Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most?
Mandira: My first publication, a poem, was in a national daily when I was in middle school. Then for over 20 years I didn’t write anything. Life events prompted me to return to writing and now it feels great to be a published writer. I look to read widely, across genres and authors, and try not to get influenced by any particular style or writer.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Mandira: I had a secret wish to be a writer for as long as I can remember
Q3: Who has helped you the most with writing and career?
Mandira: My mom is a great storyteller, so that surely influenced me as a kid. Reading contemporary writers has greatly helped with my writing and career.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Mandira: I grew up in India, across several small towns and cities. My childhood and travels feature in a big way in my writing.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Mandira: Great question! Work that centers on climate catastrophe in India and elsewhere, is perhaps the most meaningful. I’ve been lucky to be offered publication for climate fiction in multiple journals as well as some poems that address the fragile ecology of places near home.
Q6: What are your favorite activities to relax?
Mandira: Reading and writing.
Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from your writing?
Mandira: That’s a tough one. I think I’ll leave that to readers!
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
Mandira: Again, like my reading, I listen to everything. It sounds weird but my favorites change a lot. I skip from instrumental, to Blues, to K-pop, to Indian movie songs, and everything in between. It’s difficult to choose.
Q9: Do you have a recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you’d like to promote?
“Anatomy of a Storm-Weathered Quaint Townspeople ” is my debut chapbook forthcoming on November 20th. Huge gratitude to publishers Fahmidan Publishing and Co. The collection is about working class people, their loves, lives and griefs, dependent on weather and the natural world and on each other.
Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?
Mandira: It’s actually both funny and strange that I am here, and you’re interested in interviewing me. This is such a dream! Please include any links, bio, a photo to be posted on the website.
BIO: Mandira Pattnaik is an Indian fiction writer, essayist, poet and columnist published in print and online in over 220 journals/magazines across fifteen countries. Mandira’s writing appears in The McNeese Review, Penn Review, Best Small Fictions 2021, Citron Review, Passages North, DASH, Miracle Monocle, Timber Journal, Bending Genres, Contrary, Watershed Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, NFFDNZ, Fourth River, Flash Frontier, Splonk, Atlas & Alice, The Times of India, and Prime Number Magazine, among other publications. Anthologies where work can be found are Best Small Fictions (2021), Best of Asian Speculative Fiction (2021, Insignia), “And if That Mocking Bird Don’t Sing” (Alt Current Press), “200 Poems Around the World” (Sweety Cat Press), “Ten Ways the Animals Will Save Us” (Retreat West), “In the Belly of the Whale” (EllipsisZine) and “Everything Has a Price” (EllipsisZine). Four-times Pushcart Prize-nominated (in 2020 & 2021), four times for Best Microfictions (in 2020 &2021), and thrice for Best of the Net (2020, two times in 2022), her work has also been translated and highly commended by editors including Longlisting at Wigleaf Top 50 2022, Honorable Mention in CRAFT Flash Contest 2020, and Highly Commended at Litro Magazine Summer Contest 2021.
WEBSITE LINK: mandirapattnaik.com