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December 13, 2014

Weaving Tall Tales

Text by Nittal Chandarana

With oodles of wit and a dash of sobriety, author Mira Jacob tells Verve about life after The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

  • Mira Jacob, Author, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
  • Mira Jacob, Author, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

This year, she delivered to the world her debut novel The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing – a tale about loss and longing, coming-of-age moments, ghosts and more – which created abundant buzz in the literary circuit. One look at Verve’s Twitter chat with the author tells all. And everyone wants to know more about Mira Jacob – who is in India this month for a literature festival.

On handing over The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing to the publishers after a decade of holding it close
“It was shocking, really. I had gotten so close to this imaginary family, and then I couldn’t contact them anymore, or not without a specific plan. It felt like I’d had my kids taken from me.”

On post-release fame and adulation
“The adulation was totally expected. Okay, no, I just wanted to see how it would feel to write that sentence. (It felt great, by the way.) But entirely untrue.  Putting something that you’ve cared about so deeply into the hands of strangers is unnerving. It’s like opening your bedroom door and saying, come on in, world!  Make yourself at home! Try not to sit on my heart. The good news? No one sat on my heart. The reception has been wonderful.”

On Pete’s Reading
“My friend, Alison Hart, and I started Pete’s Reading Series in 1999 as a way to celebrate the many writers we knew. We had well known and soon-to-be-known writers come and read their work every other Thursday for the next 13 years, and honestly, it became like a kind of church for me – a place to remember why stories matter, and why I had devoted my life to telling them. I’m not sure what it would take to build a Pete’s Reading Series in Mumbai beyond hard work and a loyal reading audience, both of which India has in spades. I’m happy to help in any way I can.”

On current favourites
“I’ve recently started a book called A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor and I’m really loving it.”

On what to expect from her visit to the Times Literary Carnival
“Utter madness and badly behaving hair. Also, a lot of love. I am so thrilled and touched by how Indian audiences have received this book, by the level of caring they’ve put into reading and writing me letters.”

On revealing a bit about her next book
“Not unless you want it to vanish in a puff of anxiety. But I will say that I am working on two books, actually, a novel and a graphic novel.”

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