Writer's Block: Bindu Suresh

August 13, 2019

Bindu Suresh is a debut novelist to watch for: her gorgeous novel-in-stories 26 Knots (Invisible Publishing) has been described by Claudia Dey as "a lightspeed Romeo and Juliet, a billet doux to Montreal" and by the Montreal Gazette as "one of the most striking Canadian literary debuts of the year." We were lucky enough to chat with Bindu about her favourite books, what drives her to write, and tricks for preventing writer's block. 

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All Lit Up: What do you enjoy reading?

Bindu Suresh: My favourite authors are Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison and Jorge Luis Borges. I have individual favourite books apart from the works of these writers, as well: Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo), Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie), The End of the Affair (Graham Greene), The Death of Artemio Cruz (Carlos Fuentes), The Lover (Marguerite Duras), and Atonement (Ian McEwan) come to mind immediately, if I were to name a few. In general, I gravitate toward modern novels and short stories (anything written from the 1920s onward) that bring me a new understanding of people’s inner workings and relationships.


ALU: Do you have a book that you’ve gone back and read several times?

BS: Actually, no. I don’t think I’ve ever read the same book twice, though I want to and probably should (for example: did I really understand The Great Gatsby when I read it at the age of 12? Probably not!). The list of unread books that I am eager to read is just so long that I’ll likely never make it back to even my most beloved favourites.


ALU: What’s one book you always recommend?

BS: The answer to this question has changed over the years. My first favourite book was Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. In my 20s, it was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. More recently, I’ve been recommending The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.





Bindu's pristine writing space:
 "I find that if the physical space around me is clear, my mind is clear, so I really do keep my workspace this pristine."




ALU: Why do you write?

BS: Growing up, it was from fiction that I learned how to live a happy and good life. That’s why I became a writer, as well — I imagined that if even a single line I wrote could help a single person see their life differently, bring them to a realization, or allow them to find beauty where it was hidden before, then I would have made a valuable contribution to the world. I don’t profess to have the skill to achieve that, but the possibility that I could help someone in precisely the way in which I was helped — through the wisdom in poetry and stories — is what drives me to write.


ALU: Have you experienced writer’s block? What did you do about it? 

BS: I used to much more than I do now, as I’ve learned tricks to work around it. My first trick is to try to prevent writer’s block by quitting while I’m ahead the day before; I’ll end the previous day’s writing session when I still have an idea of where I want to go next. That way, when I resume writing the next day, I’m picking up where I left off instead of starting from scratch with a blank page in front of me. If I get stuck while I’m writing, I take a break to do something athletic (usually swimming, weightlifting or rock climbing).



Bindu's advice:

"...that’s the only way you’ll take risks, and taking a risk is the only way you’ll write something beautiful."






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Bindu Suresh lives in downtown Montreal with her husband, their toddler, and their newborn baby. Her day (and often night) job is as a pediatrician, so in her work life she stacks blocks and examines children and in her home life she stacks blocks and examines children. Other jobs she has held include newspaper journalist and bookstore employee. Other places she has lived include Ottawa, Calgary, small-town Saskatchewan, midsize-town Wales, New York, Buenos Aires, and Beijing. 26 Knots is her first novel. Find out more at www.bindusuresh.com.





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A special thanks to Julie at Invisible Publishing for connecting us with Bindu, and to Bindu for answering our questions! For more writer's block, click here.


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