By Aminah Sheikh
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?
I write because I love to write. From childhood I have loved reading, and it was a natural progression to write stories as I grew older.
Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
My publisher, Speaking Tiger, published my novel, Son of the Thundercloud in December 2016. It is the story of the Christ-child growing up as a Naga boy. I experimented with placing a well-known story in a completely different setting and giving it a different cultural background, transferring the mystery elements with it. It gave me the freedom to write about things that are very close to my heart: kindness, love and what my publisher calls the eternal aspect of life and love.
Describe your writing aesthetic.
It depends on whether I am writing fiction or non-fiction. Some books stay in my head for a long time before they come out on paper. I have writing bouts where I begin my days with writing and don’t stop until the last chapter as I don’t like leaving anything unfinished. If I am writing poetry, I go out of doors, sit in a cafe or sit by the boats alone for hours.
Who are your favorite authors?
Moris Farhi, Hugh McLellan, Ben Okri, Robin Ngangom, Tim Winton, Astrid Lindgren, Graham Cooke, Max Lucado, Michael Leunig, etc.
What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.
It would probably be MARI, a book on the Second World War and the Japanese Invasion of India via the Naga Hills. I used my aunt Mari’s diary and her memories and my mother’s memories to reconstruct the Kohima town as they knew it 60 odd years ago. Reconstructing historical events and details is both challenging and fascinating.
What’s your idea of bliss?
A windy day that I can spend indoors with lots of unread comics and good tea.
What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?
People hurting other people.
What books would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?
The poetry of Hans Børli, Dylan Thomas, and Matthew Mouse. Early novels of Chinua Achebe and Thomas Hardy.
Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you?
Grab as many books as possible to take with me.
Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.
Live with intentional kindness.
Easterine Kire is a poet, novelist, short-story writer and writer of children’s books. Her first novel, A Naga Village Remembered, was also the first Naga novel to be published in English. Her other novels include Bitter Wormwood (shortlisted for the Hindu Prize 2013) and When the River Sleeps (winner of the Hindu Prize 2015). Son of the Thundercloud (2016) is her latest book.
Easterine Kire’s work has been translated into German, Croatian, Uzbek, Norwegian and Nepali. In 2011 she was awarded the governor’s medal for excellence in Naga literature.
Aminah Sheikh is the Online Editor of Kitaab