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Beauty in the Madness: An Interview with Louisa Kamal, author of A Rainbow of Chaos

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A native of Manchester, UK, and a holder of a Master’s degree in English Literature from the city’s university, Louisa Kamal has spent over half of her life living and working in Asia—Thailand, Japan, and now Nepal. Often referred to by friends as the builder of “cultural bridges,” Louisa is passionate about both preserving and promoting understanding of traditions and rituals, especially those associated with Tibet, which she first visited in 2012. A winner of various awards for haiku and short stories, A Rainbow of Chaos is her first full-length book. Louisa currently lives in Kathmandu with Arjun and their dog, Maya, enjoying trekking, badminton, and photography in her free time.

You can buy A Rainbow of Chaos here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title A Rainbow of Chaos literally leapt out of my laptop one day, albeit in a different context. It is a quote from the artist Paul Cezanne: “We live in a rainbow of chaos,” and the words seemed so applicable to my own life in the lockdown of 2020 in which I found myself trapped in Nepal. There was chaos, there was mayhem, there was fear. But through it all I found beauty; the light of the rainbow. The quote has also given me what could be called “the rainbow theme” for the titles of the book’s sequels.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

As I am a photographer as well as a writer, I was determined that the cover should be based on one of my own photographs. As I am also a perfectionist, I agonized over such details as the textbox borders, the beginning-of-chapter logo, the layout, and so on. So when I finally held a copy of A Rainbow of Chaos in my hands, my feelings could really not be put into words. The reproduction of the colourful cover, the quality of the paper, and the total “look” of the book all filled me with joy and a deep sense of fulfillment.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I think that most readers would be surprised to know that for about a decade I worked in the field of anti-corruption. I was an international advisor to Thailand’s anti-corruption commission for several years and subsequently worked on a freelance basis with various organizations involved in fighting corruption like the American Bar Association and Transparency International. Those years really made me appreciate how corruption is an enabler of so many other heinous crimes like human trafficking, money laundering, and the like. I still bristle whenever corruption rears its ugly head and feel sad that my beloved Nepal can never move forward until corruption is eradicated or at least reduced.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I am not sure whether I ever had the concept of a “perfect reader” in my mind, but what I am finding, much to my pleasure, is that the book speaks to different readers in different ways. For some, it evokes their own memories of COVID lockdowns, either in Nepal or elsewhere—for others, it is the gradual exposing of my soul that captures their heart—while one reader even identified with the difficulties caused by my partner’s lack of motivation as opposed to my own boundless energy. This is a real source of encouragement to me.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am currently transforming my journal and notes into a sequel to A Rainbow of Chaos, Rainbows in the Eyes. I am very much aware that this could easily fall into the trap of being repetitious in many ways: one of the devices I am using to avoid this is having a flashback to my past in each chapter so that the reader learns more about me and what made me the person I am today. It is often quite challenging to delve into my memory in this way, but enjoyable too. My photograph is ready to be transformed by Atmosphere’s designer into a stunning cover which echoes that of A Rainbow of Chaos and I hope to be able to submit the finished manuscript well before the end of the year.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

I have to admit that I experienced quite a degree of trepidation when I first entrusted my manuscript to Atmosphere Press. I was not at all sure if I would get the quality service—and end product—which the website promised. However, my fears were ill-founded. I was provided with all that I expected and more, and I made real friendships along the way. Of course there were the occasional glitches, like the delays which occurred during November ascribed to Thanksgiving: as a Brit I could not really understand that, but I was totally satisfied with every step of the process regardless. So if other writers have a book in readiness, my advice is to take your courage in both hands and get it evaluated by Atmosphere Press!

You can buy A Rainbow of Chaos here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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