Monday 25 May 2015
Blog Tour: Ravinder Randhawa guest post
Today I have the pleasure of opening Ravi's blog tour for her books Beauty and the Beast and Dynamite. Below we have a guest post from the author herself and a giveaway, which you can enter here!
Why I have British-Asian Protagonists
My main protagonist is always a British-Asian woman, no matter what the story-line may be. However, characters from all kinds of backgrounds populate my novels too, but the leading character is always British-Asian and female.
In the beginning it was a way of exploring my own existence as a British-Asian woman: externalising experience, history, and ideas through the fictional form. A novel is often a way of answering and re-ordering the world, of saying, ‘actually the reality is a little different to what you imagine, and we don’t like the clothes you’re putting us into therefore we’re going to do this... .’ The ‘this’ can be anything from a character initiating a masquerade, as the heroine of my first novel A Wicked Old Woman does, to a character saying, ‘you may be right, but I’m going to turn things upside down and sideways around and give MY take on the potpourri of life’, as Hari-jan does in Beauty and the Beast, the YA novel.
Although I don’t write ‘experiential’ novels, i.e. novels that are derived largely from the writer’s life experience, I do feel it to be more truthful to me as a writer to make the main protagonist British-Asian, because that’s the lens through which I see the world. Not Indian, not English, but this strange hybrid that’s evolved in England; which is a little bit of India, a little bit of England and a little bit of something new. I suppose I could call it my sensibility, consciousness, perception…
I feel this double-faceted lens, gives a richer, broader, more imaginative view of the world. Instinctively therefore, I know there’s a greater complexity to life, a diversity of ideas and perspectives, which may contradict each other, or stand oddly next to each other, but which encourage tolerance, thoughtfulness and the development of knowledge. Like a tapestry woven from different patterns.
In addition, it’s as if my main protagonist, because she’s British-Asian and female, is my partner. We launch ourselves into a story (onto a sea as it were) and we don’t know exactly where we’re going, what unknown perils or problems are going to come up and threaten to derail us, or what’s going to happen at the end, but somehow, we get there together.
The red-hot alarm, the danger is that the writer must not confuse herself with the protagonist. This is a challenge all writers face. It’s the point where writing becomes as much craft as creativity, ensuring that the characters, whoever they are, belong entirely to themselves and sustain their own existence on the page. With their own logic, contradictions, conflicts, weaknesses, ambitions, ambiguities or whatever comes from the theme. And this takes a lot of work. For me, developing the characters (whether British-Asian or not) goes hand in hand with developing the story. It doesn’t happen in one go, but through revisions, changes and edits. Well, they do say, character is story and story is character.
A novel is a conversation between the writer and the reader conducted through the fictional character. Each brings their own knowledge, experience, curiosity or expectations to it. I believe that fiction presents truths, and therefore fiction, whether as books, poems or songs, is as necessary to life as the clothes we wear. Stories have been told since time immemorial, whether around village fires, medieval halls or through YouTube shorts. Because of the importance of story, fiction, truth, perhaps intuitively I start from a central point in my consciousness, and then develop character and story as far as they can imaginatively travel.
Actually, most writers do exactly the same! Most white male writers, have white male protagonists, most black women writers have black women protagonists and so on. I believe that stories should stand on their own, irrespective of who or what the writer is, but the consciousness composing the story, inevitably filters through.
My protagonists are British-Asian females, but the stories in which they star can be adventures, dreams, sci-fi, social issues, or the turmoil of love and heartbreak.
Ravinder Randhawa 14th May 2015.