Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

Samrat Upadhyay

Samrat UpadhyaySamrat Upadhyay is the author of the novels Arresting God in Kathmandu and Buddha's Orphans.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

I have a multitude of strategies I use, but the one that I find consistently helpful is what I call "thinking in opposites." If I feel that my character is, for example, an outgoing, boisterous fellow, then I imagine what happens if he was exactly the opposite, i.e., an introvert, introspective type. My writer's blocks come usually from rigid thinking about my fictional world, as though it were a solid, real thing. Once I can convince myself that it's all a big, giant illusion, then there's the possibility of a breakthrough.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

It seems to me that anything related to family generates a lot of energy, so start something with "My mother" or "My father" and let your imagination go wild.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

My teacher and mentor Ian McMillan in Hawaii used to say that if someone tells you you can't do a something in fiction, then your job is to go home and figure out a way to do exactly that and get away with it. The advice is not craft specific, but it's a wonderfully liberating view of literature in that anything is possible. You write what you need to write—to the hell with the world.