Archana Prasanna is a Washington, DC native, but has experienced living in England and India. Growing up around the world has been a source of inspiration for her writing. Archana has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech and a J.D. from Syracuse University. She began writing news articles that appeared in The Washington Post, pr.com, and The Collegiate Times. Ganges Boy is her first novel.
Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?
Broadly put, “Ganges Boy” is a coming of age story, which I think everyone can relate to in some form or another. His plight is rather tragic, but I’m hoping readers don’t just read the story at the surface but actually connect with the universal themes that are throughout the book.
Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?
The title is “Ganges Boy”. The Ganges river plays a big part in the novel, almost like an inanimate character, so I knew from the conception of the novel that I wanted to highlight “Ganges”. As for “Boy”, my protagonist is a very innocent kid, still searching for his identity and purpose, and I guess labelling him as “Boy” is a subtle insinuation of his journey to come. He goes from being just a boy to becoming Kabir.
Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?
Well I lived in India for three years, although not in Varanasi, it definitely played a part in understanding the culture. I am Indian, but growing up in the United States doesn’t really give you the whole picture of what it feels to actually live in India, eating the food, celebrating the festivals, all of that. Recently though, I finally did make it to Varanasi. It is the stereotypical India that most tourists imagine. Holy-men on the street, temples on every corner, literally, and a city that is still living in the past. Travelling was the best research.
Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?
My main character, Kabir. He is my favorite because he is the first character that I envisioned even before the story was put together.
Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?
I wanted him to be a representation of the ideal, whether it is through morals or whatever else. He is partly based on me in a way because it was easy to understand what it feels like to go through being insecure, naïve, and unsure of yourself, into growing up into what you think you’re supposed to be. For me, I guess I spent a lot of time conforming to everyone else regarding how I should live my life, to now being able to assert myself and do what I want, just as Kabir.
Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?
I don’t think I can say I have a distinct writing style yet. I’ve only released one novel thus far and I need a few more pieces of work under my belt before I can declare a style. I’m working on another novel right now, and my writing is going to be vastly different. I’m 27 so I’m still trying to find my voice as a writer. It’s a learning process.
Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?
It took a few years, on and off. The inspiration for it came from everywhere; I can’t really narrow it down to one thing. I will say this, I wanted to have a voice and purge my thoughts. Not being a very vocal person, I knew I had to put it in writing. There is a lot of symbolism in the book, and in a way it is also, vaguely, a representation of me. I’ve had people email me and tell me that they wish to know what happens to the character even after the book. I don’t know how to respond to that because I ended it with how I personally felt at that point in my life and that’s how it should be. It’s not just a character driven plot, there is more to it. Things that are inspired by my own ideals and beliefs.
Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a little kid. I started seriously writing in college and never really had any aspirations to become an author until recently.
Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?
Salman Rushdie is a big influence for me. I like how he intertwines politics, Indian history, and fiction all together. Similarly, Arundhati Roy, she highlights social concerns through story telling. That’s what I want to be able to do, use creativity as a vessel for issues that interest me.
Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?
There are a lot of options in publishing, so I think you have to find what works for you. Putting together a manuscript is the tough part. It seems daunting, the writing itself, actually doing it.
In the beginning, it’s just about the work. But, when you put your novel out there, other challenges and expectations set in. You want people to support and encourage you. I’ve learned through this process that even though it would be nice to be acknowledged, sometimes that is easier said than done. It’s difficult to keep pushing forward when you get discouraged, but you just have to keep working and hopefully let the writing do the talking.
Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.
Right now I’m working on a novel that is an allegory of some Hindu mythology. It’s a frame story, and it’s set in Ancient India. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’m really excited about this upcoming novel.
Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?
Homer’s The Odyssey. I love mythology and epics, and that’s exactly what this piece of work is. It seems to have transcended time and generation after generation will read it. And of course the writing is just perfection, its poetry.
Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?
“Ganges Boy” is the journey of Kabir. He is an orphaned adolescent struggling to cope with the loss of his murdered mother as he tries to navigate the harsh reality of street life before getting submerged in a foreign world of luxury. This is the story of good and evil, riches and poverty, and the fight of a boy to keep his ideals no matter where he is. Kabir’s journey is emotionally engaging as his colourful experiences give insight into the lives of street children in the fascinating city of Varanasi. This novel has themes that are universal to the human condition.
Website : archanaprasanna.com
Facebook : facebook.com/archanaprasanna
Twitter : twitter.com/archanaprasanna
Goodreads : goodreads.com/archanaprasanna
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Any Others : http://www.koehlerbooks.com/books/ganges-boy/