Ramaa Sonti

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Hello Ramaa, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer.  

How would you define yourself?

Introvert. Moody.  Maverick.

What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?

Childhood..Normal. Adventurous. With  a few  likeminded friends, I tried everything. From scaling walls, climbing trees to daring bulls.  Forgot mentioning throwing stones at windows.

Growing up years made me realize my speech impediment. Then to overcome that, I developed a ‘don’t care’ attitude which made me not to care when people mocked.  Slowly the attitude became the confidence and I became the person I am now.

When did your journey as a writer/poet began?

Since childhood. First story at the age of 5-6 years.

Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?

Not any muse. But the pride in my husband’s & daughter’s face makes me write.

Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?

I usually plan. Being a working woman, without planning I can’t multi task.

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For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?

Imagination. It’s the easiest.  I usually build up the whole story while I am doing house hold chores.  Hardest thing is sitting at the computer and start typing it out.  Many a time there are stories which formed in my head and remained there.

No. I don’t have patience to stick to any rituals.

Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?

No writer’s block as such. But sometimes I don’t write for as many as 2-3 months and then suddenly I start writing and write continuously for another 4 months.

How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?

Think I have evolved. Earlier, I never had this confidence to really write what I think. Now I do.

Advice to me… patience.  And read.

At present there’s a short story in my head regarding a mother son relationship. A bit emotional one. Plan to write it out.

What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?

Bright.  Publishers want to publish new writers, it’s an encouraging sign.

One liners:

Favorite food… Simple south Indian fare… curd rice with lemon pickle.
Favorite Book… Strangely I remember this Telugu writer Ranganayakamma. She wrote about gender equality in a book. I don’t remember the name.
Favorite author…  None till now.
What are you afraid of… Losing my loved ones.
What makes you angry… cowardice, lies, and  injustice.
Childhood crush… My English teacher.
Things that you can’t live without… Otrivin nasal drops.  (Will literally die)

Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?

Don’t form opinions about people or judge them… I learned it the hard way.

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Raama with her family

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI. 

 

 

Namrata Chauhan

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Hello Namrata, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer.

How would you define yourself?

Jack of all trades master of None….. I constantly want to try out new things and explore new options.

What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?

I had a very happy childhood and my parents trusted me 100% with whatever I wanted to do. Be it writing or stage plays, cooking or dancing, painting or karaoke; they encouraged me everywhere. I could share everything with them and I think that is the key to shape an individual. This made me experiment with everything and shaped me the way I am.

When did your journey as a writer/poet began?

I think it began when I was 9 or 10. I liked reading my own essays over and over again in the examination hall! It is then I realized that probably I am good, so good that I sounded impressive to me!

That is when I started with small poems, stories and even love notes for friends for their crush.

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Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?

I do not have a muse as such. Thoughts keep coming and going and at times excellent ones pass by when I do not have any writing tools on me. The major catalyst for me is a writing competition, prompt or theme; I seldom win any, but the challenge to build a tale on theme/snippets/ideas; especially boundaries, pushes me.

Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?

I go with the flow and so many times my stories turn up very different than what I had envisioned them. New characters and sub plots get added as I write and even the climax may change so many times! I am pretty organic that way and I build almost 5 stories in parallel in my mind while working on one….

For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?

The easiest thing about writing is ideas that I have and need to see the light of day. I always have ideas and at times I rue later over letting them go. The hardest thing is motivation to WRITE, I think I always need a push to start and that diffuses so many great ideas of mine. Once I overcome that and start writing for myself… it would be a winner.

As a matter of fact I do! I write two to three paragraphs and then walk around and hum a song and for that time of 2-3 minutes, I try to forget about the piece of writing. Then when I come back and start I think I am able to write better.

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With Her Family.

Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?

Have a long way to go before I start getting one, as of now think I do not get it I guess. I may not be in a mood to write at times but once I am writing I seldom get a block per se. As my stories are organic I do have conflict at times to choose the between plots. If and when I start my own book, then I am sure I may get stuck to give correct depth to characters.

How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?

