Bengaluru: It’s a debut as magical as the name of the novel. Accidental Magic authored by young Keshava Guha, son of iconic designer Sujata Keshavan and the irrepressible historian Ramachandra Guha, is a funny piece of fiction woven around four different people (Kannan, Curtis, Rebecca and Malathi), whose lives are brought together by their love for Harry Potter. In conversation with Deccan Chronicle Keshava dwells on his literary journey as he crafted his deeply moving piece of fiction.
Could you introduce your work Accidental Magic to literary enthusiasts?
I had this habit of reading things the wrong way. Back in the 1990s, I came across a book at home titled Practical Magic and read it as Accidental Magic. The phrase somehow remained with me and when I wrote this book, I did a quick Google check for Accidental Magic and found there was none by the name.
Another reason for sticking to this title is because Harry Potter is a phenomenal success across the world-a phenomenon which has an element of accident as well as magic to it. A lot of the book is based on the difference between the lives we live and the life we want to be in. It is about stepping out of the predictability of our lives which can also be scary and lead to unhappy consequences. It is also about how a work of literature can actually take us out of the life we are in to doing something different.
As a work based on fandom fiction, how has Harry Potter brought your characters together?
The book revolves around the plot where Harry Potter brings 2 people from India and 2 from America together. They are such different characters who wouldn't have met otherwise. Therefore, the Harry Potter community is the bridge that enables their lives to intersect. Friendship and romance blossom from this intersection.
What are the key themes you have focussed on?
As a student in the US, I used to think about issues like loneliness, relationships and cross-cultures. It was back then that I wanted to write about cross-culture romances. The themes in this work have come out of the characters. If we look at it in a broad sense, the themes move in three directions- loneliness, relationships and the impact that books have on people.
Would it be then right to state that the work is a product of the times?
These are times where people have a huge fan following on social media platforms which really does not translate into reality. Also, the Internet and globalisation have paved way for increased cross culture conversations. Multiple dimensions of loneliness and relationships have been addressed in the book. I can substantiate loneliness in the cross-culture context, with reference to one of the characters. In India, we have much less loneliness but also less privacy. This is very evident as one of the character feels very happy on being alone. Therefore, one person's loneliness is another person's solitude. In this sense, yes, it can be considered a product of the times.
Can you throw light about your encounter with Harry Potter?
I was indeed a fan of Harry Potter although it wasn't my favourite. But the larger point here is to see how the work, Harry Potter had something to offer to a particular generation of readers. It was something that connected people and friends. JK Rowling is the only author in history to be truly universal during her times. Even Shakespeare took centuries to become a universal writer.
Can you identify yourself in any of the characters?
No, not at all. However, since these characters are constructed by me, obviously it would reflect me in different ways. But I don't identify myself with any of the characters. The reason why I like writing and reading books, is because I am interested in other people and not in myself. Writing for me is an escape from myself to become somebody else.