Following find an interview with authors Madalsa & Zuivere Mamgain.
What is the name of the book and when was it published?
The name of the book is Get Lost Dirty COVID-19! it was published on the 22nd of November 2020
What’s the book’s first line?
The first poem of the book is by Madalsa. It starts with “The world is suffering a lockdown”. This poem sets the agenda for the first section/chapter of the book which is on Covid-19. The poem tells us how the routine things have changed due to Covid-19 lockdown.
What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.
Basically, the book is a series of poems compiled together in nine neat chapters. Each chapter explores one Covid-19 related theme (COVID-19, Social Distancing, Solitude, Fear, Abuse, Pain, Prayer, Gratitude and Hope). In each chapter, there are poems from the mother and poems from the daughter and hence presents views upon the same topic by two different generations. The poems are short, simple, realistic and succinct and comprehensible to everyone even if they are not particularly into poetry.
What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?
Madalsa- After the Christmas and summer holidays in Australia, the new academic session started in Feb 2020. As a norm, I was asking a routine question “how were your holidays?” to my class/schoolmates and friends. I was surprised by the responses like “thank GOD it was over” or “I hate holidays” or “do not ask me” or something on these lines. I felt very disturbed as I came to know that for these students, the family environment was not conducive for their growth, the family lacked harmony with abusive parents, and frequent domestic violence stifle them. Then we were put under lockdown and schools were closed due to Covid -19. I was continuously thinking about these young kids and their conditions of living and expressed myself in form of poems. These poems appear in ‘ABUSE’ the fifth chapter of the book. I discussed this very sensitive issue with my mother. She encouraged me to write more.
Zuivere- By the end of March 2020, Covid-19 became the main subject of newspapers and news channels as Italy, Spain, UK and USA struggled to contain its spread and everyone was worried. The news of old people dying and not getting a proper funeral were the most painful to me. Pictures mass graveyards for Covid victims in New York city has disturbed me to the core. The lockdown in India has resulted in a heavy and unprecedented migration of labour from big cities to nowhere. While the young heart of Madalsa was feeling for younger and teenage generation, I was feeling more for older generation, the people of my parent’s age and migrant labours in India. My thoughts came out in form of poems which are now part of chapters FEAR and PAIN of the book. The heroics of front line COVID-19 workers who were working 24/7 during the toughest period by putting their life at risk have provided us the hope and we to express our gratitude towards them with the hope of soon seeing the normalcy.
What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?
We think that the book is on the subject that has affected everyone’s life. We have tried to capture the mood and feeling of everyone through our poems. The reader will be able to relate the poem to her/his life and will get an impression that the work is specifically written for her/him. The book has been written in a very beautiful manner of short and simple yet very deep and very heart touching poetry that would quickly touch our minds and emotions. The book consists of short and simple poems easy to understand and relate with. Therefore one doesn’t have to be an avid reader of poetry. The book will appeal to all age groups as it is coauthored by poets of two different generations. The mother, Zuivere is a mature woman in her forties and the daughter has just stepped into the teenage. The two generations have put their thoughts on the same subject from their own perspective. Alongside that the book does not capture just one aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic, multiple aspects have carefully been categorized into nine different parts with one part serving each emotion, talking about a different wound and heeling it alongside of course a sense of hope we all have within us. It gives a sense of hope and reinforces the fact that “you are not alone!” in the time of this pandemic. It is relatable to each and everyone in this world and there is an instant sense of bounding when you pick it up and give it a read. The book is the collective feelings of all of us.
When did you first decide to become an author?
Madalsa – I started writing at the age of 9 and by the age of 12, I started looking forward to establishing myself as an author.
Zuivere – At high school I was the school’s top debaters. As a journalist I received accolades for my reporting and edited a couple of books in Hindi. As we are now easing into the normal life, I am now planning to publish my other works.
Is this the first book you’ve written?
Yes “Get Lost Dirty COVID-19!” is our published first poetry book. Madalsa has authored 250 poems written prior to Covid-19 and she wants to publish these.
Zuivere has now completed the initial drafts of her two novels and is in the phase of finalizing the manuscript and exploring the opportunities for publication.
What do you do for work when you’re not writing?
Madalsa- I love playing guitar and try my hands on piano keys. I read a lot of book ranging from classical to modern. I play with my younger sister. While outdoor, I like to spend my time in countryside away from cities and pursue my passion for horse riding. The nature always inspires me.
Zuivere- Being a mother of two young daughters I spend most of my time with them. I write songs and compose music. I love flowers and colours. I put a lot of my time in my front and back yard and fill them with colorful flowers. I love reading novels and short stories. I enjoy going to riding trails with my daughters. I love adventure and during my annual holidays in Indian Himalayas, I always look forward to white water rafting.
How much time do you generally spend on your writing?
We cannot quantify it as we do not have a dedicated time slot for writing. We discuss a lot on major contemporary topics, history and culture and are very keen observers. We write when ideas spring in our mind. At many occasions, Madalsa has scribbled her thoughts while sitting in the train to/from her school. Zuivere writes when her daughters are at school and she has free time and, in the night, when it quiet and everyone is sleeping.
What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?
It gives us freedom to put forward our ideas to the readers without anyone’s interference and thus we can maintain the maximum originality. It is a quick and yet professional way to get published. It is a great platform for upcoming writers. The hard part is one has to do all the heavy lifting by herself/himself.
What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?
Enjoy every bit of the journey. It is a very steep curve but with patience and perseverance we can scale it.
Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?
Yes, we will go for traditional publishing if we get the opportunity. Traditional publishing is still very very strong and has much wider reach and much more recognized. Although self-publishing is on rise, we do not see it over taking traditional publishing in near future.
Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)
Our society provides as freedom of expression, yet most cannot express their feelings/emotions and reactions to a particular situation. Our writing is centered around these people and reflects the feelings, stories and lives of these people.
A successful career in writing will free up us from 9 to 5 job and will give us the freedom to write from anywhere is the world. Provides the opportunity understand more about the people we mentioned here.
Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?
Zuivere: I really love Russian writers! My favourites include Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Vladimir Nabokov.
Madalsa: I love British authors and poets! Especially the classic ones! For poets I greatly admire Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Keats, Robert Browning and WB Yeats. For authors I am a big fan of the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen.
Which book do you wish you could have written?
Zuivere: I would have loved to write Tess of the d’Urbervilles. It is a beautiful book and one that I first read at a very early age of thirteen. I felt this book touched each and every string of my heart and the ending always brings tears in my eyes. It is a beautifully narrated piece of literature and Hardy’s best novel.
Madalsa: Wuthering Heights. It is my favourite novel and one that kept me hooked in for hours and hours! It has everything a reader can wish for from passionate romance to tragedies! After reading it I am sure a reader would only wish that Emily Brontë had written more novels!