Sep 13, 2023


 Author's Profile + Interview + Book Profile / by sktud / 14 views

A university student is invited to his friend’s birthday party. Over the course of the night, he undertakes a long journey in search of his impossible dream.

  • Listing ID: 13648
  • Author's Name: Shekhar Khatri
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  • About the Author: Shekhar Khatri is a contemporary artist, born in India and now living in Canada. His literary works delve in genres such as philosophical fiction and magical realism. Born on 9 June, 2001. Shekhar arrived in Canada to study art and began writing his debut novel, "Grasslands," at the age of 18 and published at the age of 22. His body of work also includes paintings, digital illustrations, and poetry.
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  • Genre: Magical Realism
  • 1. Did you love reading books when you were little? Why or why not?: Yes, although what I read back when I was little wasn't the finest of literary works. My earliest inspiration when it comes to storytelling came mostly from movies (and television) as I became quite obsessed with watching old classics in middle school.
  • 2. At what age did you start reading books? What were your best memories of that time?: I have been reading for as long as I remember. Our English class had a healthy curriculum of short stories and poems each year and I used to check out a different book from the school library every two weeks.
  • 3. What was the first book you loved reading? Why?: I'm honestly not sure but it was probably some form of kids fiction. I have also had a fascination with encyclopedic and historical texts from a young age.
  • 4. When did you first think about writing your first book? Why?: Well, it all happened when I forgot about my friend's birthday party but then showed up after my roommate texted me. There were many small instances of silly moments that night which triggered some deep inspiration inside me. Mind you, I had never seriously thought of writing a novel even once before, but I was suddenly withdrawn from the rest of the group, furiously taking notes better than I had ever done in class. But none of what happened that night was actually mentioned in the book, and it wasn't as exciting as it may sound. We didn't even leave the house. And at the end of the day, I do not believe that anything in particular inspired me, but rather it was everything. I feel it was some kind of divine intervention, or maybe I was simply at my breaking point and my creative energy was bound to pour out eventually in one form or another.

    It was a short story that was supposed to be a dark comedy but that was before I actually started writing. In the few months after I first took those notes, every single thought I had and everything I felt, connected back to the ideas I had lying around for "Grasslands," and those ideas developed at a rapid pace.
  • 5. What was the greatest obstacle you've encountered when you were writing your book? What made you overcome it?: To answer this question truthfully I must mention that there are many things I consider too personal to share, but it is ultimately the personal stuff that means the most. For now I'll focus on the book itself.

    Six months after I first got the idea for "Grasslands," I had barely finished writing a single chapter and had no idea how I was going to fit together the bits and pieces I had in my mind into a coherent plot. I would have loved to have gone all Virginia Woolf on you guys but there is a limit to experimentation, especially for a debut author, so I knew that I needed a strong plot that would keep the readers hooked. But I had no idea how to make it make sense. It was very important for me to get the details of the plot set in stone so I could stop picking holes in my own plot.

    In the fall of 2020 I finally figured it all out as if it were a chess puzzle with only one solution for me to find. It took a while for me to actually finish writing all of it but none of the details were changed from that point onward and I sent out a few copies of the first five chapters by the end of the year. This sudden development came through odd means. I had a recurring dreams three days in a row that I was climbing a hill to reach a cabin at the top. When I looked out the window of the cabin, I saw a desert. Less than a month later I had the whole plot of "Grasslands" ingrained in my mind.
  • 6. What pieces of advice can you give aspiring authors? What worked for you?: I am not the first one to say this but it is very important. Reading is essential.

    All art can either be good or bad. But even though we can discuss the intricacies of various pieces of artworks for days and reach a general consensus on select works of significant importance, it is undeniable that personal taste always varies from person to person. So, if you seek to create good art you must decide what is good and then do it better. Never compromise your vision for anyone's sake, especially your own. Laziness is a highly undesirable quality in an artist. Be lazy in your regular lives, but never in art.
  • 7. Who are the authors or what are the books that had the greatest influence in your own writing? Why?: The first book I must mention is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book that is famously credited as one of the founding works of magical realism. And in the same breath, I would also like to mention Jorge Luis Borges who wrote the best short story collection I've read. I have also read a lot of Japanese fiction and two authors I have enjoyed reading the most are- Natsume Sōseki, and Yukio Mishima. Soseki is the master of simplicity and tragedy, but his comedic chops are nothing to scoff at because some of his best works are basically a literary equivalent of a slice of life manga.

    Another big name that inspired a lot of the themes in my debut novel is none other than Franz Kafka. And lastly, I want to mention the book the inspired me the most, The Waves by Virginia Woolf. I even named my art collections after it. It is the kind of book only she could have written. Not only is it poetic and beautiful, it is daringly experimental at the same time. After also having read some of her earlier work, I would say she is the most impressive author that I have had the pleasure of reading.
  • 8. What are your current or future writing plans? What can readers further expect from you?: As of right now, I have already conceived the ideas for my next two full-length novels, but I am not ready to announce when they will be released. I do not intend to stick to a single genre, and my future stories will not only belong to different genres but will also stand on their own with no direct connection to my previous work.

    I am currently working on seven short stories to be released as part of a collection early next year along with a poetry compilation titled, "Emotional Landscapes," inspired by the Björk song, Joga.
  • Awards, reviews, press releases, and other relevant information: "Grasslands offers a mix of fantasy, magical realism, surrealism, and absurdist fiction that explores timeless philosophical questions and the most primeval of human desires." -Fermosalua at The Chrysalis BREW Project
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By sktud