literature and culture were talked about and appreciated. My father who is a chemical engineer can still out-quote me on Shakespeare, my mother has always been reading and writing herself.
For me to care about something I have to relate to it and most subjects didn’t move me like English literature did
3. Currently you are doing a lot of things at the same time like writing, story-telling, managing workshops. How do you manage your time between so many different jobs and personal life?
So I do a Shakespeare for Dummies workshop that gets people up and close with the Bard because I think it’s important to know where your literary, and language, and even popular culture heritage comes from. I run The Super Readers Club programme which gets kids interested in reading and writing. I review books for various magazines and newspapers and am currently working with Clap Clap Apps as Chief Storyteller. All of these activities enhance rather than take away from the writing experience in a way. I think the more authors have exposure to things the better it is. Everything you do eventually becomes material – and your personal life can be the best material there is!
I think the more authors have exposure to things the better it is.
4. You have reviewed books for many publications. What kind of books do you like to review most?
I love reading fiction so I’m always excited to get a novel. I like books that are literary or have some beauty of prose along with the plot and message.
5. Now you have authored a book- I See You which is claimed to be a paranormal novel. Not many Indian writers that too female writers have ventured into this genre. What made you base your novel on paranormal activities being a woman?
This is the first paranormal novel in English that I know about by an Indian author. I actually had a dream one night, about four years ago, about a teenage girl who seemed to have a dark secret she couldn’t explain. I think we are surrounded by secrets, some that we keep, others that are kept from us, and even those that we keep from ourselves. My curiosity about this 17-year-old was insatiable and I kept exploring to understand what had put her in such isolation.
6. For this genre, who are your favorite authors and why?
I love Anne Rice who writes vampire novels and builds up so much beautiful scenic background into her writing. Stephen King is awesome for his ability to write clear, focused and intent thrillers that are very suspenseful. I’ve also enjoyed the style of Shirley Jackson who relies so much on understatement and suggestion.
7. How much of your personal life echoes through the book?
Well, Alia, my heroine goes to St Xavier’s College just as I did. I think there are echoes of conversations I had, and moments I experienced, like when she meets an older man at a party and he intrigues her. But I am happy to report I was fairly ordinary and average in most respects while Alia is born with an extraordinary legacy. I did lose a friend to suicide in my teenage years and that made me want to revisit the past in the character Chris even though everything about his life is fictionalized.
8. What kind of response have you received as yet as a woman writing a thriller novel?
So far it has been pretty gender-neutral. There was one twitter follower who wrote something about how he would rather read my beautiful eyes than my novel – which was annoying!
9. What are the kind of books you would want the younger generation to read and why?
I think it’s important to read widely and well – especially books from other cultures and nationalities so that one’s knowledge, exposure and awareness of the world in all its variety is increased.
10. What do you do apart from writing in your leisure time?
I listen to music and enjoy exercising.