Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on contemporary fiction author Kirthana Ramisetti. My first question to you, Kirthana, is if you could please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
As a former entertainment reporter for Newsday and the New York Daily News, I have written my fair share of stories about the lives (and deaths) of the rich and famous. I have a master’s degree in creative writing from Emerson College, and my work has been published in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. Dava Shastri’s Last Day is my first novel, and I live in New York City.
Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Dava Shastri’s Last Day?
My novel is about a legacy-obsessed philanthropist who, after learning she has a terminal illness, gathers her family together during the holidays. Dava then makes two shocking announcements: she has a terminal cancer and has brought them together to say goodbye before she arranges for a doctor to help her take her own life; and she has leaked news of her death early so she can read her obituaries and learn how the world perceives her and her career.
Dava is horrified when her plan backfires, because the news coverage of her death inadvertently reveals her two biggest secrets to the world. With the limited time she has left, Dava must make amends with her children, while also coming to terms with the choices she has made throughout her life.
What was the inspiration for Dava Shastri’s Last Day? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
When I was an entertainment reporter, one of the stories we often had to cover was the deaths of celebrities. As a part of that coverage, we had to be attuned to the public response on social media. And each time I saw the collective outpouring of grief in response to the news, I was curious if other notable figures would see the reaction and wonder what would be said about them when they passed away.
That led me to come up with my novel’s premise: What if there was a famous person so obsessed with their legacy that they leaked news of their death in order to read their obituaries? And I really wanted to know who this person would be, how she would be able to accomplish it, and what would drive her to do something so extreme.
Because this was an intergenerational family saga with a timeline spanning several decades, before I started writing my book I did three things to prepare: a detailed character spreadsheet, a chronological timeline of Dava’s life and a plot outline. Having all this material helped me write and revise my book through multiple drafts.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
All of the above! It really depends on what I’m working on. With Dava, because the main character is so shaped by her love of music, I listened to a lot of albums while writing and revising the novel. I’m currently at work on a second novel, and in this case, it’s been more of a mix of things. Sometimes I have the TV on in the background, sometimes music and sometimes complete silence. I actually wrote about how my writing routine evolved since the pandemic for LitHub.
Thanks so much, Kirthana, for taking the time out of your day to answer our questions!