Rahul Pandita

How did you become a writer?

I think I was a very lonely child and hardly had any friends. I used to hide myself in a flower bed at my home and create imaginary worlds. The seed, I'd like to believe, was sown around that time. Later, as a refugee and then a journalist, I witnessed a lot of things that made me more and more angry. I'd like to think that much of my writing stems from that anger. 

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

No writer has had more influence on me than V.S. Naipaul. Ernest Hemingway has also been a great influence. Among modern, contemporary writers: David Foster Wallace. Also: Ryszard Kapuscinski, James Agee, CarsonMcCullers, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, John Cheever. 

When and where do you write? 

I try and write every day. As Vincent van Gogh writes in a letter to his brother Theo (quoting Rembrandt, I think!): Not a day without a line! But it is not always possible. I am not very disciplined and am prone to excessive bouts of procrastination. But sometimes I am overwhelmed by a desire to write and then do so like a madman. That delirium can last for days. I also write well under pressing deadlines. I like to write in cafes. 

What are you working on now? 

I am currently working on the screenplay of a film some of which is inspired by my last book, "Our Moon Has Blood Clots." After that, there is a very ambitious book of reportage that I will begin work on. But after that, I need to work on a love story that is like a thorn in my heart; I need to take that thorn out. 

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I suffer from it all the time, or so I think. But most of it is just laziness. Once you get to the paper - and I always like to write my first draft in long hand - it is all taken care of.

What’s your advice to new writers? 

My advice: read as much as you can. Write every day. Stay away from the internet as much as possible. And train yourself to listen to others. That is the biggest problem the mankind faces: nobody listens! 

Rahul Pandita is a writer-journalist based in New Delhi, India. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed "Our Moon has blood clots: A memoir of a lost home in Kashmir" and "Hello, Bastar: The untold story of India's Maoist movement." He has also co-authored "The Absent State: Insurgency as an excuse for misgovernance." He is currently working on a screenplay for one of India's most prominent filmmakers, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Rahul is a 2015 Yale World Fellow.