The start is now so evolution would happen! I would advise myself to be disciplined when it comes to writing and write each single day and as mentioned before, write because I love writing. Another major advice would be to think in the language I am writing in.

I am working on getting into the idea of writing daily by concentrating on my blog. Once that is set I am sure bigger things would follow J

What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?

I think India is positioned for bigger and better things, writing-publishing included. With books getting accessible via Kindle/Juggernaut and the realization of reading being better than spending time in front of the idiot box, I see children taking interest in reading and many of them progressing to write.

 

One liners:

Favorite food… Anything Mom makes
Favorite Book… Pride and Prejudice
Favorite author… Jane Austen
What are you afraid of… Reviews! I am so scared of negative ones, cause I always think I have cooked up a great story J
What makes you angry… Dishonesty
Childhood Crush… Pierce Brosnon…have you watched Remington Steele?
Things that you can’t leave without… Family is not a thing and besides family I do not need a thing.

 

Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?

You only live once…. go get ’em all.

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At the Delhi launch of Defiant Dreams, with her co-authors. 

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To know more about her work follow her bloghttps://ncunplugged.wordpress.com/

This is one of Namrata’s favourite pieces: http://www.readomania.com/story/the-odd-and-even-of-it

You can connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/namrata.bhargava.52

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI. 

 

 

Radhika Maira Tabrez

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Hello Radhika, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer. 

How would you define yourself?

Wow! Now that’s one question that never ceases to baffle us, does it? Just like all the other people I know, I too am constantly evolving, morphing from one state of mind into another; as I learn and experience more. So just like them, a fixed definition eludes me too. But I guess a few things that have remained a constant in my life, in fact have only gotten more deeply ingrained over the years, are my uncompromisable need for individuality, my curiosity for all that I don’t yet understand and my sense of humor (at least I like to think I have one).

What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?

I grew up in a typical middle class household. Our extended family was spread all over Delhi/NCR and hence holidays meant crazy fun time with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The childhood was usual. School and college were fine too. I was unwell for a major part of my childhood and adolescence; hence wasn’t allowed a lot of physical/outdoorsy activities. But, the silver lining was that I became a voracious reader. Writing naturally followed that. I think the most beautiful ability one can develop, is to communicate deeply and freely, with the world as well as oneself; and writing is always a good step in that direction. And one should never underestimate the significance of solitude, in finding that voice.

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With her husband

My adolescence was also when I picked up the now almost obsessive need to craft broken things into something useful or beautiful. I find it extremely unwinding. It helps me oil my brains back into functioning, whenever I hit a writer’s block. Of course, as a side note, you should know that you can unearth any kind of junk when sifting through my drawers. I think there is a unique sense of gratification that lies in mending what is broken. It’s therapeutic, to the one who fixes it, more than what is fixed.

When did your journey as a writer/poet began?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a scribbler. A few lines here, a paragraph there. So to put a definitive date on this would be difficult. However, one incident does stand out from my childhood, which I believe served as a significant thrust to my writing, if not the initial spark. I remember reading in the newspaper about a thief, who once apprehended, confessed that inability to buy his pregnant wife some expensive medicines is what pushed him to do that crime. The law, of course, couldn’t care less for such extenuating circumstances; and the man was punished nevertheless. The news article ended with the information that his heavily pregnant wife is now making the rounds of the police station, begging the authorities to relent. That news item triggered something inside me. I remember feeling angry, very angry. And also for the first time at a loss to express that anger. I decided to pen down my thoughts and share that with my father when he came back from work. And somehow, those few lines, with my father’s help, turned into a whole fictional account of a conversation with a thief and found its way to that year’s Annual School Magazine. A few months later, that whole incident and the ethical dilemma it presents to the society as I had chalked out in my piece, became a theme for the Debate Club’s next session. I remember feeling oddly redeemed that day. The idea that words written on a piece of paper can start conversation on a wider scale and a bigger platform, was quite comforting. I think I was hooked.

