Rochelle Potkar, Author of The Arithmetic of Breasts and Other Stories

What is your book about?

This is a cluster of 7½ literary short stories exploring the romantic-sexual facets of its characters.

Narain who lusts for Munika, hypnotized by her bosom, and old Jaganlal who wants a favour from young Dia. Jackie who falls for Nic who in turn is falling for Lee, and a cosmetic surgeon who is changing much more than Sneha’s hairline, nose, lip and chin.

Shonali and Neel who are realizing that infidelity might not be such an easy thing, and a woman who walks a tight rope between temple tradition and sexual exploitation.

And, Sunil who meets the woman of his desires through an adult dating site.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I had written many short stories over the last five long years and it was time now to put some of ‘em together.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

It varies with every story. Sometimes, I have the whole idea down. Sometimes, a wisp. Sometimes, an epiphany so fleeting that if I blink, I miss it. Sometimes, what I have is the ending and then I have to go and find its beginning. So it’s all tricky.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

More than writing, the decision to collect these stories together and present them as a book changed something in my life. It’s the feeling that I have been in a closet for long and now I’ve come out.

How does your environment/upbringing colour your writing?

I am an Indian, living in India. I have travelled internationally but I’m basically rooted to one place, one space, one armchair by the window. This has provoked the frog in me to view outside the well. I do draw my characters from people around me but my stories are a little unhinged from my where I live. They seem floating, ready to hinge anywhere. So I can’t say my writing is very Indian or country-specific. That’s a good and a bad thing, I suppose.

What are you working on right now?

I have been working on a speculative novel for a while. 2 years. Only now it seems to settle down like dust. I hope to have it out by 2014.

What writer influenced you the most?


What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

When writing I have to lose myself and become 0%. When marketing I need to be aware of selling whatever can be sold. So I have to become 100% aware of saleable things around me. This constant journey between invisibility and visibility is very funny, actually, swinging from one end of the continuum and back.

What are your future plans? What will you bring to the literary world besides more stories?

I see that there will always be rude, bad, hateful, distasteful people around and to balance them kind, soft, fine people in this unarticulated battle.

Art generates empathy and compassion.

But other than endlessly generating that in saleable products with price tags or preaching to the converted in echo chambers, I hope to someday tangibly touch another person’s life by doing something concrete for them with the little empathy and compassion I have. This can come through social work. And I am planning for it.

What genre are your books?

My writing alternates between speculative and literary. Speculative to me is when there is a lot of magic in it and it is off the ground. Literary is grounded. But these are simplistic definitions. Stories are subjective and the definition of it falls in nebulous boundaries. There I go again…nebulous and boundaries don’t go together!

Where can people learn more about your books?

The Arithmetic of breasts and other stories, is available on:


You can visit my website my virtual residence too at: Welcome!


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.