I’m so very please to present this Q & A to you our an exceptional author. I was lucky enough to be able to request Amita Trasi’s book on NetGalley and even more lucky to be approved by the publishers to read and review her very first book. Shortly after the review Amita reached out to me because I had expressed interest in getting to know the author more and hopefully being able to have a guest post or interview with her. The story of The Color of Our Sky and the emotion that Amita brings to you with her words is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I hope you all get as much joy out of the interview that I did and continue to have each time I read it.
- Where did you come up with the title, The Color of Our Sky?
Amita: Initially, the title was supposed to be ‘The Color of my Sky’. It was specifically meant for Mukta since she saw the ups and downs in her life and compared it to the changing colors of the sky. Mukta is a child who sees beauty in nature, she loves the small things and she finds a great deal of her strength to survive from this sensitivity of hers. As I worked on so many drafts, I realized that this wasn’t just about Mukta but so many other girls who hope for a better life, a brighter future, and THE COLOR OF OUR SKY signifies their life—the darkness that they exist in (signified by the night sky) and their hope painted in the brighter, orange sky of daylight.
- What inspired your first book for those who have not been to your blog yet?
When I set out to write this novel, I only ever intended to write about the friendship between two girls—Tara who has a privileged upbringing like many girls in India’s cities and Mukta, a poor village girl who doesn’t really land the luck of the draw. Initially I hadn’t imagined that Mukta would be born in a family of temple prostitutes. But as I wrote, the characters took on a life of their own and it took me to places that I honestly didn’t think I would ever research or write about.
I’d like to add that Mukta as a character is very close to my heart because she reminds me of Shakuntala, the daughter of a servant who worked for my family in Mumbai, India (where I was born and brought up.) Shakuntala and I were never really friends. In many ways, I imagine the construction of Tara and Mukta’s friendship is what our friendship would have looked like in another world.
If you’d like to know more about the story behind the novel or some of the true events that inspired the novel, visit my website http://www.amitatrasi.com/the-story-behind
- How much of your book is realistic?
Mukta’s storyline is quite realistic. There are many girls who are coerced into following traditions. Many belong to the Bachara community (the ‘highway courtesans’) or the Devdasis community (‘the dancing girls’) and there are many more such traditions… In my novel, I describe a girl caught in the throes of the outdated Devdasi tradition and many of her experiences run parallel to the lives of prostitutes in real life (although most are not lucky to find a savior like Papa).
Many of the brothel scenes are also very close to reality. During my research, I discovered that NGO’s send some of their own employees as customers into the brothel areas to convince the girls to come back to a safer environment. Some women return to a shelter but many have lost the ability to trust another human being and refuse to return. They often prefer to continue to suffer — a case of Stockholm syndrome. So the human trafficking aspect of the novel, and the way the NGO’s work to save girls including the raids that are described in the novel is fairly accurate (based on my research).
- Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t remember a time when I was not writing! As a kid, I used to love telling stories. It was my grandfather who encouraged me early on to make up stories and narrate them to friends and family. When I was a teen, I maintained a daily journal. Writing a journal got me through a very tumultuous time in my life. As for fiction, I like to see the opportunity for ideas in life itself. A casual encounter with any person, a simple event, a brush with nature— just a strand of daily life is enough to prompt me to write.
- Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When I step into my character’s shoes, I find the painful moments to be the most difficult to write. There are times when I’ve run away from it and gone days without writing just to escape that pain. Eventually the only way to write some difficult scenes has to experience the emotions of the character and face the moment the character is showing me. That’s the only way a writer can be true to his or her character.
- What are your current projects?
I wonder if it’s too early to say anything about the book. I can clearly see it’s going to be a love story in a time of conflict but ideas change and the pattern of a plot often changes along the way.
- Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It’s very difficult to point out just one author. I love writing that’s poetic. I am also drawn to writing that can embrace a simple emotion and present it in a way that you can feel it in your bones. The authors who really do this for me are: Arundhati Roy, Elizabeth Strout, Khaled Hosseini, Abraham Verghese, and Alice Munro to name a few.
- Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write from your heart. If you feel the emotions and/ or the pain of the character, the reader will feel them in your writing. When a writer truly laughs or cries with his character, it shows on the page. Writing is quite transparent that way!
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I wrote this novel because I really wanted to bring to light the life of a girl like Mukta (not that there haven’t been other authors who have done it before me). I find fiction to be a great way of getting us closer to a character and delving into their lives. For me, this book was really a means of creating awareness about human trafficking. So, as readers, if you have the opportunity and the means, please do consider donating to organizations who are involved in helping such kids.
There are many organizations that help girls like Mukta:
The Apne Aap foundation : http://apneaap.org/
The Bachpan Bachao Andolan : http://www.bba.org.in/
Maiti Nepal : http://www.maitinepal.org/
Prerna : http://preranaantitrafficking.org/
Links to buy the book
Amazon : http://hyperurl.co/gsqmss
ibooks : http://apple.co/1CGRNR0
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1OFHjZW
Google Play : http://bit.ly/1I86ylS