20 May, 2015

#Interview with C.G. Salamander, #Author of Palm's Foster Home for Peculiar Stories

About the Author:
It was exactly fifteen years ago that C G Salamander realized he was different from all the other Chinese Giant Salamanders. As a child C G Salamander hated living in the muddy crevices along the river banks, and so he decided to leave the Yangtze river and set out on a quest to find himself.

He spent days travelling across the vast terrains of china and finally reached the foothills of the Himalayas. With nowhere to go, and equipped with a childlike sense of wonder for a compass, C G Salamander began scaling the Himalayas where he would later enroll himself in a monastery. During his time in the mountains, he was taught how to read and write by foreigners who’d come to partake in the mountain’s rich culture and cheap herbage.

He spent most of his time in meditation, and eventually learned how to move objects with his mind.After spending a decade in the Himalayas, C.G Salamander traveled south to the city of Chennai, and has remained there ever since. He now spends his time telekinetically moving pens and pencils across paper.

Connect with the Author:
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Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
Ever since a very young age, perhaps when I was about six or seven, I wanted to be a writer. But then again, I also wanted to be an astronaut, a scientist, a business man, a teacher, and a king. In a way, it was a lot like standing in a crowded room with all these people who I wanted to be, and then one after the other everyone began packing their bags and leaving until at last it was just me and the writer.

What inspires you to write?
To be honest, I really don't know what inspires me to write. It's just something I've always been doing – like washing my hands or visiting the dentist. And I don't think I'd ever like to find the answer to that question, because what if it's something as dark and ominous as summoning spirits, or even worse, making bunnies cry.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Before my great uncle passed away he left me and my dog with a couple of matching amulets that can be used to open portals to different worlds. The portals stay opened for as long as the amulets touch each other, but if they're separated, we risk falling into something called an infinite crevice – an infinite crevice is basically a small tear in the fabric of the space time continuum (sort of like a black hole but much bigger). Thankfully we've been careful so far and have never let the amulets part. So anyway, it was during one of our adventures through the portal that we encountered a race of space emus that lay ideas instead of eggs. My dog and I harvested these eggs, carried them back home one at a time (they can be quite heavy), and then on one fine day we ate them because we were hungry. So to answer your question, for this particular story it took about three eggs combined with just the right amount of pepper – three pinches, no more no less. And, in case you’re wondering my dog’s a pug.

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I recently wrote a novella that I stashed away in my secret box before swallowing the key. I knew the minute I penned down the first word that I was writing something that would neither see the darkness of night nor the light of day. So what exactly did I write? Let’s just say it’s something that’s guaranteed to make the Marquis de Sade, Chuck Palahniuk and the pulpiest Indian writers hold hands and blush. And as for my novella, much like Schrödinger’s cat, it’s either alive or dead in a box that may or may not be filled with termites.

Tell us about your writing process.
I make it a point to write only when I’m completely alone. There are times when I write knowing full well how the story needs to end, and then there are times when I pen something down one word at a time and see where the story takes me. It’s a lot of fun to write without knowing where the story takes you, because if you’re lucky you’ll come up with something amazing, and if you’re not you’ll learn a valuable lesson.  

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene from the book is from Midori: Memoires of a Porcupine and it takes place just before Kemosabe the porcupine and Midori the armadillo meet each other for the first time. Kemosabe is fighting a large bear, and Midori is spying on him from the bushes. I think I like this scene because it’s the perfect underdog scenario, and it really makes you want to root for Kemosabe. I think I’d like to include that scene right here:
I find myself standing face to face with a bear, she is brown and she's ten folds my size, she growls at me and I suspect she can sense the fear of my inexperience. The tree is too far for me to make a run, I gaze directly at her, trying to remember my father's words, did he ask me to mourn, grunt, cough or wail? I'm not sure, I'll just have to pick one. She's intransigent about attacking me, and I shriek at her, clicking my teeth together. The bear looks confused, but not confused enough to leave me alone. She continues to amble her way towards me. We are within a few inches of each other, and I recall what my mother taught me – the triplication attack. I can hear her voice inside my head, and now I can see my moves in advance.
At first I exhibit my quills obtrusively, and start shaking them in a visible pattern; I search deep within myself and let out a distasteful stench, the bear looks more enraged than alarmed. She stands upright and uses her long heavy paws to pound on her chest (I suppose it's her way of letting me know she has long arms that can kill with just one strike). I respond to her threat by stamping my feet and growling back at her. She shakes her head violently and brings her feet back to the ground, I start clacking my teeth at her – I don't know why, but I just do – and it seems to work. The brown bear is fixated on my teeth. I notice a small hump on her back and she seems more cautious than before, the bear dawdles towards me and before she can open her mouth to growl, I turn my back on her and rush backwards. The she-bear's face is covered with quills, the battle is won.
I growl at the impaired bear, and she lets out a mellow, indignant grunt that could pass off as wailing in pain. 'There's more of where that came from' I try and tell her, but I don't speak bear, and even if I did, I doubt she'd understand colloquialisms from North America. The she-bear turns around and lumbers away speedily. I begin to relax, the connecting tissue that hold the quills to my back begins to soften, my quills decline to a slant.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Almost all of them have inherited a great deal of awkwardness from me.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have this thing where I feel like the most powerful person on the planet for exactly 10 minutes after I’ve finished my story. There has been more than one occasion where I have roared and pretended to be a T-Rex within the privacy of my house.

What is your usual writing routine?
It completely depends on what I’m writing. But mostly, I prefer writing during the nights.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read quite a bit actually. My favorite living writers are Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, and my favorite dead writers are Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and the recently deceased Sir Terry Pratchett.
Sir Salman Rushdie has influenced the way I incorporate colloquialisms into my writing, while Margaret Atwood has shown me how to tie things up towards the end of a story. Oscar Wilde and Terry Pratchett along with an ensemble of other prominent humorists have challenged the way I view the world, and I owe some of my darkest pieces to Edgar Allan Poe.      

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Every word that you write should do one of two things: it should either reveal character or move the story forward. This was something Kurt Vonnegut said on writing stories, although I might be paraphrasing.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Write a lot, read a lot more, and always make sure you have something to say.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I’d like my book to be staged as a low production annual play in some obscure school in Tamil Nadu. My book’s filled with a lot of fun characters and it would be amazing to watch a bunch of children perform it.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A cow and a couple of sea cows (do the cows get to carry things as well?)

How do you spend your free time?
I spend a lot of time making knock knock jokes.
Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay
Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay who?
Debdatta Dasgupta Say hi and invite me in already! It’s freezing out here!

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I’ve always wanted a cow for a pet; maybe I could get one someday. Or even better, I could get an entire herd.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I can hold spoons in my eye sockets
- I know the value of pi till the 100th decimal place
- And I can go on for months without meeting anyone  

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently working on a couple of comics and a short graphic novel. I’ve also started working on a children’s book that I’ve been typing with my fingers crossed.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
A cup of tea and some chocolate chip cookies, I’ll get the tea and you bring the cookies.

About the Book:
NIGEL THE LAST BRIT IN INDIA
There is chaos and pandemonium in the streets of Madras, and it is up to Nigel (an officer of the Imperial Police) to restore order to the city... only he hasn't quite learned about India's Independence. Yet.

GAYATRI AND THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY VEGETABLES
When the newest and most successful religion (Cabbagism) threatens to bring about the destruction of the world, it is up to a melancholic zombie and a collection of rowdy farm animals to save the earth.

ALIENS, DINOSAURS, PORCUPINES
A porcupine, after setting out on a journey away from home, falls in love with an armadillo.

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