Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Shilpi Somaya Gowda on childhood monsters and other inspirations

The author of The Golden Son answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Shilpi Somaya Gowda is the author of the novel The Golden Son. (Stacy Bostrom)

Shilpi Somaya Gowda's second novel, The Golden Son, seems predestined for greatness. Highly anticipated by fans of Shilpi's bestselling first novel, Secret Daughter, the book about a conflicted prodigal son has already been optioned for film.

Below, Shilpi Somaya Gowda answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Karen Solie asks, "What do you do for fun? If you think writing is fun, what else do you do?"

I love reading a wide variety of books, playing board games and puzzles with my family, cooking elaborate meals, exercising and being active (especially outdoors).

2. Anthony Bidulka asks, "What has been your best experience with a reader of your work?"

After my first novel was published, I reconnected with my high school English teacher who had been a big influence in making me a serious reader and a writer. He'd read my book, recognized my name and reached out to me. I was happy to finally have a chance to tell him how important he'd been to me.

3. Susan Juby asks, "What has been the most pleasurable or exciting moment in your writing life thus far?"

I was on an elliptical machine in Dallas on a Monday morning, and I received an email that I'd gotten the first offer on my first novel. That moment, when I realized I would be published, was the culmination of what I'd worked towards for the previous two years, and dreamed about for much longer. 

4. Lori Lansens asks, "If you could have dinner with one of your literary heroes, living or dead, who would it be? Where would you eat? What, besides books, would you talk about?"

I would choose Harper Lee, and eat at her favourite neighbourhood restaurant in New York. I would ask her what other stories she thought about or tried writing through the years. I think it's unlikely that a writer like her didn't have other stories in her. I'd also be curious about her cultural experiences growing up in the South and living in New York, and of course, Truman Capote.

5. Bill Richardson asks, "Do you truly understand when to use a semi-colon?"

Probably not; grammar is not my strong suit. I tend to use an em dash instead. 

6. J.B. MacKinnon asks, "You can write your next book at a desk with a view of the sea, of a busy European plaza, or of a blank wall right in front of your desk. Which do you choose, and why?"

A view of the sea. I like to write in a place with few distractions (which, for me, means people and noises), and I also find water and nature very calming and inspiring. I'm fortunate to live near the Pacific Ocean, so I go to the beach to stir creativity when I need to.

7. Will Ferguson asks, "Do you socialize with other writers? Why or why not?" 

One of the greatest boons of being professional author is meeting other authors — often those I've read and admired for years — at festivals and on tours, and I enjoy staying in touch with them afterwards to share experiences and advice.

8. Claire Holden Rothman asks, "What kind of a child were you that you grew up to write fiction? What were the formative influences?"

I was an avid reader, that kid with the flashlight under the covers at night. My father also told me homespun stories that fed my imagination from an early age (I truly believed there was a purple people-eater living in our backyard). I've always felt that fiction is the best way for me to try to make sense of life, both reading it, and now, writing it.

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