BackStory: Seven Questions with Tara Isabel Zambrano

Lakshmana Temple Khajurâho

BackStory: Seven Questions with Tara Isabel Zambrano
Author of In The Arms of Khajuraho, 970 CE

What inspired you to write ‘The Arms of Khajuraho, 970 CE’?

I have always had a strong desire to write historical fiction pieces especially about the art that has been considered revolutionary, historical figures who were ahead of their times. Khajuraho Temples have been one of such monuments that I have heard about since my childhood. The art on these temple walls is intriguing, a depiction of that era, so alive and uninhibited in its expression.

What is your favourite piece of historical fiction?

I read The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, many years ago, that was based on the life of Noorjahan, the twentieth wife of Jehangir, Akbar’s son, and a Mughal Emperor of India. The opulence in the language and the lifestyle, the story made me very interested in this style of Fiction.

Were there any interesting facts, details, or turns of phrase that didn’t quite make the final piece? How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

Initially, I wrote a longer piece, with more details of the statues but realized that they were not necessary. Also, I was not planning on expanding on the temples themselves but the idea of it, an introduction.

I only researched the time period as I was not sure about that. I had a faint idea of their geography, so that was some learning.

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?

Oh! Describing the statues was my favourite part, I had them vivid in my head, and translating their luxurious, engaging poses in words and creating a world of their own was creative and fun.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

In the time period when Mahatma Gandhi returned to India, around 1915.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?

An open, curious mind.

What do you like most about writing flash? What do you think is the most challenging and/or rewarding aspect of writing historical flash? How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?

I like the challenge of describing a world, a conflict, a duel of words in a tight space. I like its precision, sharpness, the realization of something bigger, inherent lurking within.

I believe historical fiction needs to sound convincing, the accuracy of details and the characters should create a wholesome canvas of that era.

In the few historical fiction pieces I have written, I have been mindful of what sets that time period apart, if the internalization of narrators and characters matches the thought process and development of that era.

Tara Isabel Zambrano is the author of Death, Desire And Other Destinations, a full-length flash collection by OKAY Donkey Press. Her work has won the first prize in The Southampton Review Short Short Fiction Contest 2019, been a Finalist in Bat City Review 2018 Short Prose Contest and Mid-American Review Fineline 2018 Contest, been published in The Best Micro Fiction 2019, 2020 Anthology. Her stories have been nominated for The Best of the Net, The Best of Small Fictions and The Pushcart. She lives in Texas.
Detail of photograph of Lakshmana Temple, Khajurâho by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (CC BY 2.0).