Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Shelf-ish Chats with Annu Subramanian, author of 'Another Heaven'

Annu Subramanian is the director of the Writing Center at Brown School, Schenectady, New York. She co-founded Albany Women Connection, a support group in Albany, New York. She was chosen as one of four national finalists by the Norman Mailer Center and National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 2011 for her short story, SO FAIR AND VERY LOVELY. She was chosen as Educator of Excellence in 2011 by the New York State English Council.

Her latest book is the factu-fiction, Another Heaven.

Visit her website at www.annusubramanian.com.

About the Book:

Annu Subramanian's new novel, ANOTHER HEAVEN, exposes with unflinching honesty and deep psychological insight the twisted relationship between terrorism and human trafficking. ANOTHER HEAVEN may be difficult to digest in part, but its frankness and refusal to turn away from the unsparing horror of its terrible premise make the book an essential addition to the literature of terrorism and its links to international human trafficking.

Subramanian, a self-described “writer of conscience,” employs her considerable literary skills in the service of shining a bright light on human rights abuses and terrorism. In her previous novel, WAITING FOR THE PERFECT DAWN, Subramanian focused on bringing awareness about the suppression of women and domestic violence.

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Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Reading, teaching, volunteering.

When did you start writing?

I started to write when I was in high school. I experimented with poetry and some short stories, but I did not think about getting my work published until a few years ago.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

The most pivotal point of my writing life is realizing why I felt compelled to share my stories. As a writer of conscience, I believe in writing for social causes. Writing allows me to share my thoughts and goals with like-minded individuals.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Kanyakumari, India (Cape Comorin).

Kanyakumari is a small town in the southern most tip of India where three seas converge (Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea). From the shores one can see a dazzling sunrise and a breathtakingly beautiful sunset. I would like to write watching a few sunrises and sunsets, drawing inspiration from nature and the serenity surrounding the waters. It is one of the most peaceful places on earth.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?


Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

New York

Back to your present book, ANOTHER HEAVEN, how did you publish it?

Apprentice House (Loyola University) is my publisher. As an educator, I was drawn to this publishing house as it is the only publishing facility that is primarily run by students, with guidance from professors and mentors. Publishing is a powerful media, and I am glad these students have an opportunity to learn it first-hand while they are in an environment that fosters writing and reading.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?


Why was writing ANOTHER HEAVEN so important to you?

While teaching a high school course titled Eastern Literature, my research invariably led to two global issues; human trafficking and terrorism. Compelled by the more recent events involving acts of terrorism, I decided to write this research-based novel. An incident that occurred close to my home in India, an explosion that was triggered at the end of a dispute between two religious groups, cemented the purpose in my mind to expose the atrocities associated with human trafficking and terrorism, and I began to write the first chapter of Another Heaven. This is a story I had to tell.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get my ideas from my observations of individuals who make real-life characters on a day-to-day basis and from my conversations with them. These people and the incidents revolving around them offer many insights about life, its ups and downs, and various shades of social issues.

Any final words?

My greatest challenge while working on ANOTHER HEAVEN was moving forward with the topic of terrorism. It is a sensitive subject and difficult to address. However, as a writer of conscience, I decided to accept the challenges and write about it. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has been a great influence in my writing. I believe in his definition of the role of a writer (which he has presented in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech). According to his definition, a writer is a critic of society and government, he is a spokesperson for his country, he seeks the truth and shares them with the world. In addition, he says that world literature is a common body and spirit, a living, heartfelt unity reflecting the growing spiritual unity of mankind. My goal is to be such a writer and to present the kind of literature that would make a lasting impact in my readers’ minds.

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