Interview with Simrann Keshwanii

About the Author

Simrann Keshwanii, 20, is a final year literature student at the Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi and the Founder of a start-up, Born Of a Million Thoughts, that deals in on-ground social activism. She plans on changing the world, one word at a time, for words are mirrors and swords.

About the Book

Becoming Assiya is the story of a misplaced Syrian refugee and her trial with a past of blood, wounds, war, doubt and hatred and the troublesome hope of a better tomorrow. The woman’s journey encompasses through the landscape of Wartime Syria, through her mother’s journal and the rebuilding of a Post War identity for a land washed with blood, and what it meant to be alive, stuck in the middle with no identity. Identity and Struggle, two complex concepts intermingle in this book and intersect at a common point, that of finding yourself. 

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

I’m a normal girl. I have my Yellow and Black and Brown and Fiery Red and Dank Blues on Closer Look.

What made you want to become a writer?

Growing Up, I was always a very unhappy child. Perhaps, more sensitive than the lot. I sensed energy. It used to speak to me. Writing was the only thing that helped me channelise it. Needless to say, I fell in love with writing.

What do you think about the ebook revolution?

The time to be a writer has never been tougher, thanks to the “revolution”. It is more immediate and easy, and hence, less revered. Lot more struggle to be recognised now.

Music or Silence

Both

What tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)

Stop eating, drinking, sleeping. The only thing keeping you alive should be the Word. It should flow out of you.

What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?

Proof Reading. The part that happens after writing ends.

What is/are your book(s) about?

Finding Yourself in a Burning Room.

Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Depends on who’s reading.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Upto the reader to decipher.

If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

With the pigeons. I’d sing to them in Arabic, and ask them to tell me the thousand of songs of woe they’ve heard from faraway lands torn by war.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

As much as it breaks my heart to admit, they’d all be flesh and blood. There could be graves of a thousand Assiyas, and we’d never know.

What do you love most about the writing process?

The process, irrespective of the outcome.

What genre do you consider your books?

Dystopian “Truth”

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

Mom finds it okay.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

The protagonist. She’s like me. We’d run into each other and won’t like each other too much, for we’re mirror images.

What would the main character in your book have to say about you?

A deeply complex female in search of herself.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

My Father.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. It is something I can never get enough of. It is my favourite poison. But, human limits. I can never go beyond 13 continuous writing hours.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

It helps and hurts. It helps keep them in an isolated town and it hurts being the only person there.

 With the pigeons. I’d sing to them in Arabic, and ask them to tell me the thousand of songs of woe they’ve heard from faraway lands torn by war.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I would say humility. My writing comes from human experiences and speaking to a lot of people about their ongoing tragedy.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Life is about rebuilding and constructing palaces on mud and brick kilns. How can you ever be original in a Post Truth world where Truth doesn’t exist? The only Truth we know is a Hollow Copy of it. I think, that’s what writers try to cut through. How can you not be original in trying to cut through something that doesn’t have an original? Think.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

We’re all artistes. We’re all writers. The only difference is the intensity and the finesse we have in concealing our wounds.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m trying to build an ecosystem.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I love You, Simran. I love you so much.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I think it was once when at a wedding, I saw a couple young girls poke fun at another mentally challenged young girl. It only took 3 words to change their minds and for empathy to make way. That’s not an early experience, in fact that’s fairly recent, but that’s a reminder that sometimes, instead of sitting back, all we need to do, is exercise the power we already have.

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