In an Interview with Author-Poet Devjani Bodepudi

Born into an Indian-Bengali family and raised in the UK, Devjani Bodepudi is an author, poet, teacher and idealist. She is the author of the novel Mirrors whose story focused on contextualising Indian culture, families and generations. Her writings are rooted within the indigenous culture of India and they have received praise and recognition from good reads, reviews and more.

I’ve always enjoyed reading. I don’t think that’s unusual for a writer, but I also enjoyed being immersed in other worlds and creating different realities.”

Quillopia was honoured to have a wonderful conversation with Devjani Bodepudi.

  1. How has your journey been so far from Kolkata to the UK?

I was actually brought up in the UK and have lived here for most of my life. We travelled to Kolkata as part of my husband’s work and it was a coincidence really that I am from Bengal originally so could speak the language. The move to Kolkata was an interesting learning curve for both of us and I would like to believe, that by the time we returned back to the UK, our whole family had learnt something, even if it was just a deeper appreciation of where we are from.

2. Our readers would love to read about your journey as a writer? What inspired you to write your first book at a very young age?

I’ve always enjoyed reading. I don’t think that’s unusual for a writer, but I also enjoyed being immersed in other worlds and creating different realities. One book, in particular, that really inspired a love of reading and writing was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It showed me anything was possible through the pages of a book. Then I tried writing my own stories. I suppose it’s what every writer does.

3. Would you like to share with us your style of writing, genre and subject matter? What kind of audience do your writings look for?

I write for everyone, mainly for myself. I am still learning and my style has evolved. Mirrors could be classed as Literary Fiction but I am fascinated by Dystopian literature, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood or even Science Fiction by writers such as Ursula K Le Guin or Magic Realism by Salman Rushdie. And of course, Children’s Literature, be it picture books or longer chapter books, by authors such as Michael Rosen or David Almond. I do not want to limit myself to one particular genre. I still have a lot of learning and practising to do, before I can decide on what I’m really good at.

4. In a world full of aspiring writers, how often do you find it challenging to get your book published?

It’s incredibly hard to get your book published in today’s world. I was fortunate enough to have found Holland House who was looking for new voices and unrepresented writers. They were able to take me through the whole process, relatively painlessly and it was a wonderful learning experience. I was lucky at that time. I’m not sure how lucky I will be in the future. I also think that there are some agents and publishers who are looking for that magic formula that always sells; romance, for example, with a happy ending or a story about a group of women with sordid secrets. Unless you’re an established writer, the market does not really encourage risk. At the same time, I really do believe, that if you have an excellent story, and great writing, your time will come.

5. Personally, as a writer, what do you always try to convey to your readers?

Hope. I think I would like to convey hope and honesty. Honesty about who you are and what you stand for and Hope that nothing is set in stone. No matter how bad things get, the story never really ends.

6. Your novel Mirrors deals with the idea of self, identity, and truth. Would you like to elaborate to our readers about your upcoming novel whether it has some similarity with the first one?

My next novel is nothing like Mirrors. It was written for adults with some very mature themes and moments. But my next novel is aimed at Young Adults. It’s a fantasy about a girl searching for a way to save her world, at the heart of it. It’s inspired by my own children and a young person’s struggles to find themselves, especially when the world around them encourages us to grow up and lead a quite blinkered existence.

7. What would be your advice for aspiring authors?

Keep reading and keep writing. All writers will say the same thing. Writing is like a muscle that you just have to keep exercising. Expose yourself to everything; new ideas, new styles, new genres. You can never be good enough, there is always more to learn. Good writing is good writing, whether it is written for toddlers, yes, toddlers! Or middle-aged men so always just strive for good writing.

Thank you Devjani Bodepudi for becoming a part of Quillopia.

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