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November 16, 2014

#VerveBookClub: Mira Jacob

“I am a visual thinker and a voyeur. I spend good chunks of my days watching other people.” Find out what makes Mira Jacob tick and learn about her ten year journey to publishing a book

  • Mira Jacob, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing, Mira Jacob, Book Review

Verve gave an opportunity for debut author Mira Jacob’s fans to interact with her about writing, books and the excellent The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing and what a chat it was! Twitter was flooded with Jacob loyalists and the response was overwhelming. The author was a complete sport and even tweeted a picture with fancy shoes on as part of her general excitement for the Twitter fest. Incredibly witty and shooting one quicksilver response after another, Jacob kept her fans on tenterhooks as they asked her questions ranging from the routine to the absolute bizarre. Here’s a fabulous chat hour at #VerveBookClub documented for you. Also, don’t miss our review of her book. Read up and enjoy!

Mira Jacob (MJ): Party shoes on, ready for #VerveBookClub @vervemagazine @BloomsburyIndia

Q (@dasshreyoshi): How did you come with the idea of The Sleepwalker’s Guide To Dancing?
MJ: I wanted to write about a father who was receding from the world, and the rest unfolded.

Q (@dasshreyoshi): Ma’am, how does it feels like when you get appreciation for your book?
MJ: Amazing! Like a back massage for the ego. But it’s also nerve-wracking, surprisingly.

Q (@rahul_793): Do you have a writing ritual? Any tips for the budding writers out there?
MJ: I do! I write a scene until I believe it, then I see if it’s working. Usually takes about 4 tries.
MJ: Other rituals include keeping feet warm and cursing at desk, but you all don’t want to hear about that.

Q (@SuperRousseau): It took you the lifespan of a dog to write this – ever feel like quitting?
MJ: The strange but true answer: No. It was the best escape from the pain of loss.

Q (@dasshreyoshi): Are you working on some other book that we can look forward to?
MJ: I am! TOP SECRET. But fingers crossed, it will not take me “the life span of a dog.”

Q (@PriyankaCChugh): What advice would you give to budding writers?
MJ: Don’t be scared if it feels like work. It is work. The best work.

Q (@SuperRousseau): Loved your book, btw. Only grievance: no dogs in it :(. Next book might have one?
MJ: Ahem, Sir. There were two dogs in the book.

Q (@SuperRousseau): Prince Philip! Forgive me – dogs have short memories. Which was the other dog?
MJ: You didn’t think Queen Victoria was roaming the hallways, did you?
MJ: Queen Victoria. She is huffing in an imaginary corner as we speak.
@SuperRosseau: Prince Philip, truth be told, lacked my charisma. But good job nevertheless.
MJ: As Kamala would say, ‘It’s a doggy dog world.’
@SuperRosseau: Queen Vic and Prince Phil – Buckingham Palace won’t be happy with you.
MJ: Blame Akhil.
@SuperRosseau: I won’t blame Akhil. I am scared of ghosts.
MJ: Pretty sure the worst he’d do is get you stoned and make you listen to Led Zep
@SuperRosseau: You’re right. I liked Akhil so I guess I would like his ghost too.

@dasshreyoshi: Ma’am its a pleasure talking to you. Love and respect for u ma’am

Q (@PriyankaCChugh): Do you have any plans to visit India?
MJ: Yes! Coming for the Times Literary Carnival (Dec) and the Kolkata Meet (Jan).
MJ: Also coming to see my grandmother, but you all are not invited.
@PriyankaCChugh: YES! @mirajacob will be in India in December and January! Exciting news!

Q (@SuperRosseau): Amina is more sympathetic towards Joseph than Kamala. Would you agree?
MJ: Thomas? I think the balance switches. It’s the family waltz.
@Superrosseau: Thomas. Bloody memory again. Hmm. Perhaps you are right. I loved Thomas more though.

Q (Verve): For a book that took 10 years to make, we’d like to know how it was to live with a book for a long time?
MJ: Great question! I did start believing in the imaginary family more than the real one, at times.
MJ: I also used it as such an escape that after I finished it, I was bereft for months.

