I am pleased to introduce Jocelyn Cullity to the Debutante Ball this week! Jocelyn Cullity’s English family lived in India for five generations. A sequel to the award-winning Amah & the Silk-Winged Pigeons, her second novel about the takeover of India by Britain is an exquisitely told tale of 19th-century India—a deep rendering of the moment that India as a country was colonized; a brilliant illustration of Hazrat Mahal’s fearless character and the depths of betrayal the last King in India faced.
Jocelyn Cullity teaches Creative Writing in the BFA Program in Creative Writing at Truman State University in Missouri. Her English family lived in India for five generations. Cullity’s first novel, published by Inanna, Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons, won the 15th annual Best Book Awards in Historical Fiction. and was included in the 2017 International “Recommended List of 20 Books” by The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction honoring books in the UK, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries. Her stories and essays have been published in Canada, the United States, and India. She was born in Australia, grew up north of Toronto, Canada, and has lived for periods of time in both India and England.
Read through and learn more about Jocelyn AND get your chance to win THE ENVY OF PARADISE.
You can follow Jocelyn online at:
And now to the interview!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison had an enormous impact on me when I first read it as an undergraduate. Morrison’s literary ability — what she could do with a sentence — blew me away. I went on to analyze every book she wrote, sentence by sentence. Reading Morrison taught me how to write a historical novel.
What time of day do you love best?
4 AM. It is entirely dark, the world (inside and outside my home) is not yet awake, and this is when I write best. The complete silence is addictive!
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why?
I used to say that my husband was too kind about my work, and not therefore the best first reader — but he has become a really tough and helpful critic over the years, and he has saved me from various significant pitfalls.
Have you ever traveled to do research for your writing? Where did you go?
I have always put travel on the top of my list as a person — and as a writer I almost always travel to research setting for my creative work.
I travelled to India for my two novels, but my short stories, too, are set in places where I do not live full-time and so I’ve travelled for them as well. I think setting fuels my writing. Being able to begin to understand a new place in the world is incredibly important to me — again, as a person and as a writer.
Which talent do you wish you had?
Most writers face rejection so many, many times. Sometimes I wish I had been good at something where rejection is not so consistently a part of the career. For instance (and I could be totally wrong), if you are a brain surgeon, and you practice and practice and practice your trade, surely your odds of rejection (or failure with a particular operation) go down. Mostly, that doesn’t seem to be the case for writers. A certain amount of rejection (or failure) seems to be a constant.
About The Envy of Paradise:
A reviewer describes her novel this way: “Jocelyn Cullity’s powerful novel, The Envy of Paradise, illuminates a dark period in India’s history.
A riveting story of the fall of Lucknow to British imperialism, sensually told through the eyes of Begam Hazrat Mahal and her estranged husband, King Wajid ‘Ali Shah as they attempt reclamation of their heritage. Cullity gives a taut, dramatic account of what it means to endure loss.”
THE ENVY OF PARADISE is available pretty much anywhere books are sold.
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