Do you ever wish you could be on an island paradise with your notepad and pen, or better yet a laptop with an ever-charged battery? How about in a place like this?
Or like this?
Yes, Mauritius would make a perfect writing retreat.
Pooben Narayanen is a writer who is lucky enough to live here. Of course, it’s not as if he’s on holiday 365/24/7, but almost.
I asked Pooben if he’d mind if I interviewed him and here, for your entertainment are the results.
*Note* I have borrowed some interview questions from other interviewers as I saw no need to “re-invent the wheel” and besides, individual answers will always differ.
Tell us about your work in progress.
Oh boy! I have been working on this book for a while now. It’s a children’s adventure story that takes place on Mauritius. I’ve changed the story about three times. Hopefully I will not change it again!
What was the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
The most demeaning thing was when a guy who couldn’t put two sentences together in English let alone speak it, told me that I had really bad English and I should go back to school. This is a guy whose writing I had to edit and rewrite every day. I kept thinking of Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York when he beats a guy up and tells him, “I’m going to teach you how to speak English.”
Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
Absolutely, so my reader can identify with the characters. I’m also hoping they’ll discover some people from a different part of the world who are not really that different from them.
What about the title of your novel?
The title is what will hopefully entice the person to pick up the book to read!
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
If my book takes off and I get to write others, I’m hoping there will be some hazards, so it makes it more exciting.
Tell us about where you live.
I live in Mauritius which is in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar and right now it’s winter. It is a popular destination for families and honeymooners. Although it is a tropical island, it’s well developed. There is a decent standard of living which keeps going up.
What is the best thing about living there?
What is the worst thing about living there?
The slow decay of the island’s natural beauty.
What’s your favorite fruit?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A good father and husband.
What is your favorite bedtime drink?
Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory?
Do you believe in a deity?
I do. He is called Ganesha Lord of Wisdom.
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Myself I guess!
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Patience and persistence.
Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?
Of course in Star Wars!
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a novel?
I’d have to say the biggest challenge is sitting down and writing. Speaking from personal experience, the ideas are in my head. I just need to write them out–to put them into words–but that can be a challenge.
Do you research your novels?
Yes I do.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
Major impact. My experiences growing up have a lot of influence.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to act as a responsible citizen. This was taught to me by two teachers who did not see their job as simply teaching in the traditional way.
Do you laugh at your own jokes?
Do you admire your own work?
I’ve never looked at my own work in that light.
What are books for?
Are you fun to go on vacation with? Why, or why not?
I’d like to think so; I’m open to exploring new places and then chilling out with a drink at the end of the day.
How do you feel about being interviewed?
It is interesting!
Why do you think what you do matters?
To take it to the basic level, it’s about taking care of my family. So it matters.
Have you ever found true love?
How many times a day do you think about death?
I am an avid newsreader and death is pretty much what you see all the time on the news. You can’t help but think what a family in Baghdad or the Congo is going through when they have lost a loved one due to violence. So it makes me think about it sometimes.
Are you jealous of other writers?
Not at all.
What makes you cry?
When I see pure happiness and love.
What makes you laugh?
My little boy and my wife.
What are you ashamed of?
I get distracted easily! Is that something to be ashamed of?
What’s the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
Pooben Narayanen continues to work on his youth novellette set on the paradise islands where he lives.
Thanks for the interview, Pooben. I wish you lots of success with your writing.