Q&A for "The Copenhagen Affair"

Amulya and her husband Søren have been together for twenty-two years and married for nineteen years. Amulya started to write this book when she was depressed and wanted to laugh. And as she reads everything she writes out loud to her husband, she thought it would make him laugh as well, which it did. Since this book is about depression and marriage, this Q&A is more of a conversation between Amulya and her husband. 

SØREN: We’ve been married a long time. What do you think about our marriage?
AMULYA: It’s been good. It’s been bad. And it’s been everything in between. It’s my only marriage. I have nothing else to compare it to, either, so I can’t benchmark. Overall, it’s been like life—some ups and some downs and still alive.
SØREN: You wrote this book when you were depressed. What does depression mean to you?
AMULYA: I am what they call a high-functioning depressive. Unlike Sanya, who stayed under the covers, I didn’t. I went out and worked and was a mother, a wife, a friend . . . and I was also terribly sad, miserable, and the whole world was covered in gray. I couldn’t write. I had no creative outlet. It wasn’t much fun.
SØREN: You are high functioning. Even I didn’t know until much later how bad things were. I learned a lot about depression from your experience. Now I think I can detect if something is wrong before it goes wrong. Going through depression, what was the most important lesson you learned?
AMULYA: I learned two things. First, the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality. It’s being able to see all the colors of the rainbow, feel everything (good and bad), and live life to the fullest. The second thing I learned is that you can’t make me happy. That no one can make me happy. I have to make me happy. I have to make a choice every morning if on that day I will be happy or indulge myself to go into this gray state of feeling nothing. It sounds really simple, but that’s the truth. I control my destiny.
SØREN: Speaking of controlling destinies, how come Sanya doesn’t end up with Ravn? I always thought that she would.
AMULYA: I had no idea how it would end. I actually talked to Tobias (our son) about it. I explained Sanya to him and Ravn and Harry. Tobias said that Sanya should dump both men and go on a long vacation. I think that Sanya knew all along that Ravn was a distraction she was using to get better. Sometimes distractions divert you from fixing your life, and sometimes they help you get out of your situation. In Sanya’s case, Ravn helped her clear the gray and find herself.
SØREN: Sanya and Ravn never consummate their relationship. Why not?
AMULYA: We actually don’t know if they do or don’t. We don’t know how they spent that night in the summer house. And neither does Harry.
SØREN: I loved Sanya’s voice. She’s quirky and sarcastic, bat shit crazy and fun. How did you put her together?
AMULYA: Of all the characters I have written, Sanya is the one who’s closest to me. Not Old Sanya but New Sanya. I’m slightly irreverent, and I look at life with cynical glasses at times; and I never have a problem with being blunt and up-front. I’m sometimes a bit of a drama queen. I also am afraid of the darkness of depression.
SØREN: I thought Mandy and Penny were fun. Do we know these people?
AMULYA: Well, parts of them are similar to some people we know, but the rest is conjured up. These are my characters, and they are created by me and don’t exist in reality.
SØREN: What actually inspired this story?
AMULYA: One day I was at work and walking past an office and I saw a sign with the name Anders Ravn. The Danish Ravn is from the bird raven. In Hindu mythology, we had a Ravan who is a bad guy. This was also the time that there was the whole IT Factory scandal in Denmark, where a leasing carousel scheme meant that the CEO of that company did prison time. So I started to think about a modern version of The Ramayana—where Sita, my Sanya, has had a nervous breakdown and . . . bit by bit the story emerged.
SØREN: The Copenhagen you describe in this book is your Copenhagen. How do you feel about the city?
AMULYA: You know that Copenhagen is my favorite city in the world. And I love it very much, even more than Paris, which is a city that I adore. The Copenhagen in the book is definitely my Copenhagen. The places I went to and the experiences I had. Some of these experiences I had with you, some with friends, and some alone. I get so nostalgic when I think about Copenhagen that I even forget how terrible the weather used to be. I miss it very much, and when I sometimes go there because of work, I’m once again enamored and feel all the feelings. I also have friends in the city—friends who are nearly family. So Copenhagen is very special and will always be this special city—like a long-lost lover, the one who got away.