Today, I'm excited to bring you an interview with Sweta Srivastava Vikram, author of Louisiana Catch. A thriller that steps beyond the mystery genre, Louisiana Catch tackles a host of timely issues including online relationships, violence against women and feminism on a global scale. (I'm also excited to be able to meet Vikram at the upcoming Louisiana Book Festival in November!)
"A moving, modern story about letting go of the past in order to find true empowerment. As a longtime advocate of women in need, Sweta Vikram doesn't shy away from difficult topics. Louisiana Catch deals with the complexities of love, loss, history and home."
Which character in the novel gave you the most trouble?
So glad you asked this. Jay Dubois was annoyingly difficult to write. He is not the kind of person I would want to engage in my day-to-day life or allow in my personal space. It was creation from a place of unfamiliarity. Writing him while struggling to not get upset wasn’t always easy because he is truly that brilliant and psychopathic. Because Jay Dubois is the most complex and nuanced character in Louisiana Catch, I read books on psychology and interviewed psychotherapists.
Are there any writers you’re jealous of?
Not really. Jealousy stems from fear and the fear of missing out. I believe there is a big pie of publishing and there is enough for each of us to get a sliver. I am focused on my own path and realize there is no room for competition or jealousy as it is counter-productive. How do you measure your success against someone else’s? Where does jealousy end? At what point do you say start and stop? I am definitely inspired by other writers and there are a few I admire a lot. But am not jealous of because it seems pointless and endless. We are all here to go about our own journeys. I’d much rather conserve my energy for things that nourish me.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I am grateful that I write in different genres, so I can always switch back and forth between poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to handle writer’s block. I also meditate and teach yoga. That’s been greatly helpful in embracing the highs and lows of a creative life—you show up to your words with dedication, just like you would show up to the yoga mat, and your words might surprise you. But commitment is key. Once you put aside your ego and expectations (just because you want to write doesn’t mean there will be a shower of words in that very moment), everything gets easier. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Have you ever given up on a writing project?
I haven’t given up, but sometimes, the book has given up on me and refused to move, no matter how many times I try. But that is part of a writer’s life. So, you put in your 100% but remain detached to the outcome of your efforts. Nothing feels crushingly dramatic then.
What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?
My debut U.S. novel Louisiana Catch. I spent years researching, interviewing, teaching, and writing this book. Louisiana Catch changed me and my writing. People are able to relate with the characters and the story. The book has resonated with survivors. It’s spoken to men and women across different ethnicities. It's timely given the #MeToo movement and is already on U.K.'s The Asian Writer’s list of “Books to Read in 2018" and for two weeks in a row, on Amazon's #1 new release under women's divorce fiction. And, it’s for this book and my work, I won the Voices of the Year award, which is given to women whose voice and platform has been used to make the world a better and more equitable place. I am honored that Chelsea Clinton has been a recipient of this award in the past.