After September 11, 2001, I was feeling like I really wanted more understanding between cultures. It seemed to me that so much of what happened on September 11 was because people didn't understand each other and were suspicious of each other.

I have a lot of respect and love for children's books.

A book can be wonderful and powerful and accessible and artful all at the same time.

I want my books to force readers to recognise the fact that a woman is a human being just like them.

A kshatriya woman's highest purpose in life is to support the warriors in her life: her father, brother, husband and sons.

Two great and terrible truths of war are these: War is easy to enter into, but difficult to end. And ultimately, in war there are no winners.

I'm too careful with money - comes out of being poor for several years while growing up.

By the time we're adults, our ideas have solidified. So I wanted to write for a younger audience, who would perhaps love heroes from other cultures.

I want people to be sensitive about how women feel and think.

I am a Hindu, brought up mostly in India.

Sometimes what is 'real' because it takes place in the physical world, like 9/11, is so unreal on the level of the soul. Then other things, which in terms of the physical world seem so magical and unbelievable, on the level of the soul seem very real.

I love visual art. I painted for many years when I was younger. I have studied modern/contemporary Indian art a bit and am very impressed with the talent in India.

In community work, you reach some people, but in writing, I can reach many more people, not only in exploring issues of domestic violence, but also by showing the importance of strong women in communities.

I type everything on my computer. I carry a writer's notebook everywhere, in case I am struck by an idea. I forget things unless I write them down. I'm planning to learn how to dictate into my cellphone; I think that will be very helpful, too.

I started writing after the death of my grandfather - memories, poems, etc. It was very personal; for years I did not share my writing with anyone.

I realise that a novel and a film are different mediums. As artistes, we need to respect other artistes. It also needs a lot of courage to take risks to experiment and interpret known literary works.

Immigration was a huge force in changing my outlook. I moved to America 30 years ago. I had to reassess my beliefs, especially about women's roles.

The ancient world is always accessible, no matter what culture you come from. I remember when I was growing up in India and I read the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey.'

It is an Englishman who turns out to be the real villain of 'The Moonstone.' By contrast, the three Indian priests who dedicate their lives to returning the jewel to its proper home in the temple, though they have nothing personal to gain by doing so, are positively heroic.

I grew up in Kolkata in a traditional family. We had friends who lived in mansions just like the one in 'Oleander Girl.' Growing up, I was fascinated by the old house and the old Bengal lifestyle.

As I lived on in America, I got to truly know the people of this country - so many kind and wonderful people, people of so many races - who helped me in so many ways. Who became my friends. I realized that underneath our different accents, habits, foods, religions, ways of thinking, we shared a common humanity.

After 9/11, there was so much distress in America that it led to an inter-cultural breakdown. Some of our communities were targeted. Many of our adults shut themselves off from other cultures. I tried to bring children of Indian and other cultures together in my literature.

I was very fortunate that all my holidays I'd spend with my grandfather, experiencing a much more traditional way of life and listening to these wonderful stories, which I now feel are such an important part of Indian thinking.

I've long been interested in the tale-within-a-tale phenomenon. I'm familiar with many tales which use this framework or the device of many people in one place, telling their stories, or multiple storytellers commenting on each others' stories with their own.

We even had a different word for Christmas in my language, Bengali: Baradin, which literally meant 'big day.'

I like being myself. Maybe just slimmer, with a few less wrinkles.

I was caught on the freeway for hours when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The entire city had to be evacuated. I observed lives threatened by catastrophes and a whole range of behaviour. What could people do during a crisis?

I took a little break after 'The Palace of Illusions' to clear my head.

My grandfather was a very strong personality. He certainly ruled his household with an iron fist, even though it was often gloved in velvet!

There is something in human beings that loves stories.

Perhaps what distinguishes my characters is their courage and spirit and a certain stubbornness which enables them to keep going even when facing a setback. I think this developed organically as I wrote, but also it came out of a desire to portray women as powerful and intelligent forces in the world.

It's very important to balance things; it's imperative to do something for the society, and women in particular, and help women who aren't in position to help themselves.

My favorite part was when my grandfather and I would make a special trip to Firpo's Bakery for red and green Christmas cookies and fruitcake studded with the sweetest cherries I've ever tasted. Usually Firpo's was too expensive for our slim budget, but Christmas mornings they gave a discount to any children who came in.

To achieve important things, we have to sacrifice what's important to us. That's an idea that's very central to Indian thinking.

Dissolving differences has always been an important motive for my writing, right from 'The Mistress of Spices.'

I'm a very senses-oriented person, and I want to bring readers in on the level of the senses, so they can experience another culture and another place.

In many immigrant families, the parents are just talking and talking about the home country until the children are like, 'Oh, don't tell us any more.'

I work very hard at creating complex characters, a mix of positives and negatives. They are all flawed. I believe flaws are almost universal, and they help us understand, sympathise and, paradoxically, feel closer to such characters.

When I was volunteering with Hurricane Katrina refugees in Houston in 2005, I first started thinking about the whole phenomenon of grace under pressure.

I interviewed a lot of people in India, and I asked my mother to send me a lot of Bengali books on the tradition of dream interpretation. It's a real way for me to remember how people think about things in my culture.

I had friends who died in the 9/11 tragedy; some of my friends lost family members in the aftermath of Godhra.

I write best late at night, when everyone in the house has gone to bed. There's something magical about that late night silence that appeals to me.

As a writer, I have to show complexities. Through my writings, I hope to bring out people in different situations and not just one-dimensional beings.

One of the things that I am learning is that each generation will have its own negotiations with identity. And one generation can not necessarily help the other generation with it.

I came to the plain fields of Ohio with pictures painted by Hollywood movies and the works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. None of them had much to say, if at all, about Dayton, Ohio.

To me, characters are at the heart of great literature.

I show women growing, changing, becoming stronger in many kinds of situations.

I find that it's really important for me to imagine characters and situations. That allows me a lot of freedom.

I feel I can express the nuances of the Bengali lifestyle and ways of thinking better than other cultures.