Friday, April 2, 2010
This is my first interview and I have the wonderful Swati Avasthi with me today! She is the author of the wonderful book Split which deals with the extremely serious issue of physical abuse and complicated relationships between family members.
> M:What sparked the idea of Split? Did you consciously set out to write
about such a topic?
S:I coordinated a domestic violence legal clinic for three years. I heard thousands of abuse stories and was inspired by the courage it takes to leave an abuser, to face the devil you don't know. But when I discussed my work, most people would ask me, "why does she stay?" The question struck me like wrong note because it implies a subtle amount of blame. And the blame is being placed on the wrong person. No one asked me, "Why is he resorting to violence?"
Domestic violence is typically framed as a women's issue, when in fact, it is a men's issue. In most cases, men are the abusers and the abusers have the clearest line of sight to ending domestic violence, not the victims. Our dialogue is directed to the wrong gender. That is why I wrote Split from a boy's point of view.
M:How difficult was it handling such a delicate issue?
S:Not very. I suppose that the work in the clinic had me prepared, but I struggled more with issues of craft than subject matter.
M:Tell us something about yourself we wont find on your homepage
S:Both my parents are doctors and all three of their children have turned into writers, which harkens back to our grandfathers. The writing gene skipped a generation, I suppose.
M:Do you have a writing ritual?
S:I prefer to write at a coffee shop while listening to a playlist that has been created for the books I write. There are samples of the playlists on my website.
M:What do you do if/when your Muse fails you?
S:Yell at it. When that doesn't work, I try to entice it to return by reading the masters who can inspire it to return.
M:How does it feel to be a published author in such a competitive field?
S:It is pure pleasure. Whenever I think about it or walk into a bookstore, my stomach flutters and I start to smile. People have been describing me as 'giddy' and 'radiant'.
M:Your favorite book,author and genre.
S:Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Favorite Author: Emily Bronte
Favorite Genre: Why, YA, of course!
M:A book you wish you had written. Why?
S:Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I think it's an important work that helps girls.
M:What are you writing on now?
S:I'm writing my second YA novel, BIDDEN. Savitri, Corey, and Holly are looking forward to a summer of comic book reading and freerunning. But a shooting changes everything. Corey is dead, Savitri is seeking revenge, and Holly is slipping into a world where no one can follow. Written into dual POVs with a graphic component, BIDDEN is about how far we will stretch to save our friends.
M:Anything you would like to add?
S:If you think you might be a victim of abuse, please go online to: www.loveisrepect.com. Or, if you are in the US, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. Please make sure you are calling from a safe phone or using a safe computer.
Thank you so much for joining us and sharing so much of you,your life and your thoughts.