“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Trapped in Want and Wonder – Plotted with perfection and real emotions, has the potential to cater to your emotional needs. A great literary feat is what this is! And when I got a chance to interview the master-mind who put in all the ingredients together to come up with such a wonderful book, I grabbed the opportunity with bells on.
Here is a short interview session with Roswitha:
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in Hamburg/Germany after World War II and spent my childhood amongst the physical ruins and psychological wounds its survivors were left with. During my formative years I experienced the incredible effort men and women made to achieve a common goal: To create a state, which aimed at equal opportunities for all, social justice, freedom of expression and openness towards people from other cultural backgrounds. Taking the last part very seriously, I married an Indian doctoral candidate in Hamburg and, later, moved with him first to Bangalore than Delhi. We have two children, who look good in and out and four grandchildren of equal calibre.
Which writers inspire you?
I feel inspired by writers who are able to present their ideas, experiences, social criticism etc. in not only a straight but also satirical and witty way. One of my favourite is the German poet Heinrich Heine, who could be as romantic as acerbic. One short example in my translation:
‘There are two types of a rat,
The hungry and the fat.’
Give us an insight into your main character (referring to ‘Trapped in want and wonder’). What does he/she do that is so special?
Dev, and Indian journalist, and Dora, his German lover/wife/colleague, are passionate in their personal as well as professional relationships. As they are of different cultural backgrounds and aspirations there are attitudinal clashes, which lead to hilarious dialogues, steamy sex and cold confrontations. Especial is that neither of them is able to dominate the other or leaves the ‘battlefield’. They are equal partner for good and for bad. The plot I do not want to give away.
What are you working on at the minute?
A collection of stories, in which I try to figure out through my ‘informed fantasy’ why somebody did or said something so odd that I felt inspired not only to think but write about it.
What’s it about?
The weird and the wonderful life blesses or bashes you with.
What genre are your books?
Anecdotes, short stories, novels based on heavily fictionalized experiences, insights, random thoughts, whatsoever pops out of my ‘writer’s well’.
What draws you to this genre?
A desire to express whatever has impressed me enough to find it worth to examine at a deeper level and share with my readers.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Female lead: A younger version of Meryl Streep. Male lead: Aamir Bashir Khan (or any other Khan).
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
After school, a counsellor advised me to become either a portrait painter or writer. Instead, I decided to study political science and history. Later I took up assignments with the German Embassy in New Delhi, but never forgot the counsellor’s advice and started to write travelogues and mainly humorous middles for Indian newspapers and magazines. Gradually, I came to perceive myself as a ‘word-painter’ and found my true calling in writing first anecdotes, then short stories and novels.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Not to get distracted and, once distracted, to concentrate again. That is one aspect. The other is to overcome a reluctance to step out of the world you have yourself created, as this happens to be often more titillating/stimulating than the one which surrounds you.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Yes, I do it myself, before the publishers assign their very own editors. I love editing because it gives me a chance to improve and fine-tune what I have written.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
By having a look at my website: www.roswithajoshi.in and follow me on Facebook.
And with that note, I ended the conversation with this wonderful author. They say, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” It is indeed, true.