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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Author Interview : Chhimi Tenduf-La, author of ‘Panther' (Part 2)

Chhimi Tenduf-La
Read Up, the much awaited Second Part to Chhimi Tenduf-La’s Interview. Now, you can find out, the most challenging part of writing a book, like ‘Panther’, the character he felt most close to. 

It also contains how he felt the socio-political background of Sri Lanka affected his writing, and the next book, he has planned, Folks...

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

Indika in some ways because, like him, I was prone to taking some friends a little for granted when I was at school. For example, I had friends like Prabu who would do everything I said, which was convenient for me, but I probably didn’t realise this at the time.

Now the same friends do absolutely nothing that I say!

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Panther’?

Because I was touching upon very sensitive themes – like war – I had to be very careful not to offend either side of the divide. I wanted to make it clear that I was not taking sides, but I am pretty sure I will get criticised somewhere along the line. I have been asked a few times already why I needed to write about the war because it should now be forgotten. That’s one school of thought.

The other is that these things can never be brushed under the carpet because we cannot let the past repeat itself. Yet, to try to avoid all of this I wrote of a fictional terrorist group so that I am critical of war itself, not any particular faction.

I noticed that the political and social backgrounds along with the war had a deep influence on your writing, more so than they did in you first book. How did all these three affect your writing?

Sri Lanka is going through a very important part of its history. The war only ended 6 years ago, and it is critical that efforts are made to bring communities together.

I see the younger generation as being less affected by differences and thus, more likely to be able to unite the country. In fact, there are a number of youth based initiatives that are being put in place to help this. Thus, Panther is a story that reflects this and was why I wanted to base it around young protagonists.

What is the most fulfilling part, now that you have written your book?

I am not sure I feel a great deal of fulfilment. I always think I could have done something better. Also, after I complete one challenge, I start thinking about the next one. So I think more about what I will write next rather than what I have written.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

If someone told me I could have been the author I am today I would never have written. I had to believe I could become a much better author than I am. One day that might happen. People have always told me I should write a book, but I am sure everyone has heard that from someone.

I think when people say that they think it is easier than it is to get published. (If not for my agent, Kanishka Gupta, I would never have been published).

What is the next book that you have planned?

I started writing about a Sri Lankan who was adopted at birth, returning to reunite with her slightly odd birth mother. The idea is that this exposed some dark family secrets. I have put this on hold for now, because I have some pretty big things happening in my life.

More than that, I want to take a little longer over my next book as it has to be much better than anything I have written before. If it isn’t, I’ll trash it.

Which book are you currently reading?

'Me, Mia, Multiple' by Debashish Irengbam. This was just released by the same publisher as 'Panther' (HarperCollins India). 

I have only just started reading it, but I love it so far. A very original and quirky story told by an exceptionally gifted writer. I could not be more jealous!   

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