Flash Frontier

Book: Nod Ghosh – The Crazed Wind

Interviews and Features

ISBN (paperback) 978-1-925536-58-4
ISBN (eBook) 978-1-925536-59-1

“Some say there is madness in a wind like this. It turns rich men into paupers, kings into devils.”

From “The Monsoon Began on a Wednesday”

In the author’s words…

The Crazed Wind (Truth Serum Press, July 2018) ought to have been written years ago, but its time hadn’t come. Like the oppressive heat that builds before a storm, the impetus to write these stories grew until the tales of inter-generational conflict and resolution could no longer be contained.

A distillation of family tension and drama coalesces to form this collection. The novella-in-flash is loosely based on the personal experience. The connected pieces examine the loss of a loved one and their unexpected rediscovery. It is a study of the misunderstandings that run through a family’s veins.

The drama unfolds against the backdrop of one of history’s forgotten tragedies, the Partition of India. Troubled times contribute to attitudes that echo through generations and shatter the fragile bonds between them.

I collected half-remembered tales and family history from my father in 2003. It was the first time we’d communicated after years of silence. I tried to write a novel based on what he revealed. After some false starts, I realised I didn’t have all the ingredients.

Firstly, I needed to learn to string the words together coherently. I attended a course at the “Hagley Writers’ Institute” in Christchurch. With the help of tutors, mentors and critique partners, in particular, Auckland author Eileen Merriman, I was able to condense the rambling ideas into something more digestible.

Other serendipitous events included an invitation from Matt Potter at Truth Serum Press to submit a collection of flash fiction. A few months later, I completed an on-line workshop by Nancy Stohlman. The realisation that this story was best told using the “novella-in-flash” format came soon afterwards.

In The Crazed Wind I have woven magical realism with true-life facts to create a lyrical journey about loss and unfulfilled expectations.

Stephanie Hutton, author of Three Sisters of Stone, says this about the collection:

“The Crazed Wind is an ambitious, cleverly crafted work that is effective on multiple levels. Firstly, the novella sweeps through important, timely topics such as displacement and rootlessness, through the eyes of the narrator and her family’s experiences across decades in India and England. Secondly, the core relationship between a daughter and her father is examined with psychological astuteness that lends itself to compassion towards both. Finally, the form of the novella is itself a treat – by using a hybrid of fiction with elements of non-fiction, prose poetry, and playful structures, Ghosh creates an entertaining, unexpected series of pieces that blend to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

Some of the stories are taken directly from real life. For example “Harborne High Street” (previously published in The Citron Review) covers my mother’s death:

The hospital tang hits me like an over-ripe blanket. I meet the others in the relatives’ room. We approach her bedside, a ring of semi-orphaned siblings. I touch the shadow of a tear that seeps from her unseeing eye, and place a second-hand book from Harborne High Street on her bedside.

Others lie somewhere between truth and reality. The scene in “Train” where the narrator’s family are dismissed as ‘blackies’ may never have happened. Several incidents like it did, though. They form the basis of this story told through the lens of a child’s eye.

The girl and boy don’t say a thing. No thank you, no please, no nothing.

The boy unclips the catch on the door and runs to a waiting group of children. They have the same bovine smiles. Some wear shorts, some wear skirts. They all have flat pockets.

‘That blackie there paid for our ride!’ The girl points a finger. It is a finger of accusation, a finger that might go searching for a bogey later when it’s time for tea.

My father’s smile fades to a whisper of shame. ‘Come on,’ our mother says. ‘Let’s go and see the boats.’ I avoid looking over my shoulder as we leave the train. The children’s laughter echoes into the canopy of trees above us. Like monkeys.

Finally, stories like “O” (previously published in The Flash Fiction Press) are invented, but are included because they enhance the overall concept.

Behind the letter ‘O’, I realise my life means nothing without you.
It’s not warm. Neon lights create very little heat. The ‘E’ flickers on and off like the start of a fit, and the ‘L’ lies over loose tiles. We have some protection here, when the wind isn’t blowing the wrong way.

I pull the fur of your hood back and swipe your brow. Drops of rain mingle with pearls of sweat. You moan, and creak the thick plastic I have draped around your body. Your fevered voice reminds me of when you were little.

For more, listen to Nod interviewed by Morrin Rout on Plains FM.

You can find The Crazed Wind at Truth Serum Press website.

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