Interview with literary novelist Uday Mukerji

Today’s
special guest is Uday
Mukerji
and we’re chatting about his new literary fiction Dead Man
Dreaming.
Bio:
Uday Mukerji was born in India and had worked as a creative
director in advertising agencies in Singapore for nearly twenty years. However,
in 2009, he left his job to pursue a career in writing.

His first literary fiction, a 2017 Readers’
Favorite Award Winner, Love, Life, and Logic was published by Harvard
Square Editions (NY) in November 2016.

His next book, Dead Man Dreaming,
published by Adelaide Books, New York, came out in September 2019.

Welcome,
Uday. Please tell us about your current release.
Dead Man Dreaming is a literary fiction about one man’s fight against
hereditary genetic diseases—from losing his girlfriend to finding love
again—and how he overcomes his fear and frustrations and comes to terms with
his own Huntington’s disease.

The confirmation of HD brings the senior resident physician, David’s life to a
halt. His three-year-old relationship with his girlfriend, Chloe also comes to
an end. Yet, he refuses to give up; he dreams of finding a solution to prevent
all hereditary genetic diseases. With his high school friend, Jessie, he starts
an awareness campaign for Carrier Screening Tests for all before becoming a
parent. The movement brings an overwhelming response, but not without
condemnations. And through all that, David finds new love and new hope in life
again.

It’s the journey of a desperate young man with a death sentence hanging over
his head that makes this book inspiring and riveting.

What
inspired you to write this book?
In 2016, Shivani Nazareth, a genetic counselor in New York,
published a piece in US News: ‘Genetic testing before pregnancy should be as
common as taking folic acid’. She wrote, w
hile medical societies agree that preconception
is the ideal time to offer carrier screening,
 a recent study showed
that only 1 in 6 family physicians or OB/GYN providers offered carrier screening
in preconception care. She also wrote that many parents learned they were
carriers of rare diseases only after their child was born. 

My whole life I had believed that parenting was
the hardest job in the universe. Her writing got me thinking, then, why the
would-be parents weren’t doing their part before giving birth? I fully realized
the challenges and the risk in taking the test, but I couldn’t help wondering—would
a positive verdict be really the end of the world? Why do we make the innocent
kids suffer? Was it the lack of information or something else?

And the answers to those questions and more inspired me to write Dead Man Dreaming

Excerpt
from Dead Man Dreaming:

From Chapter
12
Two days later, when I
came home from New York City, I realized something: some people in our lives always
stand by us like a lighthouse, silently guiding us to the shore. My mother was
that lighthouse in my life. Since we had landed on a Sunday afternoon, I had
missed a pre-arranged breakfast with my mother that morning. It wasn’t the first time I had missed an appointment with
my mother, but from the voicemail, this
time, she sounded upset.
When I
called her to apologize, she flared up. “Do you know I had already called you
three times since this morning?” And before I could say anything in my defense,
she continued. “You better come down now and have dinner here. I won’t have
time to see you until next Sunday. And
we’re already late.”
“Late for what, Mom?
What’s so important that it can’t wait until next Sunday? I promise I’ll be
there.”
“No, it can’t wait. Let
me put it this way—we should’ve done it yesterday.”
I didn’t understand
what she was talking about, but it seemed important to her, and I couldn’t
ignore that. I pulled out my jacket and decided to walk over.
When my
mother opened the door, she looked baffled. Seeing my jacket covered in
snowflakes, she removed the small door screen and peeped out. Not seeing my car
in the driveway, she asked, “Why didn’t you drive?”
“I wanted to walk back
after dinner; I need the exercise since I missed my gym today.”
“It’s minus five
degrees out there. Are you crazy or what?”
“It didn’t quite feel
that way,” I tried to explain.
“Never mind. Get
yourself a drink. Dinner will be ready in ten.” And she went into the kitchen.
“Do you want one?” I
shouted from the living room.
“You go ahead. I’ve got
a glass of wine.”
I had never been a
regular drinker. I hesitated a couple of
minutes in front of my mom’s liquor cabinet—a small table with a few glasses and a couple of wine bottles. She also
had a bottle of whiskey and a cognac. I deliberated for a minute, then poured
myself a cognac and followed my mother into the kitchen. I was curious to know
what all the fuss was about.
“Tell me now what is so
important that it couldn’t wait another week.” I sat on the long end of the
kitchen counter.
“I need you to sign
some papers. Anyway, dinner is ready. Let’s eat first.”
Towards the end of the
dinner, she suddenly asked, “How is your new girlfriend?”
“What do you mean by new girlfriend? Are you talking about Jessie?”
“Yes, your cheerleader
friend,” she clarified.
Given the latest series
of complications, I would have hesitated to call Jessie my girlfriend anymore.
In my book, girlfriends didn’t have husbands. So, what was she? Recently, I had
been asking myself that question every day.
“She isn’t really my
girlfriend.”
“Why? What happened?”
she asked.
“Let it go, Ma. It’s
complicated.” I tried to put a stop to that conversation.
“Life is complicated,
David. You have to press on,” she said as she started clearing the table.
I got up and helped her
clear the rest. I said, “I’m trying, Ma. I’ll tell you everything as soon as I
sort things out in my head. Let’s sign those papers now.”
She pulled out two
thick piles of papers. I had seen those before. In fact, I had seen them all my
life, and those piles used to be thicker. First, it was my dad’s medical
insurance file, and after my dad had passed away, my mother had created one for
each of us.
“After your positive test
for HD, I had to make changes in your policy. I need your signature.” My mom
pushed a thick, gray-colored file toward me.
“Why didn’t you tell
me? I could’ve had it done.”
“Don’t
worry, it’s already done. Just sign…” H
er
voice choked,
so she got up and left the room in a hurry.

—– The end
of excerpt —-
What
exciting story are you working on next?
I have just started
writing another novel exploring—a metaphysical view on life—how everything
isn’t like what it seems to be.

When did
you first consider yourself a writer?
Frankly, I never thought I would be a writer. I
had always been more of a reader. Although I didn’t major in literature, I
always loved reading classics. Some of my all-time favorite books are Anna
Karenina, Crime and Punishment, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Castle, The
Unbearable Lightness of Being, and The Outsider. I worked all my life in
Advertising. But all that had suddenly changed a couple of years ago when I was
vacationing in New Zealand. Throughout my whole life, one question had always haunted
me: Why am I here? And during those few days, the peace and serenity all around
amplified that voice in my head. But instead of jumping on to Google for an answer,
I decided to dig deep inside and explore. Soon I started writing, and that’s
how it all started in 2009.
Do you write
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than
write and how do you find time to write
?
I’m not exactly a full-time writer, but I usually write about three/fours
in the morning and again two to three hours after lunch.

What would
you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Even when I
am not using it, I still have to have the internet connection. Without it, I literally
feel disconnected from everything, and my writing automatically comes to a
grinding halt.
As a
child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I
always wanted to be a pilot. I thought flying alongside the birds and the
clouds would be fun. Then, I guess, like everything else, I also changed.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
The Big Bang
Theory is my most favorite TV show. I love comedies. I wish I could make people
laugh like that.
Links:

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