Friday, February 28, 2020

Poet, author Nisha Shankar talks about The Drink Selection - Interview

Today, I'm featuring young author and poet Nisha Shankar, who will be giving some insight about her debut poetry collection The Drink Selection as well as some hints about her upcoming works.

Book: The Drink Selection
Author: Nisha S. Shankar
Publisher: Mascot Books 


Welcome to the bar, I do hope you enjoy the ambiance. It will have everything from the welcomes till closing time.

So, set your affairs in order, take a seat, play the game, and wait around long enough to see whether you might emerge victorious.

The ice cubes like dice. The glass is their game board. Now, roll.

On to the exclusive interview!

Q: In the synopsis, you mentioned never having drunk alcohol and yet the collection is about "drinking!" How did you work that out? (Did you ask people what they felt when drinking for example, did they find it weird?...etc)

Nisha Shankar: That’s true! (obviously.) I have never had a “hands-on” experience to what I was writing about, so adding embellishments to make the story a bit more interesting seemed like a nice path to go down. I didn’t actually ask anybody how they felt about drinking alcohol, I felt as though no person would really answer that question with a straight face or answer.

To be honest, it was a little bit of interpreting and then some. As I figured, there is both a good side as well as a bad side to every action that is done. How different could drinking alcohol be? So, I constructed a list of positives and negatives. Elation and ecstatic would go on one side, while jealousy and murder would go on the other.

I had to construct a literary line that would divide the drinkers and the drunks so that the reader really had to read which one was being spoken of. I just started writing what I thought people would feel like when they drank alcohol. Depending on the drink really, was how the person acted while they drank what they did. I really just shaped a personality around a drink. Whether that personality is actually revealed in reality, I am proud to say I have absolutely no idea.

Q: When did you start writing poetry? Who was your first inspiration?

Nisha Shankar: I have always been writing something or another for as long as I can remember in grade school. Even when we were supposed to be paying attention to a science lesson on the layers of the Earth, I was writing a story in the margins of my observation notebook.

I really got into poetry when I was in sixth grade when that was the main form of writing that we were concentrating on in class. It could be short and sweet, or melancholy and drawn out over the course of a couple of pages. I really loved the diversity of types of poetry that could be written.

I’d say my first inspiration(s) of poetry had to be T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou. I started reading them extensively in sixth and seventh grade, loving the work written during the prohibition period, especially.

Q: How did you decide on the arrangement of the poems in The Drink Selection?

Nisha Shankar: The arrangement was meant to be by the order of drinks in which they would be drunk. I had no idea whether my arrangement was correct in the alcoholic world, but I took my best guess. I also wanted to ease people into it. I didn’t want random poems about different drinks until they all just mush together into a jumble.

I wanted people to differ between the tones, the words, and I thought that starting with an intro, an amuse-bouche almost, will give them a sip before they chug down the entire thing. In my head, it made perfect sense, the order that is. I thought that people would have their G&T before eating their meal, maybe sipping some wine, but after the meal, in some luxury bar draped in velvet, there would be hard whiskey, some specials to top off some, and the snacks at the end to sober them up some a little before closing time.

Q: Tough question but: what's your favorite poem in The Drink Selection?

Nisha Shankar: This is like asking which child is my favorite! Geez, if I had to choose one, it would be "The Murder on the Whiskey Express". It being the first poem that started this entire thing, I think most people would guess that the OG would be my favorite. And I really think it is. It’s classy, elegant, clean, and concise. As for clear, well, that’s for the reader to decide, right?

Q: If you could describe your book The Drink Selection in 3 or 4 words, what would they be?
Nisha Shankar: Not what you expected.

Q: Are you planning to publish more books, if yes, can you tell us about them?

Nisha Shankar: That’s the plan right now. When my teachers will get on board that I actually plan to write a book and need the time to do so, I’ll let you know. But, I can tell you about the next few books that I’m planning. In order to keep these answers short (enough), I’ll just let you in on my next one.

Sticking with my theme, I’m going murder mystery. It’s going to be called The Sane Society. It’s going to be a fiction book. I have already started writing it, only the prologue; I haven’t really moved farther than that.

I’ll give you a brief synopsis: There are 5 kids that are accused of the murder of their classmate. These 5 kids come from completely different social groups and backgrounds and would never think of interacting with each other unless they all happened to be convicted of the same crime. As the court case continues, there is evidence dug up that these 5 kids are mentally unstable and should be taken to a mental hospital in order to contain them. The 5 kids, knowing that they are really mentally stable, are started to be questioned by their friends and family, who are now wary about their claims. As they are admitted to the hospital, they begin to plan to escape. And as the events continue, they begin to wonder whether someone is framing them. But why them?

About the Author:

Nisha S. Shankar is a very introspective, thoughtful, and intellectually curious young adult. She is musically talented and has been playing piano from the age of six. She is an amazing artist, but did not originally set out to write a book of poems about alcoholic beverages.

What started out as a challenge between two sisters regarding whether Nisha could write a poem about any topic led to “Murder on the Whiskey Express,” the first of these series of drink-related poems. An impressive feat, considering she has never tasted the drinks herself!

Special thanks to Chris Baker from Mascot Books for arranging this interview.

About Mascot Books
Mascot Books is a full-service, multi-genre, hybrid book publisher and distributor headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. Co-founded in 2003 by Naren Aryal, Mascot has published more than 2,500 books in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, children's, cookbooks, and coffee table books. 

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