December Guest Author Chandra Prasad: Forthcoming Novel Is for the Daring
My newest novel, recently completed, is entitled Breathe the Sky. It’s taut, edgy biographical fiction about the aviatrix Amelia Earhart. I grew interested in Earhart after writing about her briefly in On Borrowed Wings. In the latter half of Wings, Earhart visits New Haven, Connecticut; the characters Adele Pietra and Ceci DeRisio go to hear her give a lecture in a crowded Yale auditorium. Earhart talks about what it’s like to be a female pioneer, and urges young women to challenge the barriers they face.
In her speech she opines, “Too many of us [girls] have been bred to timidity. That is why those who escape must run, not stroll, toward what they desire. They mustn’t look back. They mustn’t question their own instincts. And they must listen to the naysayers. If they can only follow their own true course, well then, they will be as renowned for bravery as the greatest men are.”
In reality, Earhart did visit New Haven not long before her final, fateful round-the-world voyage. Had Adele and Ceci been real, they could have met her then. Perhaps they would have been inspired by her rousing speech. But that is a hypothetical. What is true is that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared somewhere over the South Pacific on July 2, 1937. They have never been found.
In Breathe the Sky I concentrate on Earhart’s fascinating career trajectory and personal life. What a life she had! Earhart was a staunch promoter of equal rights and equal wages for women, a pioneering teacher at Purdue University, the part-owner of an airline company, a good friend to Eleanor Roosevelt, an influential fashion designer, and a record-breaking aeronautical powerhouse. She was doing it all before “doing it all” entered into the public lexicon. Tragically, she didn’t live to be forty.
Although Earhart’s legacy has been investigated once before in fiction, Breathe the Sky is unique. Meticulously researched, it humanizes one of America’s most celebrated and mythical personalities. Stewart O’Nan, the author of Songs for the Missing, says, “Breathe the Sky vividly reimagines the private life of Amelia Earhart, contrasting the careful construction of her public persona with the sloppy preparation for her around-the-world flight and its tragic consequences. Chandra Prasad replaces the romance of the legend with this litany of all-too-mistakes.”
I hope you enjoy Breathe the Sky when it arrives in print!