She Reads South Asia


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview with Diepak Paul, Author of A Tale of Two Slaves and Free Men: Who Never Saw Home Again

Can you tell us about your family background and where you were born and brought up?

I was born from Punjabi parents who were living in South India at the time of my birth in the industrial township of Blarshah. My mother was a teacher and my father was an administrator. I had a head injury as an infant and was paralyzed on my left side. My parents moved to Pilani in Rajasthan in north western India to a university township now known for housing the BITS (Birla institute of Technology and Science). I partially recovered and did my school there then I moved to Delhi. After completing my B.A. in tourism, I started to work in textiles as there weren’t many opportunities that field. I left India in 1988 to work in a garment factory in Jamaica, and have since worked in Hong Kong, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and the British Virgin Islands. This is where I had my last near fatal accident before migrating to Canada.

Why did you choose to write a tale about slavery?

I learned about it from my mother, and while studying economics in school. I saw the face of it when I came away from India, and felt strongly about the past of the West Indies. Also my visit to the port in Kingston Jamaica after Hurricane Gilbert on September 12, 1988, where I saw this Rastafarian man looking at the sea was part of it. On asking he said, “Many ships go from here but none take us home.” The Rastafarian believe that their homeland to be Ethiopia.

Lastly while I was recovering from my operation my services were terminated by my employer and wanting to do some work I wrote it.

Was it a conscious decision not to add more graphic details about slavery, such as was portrayed in novels like Alex Hailey's Roots?

No, this was a spontaneous work, after my accident it was written in less than eleven days. It just came out of my gut.

With all that Abdul and Moses went through, what do you think was their driving force which helped them to survive rather than give up?

I believe it was their inherent strengths, patience, and ability to look at everything until they understood it. They were taught and remembered well from their childhood.

What inward connection do you have to the characters in your book?

My feelings are for immigrants who come with a lot of learning, and capacity to learn with them, but have to wait for their turn some times. Often, this only comes either by chance or waiting a long time and mentors who are kind.

As a first time author, what were the most difficult challenges in writing your book and what were the easiest or most enjoyable?

The challenge was my own inertia of not doing it. The pleasure was doing it while nature allowed it to be done.

How long did the process of writing your book take you from start to finish? 

It started with the last paragraph written in 1988, which stayed in my note book until I wrote the rest in November of 2011, while I was incapacitated by an accident.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be an author?

Preparation is the key to the result. I think I would have done better if I had prepared more. Musa was prepared by his mentor for him to be what he became in the end.

Can you give us any details about the other novels which you are working on?

There are three that I am writing. The first one is about this man in the city of Delhi, who was a street sweeper, and supported his family to become successful. He was not born a shudra (untouchable) but accepted to work as that and completed his mission of settling his family.
The second is about this boy in the Caribbean, who has grown up without his parents to support him.
The third is about this informally trained scientist and engineer in the future.

Is there anything you would like to add?

If doing this will give me my livelihood I will write more. Even the ones I am writing will only be published if I can support the process.

(ISBN: 978-1-61897-864-6) is now available for $12 and can be ordered through the publisher's website: Diepak Paul or at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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