Author Interview with Emlyn Chand, Author of "Farsighted" BB's 2012 "The Book Pick" winner
Created By: BookBundlz
1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?
Oh, gosh! Um... James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ken Kesey – all enormously talented authors; all certifiably insane (and therefore they’d make interesting coffee house companions).
2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving would be my book pick, definitely. It has so many layers and entertains on so many levels. Also the characters in that novel seem more real than those from any other I’ve ever read. If I had Owen Meany with me, I wouldn’t be alone on said island. For the beverage, I’ll take fresh water, because the island is probably surrounded by salt water, and I need to stay hydrated (very pragmatic and boring, huh?). My food of choice would be ice cream. I looove ice cream, and let’s face it, I’m probably starving on this island, which means all those calories won’t go straight to my hips. This deserted island sounds fun—can we go there after the interview?
3. What are your secret indulgences?
The thing about me is this: I wear my heart and opinions on my sleeve. Therefore, none of my indulgences are really secret. I’m addicted to both YA and literary fiction. I’m also a huge fan of Glee, Big Bang Theory, and America’s Next Top Model. And Taco Bell, I love me some Taco Bell.
4. What about you would surprise your readers?
Up until quite recently, I was a shy and socially awkward person. I felt very nervous participating in social interactions and was constantly sticking my foot in my mouth and giving it a good chew. At some point, I adopted the policy fake it until you make it and forced myself into extraversion. Novel Publicity has really brought me out of my shell. I had to get over my social anxiety if I wanted my business to take off, so I did, and it did.
5. What is your perfect day as an author?
The perfect day has three things: a productive writing session, sugary and caffeinated sustenance, and letters from readers. I could get by with just the letters—finding someone has enjoyed your book enough to reach out to you would give any author a rush of warm fuzzies!
6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
Oh boy, that’s a toughie. I’d probably choose a heroine from nineteenth century British literature like Jane Eyre or Amelia Sedley (from Vanity Fair). There is something about that time period that is so romantic and enticing—maybe it’s the amount of time the characters spend reading, going to lavish parties, and playing charades. I would definitely put up with a crazy pyromaniac in the attic or a conceited tromp of a husband if it meant eventually finding contentment from within like these two ladies. I guess I remain a romantic at heart.
7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
I’m currently reading two fantastic indie books, The Spirit Keeper by Melissa Luznicky Garrett and Charlinder’s Walk by Alyson Miers. I also just finished I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I’m starting to get into science fiction so have been peppering that into my reading schedule—and I look forward to getting acquainted with The Left Hand of Darkness, Foundation, Dune, and Stranger in a Strange Land.
8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
Well, at the time, I still thought I was going to grow up to be a lawyer. That being said, I read a lot of Grisham, and A Time to Kill is and was my hands-down favorite.
9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
Oh so many! I run a 450-member book club in Ann Arbor that is devoted to reading the classics. Some of our best discussions have come from reading Lolita, Les Miserables, The Bluest Eye, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Life of Pi, Everything is Illuminated, Dracula, and—of course—last year’s BookBundlz winner, In Leah’s Wake.
About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
Oh yes, Farsighted definitely espouses some deep personal beliefs. First, the potential for good and evil rests inside us all, and no one is totally pure or villainous—Miss Teak even comes out and says exactly that during the course of the novel. Also things aren’t always what they seem, and we don’t always know what’s best for us. The very thing you desire most in the world can be the same thing that destroys you or usurps everything else that matters. Lastly, people are diverse with respect to cultures, ethnicities, and personalities. With Farsighted, I aimed to infuse the YA literary canon with a bit more color and complexity.
12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?
For each manuscript I write, I have one minor character who refuses to remain minor. These players take over the stage and throw-out my previous plans. In Farsighted, this character was Shapri. Most readers have claimed her as their favorite, but she was never intended to be a main character. She demanded it, and I’m so glad I listened!
13. If you were crafting a discussion question for book clubs to discuss about your book, what question do you think would generate the most discussion?
Farsighted does have a book club guide, which includes 17 questions. To me the most compelling items relate to what I like to call “psychic ethics.” Just because Alex can look into the future, does that mean he has a responsibility to share? To act? Also is evil a natural tendency of human nature, and what compels a character to act in a villainous way—is it an evil nature or simply misdirection? Many readers and reviewers also like to discuss the novel’s point-of-view. The protagonist Alex relates his tale in first person perspective; since he is blind, this means no visual details are incorporated in the novel.
About Your Writing Process:
14. What is your writing process like?
I begin with a seed of an idea and work out from there. With Farsighted, I started with Alex and created the rest of the story and characters to fit around him. Using the runes as a structural framework for this novel created an outline for me too. I’m a numbers person as well as a word person. I love things to be organized just so. If you set a stack of papers in front of me; I’m going to fuss with them until they are lined up in a perfect stack. It’s just the way I am. Shaping each chapter around a rune gave the story order, which made me feel happy and comfortable. Whenever I got stuck and didn’t know what should happen next, I was able to learn more about that chapter’s rune and get the inspiration I needed to continue. The runes themselves tell a story, one that is successfully completed. I felt that boded well for Farsighted.
15. What gets you in the mood to write?
I find I’m most productive when I force myself to write for a long block of time. I call this being a “writing hostage.” I just go to my local Panera when it opens at 6 AM, order a coffee and a sandwich, and start working. I stay there until around 3 or 4. I love the background noise and the constant availability of caffeine and munchies. Panera puts me in the zone!
16. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
My advice is this: Have fun with your writing. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your story and don’t try to fit either into some type of mold. Not every work HAS to be published, but every work will teach you something, and it will make you a better writer. Find the joy in writing, and you won’t go wrong.
And here’s some bonus advice that I’ve learned since becoming a career author: Something’s gotta give. If writing is important, you’ll move around other aspects of your life to get it done. You have to. Writing is not something you can do with just a little bit of effort. To get through the first draft, editing, what-have-you, you'll have to work hard! Yes, you could space it out over several years, but if you want to finish anytime this year, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. For me, this was less time with friends and family, less television, and less attention to my health (eating right and exercising).
In summary, passion, honesty, focus, and hard work—all key!