Richa Lakhera, an artist, writer, teacher and journalist, is an associate editor and anchor (entertainment) with a prominent news channel. Her debut novel, Garbage Beat, has been published recently by HarperCollins. She is now working on her next book, a sci-fi thriller.
QDescribe your favourite writing space.My writing space would be my room which has a symbolic painting of Hypatia (first woman Greek mathematician) done by me. Hypatia was dragged off her chariot by a mob and stripped naked and hacked to death and burnt by jealous, intolerant zealots who thought a woman had nothing of import above her neck. She gives me strength... My science books and painting equipment keep me in a state of restlessness. An old music set where only tape button works, a football table to just throw things around and David Bowie smoking his head off in a corner help me to concentrate.
QDo you have a writing schedule?None. No schedule. Just the habit of writing. You live, you write. I would rather write one book of consequence in my whole life than be the Queen of Persia for ever.
QEver struggled with writer’s block?Not yet, but maybe that’s because I don’t discard anything. I am not too posh to engage with the most pedestrian ideas to the most abstract and bizzare. Zeno’s paradoxes which talk of impossibility of motion to Goya’s bizzare ideas to the surrealist movement in art to porn to Batman — I pick up germs of ideas from anything and then the mind sets about sieving the idea till, finally, I try to reach a truth which is universal.
QWhat inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?I invest deeply in several ideas and random notions. But science is the biggest inspiration. So is art. I read theorems and principles and proofs and probability. Understanding the idea of line and composition excites me. I seek inspiration from whatever excites me and channel that into writing and painting. I don’t know what drives what.
QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?You will think I am a freak! But the word count exceeds the cup count. I don’t smoke. So I won’t be gassed (just tarred) to death.
QWhich books are you reading at present?I am reading about Austrian artist Egon Schiele and what inspired him to paint the way he did. I am reading biographies of L.S. Lowry who had a sense of the absurd, Salvador Dali and his paranoic critical method to paint or Goya’s gloomy black paintings and fantastic imaginings and satires on high society and ghastly visions of the horrors of war. I am reading maths theorems, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle as my next book has a science teacher as the main protagonist. I am trying to read about Hypatia, the head of the neo-Platonist school of philosophy at Alexandria. She invented an equipment to measure the position of stars, planets and the sun.
QWho are your favourite authors?Oscar Wilde (for Dorian Gray and Happy Prince), Charles Dickens (for Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations), Ayn Rand (for The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged), Stephen King ( for Misery, Needful Things, Hearts in Atlantis). And, of course, the king and the queen of literature: J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.
QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?Rubbish! I think one man’s garbage could be another man’s food. I’m totally against any sort for ban on books. If anything needs to be banned, I think people who have more “reach” than “grasp” are the ones who need to be “banned”.
QWhich is the most under-rated book?Dictionary. Read. Maths books. Read. Chemistry books. Read. Art books. Read. They are a source of infinite knowledge and ideas.
QWhich are your favourite children’s books?Alastair Reid’s Ounce Dice Trice with its wondrous waywardness of words. A delicious confection and a wildly unexpected exploration of sound and sense and nonsense that is like nothing else!!! Light words, heavy words, words on the move and odd words, words that jump at you, words that attack you, words which read both ways and words that read the wrong way around… Totally Crumpiliciously Toucherasticc Readilicious!!