with Abel Johnson Thundil:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
I’m currently 19 and started writing when I was 14. By 15 years I completed ‘Cherry Blossom’, a novel. But it was a disastrous failure. Firstly, while typing the thing, I thought this thing would be an epic a brick wide. But on printing, it was just some 119 pages. Secondly, it was published by a self publishing wing of a publisher called DC books. My uncle had to pay to get it printed and it didn’t sell well. There were a plethora of problems with it such as a crappy self-editing (couldn’t afford an editor then) and a story that makes me cringe when I think about it.
Speaking of influences, I’ve always wondered as a kid who created all these books and how. And I wondered if I could create one. Things really clicked after reading Anne Hall Whitt’s ‘The Suitcases’ as a child. It inspired me to get my writing published.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Abel: Well, after the failure of ‘Cherry Blossom’, I shifted my attention to poetry and found that I could do much better and be more productive with it. I found this YouTube channel called illneas and came across the poem ‘Alone With Everybody’s by Charles Bukowski. I fell in love with this poet and did a deep dive on his work. Then, I did not like him so much. Well, he did write some cool stuff. But his frequent misogyny and let just say wilder poems were not exactly music to my ears.
Then I became interested in the works of John Keats. I don’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon his work, but I’ve always felt a child like buoyancy while reading him. Bukowski and Keats have two extreme writing styles in my opinion. I don’t know how exactly I developed my present style, but I believe that my unconscious picked like magpies the parts that resonated with me from both sides and put together a personal style for me. Hence I’ll say, Bukowski and Keats are my greatest influences now.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Abel: I grew up and am currently residing in Kerala, India. They teach English as a second language in schools here, and I quickly became interested in English literature. Also, my papa has put together a little library in our house, having books both in malayalam (my native tongue) and English. Speaking of travel, we don’t travel much. But I’ll say that some of my best poetry is from the time when I travelled away from home for university life. I loved the novelty, but still felt a profound emptiness within me. It has led to some of my most moving work.
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Abel: ‘Cherry Blossom’ marks my debut as an author, but I do not consider it my most meaningful work. A lot of authenticity was drowned out as I rushed to complete it. My most meaningful work is my second book ‘The Bleeding Rose: poems of love and loss’, an anthology of love poems published by Allbooks Inc. It is meaningful because compared to my last book, it evokes more depth and authenticity of emotions. It is my latest work.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Abel: Well, that moment when I came across ‘The Suitcases’, which I already mentioned is one such moment. I don’t really remember anything else. My identity as a writer developed slowly and gradually.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Abel: I’m doing my university degree. But everything is happening online now due to the pandemic. When in campus, I used to hang around with friends, eat some street food, go sit in the park nearby and just chill. And now staying home with my family, I pass the time playing piano and running around in circles with Lucy, our dachshund.
Q7: Do you have any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Promoting for us creatives is not always easy. Most of the time, we don’t feel like we deserve to be heard, or that we have something meaningful to say. It’s for the first time I’m being asked to promote my work. A big thanks for giving this chance. I’ll take this opportunity to promote my latest book ‘The Bleeding rose: Poems of love and loss’ which came out in June this year. It was published by Allbooks inc, a new press publishing in multiple languages. You can find more of my work in ‘Terror House Magazine’, ‘The Pangolin Review’, and ‘Luminescence’, an anthology by Rosewood publications, India.
You can find the book here: https://allbooks.shop/product/the-bleeding-rose/
Speaking of future projects, I’m trying to build a Patreon audience at the moment with a goal of 100 patrons. It’s a long journey, and I’ve just started.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
I like the following lines from ‘Bluebird’ by Charles Bukowski:
There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
stay down, do you want to mess
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
I have a love-hate relationship with his work and what he stands for. But I can say for sure that I like this poem. You should read the entire thing inorder to appreciate these lines.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Abel: This is tough to answer. My parents are very supportive, even though they don’t fully understand what I’m doing. I had one Mr. Sarin as my English teacher in 9th grade. He noticed my language capabilities in the exams and gave me great support. I can’t point at one person. But little encouragements from different people has had a positive, cumulative effect.