ABP- Hello Sara. Thank you for taking this interview. This past October, ABP was lucky to be able to publish your short story collection Morsels of Purple. What can you tell us about this book? What was the process of writing it like?
SSC- Morsels of Purple is a collection of short fiction that represents the mosaic of a woman’s life—girlhood and its impoverishment, womanhood and its heartbreaks, wifehood and its travails, motherhood and its responsibility, childlessness and its curse. The stories, spanning across cultural and geographical boundaries—India, the USA, and Europe—offer a glimpse into the lives of women in different situations and stages of relationships.
I wrote these stories over the past four years or so, honestly, not with the intention of putting together a collection, but because I wanted to write them. Last year when I paused to look at my work, I found these fifty plus stories clearly resonating a theme and decided to compile them in a book.
ABP- Are you currently working on anything right now?
SSC– I am working on the edits for my chapbook Skin Over Milk to be released in the summer of 2022. This book is not a collection of different stories but one tale based in India, told in ten chapters. Besides that, I continue to write flash and micro fiction when I find time and inspiration.
ABP– Who is your favorite writer? What is your favorite book?
SSC- My favorite writers and books change from time to time because there are so many excellent books in the world. Currently, I am re-reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. More than the story itself, I marvel at the author’s craft, his ability to create a world through his words, bringing Afghanistan, its culture and people alive for those who’ve never visited the country.
ABP- Can you share a sample of your writing with us? Maybe a short story, or a poem?
SSC– Here’s my one-sentence story A Place published by Matter Press. It’s based on the Tsunami of 2004 that hit the Indian Ocean.
we fell in love with and made our home, a place where crabs crawled up to the porch as we sat in bamboo chairs, sipping our morning chai, inhaling the fragrance of frangipani, listening to the bulbul song we had come to expect, the first rays shining into our eyes, the clouds swarming in unannounced, the rush to draw plastic covers around the verandah where yesterday’s laundry was still drying, the palm fronds whispering some secrets long after the rain, the gray-green mold that covered our leather shoes and anything else left unattended for a while, the centipedes nesting by the sink in the kitchen, the geckos peeking in from net-lined windows, the sweetest bananas with a rare orange pulp hanging in bunches on the tree in the back, the creamiest coconuts we gathered and ground into chutneys, the sprigs of aromatic curry leaves from the neighbor’s tree that replaced cilantro in our soups, a place we thought knew everything about, the reef fragments we observed on our evening walks, the white sands, the crystal clear water, the sound of waves that lulled us to sleep, the hooting of an owl that sometimes woke us up, and yet we could not see the angst buried under the surface, the roar that emerged from the bosom of Earth early that morning, the tremors and gasps, the cracks and crevices, the screams and howls, the panic and prayer, then a wave rising taller than the palm trees, washing, erasing all we knew.
ABP– I can see that in addition to being a brilliant writer, you work as an editor as well. What are some of the publications you have worked on as an editor?
SSC- I am a fiction editor at Janus Literary and a Submissions Editor at SmokeLong Quarterly. Being an editor and working with other editors is a learning experience. It broadens my perspective and helps me view a story from different angles.
ABP- Thanks again for being a part of this feature, Sara. The floor is all yours. If there is anything you would like to mention that we have not already covered, please do.
SSC- I am a writer of color. English is not my first language. Sometimes I know the perfect word or expression in my native language, Hindi, but struggle to translate my thoughts to English. It might take longer for me to get the right words in English than native speakers but I’m trying to get better by reading more and diverse genres. I also use Hindi words and references to Indian food in my stories. And, I don’t attach a glossary, hoping the context of the story is clear enough for the readers to interpret the meaning of the foreign words. Then, of course, there is Google.