meet Udita Mukherjee, a writer contributing to queer literature in India

Udita is a queer writer based in India who has gotten her work published this past pride month. In light of this delightful occasion celebrating the accomplishment, From the Future is absolutely thrilled to present this Q&A about her and her novel, ‘From A to Z,’ featuring authentic queer characters and the happy ending they deserve.

Sam: When did you first get the idea to start writing this story— can you pinpoint that moment the concept occured to you?

Udita: I started playing around with the concept after my first pride parade in Kolkata in December 2017 (That was a transformative experience full of love and resistance!) The ending came to me first, then the beginning, after which I just had to fill in the details.

Sam: How did growing up without a readily available amount of queer literature around you make you feel?

Udita: Growing up, queer literature was very rare to find. I remember reading about cishet people falling in love and wondering why I couldn't love that like the majority around me. It makes one feel alienated. While queer reads might be more readily available now, I still believe there is not even close to enough of it. Furthermore, it is so hard to come across queer representation in literature, especially from Asia. This was one of the reasons I had to get my story out there, for young and new adults to relate to and hopefully feel seen, heard, not alone in their experiences.

Sam: What was the process like overall— planning, outlining, writing, editing? Any hard points or times that came extra smoothly to you?

Udita: Once I had the end in mind, I set aside my thirty day break from college and wrote ten pages every day. It never felt like a task. I was so excited about the story that it all came very smoothly to me. Writing had never felt so natural to me as it did at that time. I typed out one page after another, my fingers flying before my brain had fully formulated a chapter. I realized later that that is what it feels like to do something you love with a heart-bursting-at-the-seams, plucking-aligned-stars-out-of-the-sky-to-adorn-your-outfit, fierce passion.

Sam: How does current modern queer representation make you feel and how did you approach that during the creation of your work? With the recurring tropes given towards queer characters, there's always room for improvement.

Udita: The best modern queer representation I have seen is on Wynonna Earp. I thank the writer and the cast of that show in my acknowledgements for encouraging fans to express their truest selves in the best possible way. It is very disheartening to see shows with great representation get cancelled, but it happens over and over again. The other infuriating thing is to watch straight actors doing queer roles on screen because 'they can garner more ratings.' The insanely talented queer actors fall prey to statistics and are not even given a chance. Or even worse, they are and they die within the first few moments. That is so damaging! Imagine relating to someone for once and having to watch them die, it scars and isolates one further. I wanted to move as far away from tropes like this as possible. The other thing very important to me was that my queer characters would have struggles but none of them would arise out of who they love. Love is love and love always wins!

Sam: What was your favorite scene in the novel to write and why?

Udita: I really loved writing about the first time Ash lays eyes on Kooky and everything that means but I cannot elaborate that without giving spoilers. So, I'll pick something else that is close to my heart. All scenes with Z, Kooky, Emma and Vera were a joy to pen down and absolutely possess my soul

Sam: I can't imagine the feeling of fulfillment you felt when your novel was published. That must be absolutely incredible especially during Pride Month! How was it?

Udita: It took me three years to get this book published and when it actually happened during the best possible month, I could have hurled endless rainbows and been knocked down by a glittery feather! Sometimes, I still cannot believe it!

Sam: Were there any parts in 'From A To Z' that were influenced by yourself or your own life?

Udita: All the random lyrics and puns in the book are mostly me. It's how I talked back then (and still do, I can be an utter cheeseball for fun!) The pride parade in the book draws heavily from my experiences as do some other parts, while the rest of it is a product of my bizarre imagination.”

Sam: Any other current projects in the works? If not, do you plan on embarking on more writing or anything else exciting in the future?

Udita: I have finished my second novel and am working on getting it published. It deals with six people, one dog and their six hundred one personalities. This story is based on my experiences growing up in Kolkata with a good measure of cynicism, friendship, imagination, darkness and chaos thrown in. I hope to never stop writing!”

Sam: Given the chance, are there any insights you'd offer about your experience to other writers, readers, or general audiences? Advice of any kind, etc.

Udita: To other writers, the industry has plenty of rejection to offer so never self-reject. Send your work out to as many places as you can, the perfect press is waiting for you to find them. To general audiences, keep an open heart and support positive representation in whatever way you can! To my readers, I love you all so much!”

Sam: On a more fun note, if you could have a conversation with any of the characters in From A to Z, who would it be and what would you guys talk about?

Udita: This question is making me more excited than it should! I am always dreaming about meeting some fictional favourite or other, but to meet my own creation! I would converse with Kooky and ask her what it feels like to be an angel on Earth. I would also ask for tips on getting and maintaining that perfectly dyed hair with magical powers!

Sam: Lastly, where can we find your novel to buy it, support your writing, and read it ourselves?

Udita: Thank you for asking! 'From A To Z' is available everywhere on Amazon in the form of an ebook and paperback! Please grab your copy, leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and let me know (@wilde_woolf on Instagram) what you think of it; a word, a sentence, a paragraph, an essay, I appreciate it all!

After reading this lovely, informative, and amazingly genuine Q&A with Udita, please make sure to check out her work as well as her feature in IO2 of FTFzine. Always support and uplift queer voices. The excellent story Udita tells in ‘From A to Z’ is definitely worth reading.