Vijay Nair is the author of Let Her Rest Now (fiction, Hachette India, 2012), The Boss is Not your Friend (non-fiction, Hachette India, 2011), Master of Life Skills (fiction, Harper Collins India, 2006) and The Gloomy Rabbit and other plays (Drone Quill, 2003). His essays have been included in international anthologies. A recipient of the Fulbright Senior Research Grant and the British Council Charles Wallace Award, he was also awarded an US State Department Grant to attend the International Writers’ Program at the University of Iowa.
• Soaring into heaven moment:
When the damn thing is done. When I know the editor will not ask me to look at something in the manuscript again.
When I am convinced that I have done my best for the characters and it’s time to let go.
When they don’t disturb me in the middle of the night and I wake up in the mornings free.
• That infernal fire time:
The edits with the editor supervising. With this one, they started nearly two years after the manuscript had been submitted because the same publisher had brought out another book of mine last year.
I had to get reacquainted with the characters. A couple of them appeared dead to me even though they weren’t the ones to be murdered. I had to breathe life into them and that was exhausting.
• The purgatory point:
Let her rest now is a first person narrative of a girl in her twenties. I have never been a girl and it is a long time since I have been in my twenties…It was like doing a Tootsie on stage with the added baggage of foregone youth. But all my friends who whetted the manuscript found Neha to be real. That felt sacred…like I had done the right thing for her.
• ….years, …….drafts and ……….words thereafter, would you do this differently and again?
I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. I like some of the characters very much.
Doing it differently would mean getting into their heads through a different journey and that may change things in subtle and not so subtle ways. Like how we run into old friends in malls and airports and exclaim they have changed.
But if they had really changed, why do some things appear the same and why do we recognize them?
It’s all very complicated and depends on what I know about life at that point.
What does Viajy Nair the writer
• Fear the most?
The loss of ability to write. I don’t know if I am a good writer but I am a writer. Without the writing I am nothing.
I met a writer from South Korea when I went to attend the IWP, Iowa. She shared she was locked up in a mental asylum by the authorities for two years and not given anything to read and write because she had been a part of a student’s uprising against the regime. She survived all that, came out and wrote a book that won the highest literary prize of that country. But if I was locked up like that, I will die.
• Desire the most?
The usual. Loads of money. Loads of holidays. Fame. Recognition. Good Food. Good Wine. Good Friends. No suffering in old age. A better life for my son than I have had. A better world. No discrimination. No hunger. No poverty.
Please, writers are not special that way. They do a job just like everyone else and dream of the same things. What is special about writers? Nothing.
• Hate the Most?
Meanness. As I am growing older I am appalled at how much of meanness is present in this world. I used to think if someone had success, health and a caring family, the meanness disappears. It doesn’t.
Indians are especially mean. Just observe the way we treat anyone who is weaker than us. I hate meanness and when I find myself being mean, I hate myself too.