New Delhi, Jan 17: Love and relationships stir the storyteller in her, says award winning 70-year-old author Shashi Deshpande while revealing that she still writes with a thick-nibbed fountain pen on smooth paper.
"All my books are about relationships - particularly this one which is about love between an adult man and an adult woman," Deshpande, whose new book, "In the Country of Deceit", has just hit the stands, told reporters in an interview here.
The Bangalore-based author, who is the daughter of celebrated Kannada dramatist Shriranga, has six novels and four children`s books to her credit. The Sahitya Akademi Award was conferred on her for her book, "The Long Silence", in 1988.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Your new book is about adult love. Are all your books themed on relationships and love?
A: All my books are about relationships - particularly the new one, which is about love between an adult man and an adult woman. Most of my novels emphasise love because I am fascinated by the idea of love. Devyani, the protagonist of my new book "In the Country of Deceit", falls deeply and passionately in love.
Relationships are not something one decides on. They happen naturally, especially adult relationships, and one must know what the consequences are and take responsibility for it. It is very difficult to judge if adult love is good or bad. Human beings always crave for love, even in death a dying man wants to hold someone`s hands.
Q: How did the novel (a Penguin India title) come about?
A: Devyani, the protagonist, came to me from an earlier novel and I knew that I wanted to write her love story this time. The process of writing the book and publishing it took me three-and-a-half years.
I always write in long hand with a thick-nibbed fountain pen on smooth paper. After two drafts, I fed the book to the computer.
Q: Is the quality of love different in adolescent, youth and maturity?
A: It is very difficult to distinguish love according to the level of mental maturity. A 60-year-old man or a woman can fall in love and behave like a child. People realise the true meaning of love only when they fall in love.
My novel is about adult love. Devyani, the protagonist, who chooses to live alone in the town of Rajnaur after her parents` death, falls in love with the town`s new district superintendent of police, Ashok Chinappa, who is much, married and- as both painfully acknowledge from the very beginning older - it is a relationship without a future.
In my book, the first thing the man tries to tell the woman is that I promise you nothing. But I stand outside your gate and cannot get you out of my mind. I think that`s the real sign of love.
Q: What are the kind of books do you like to read?
A: I read very adult books as a child like Jane Austen and plays by Leo Tolstoy. In school, I read authors like T.S. Elliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Walter Scott - all of whose works I loved. I read everything that I got hold of. My father, who was a famous playwright, gave me the freedom to read and think for myself.
I also love crime fiction by women authors like Dorothy Sayers and PD James. And of course Sherlock Holmes, which is a classic. But I think the new crime thrillers - the ones written by Patricia Cornwell - are too gory because the murders are mindless. I think the new crime fictions are a reflection of urban angst and loneliness.
Q: Do you think contemporary Indian writing in English is productive, prolific and qualitative?
A: I think it very productive. The country has a huge number of writers, but young writers have two problems. One - they are impatient. The minute they write a book they are in a hurry to take it to the publisher and make fame and fortune. They have no ideas about the realities of publishing. Publishers on their part have too many manuscripts and too many new writers. It is very difficult to judge young writers - you have to nurture a writer.
Q: What books are you working on at the moment?
A: I am taking a break, though mentally, I am working on another book. I plan to write a non-fiction for a change and one more children`s book, a genre, which I had given up since my children grew up.