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Author Interview: Jayanthi Sankar

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Jayanthi Sankar, born and brought up in India, living in Singapore since 1990, has been creatively active since 1995. She is into her second book, her first novel after her critically acclaimed short stories collection – Dangling Gandhi was bestowed with the Literary Titan Award from the US, shortlisted and/or nominated by a few others. She’s been published in several magazines and ezines like the indianruminations, museindia, The Wagon, inOpinion. Her short stories have found places in various anthologies including 'the other'. She has been invited to participate in the panels of literary festivals such as (Asia Pacific Writers & Translators) APWT 2018 at Gold coast, Singapore Writers Festival, Seemanchal International Literary festival, Asean- India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Writers Festival. Also a watercolor artist, she has been a freelancer for more than a decade and a half, with a three years of experience in journalism.

Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?

Jayanthi Sankar: The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, The metamorphosis by Franz Kafka are a few of my many favorite short stories.

Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?

Jayanthi Sankar: Never listen to writing advice from others, writers or not, and just let loose your mind and create freely.

Ravi: Where do you write?

Jayanthi Sankar: Once I start on a theme or novel I tend to write all the time, while I go for my long walks, while I cook or do my other chores. Keying on my laptop eventually happens.

Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?

Jayanthi Sankar: Just as any fiction writer, I get my ideas and themes from my surroundings, what I hear, what I see, what I observe, what I feel, what I experience, what I empathize with, and whatever I happen to consume as news or posts.

Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Jayanthi Sankar: Both. The process exhausts me when I forget to be myself, becoming the character I create, and regardless of my satisfaction the resultant narrative mostly energizes me, moving me forward.

Ravi: How long on an average does it take you to write a book?

Jayanthi Sankar: The novel that is getting ready to be published took me almost three years, including the research, writing, rewriting, and editing and the novel that is WIP has been in me for a decade now although even chapter plan has not yet unfolded.

Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Jayanthi Sankar: I would perhaps read a lot more, live much more, observe more, and explore more than I had done.

Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?

Jayanthi Sankar: Many favorites include Malgudi Days by R K Narayan and the Enid Blyton series.

Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?

Jayanthi Sankar: Readers’ Digest

Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Jayanthi Sankar: I would love to give up my hesitations to ‘begin’.

Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?

Jayanthi Sankar: One complete ancient thread of my upcoming novel.

Ravi: Do you Google yourself?

Jayanthi Sankar: Never.

Ravi:Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Jayanthi Sankar: Mostly, my layered narratives are such that experienced readers can read/fine. They are not secrets but perhaps ‘unsaid words’.

Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Jayanthi Sankar: Reviews are reviews although we certainly know if it is genuine. Those that are not do drain away my positive energy. Constructive criticism helps me ponder and progress whereas praises make me reevaluate my work.

Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Jayanthi Sankar: Whenever I read works of fresh writings as I did of Adichie, and Meena Kandasamy, I do feel something like that.

Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?

Jayanthi Sankar: I pulled one short story out of Dangling Gandhi and I chopped off a lot in every short story.

Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?

Jayanthi Sankar: It is never constant. The beginning is always an issue for me, but once I begin I write all the time in my head, and it gets intense as I progress that I write even in the subconscious state.

Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

Jayanthi Sankar: I remain a part-time writer before, now, and always while I have always been a full-time freelancer plus part-time home manager.

Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Jayanthi Sankar: There are no constant time frames. It depends on the research topic and also till I get the satisfaction. The upcoming novel was supposed to have been completed in 2018 but it took the whole of 2019, mainly because I was so engrossed in my research that it extended a year more than I had expected. And let it happen.

Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?

Jayanthi Sankar: I believe reviews from genuine readers, though slow will take my book forward.

Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Jayanthi Sankar: One each of those two categories – upcoming and WIP.

Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Jayanthi Sankar: Publishing the first book changed not my process of writing by my understanding of the process of publishing.

Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Jayanthi Sankar: Just keep reading more and write less.

Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Jayanthi Sankar: With many author friends, I do get to learn much from them on the publishing, marketing challenges. My reading only helps me improve as a writer.

Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Jayanthi Sankar: I prefer to be original. I just can't be anything else. I could know that over the years of observing my creative self. Now, I’m watching my works, widely inferred by many as more suitable for seasoned /niche readers. I love to watch my readers grow as readers and grow with them.

Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?

Jayanthi Sankar: Take all advice from all around on post-publication activities but never any on the writing itself because finding out what suits me is part of the process of writing. I believe, it is never one fits all. Unless asked, I never give advice.

Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?

Jayanthi Sankar: New Yorker, museindia.

To Know more about Jayanthi's Dangling Gandhi check out this link

Thanks to Jayanthi for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.

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