Anokhi DIY / Entertainment & Gossip / Chat With Author Vivek Shraya Of ‘She of the Mountains’

Chat With Author Vivek Shraya Of ‘She of the Mountains’

Anokhi DIY Entertainment & Gossip Jan 06, 2015

 

"I felt that the only way to challenge the kind of biphobia I have experienced was to write a bi/queer love story."

Vivek Shraya is a multi-disciplinary artist who has written and performed several songs and published a critically acclaimed collection of short stories called God Loves Hair as well as his most recent work, full-length novel She Of The Mountains. In this recent outing, Vivek explores a bi/queer love story, one that opens a world of reimagined narratives and mythology creating a new and fresh perspective on life, love, religion and sexuality.

ANOKHI MEDIA's Daniel Ashwin Pillai was able to sit down with the artist and speak about his personal and professional journey with his new book. 


DANIEL PILLAI: I understand that this is your first full-length novel, after your collection of short stories, God Loves Hair. How has the artistic experience been for you thus far? 

VIVEK SHRAYA: The experience has been incredible — incredibly surprising and an incredible relief. I had been very stressed for the months leading up to release of She of the Mountains, uncertain about how (and if) it would be received. I am so grateful the response has been positive. 

DP: What inspired the creation of She of the Mountains, which is a modern-day love story with reworked Hindu mythology? Tell me about this. 

VS: I felt that the only way to challenge the kind of biphobia I have experienced was to write a bi/queer love story. But in writing about love, I realized that first I had to write about hate and how the experience of hate embeds itself in the body, preventing love from entering. While thinking about bodies, I began to recall stories from Hindu mythology that featured themes of embodiment and from there, the idea of the book featuring two narratives — a love story and a re-imagined Hindu mythology — emerged. 

DP: The book features gorgeous illustrations by artist Raymond Biesinger that provide a fresh new look into mythological representations. Tell me about this collaboration. Why did you feel visuals were necessary for this novel? 

VS: One of my goals in re-imagining Hindu narratives was to strip them of patriarchal themes where possible. Eventually, I grew curious how visuals could expand on the writing, especially as Hindu mythology has a history of being told alongside illustration. How might goddess Parvati, for example, who is traditionally only portrayed with her husband or her family, look on her own? 

Illustration By Raymond Biesinger Illustration By Raymond Biesinger
                                         Illustrations By Raymond Biesinger

DP: You've stated that you've always wanted to write a bi/queer love story in an effort to challenge biphobia and bi assumptions. Tell me how you have been able to achieve this with She of the Mountains.

VS: The hope was that if readers fell in love with this atypical love story, between a queer man and a straight woman, that it would also force them to acknowledge and even question their own hidden biases. If a queer man is in love with a woman, is he automatically closeted or confused? If a straight woman is in love with a queer man, is she automatically delusional or desperate? These are the questions I wanted to explore. 

DP: From your collection of short stories, God Loves Hair, to this recent novel, how do you think you have evolved as an artist and writer?

VS: When I wrote God Loves Hair, it was a one-off. I had no intentions of writing another book or pursuing any kind of literary path. But largely due to the response the book elicited, I built the confidence to write again. I hope it is that confidence that also shows in She of the Mountains, specifically in the stylistic and content decisions I made.

DP: You've embarked on a book tour for the release of this novel. What has the public reception been of the novel?

VS: The response on tour was moving, especially being able to meet and connect with so many bisexuals who identified with the book.

Featured Image: Zachary Ayotte
Book Cover: Arsenal Pulp Press
Video Teaser: Vimeo – Vivek Shraya
Illustrations: www.fifteen.ca

Watch this episode of ANOKHI PULSE TV, where you can find out more about Vivek's passion for writing, his singing and songwriting and his community activism. 

Daniel Pillai

Daniel Pillai

Author

Daniel is the Digital Media Manager for ANOKHI MEDIA and the host for ANOKHI's entertainment channel, PULSE TV. As part of the dream team, Daniel manages all multiple channels under ANOKHI’s portfolio, while also training new on-air talent, and showing budding p...

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