Smoking With Kuzhali Manickavel

Read the Story December 15, 2008
story art

You are so successful at creating conflict that arises out of characters wanting different things. How are you able to create and maintain such opposing views? Are you ever worried that your stories won’t be able to end because of how discordant these characters are?

I think I’m still figuring that out because so often it doesn’t work and a piece will end up stagnating. I think when you’re developing conflict between discordant characters within a limited space you need to be careful about what you’re going to put out there in terms of where the characters are coming from. And I think you also have to consider whether it’s enough to carry the story forward, especially if there is very little or nothing else happening.

So I guess the short answer to your question is yes.

Your work often describes unusual worlds that are just a little bit off center from our own. Do you think of yourself as an imaginative person? How do you define someone who is imaginative?

I think everyone is imaginative, it just comes out in very different ways. It seems to me that some forms of imaginative are just more fashionable than others and some are either harder to see or harder to accept as being ‘imaginative’ or ‘creative’. I don’t really think of myself as imaginative.

What is The Society for the Preservation of Everything? Does it exist in anything else other than this story?

I believe The Society for the Preservation of Everything is everywhere. Sometimes it doesn’t achieve anything but nobody knows about it anyway so it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it achieves the wrong thing. Sometimes it makes people write songs called ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

You just published your first collection of short stories, “Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings.” What has that experience been like for you both as you were gearing up for its release and in the months since it came out?

Gearing up for the release was nice. I really, really loved working with my publishers, getting it all together. It was also interesting to see the book reviews, especially the ones from India. Ok maybe that wasn’t always interesting but there were some really great ones which I appreciate from the depths of my heartlungsandliver.

Apart from that I was able to tell people I had a book out and they were all like oh wow, you wrote a novel and I’m like no. And they’re like you wrote a book on insects and I’m like no. Sometimes I’d say Miranda July blurbed me and they’d be like who’s Miranda July. So that was fun.

About the Author:

Kuzhali Manickavel's debut collection Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings is available from Blaft Publications Pvt. Ltd. Her work can also be found at Subtropics, Per Contra, Quick Fiction, Caketrain and The Café Irreal. She lives in a small temple town on the coast of South India.