The Inevitable Ambiguity of Words

Author Interview
Anil Author Interview

Strange Bedfellows: Fun with Etymology uses a unique brand of humor to show readers how fun etymology can be. What inspired you to start this series of books?

I am primarily a wordplay writer and have published over 200 articles of assorted styles of word play in the online journal Word Ways, not all humorous. Within the general category of word play, my favourite type is constrained writing of various ilks. My two Strange Bedfellows books use the constraint of using only words that are etymologically related to construct fun phrases and sentences. I then embellish them with my own weird sense of humour in explaining or more often simply extending the SB thoughts to a more free form of humorous expositions and stories.

The idea of using pools of etymologically related words as a type of constrained writing came to me when I noted, in Eric Partridge’s wonderful etymology dictionary Origins, what a huge number of interesting words are surprisingly ultimately related to ‘legend’. From there I devoured Origins looking for other pools of relatives offering interesting combinations. I collected many and managed two volumes of the constructions from them as skeletons on which to overlay my personal style of humour and nonsense. The latter is heavily influenced by the writings of Will Cuppy as well as Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, James Thurber, Ogden Nash, Dr. Seuss, Edward Lear and others.

What is the collaboration process like between you and the illustrator, Kalpart?

Kalpart is the company name of a commercial art collaboration headed by Kalpa Joshi. For my books, I describe to her the images I visualise and she is very compliant in revising her first efforts to capture them until they meet my wishes. Other of her artists usually do the final coloured illustrations. I couldn’t ask for a more cooperative artist. She does, however, often make suggestions that I like and let her use.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

Joy! Plus a sense of the inevitable ambiguity of words, phrases and sentence that allow puns and other twists to amuse and/or expand the reader’s perspectives. (Oops, that two things!)

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have two upcoming books, both being sequels to my Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories A to Z (‘SAR1′, 2018), profusely illustrated in colour by Kalpart. They use a different type of constrained writing, monorhyme verses on animal themes, which I call animal uni-verses.

  • 101 Animal Universes, unillustrated and with limited prose addenda, finished and seeking a publisher as a ‘pure’ poetry book. Hence the release date is unknown. It includes some of the best verses from SAR1 and the following (SAR2) plus many more mostly new universes.
  • Silly Animal Rhymes and Stories: Zoo Two, in press, text approved and awaiting the rest of Kalpart’s brilliant illustrations, half finished. It should be finished and released in 2-4 months but possibly longer. This and my three recent books are self-published by SBPRA, the fifth (101AU) hoping to find a regular publisher, but failing that, again to use SBPRA.

I also have three other books firmly in mind, all partly written, the second two illustrated:

  • a short small book of embellished Spoonerisms;
  • a commercial satire Dr. Duck’s Dealy Deli based around an enterprise and characters that clutter the pages of my other five books; and
  • a rewrite of an old self-illustrated volume from 1979, Anno Dodo, a humorous satire cum word play on the theme of extinction.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Etymologically related words, most surprisingly so (strange bedfellows), are used to construct amusing and/or amazing pairs, phrases and whole sentences, mostly accompanied by silly or satirical comments, tall tales with recurring characters, poems, fake news and fake ads for Dr. Duck’s Dealy Deli. An appendix gives many other pairs of surprisingly related synonyms, antonyms, etc., balanced by the converse – pairs one might expect to be related but are not.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on May 14, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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