I virtually met Julisa Basak doing Camp NaNoWriMo together a year or two ago. (Time is a fuzzy concept these days, right?) She's fun, vibrant, and incredibly talented. I was lucky to win a character drawing by Julisa. I thought it'd be fun to see her interpretation of my character, Gabriel, from the Dream Girl and Dream Frequency books. She did an incredible job! I loved her work and have been a huge fan ever since.
Now, she has an excellent short story available on Amazon, Bringing Him, which I encourage you all to read.
SJ: Bringing Him is a sweet and enjoyable story about family, expectations, and being true to one’s self. I really enjoyed reading it. The story has a warm, cozy, feel to it. Where were you when you wrote this story?
JB: I’m so glad you felt that! I was definitely going for the warm cozy feel of family and familiar memories apart from the center conflict. I was at home when I started writing this story, feeling the full weight and urgency of the quarantine at the time. This was actually when Covid started to become serious in the U.S and we had to work from home. My two grandmothers from India also came to stay with us for a few months beforehand, so you can say having them around inspired a lot of reminiscing of my time back in India, as well as the inspiration for some of the content in my story. (Fun fact, my maternal grandma used to live in Shantipur, the town where the story takes place).
SJ: I’ve seen in a review of Bringing Him that a reader was interested in seeing this story continue. What are your thoughts on expanding the story or writing something else with these characters?
JB: That’s so funny you ask. My boss from work (yes she read it too!) actually said the same thing, and we talked about continuations and what was next for the two central characters. I’m not opposed to the idea if it garners enough interest! Personally, I would love to explore how the narrator and Zander first meet and fall in love. Considering that the former is Indian and the latter is Palestinian, there are a lot of avenues I can take to bring their individual cultures, backgrounds, and identities together while living in the U.S. There is also an opportunity to explore a sequel to “Bringing Him”, perhaps a future engagement or wedding (after all, Dida gave them her blessings!). That can open up a lot of possibilities, especially some juicy conflicts.
SJ: You are an incredibly gifted artist. What kind of work do you do for authors and what’s the best way for them to contact you?
JB: That’s so sweet of you to say! Thank you so much! I’ve been doing some character design art for authors in the writing community on Twitter. It’s been a really great way of promoting my skills and putting my work out there, especially since I get to help authors show off their characters and stories in return. I haven’t done it yet, but I would love to offer illustrated cover designs as well. Folks can best contact me through my twitter at jules_ba5ak (don’t hesitate to DM me, as long as it doesn’t involve bad pick-up lines, spam, or the likes). If anyone wants a taste of my art style, they can visit my portfolio page at: https://julisabasak.myportfolio.com/
SJ: You’re clearly very artistic, both with the written word and visual arts, what else do you like to do?
JB: Thank you! I love to dance. I am part of a Bollywood group called Taarang where we do a fusion of Eastern and Western styles. I also enjoy taking and editing videos, going on nature walks and tea parties, putting together playlists for my stories, and chilling with my family and Baby Yoda plushie (he’s an honorary member!).
SJ: In addition to your short story, you’re working on a full-length novel. What can you tell us about that?
JB: Yes I am! This is my first full-length novel and I’m planning to make it a multi-pov piece. It’s still in outlining mode, but what I can say is that it’s a science fantasy set in an alternate earth that explores powers being capitalized by big company baddies and a group of characters (try a ragtag team of kids and adults) who try to stop something disastrous from happening to them and their world as a result. Besides exploring political, economic, and social dynamics, I also want to go into terraforming, which being set on an alternate planet that was colonized centuries ago by the ancient ones from the story provides a good ‘landscape’ and opportunity to do so. There is also a ‘light and dark’ element that is more than a motif too, as well as a central romance (or romances!) that I hope to grow naturally overtime. Of course, I’m just spouting words from my muse. Let’s see how the final product turns out! >fingers crossed<
SJ: This week, you’re doing something special with the proceeds from Bringing Him. Could you explain what that is?
JB: Of course! This week I’m doing a special promo of my short story, “Bringing Him”, where any royalties made from sales between August 15th and 23rd will be matched and donated to the Lebanese Red Cross for the Beirut Explosions relief. I started this to first highlight Independence Day in India on August 15th, since the story takes place in India, and then bring awareness to the terrible incident in Lebanon on August 4th. To get more information on the promo, you can check out my tweet here, and/or go to my Instagram post that explains it a bit more in detail here. If you haven’t heard of the devastating impact that has resulted from the Beirut port explosions, I encourage you to read up on it. Though I do advise that some of the videos of the incident are graphic.
SJ: What are some of your all time favorite books/authors?
JB: How to choose! I would say my all time favorite books include The Alchemist, Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War from the Expanse series, The Lovely Bones, Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix, Angels & Demons, Airport, the Boleyn Inheritance, Foe, a handful of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, and of course, the novels of Agatha Christie. My favorite authors are Paolo Coelho, Agatha Christie, James S.A Corey, Gillian Flynn, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arthur Hailey, Alice Sebold and Iain Reid. Was that a mouthful or what?
SJ: This question is just for fun...and maybe for ideas. Many of us are still staying mostly at home these days due to the pandemic. What are you doing to stay positive, entertained, connected? (Also, what’s good on Netflix?)
JB: That’s a good question! Honestly, quarantining hasn’t been a big problem for me because I always find things to do around the house (plus it helps being an indoorsy creative). I’ve been putting my attention into writing and putting my works out there. It helps to have goals and a focus to distract us from the wild workings of 2020. I think it has been fruitful since I was able to self-publish a whole short story in the midst of a pandemic and reach a #1 Release on Amazon!
Other than that, I have been drawing and doing Zoom catch-up with friends.
As crazy and distressing as a lot of the situations have been, they have assisted in some inspiration here and there. Although there have been weeks where inspiration was low to none, or isolation would wear me out to the point where being able to virtually talk with one person outside of my household would be a breath of fresh air. That’s when I turned to Tiktok, and yes I’ll admit I went through an addiction phase and even chugged out some funny tiktok challenges and videos of my own. Surprisingly, I learned so much from some very creatively done Tiktok videos, and it has a lot to do with educators using it as a platform to teach subjects that even I didn’t learn in school! Things like the not-talked-about events from Black History and the BLM movement, indegenous culture representation, important hacks, how to grow corn during an apocalypse…TikTok has it all! Okay I’m going off track and I’m definitely not endorsing anything, but it’s been one of my sources of entertainment. At the end of the day, I also count my blessings. I’m so tremendously fortunate.
As for Netflix? The last thing I watched was Indian Matchmaking (it’s hilarious!) and am slowly working my way through Umbrella Academy. Or if you’re looking for a nice nostalgic rewatch, all three of the Jurassic Park movies are on there! As well as Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Enjoy!
SJ: Anything else you're working on that we should know about?
JB: I’m working on a new short story that’s a speculative scifi, as well as outlining away on my full-length. A speculative flash fiction of mine was also recently published by Havok Publishing and will come out online in late September. Look out for it!
Thank you, Julisa! I'm looking forward to reading more from you and seeing more of your excellent artwork.