Here are five such viral food videos that shocked us this week
The subconscious mind is the source of a great deal of fiction. The stories just rise to the surface. Human mind is always looking at the world and inquiring about its possibilities. That's where the stories come from. In addition, of course, you may hear something, you may read something, you may see something that could provide the trigger for the plots. The other day, I was walking back home from across a park in Edinburgh and the wind was blowing and there were clouds all over and a scene came to my mind for a novel that I am currently working on. This happens as one goes through life. As a novelist, you're on duty all the time to listen and observe.
I think writing is like any other activity; practice helps you. So, the more of it you do, the more proficient you become. I think one develops better pathways. It's like playing the piano - the more you practice your scales, the better you become at putting your fingers on the right keys on the keyboard.
As a novelist, you have to put yourself in the shoes of other people all the time and look at the world through their eyes. You make that imaginative leap. So, for example, in case of the Mma Ramotswe books, I had worked in Botswana and knew many people like her. That applies to all the characters in my books. It's really about trying to develop an empathetic understanding of people. One has to be careful, though. Sometimes, you may get it wrong and there might be circumstances in which you wouldn't be able to understand that experience wholly. So while you make that leap, you've got to do so thoughtfully.
That's interesting. Well, I often don't plan a plot very much in advance. As I write it, I find that all sorts of developments occur, which I may not have necessarily anticipated. When I start writing a book, there's considerable measure of uncertainty. Then it fleshes itself out eventually. Again, human mind is always looking at uncertainties and suggesting solutions, although you may not be aware that you're doing it. It's like solving a crossword puzzle. You may try to think of a way through it, but you have absolutely no idea how to do it. And then suddenly, it comes to you. And that's because your mind, unknown to you, has been doing that - processing the information and looking at possibilities. I think I relish uncertainty.
Well, right at the beginning, I had a difficulty in getting a paperback publisher in the UK. Books were published by a small publisher in Scotland. My agents tried to speak to publishers in England. At that stage, we didn't get much interest from the publishers. I think part of that was because many may not have known where Botswana was, it wasn't 'mainstream'. The books were imported by the Columbia University Press in the US. Then, The New York Times did a full-page article on them. At that point, it took off. That's when London publishers picked it up.
Precious Ramotswe is interesting in that she is not the detective who has all the answers. She comes with her own vulnerabilities and doubts. How much of her own doubts and fears are yours?
Precious Ramotswe doesn't have all the answers... She realises she can be wrong. That probably reflects how I see the world - I do not have all the answers either. If I were tackling any of the problems that she is tackling, I would have had the same difficulties. I think fictional characters do reflect the author who creates them. Or they're aspirational. Like if you look at thrillers like James Bond novels, a lot of it is wish-fulfillment (laughs). She is a kind woman, I admire kindness. For example, if I am ever tempted to be mean, I hear Mma Ramotswe telling me, "Is this what you really want to do?" (laughs).
I think you've got to like the characters. Also, readers have to like them because they actually - and this is something I learnt when my books began to have a dialogue with a larger readership - form close relationships with the characters. The other aspect of living with a character for so long is that you look forward to having further conversations with them. They become old friends. Like friends, they often say the same thing. So, Mma Ramotswe often expresses her views and says, "That is very well-known." Readers connect with these things.
I don't have fierce critics at home. I would find that difficult. What one wants from family is unqualified support. You want them to say, "This is great. Just carry on" (laughs). And then you should have someone to say, "There, your clothes aren't fashionable." When you have daughters, it's your clothing that draws fierce criticism at home, not necessarily writing (laughs). One of my daughters, a long time ago, looked at me and said, "Daddy, your clothes are tragic." That was long time ago, but my clothes haven't changed.
I write what I want to write. The books have been very successful and that provides a reassurance that you can choose what you want to write. Publishers will be more receptive to things if the books do well. However, reaching out to a very large readership means that you're aware that a lot of people are emotionally invested in the stories and, in a way, I don't have complete ownership of the characters. Sometimes, I receive moving letters of people who have been helped by the characters while they were going through chemotherapy or lost someone in the family. As I read these letters, I realise it is a serious responsibility.
Simplicity should remain a goal. You can make a profound point when you're writing in a light-hearted way. Write something that has a comic effect, but which nonetheless says a lot about human aspiration, loneliness, sadness or any of the problems that we see in the world. If you can write in a way which makes people think about things, without sounding preachy, you can get your point across.
The world of childhood has changed. It's really sad to see children being brought up playing aggressive video games where they have to shoot people. However, we cannot un-invent electronics. It's just a battle for parents. But then parenthood has always been a battle against undesirable influences. However, children still want a good story. In spite of the electronic noise that is all around us, a good, old-fashioned story is still greatly appreciated by children. It's a very basic human need - we need stories in our lives that make sense of the world around us. I read stories to my two-year-old grandson and he loves it. In my children's books - I have three coming out next year - there's no reference to electronics. None of my characters have a mobile phone or computer.
I loved Malgudi Days. I couldn't have written The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency had I not read R.K. Narayan. I was a late teenager when I read his stories first and found them very charming. In fact, I did the introduction for the American edition of Narayan's novels. At that point, I had had remote dealings with his family. Then, when I was in Chennai, I met them. He was a fan of Graham Greene and he had been one of my influences as well. So, it's interconnected in many ways.
I get about seven hours every day, but it's split up. I am up by 4 am and then write from 4 am to 6.30 am and then go back to bed. And then I manage to get out of the house. At the moment, I am spending a lot of time on the exercise bicycle and a very good low-carb diet (laughs).
Here are five such viral food videos that shocked us this week
Pakistani prisoners in UAE to be allowed to spend some duration of their sentence in their home country
Earlier, Djokovic took a huge leap towards a record 23rd men's Grand Slam title with victory against an ailing Alcaraz
In a statement, he accused opponents of trying to drive him out
The UAE collapsed after being comfortably placed at 150-3 in the 23rd over
Norwegian could face Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final after the Serbian defeated world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz
The Mexican-inspired street food joint has shared a picture of the latest offering on Instagram
Australia ended Day Three with 296 runs lead