14 April, 2019

An #Interview with Kishwar Desai, the #Author of Simran Singh Series

It’s a wonderful feeling when you discover a book in a bookstore, one that not many might have picked up before, and fall in love with it. That was what happened with Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai, a crime fiction unlike anything I’d read before. When we saw her as one of the speakers at the Lit Fest, we requested for the opportunity to interact with her, and we were lucky enough to get it as well. 

Witness the Night paired a broken “detective” with a child suspect. Even reading this sentence, one can see that they are two contrasting characters. We wondered what the inspiration for the characters was, if it was something Kishwar Desai came across in real life or if they were completely a figment of her imagination. 

“I think all writers always draw upon reality,” she replies. “They write books which are sort of based on people they know, and this is my first novel. First novel you always take from real life. The person who is the child suspect was taken from a newspaper article that I read. I do not know the person but it was based on that. The detective was, yes, a figment of my imagination, but an amalgamation of a lot of people who I’m familiar with. Not any one person, but maybe two or three people.”

Though her debut was with a crime fiction, her novels have since covered a lot of genres. She has even written non-fiction as well. It’s not common that one author writes across genres. We wondered how she compartmentalizes her thoughts while shifting between genres. 

“I write only what I feel passionately about,” she replies without hesitation. “So it doesn’t matter really if it is a piece of fiction, or non-fiction. If the story interests me, if it has got a certain kernel of truth, something which I feel is unusual or unique in the story, something new which I can give to my readers, then I’m interested. The genre doesn’t really worry me too much, I would rather just pursue a good subject, and think of the best way of communication. If it is a novel that seems to work best, like for Witness the Night, I will write a novel. But if it feels like non-fiction is the best route, like for Jallianwala Bagh, where there was so much material that people don’t know about and writing as a novel, people might not believe it, I will put it across in a format where even school students or college students can read it or older people can read it and know that it is the truth.” 

When asked about if she has a favorite genre to write in, she responds, “No. I enjoy the subject and the genre comes naturally from the subject I’m writing on. The author needs to tell a story.”

These days, many translations are being considered for literary awards. We wonder if one of her novels might be translated into regional languages soon. 

“When people say translation, more often than not, it means translation from another language into English. I’m an English writer, so if there’s a possibility that it happens in reverse, that one of my novels is translated into a regional language, then of course I’d be thrilled,” she says happily. 

Special Thanks to Jaipur Literature Festival & Teamwork Arts for making this possible.