(Mehak Daleh is nominated in the category of English Fiction for the REC-VoW Book Awards, 2019)
Excerpts from the interview with Mehak Daleh:
You have written a lot about secrets and how they affect our lives. Do you feel the same way in real life or was it just the character’s interpretation?
I certainly believe secrets affect our lives profoundly and I agree with the character’s interpretation to a great extent. So much of humanity is miserable because it can’t own its truth. People hide things for any number of reasons and none of these reasons are positive. A secret is always a consequence of something negative, either real or imagined. They are always rooted in fear – of society, of consequences and repercussions. And in trying to maintain a secret, a lot of the person’s life becomes a lie such that they are just a shadow of the person they could have been. It takes a lot of energy to keep a secret and it eats its way through people. So, yes, I agree with the character.
‘Someday, advice like ‘face reality’ will cease to exist and it will be accepted that we are all facing our own individual realities, no matter how insane we might appear to our neighbour.’ It’s a very deep and significant thought. Please tell us more about it.
I feel that more and more people are beginning to tire of the moulds that society and expectations have forced them into. It’s still not as widespread as it should be, but one can hope for a day when enough people will be able to express themselves as who they really are without having to lug the burden of whether they are fulfilling someone’s expectations.
Society can aspire to a time where it might be agreed upon that each individual perceives life from a different perspective and, therefore, their version of reality will differ from that of anyone else. Of course, it can be argued that such a state of affairs would mean anarchy because all social institutions work on the basis of collective or universal truths that all must adhere to. But one might counter that by asking if many of our current social institutions aren’t indeed outdated.
What are your most favourite authors and books in the dark folklore, mythology and contemporary fiction genre?
I do enjoy folk tales quite a lot and some of Grimm’s Fairy Tales were rather grim. I also remember reading a collection of Inuit – Yupik folktales called ‘Northern Lights’ as a child which had their share of darkness and which I thoroughly enjoyed.
As far as mythology goes, the Indian epics are my favourites and I enjoy Devdutt Pattanaik’s interpretations.
In contemporary fiction, I have read several books by Ruskin Bond, Stephen King, Peter Straub, John Grisham – people who’ve had a major impact on the literary scene. Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient is another favourite. So is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I recently read a book by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon called The Angel’s Game, and I relished it. Another contemporary author I read is Thomas OldeHeuvelt and his book ‘Hex’ was brilliant. I have been meaning to read something by Kealan Patrick Burke. Here’s hoping I’ll get around to it soon. There are so many more. One discovers a gem every now and then.
Mehak Daleh’s stories are born where the everyday meets the extraordinary, reminding us of how fragile ‘normal’ is. Rising mists, winds swooshing though high pines and the echoing cries of birds in the hills feature heavily in her writing.
‘And the Roses Bled’ is her debut novel. She is currently working on her subsequent manuscripts. When she isn’t reading or writing, she is probably watching a mystery/thriller or a period drama, or perhaps walking. She once thought she was only a dog person, but a black cat taught her otherwise. She lives in Chandigarh with her folks, who, it seems, are worried that she might just be transforming into a bit of a couch potato. In her defence, she walks. Visit Mehak’s website for a sample chapter and more – www.mehakdaleh.com
For the complete interview, log onto www.valleyofwords.org