Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

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

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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.