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I had to learn to let go of facts, and trust my imagination: Deepa Anappara on writing ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’


The coveted AutHer Awards is a joint initiative by JK Paper and The Times of India, that acknowledges the work of Indian women writers for their outstanding books in various categories including fiction, non-fiction, best debut, children’s book and popular choice. Journalist turned author Deepa Anappara won the AutHer Award 2021 in the Best Debut category for her first novel ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ . Released in 2020, ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ tells the harsh realities of life in India’s slum. Apart from being recognised at the Auther Awards 2021, it has also received positive feedback internationally. In an email interview, Deepa Anappara talks about writing her book ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ and the joy of winning the AutHer Award. Excerpts from the interview:

1. How does it feel to receive the AutHer Award 2021?

I am pleased to receive the award and I’m grateful to the judges and organisers for supporting and encouraging women writers.

2. Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors, especially women?
My suggestions would be to persist even in the face of rejections, and to take the time and effort to work on one’s craft.

3. What is the biggest hurdle you faced as a writer?

To spend time writing fiction can seem like an indulgence particularly if you are not from an affluent background, so I always prioritised work that had the promise of a monthly salary at the end of it. It took me a long time to find the confidence, and the conviction, to set aside time for writing fiction.

4. Please share a way to approach publishers for aspiring writers?

In the UK, where I live now, or in the US, publishers don’t accept submissions directly from writers and you have to go through a literary agent.

5. You are a respected journalist and have been writing for years, how was it to switch from non-fiction to fiction?

It was quite difficult. I had to learn to let go of facts, and to trust my imagination to conjure up images.

6. Your book has been quite eye-opening for many readers. Do you plan to write more books on similar lines?

I am working on another novel, but it is too early to say anything about it.

7. Was ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ a way to introduce fiction readers to the realities of your research?

I wanted to explore the impact of children’s disappearances on a community, but through the eyes of children. In fiction you can only inhabit the perspectives of the characters, and depict the world as they see it.

8. Was there any place, person or incident in particular that inspired the book?

Disappearances of children, as we all know, are unfortunately frequent in India. My novel reflects that reality.



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