Q (Verve): Do you think your writing style and outlook changed over the course of the years? What instigated those changes?
MJ: My outlook changed drastically midway when my father died. Nothing like losing a parent to shift the ground under you.
MJ: But writing was my form of grief counselling. I changed the father in the book into my father- not his life, but his tics.
MJ: It gave us more time together.
MJ: It also made the ending, when it came, surprisingly hard to do.

Q (Verve): Do you use photography as an outlet for trauma/respite from an emotional event like Amina does?
MJ: No. But I am a visual thinker and a voyeur. I spend good chunks of my days watching other people.
MJ: I also have a nasty habit of following couples who are fighting through the city.
MJ: It drives my husband nuts.
MJ: But really, what is more delicious than someone else’s fight?
MJ: NOTHING. Well, bhel puri. But nothing else.

Q (@shinjinicsaha): Advice for aspiring writers?
MJ: Sure! Nothing is going to take away your unease about writing but writing, so get to it.
MJ: (I am telling you my daily mantras, btw.)
@shinjinicsaha: Doesn’t make them any less helpful 🙂
MJ: Good! But I will skip the ones about eating fewer chips.

Q (@PriyankaCChugh): Comedy, Romance & Sorrow – which theme would you pick for your next novel? (IF you had to)
MJ: For me it’s always mystery, weirdly enough.
MJ: I want to know why someone is acting a certain way, so I follow them until they reveal it.

Q (Verve): This one is for the readers – Who’s your favourite character? Why? @mirajacob Do you have favourites too?
@PriyankaCChugh: My favourite character would be Amina!
MJ: I’m sure she’d be baffled to know that. 🙂
@SuperRosseau: I dislike anthropomorphic books. Condescending. Please never write one. Promise?
MJ: That’s an awfully big demand from a tweeting dog.

Q (@shinjinicsaha): Besides the catharsis, is there any significant way that writing affects your life?
MJ: Absolutely. It makes the mundane, the painful, the joyous worth thinking about.

Q (@shinjinicsaha): Another question-what never ceases to inspire you? Something you can always turn to.
MJ: Two things 1) Other writing. All the time. I love seeing what other people can pull off.
MJ: 2) people. Everywhere. I love watching people, taking apart their moments.
MJ: When I’m at a loss I usually sit myself somewhere in the city and watch. So much to see.

Q (@Superrosseau): Tweeting is an inane activity. Writing books is wonderful. Agree?
MJ: Agree! But folding socks is also an inane activity and I do it anyway.

Q (@shinjinicsaha): Favourite writers. And favourite book.
MJ: That changes daily, like a horoscope. Today I am very Calvino, neat, parsed emotion.
MJ: Yesterday, however, I was re-reading Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping, which is shockingly good.
MJ: And if you haven’t read @jrakoff”s My Salinger Year yet, highly recommend!

Q (@PriyankaCChugh): Any book which keeps you going when you’re having a ‘writers block’?
MJ: I wish! If you find that book, send it to me.

Q (@SuperRosseau): Were the Tamil bits hard to do? As an NRI.
MJ: Not so much because I’ve been so often. Once wrote a section of book in Bosnia
MJ: That was much harder. (Killed before I submitted, obviously).

Q (@alisonbhart): What did running @PetesReading teach you about your own writing?
MJ: Oooh! Great Q (for those in India, Pete’s is a great reading series out here in BK).
MJ: Listening to other writer’s read their work can be so faith restoring. Pete’s was like church.
MJ: I still go when I need to believe in stories again. Nothing else quite like it.
MJ: Everyone who comes to the city should make the pilgrimage! (Whiskey for the weary)

@PriyankaCChugh: @vervemagazine I absolutely loved chatting with @mirajacob!@BloomsburyIndia #VerveBookClub

Verve: Thank you @mirajacob for your insightful responses and taking out time for us at #VerveBookClub @BloomsburyIndia | MJ: Absolute pleasure! Thanks for having me, and for asking such lovely questions, all.

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