Here's part one of Discover 10 New Authors of Colour.
In this series, I'll be highlight exciting, new writers with great books for you to discover.
Today, I'm interviewing Smita Bhattacharya, author of He Knew A Firefly.
I reviewed this book over on Goodreads and, wow, was I impressed. Smita's writing style is wonderful. I hunted her down to ask if she would kick off this 'Discover...' series for me and was delighted when she agreed. Read on to find out more.
Six-year-old Akshara watches her mother die. At thirteen, she watches her best friend die. She's heartbroken, but their deaths don't surprise her. She has a secret ─ she can glimpse into the future of those she loves. For her it's not a blessing, but a curse; every life she touches is thrown into turmoil, friends abandon her, and she is overwhelmed by more guilt than she can bear. Then, one day, she sees her own unhappy fate.
Does Akshara bring upon her loved ones the misfortunes they blame her for? Will Akshara be able to save herself after she has lost everyone she loved? Or will she lose her sanity like her mother did?
A gripping, evocative, and sometimes surreal page-turner, He Knew a Firefly follows Akshara as she tries to light the dark, unknown pathways for her loved ones, before being ultimately consumed by the flames herself.
Ann Girdharry's View
A wonderfully written story - lyrical and poignant. I really enjoyed the poetic style of writing and it's not an exaggeration when I call the prose 'beautiful'. A rich, literary fiction spanning loyalties, relationships and tragedy, drawing on the cultures of India.
Akshara's beauty and magnetism are compelling. Behind this, the reader knows of her terrible loneliness.
Though, in places, I found the story lacked coherence as the author moves from one period in Akshara's life to another, this is a book I highly recommend. For those who seek depth and complexity in their characters and are not bonded to happy tales.
I asked Smita Bhattacharya to give us an inside view and tell us 'Five Things About Herself'.
Photoshot - Smita Bhattacharya
This is what she said -
1. I talk to myself and make up alternate stories all the time. Not only about what's happening to me or in my life, but also of people around me. So, if someone tells me they went to the supermarket, I am thinking in my head, oh, the supermarket...the veggies were all rotten...a swarm of locusts attacked...the plague's descending on us...the city's going to be shut down...expect to hear the announcement on flying drones...I should run and get my valuables...hide in the bunker I got made for such a day...so on and so forth. Straightforward is never fun.
2. I love blood and gore and everything evil and my friends have advised me more times than I remember to get my head examined. Okay no, I am not a psychopath, or I certainly hope not, though my future books are increasingly delving into the evil that is our mind. I manage to isolate myself from the scenes and witness it purely from a creative, what now? point of view. It's mind-boggling the number of ways murder can be committed although the human motives remain limited. Love, hate, jealousy. Occasionally, curiosity.
3. Women empowerment is a topic close to my heart as I believe it should be for everyone. We are strong, colourful, incredible creatures and often downplay our diversity in order to conform. This should change. We are not men and should not aspire to be. We should be as wonderful as we are. Emotional, caring, soft, vibrant. But I err...there are and should be no adjectives. We should celebrate who we are. No matter what. Never change for what the world thinks you should be. What a boring world then.
4. I prefer silences to chatter, like to travel alone rather than in a group and do not own a TV
5. I believe one can find joy in anything, no matter how destitute the life. All you have to know is, as long as there is another day, there is a possibility of magic.
For #2 in the series, I've invited a brand new author of 'a good tale for bad dreams'. It's a playful, dark story, appropriate for the Halloween season and for those of you with a strong disposition - see you then.