CHENNAI:Author Timeri N Murari has always kept himself busy while living across the USA, the UK and India. He started his career in journalism in 1965 and his first article was on his experience in a British Columbia logging camp published in The Guardian. Since then he has worked with Indian and international newspapers before shifting to writing fiction in 1973, when his first novel, The Marriage, was published. In his boyhood days, Timeri immersed himself in reading, dived into his family’s extensive collection of novels, encyclopedias, history books, non-fiction etc. We catch up with the now Chennai-based author, ahead of his conversation with Life Coach, Happiness Curator and Author AVIS Viswanathan at Wandering Artist this weekend. Excerpts follow.
Most of your books look at controversial topics — such as Taliban Cricket Club. Isn’t that risky?
Not really (laughs). I write to express what is happening around me, and sometimes that appeals to people, and maybe sometimes it doesn’t. But I write exactly the way I feel about things, because all writers need to be honest with themselves and their writing, no matter what happens!
How are your ideas born?
There are ideas all around me — personal life, newspapers and magazines. For instance, the Taliban Cricket Club was a result of a clipping that said the Taliban are going to introduce cricket in Afghanistan, in 2000. I was intrigued — you couldn’t clap, sing, dance, keep birds but suddenly they allow cricket?! That grabbed my attention, and I wrote about it.
How difficult is it to shift between writing for newspaper, books, plays, and films?
It needs a lot of re-thinking, basically, because it’s a different form. You need to work out how best to say something — will this work better as a novel, or a play or a film? Deciding this takes a lot of my time, and when I feel comfortable with it, I start writing.
We can’t judge a book by its cover, but do you believe we can judge one by its title?
It’s hard to tell. I think Gabriel Marquez, whom I admire very much, has great titles to his books — 100 Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera. I can never think of such great titles. They grab your attention; so yes, a title does do a lot to make a browser become a reader.
Your current projects?
I’m working on a new fiction and a non-fiction book as well. The former is set in another state and can be considered a mystery, but it’s got more to do with how democracy is under threat everywhere and how the world is changing around us. I’m also working on a few film scripts.
We’re going to give you a difficult task of choosing your favourite in your own books.
(Laughs) Ah, that would be Four Steps From Paradise. It’s very personal to me, because it’s set in the Madras that I grew up in, not Chennai. The story looks at a family, its problems and conflicts, and how each character manages to survive.
What about Madras do you miss?
It used to be a wonderful garden city, with lots of space and shade. It was a great city to grow up in. Now, there seems to be lack of urban planning — we are widening roads for cars, but having no pavements for the majority population who walk.
Listen to more from Timeri N Murari at The Artist’s Soul curated by AVIS Viswanathan at the Wandering Artist from 7 pm onwards. Entry is free, doors open at 6.45 pm.
For details call: 9840111425