When you talk to most professors in the English department they profess that reading became an obsessive hobby from an early age. However Ramola D could not stop at reading books, she had to write them too. “I couldn’t read for long without itching to put the book down and write my own stories and poems,” she said. However, throughout much of her life in India she could not pursue this interest directly and instead found reading and writing a hobby. “Reading was always an impassioned experience, it kept me going through my degrees in science and business—libraries were my escape route to freedom and the other worlds in books,” she said. ” I remember all the hidden-away armchairs, open windows, drawn blinds, scratched-up desks, dim lighting, slants of sun and musty stacks in libraries I have loved–reading helped situate me mentally as a writer.”
Ramola found herself informed in some way by every author she ever read. She said, “I’ve learned syntactic effect from Hemingway, the power of voice and image from Joyce, fluidity in narrative from Scott Fitzgerald.” Today she cites the works of Marguerite Duras, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, Janet Frame, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, Kate Braverman, and Carole Maso as particularly illuminating.
Ramola’s recent interests have coincided directly with the creative writing courses she teaches. As a writer of fiction reflecting on “the bicultural aspects of immigration” and “historical characters within a colonial setting battling a pervasive imperialism,” she is currently in dialogue with authors who discuss the same topics. She said, “I’ve been drawn to exploring strongly-voiced narratives of difference, from characters who experience dislocation of sorts, often by way of migration or by way of being in a statistical minority in a given cultural setting, I am drawn to the work of writers tackling these issues.” Ramola has been interviewing Lan Samantha Chang, Junot Diaz, and Sandra Cisneros. She has brought these transcripts to class and gained thought provoking discussion from it. Read more→