A Conversation with Andrea Gunraj, author of THE LOST SISTER

The Lost Sister is Andrea Gunraj’s second novel, which Harriet Alida Lye has declared to be “a finely crafted story about forgiveness and redemption between two sets of sisters, [a novel whose] beating heart is the longing that comes from missing someone you love.”


Briny Books: What’s the part of your book that you’re most proud of—the scene you can’t believe you pulled off, the part you most want to highlight, the passage you’d like to enclose in brackets with a note underlined: I WROTE THIS?

Andrea Gunraj: The scene where the character Alisha goes into the woods to find an important place related to her sister’s disappearance. I pictured it in my mind for a while but didn’t think I could make it interesting or particularly readable. But I thought it was really important to have that moment. It took a lot of writing and re-writing to get it to the place it is now but I think it works well in the flow of the story now.

Briny Books: Was there a part of your narrative that surprised you as your book came together, suggesting that the author isn’t always completely in charge of her work and something deeper and weirder is going on?

Andrea Gunraj: There were a few scenes that definitely seemed to “write themselves.” They were the places I spent least time on writing and editing but seemed to be the strongest parts of the story. That really surprised me as I rarely write well on the first pass and have to do a lot of finessing to make something read better.

Briny Books: Public readings (and learning to do them) are a big part of an author’s experience. But is there a part of your book that you know you’ll never have the nerve to read out loud?

Andrea Gunraj: The scenes that depict abuse are not ones that I would generally want to read out loud. They were hard for me to write and they are likely challenging to read. They’re important to the story, but I think they are for silent reading.

Briny Books: What has been your favourite reader response to your book so far?

Andrea Gunraj: I very much appreciate the early readers who volunteered their time to provide quotes for the cover. It was kind of them and they didn’t have to do it. They are all talented writers I admire and to get a positive review from them was truly wonderful.  

Briny Books: What book(s) is/are you reading at the moment?

Andrea Gunraj: Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry.