“Book Doctors” Excerpt

by Madhushree Ghosh

“If you’ve read the description of an Indian author who has written a book recently, you may just find lurking behind that writerly façade, a doctor, a microbiologist, scientists across the spectrum. What makes them take from stethoscopes and microscopes to words?”

Another scientist who has juggled a few professions is Lalita Noronha, author of the short stories collection, Where Monsoons Cry. Starting out in the biotech world as a microbiologist, she now teaches science in a Baltimore private girls’ school and writes her first drafts of novels in the summer: Coming from a family where the love of art and literature was intertwined with science (her father was a botany professor), Noronha doesn’t feel the need to distinguish between science and literature. “In my family, as is with most middle-class families in small towns, the advice was, ‘if you are going to do it, do it well or else, don’t do it at all!’ So, whatever I did my inspiration has been just as intense, whether it’s teaching or writing or being a scientist.” Her stories have been awarded by the Maryland State Arts Council, which she believes was instrumental in her being recognized by other institutions.

Reading their works and speaking with them, I was obviously interested in knowing what advice they may have for emerging authors, or authors who haven’t as yet realized that they are writers.

Noronha suggests, “to write about what you believe in, and to publish. Hard work and inspiration is key to being published.” Dr. Verghese is quite direct. He advises new writers to “read, read, read. I am amazed at the chutzpah of some who want to write without knowing what it entails. It’s like listening to a symphony and then saying you want to write one.”