11205038_1541150406202924_6016587805166326848_nI had wanted to be a journalist. My father did not approve of that profession much, and he told me I could only do it if I made it into IIMC. I of course, didn’t. So after that heartbreak, I think I consciously moved away from writing for a while, engaging in only occasional scribbling, that too for my eyes only. But old love always finds a way to pull you back towards it, and so did my writing.

Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?

Somehow, oddly, reading non-fiction has always helped me write fiction. Newspaper and magazines help. I remember, one of my personal favorite  stories, ‘Jaanaki Kaaki’ which was also selected for UnBound Magazine and published to rave reviews, was based on the news item about a man in U.S., who kept committing petty crimes just to earn the jail time because he had nowhere to live. Reading such news continues to depress me, unless I weave all that disquiet into a story and share it with others; and hopefully send a message.

 

Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?

I am hopeless with routines. Almost everything in my life is laissez faire, and that’s the rhythm that works the best with my mind and body. Even when I am writing a story, no matter how hard I try, plotting never works for me. I just start keying in my thoughts and see where they take me.

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At the Delhi launch of ‘When They Spoke’

For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?

The easiest thing about writing is writing. The hardest thing is writing too. Let me explain. If you want to write something, the best thing is to pick up the pen and start. But then, after a while, you would hit roadblocks. Lack of ideas, lack of congruity, lack of depth. And the hardest thing to do at that time, also the only thing one should do, is to keep writing. You’ve got to keep working at it with a chisel, if you have lost your hammer, momentarily. One sentence. One paragraph. One page, at a time. I, for one, believe that stopping when I hit a writer’s block only makes it worse. I do take a break though. Brew myself a nice cuppa, flip on some Yanni or Miles Davis, and craft something. That greases up my thinking process.

I don’t have any rituals really, except that I must have my comfy PJs on. One thing that I do find odd though; is that the first thing I know when I am writing any story, is the exact sequence, sometimes even the exact dialogue or sentence, it would end with. So I have my ending worked out even before the name of the story, or all the character outlines; and from there I work my way backwards. I have this idea of what I want the readers to think and feel when they end the story, the key sentiment I want them to walk away with, and that drives my whole effort towards that story.

Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?

I do Yes. Quite often. But like I said earlier, I don’t let it settle in. I shake it off with a cup of coffee, some music and often a quick jive with my little one, who is always ready to oblige when it comes to dancing. Especially if it is the Minion’s Banana Song, we are dancing to!

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With fellow authors, editors and Publisher at the Kolkata Launch of ‘Defiant Dreams’

How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be?

I think anyone who reads, is always evolving. So whatever growth curve I attain as a writer, comes more from my reading than from my practice of the writing craft. I am, as my close friends know, a compulsive editor. I am always tweaking my pieces. Every time I re-read them, I find a word, a phrase, a sentiment I would like to put differently. To the point that it almost irritates me. I have a folder called ‘Go Find Something Else To Do’ where I put all my final pieces, to make sure that the name of the folder deters me from opening it and reviewing finished pieces. Pssst… doesn’t work as effectively as one would have thought!

But on a serious note, I think that’s how a writer evolves. For every single page that we read, we are a different, smarter, a more aware person; and for me that connects very fluidly with my writing. So if I look at a piece that I wrote in the morning, again in the evening, I spot a zillion ways to better myself. But it needs to have a stop line. I remember the separation pangs I faced when I was sending the final drafts of my novel, for this same reason. So the one advice I would give myself is, ‘Learn to know when it is enough’. It is a damn tough advice to follow – either about writing or about having some chocolate cake – I can tell you that!

What are you working on now?

I am currently tied up with the post-launch promotional work for my debut novel ‘In The Light Of Darkness’. Besides that I am working on a novella series with two other phenomenal writers that I admire a lot. And also researching for my next novel, which is one of the most emotional writing I might have ever done and hence it is draining me; and yet I have never enjoyed working on anything more.

What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?

I think it is going through an exciting phase. Juggernaut has certainly started to shake things up. Leisure reading is yet to catch on in India. We lag far behind in average reading per capita and that could certainly use some work. Especially, at the school level. I am a proud member of the Kalam Library Initiative, a project that aims at making books available to the children in the remotest parts of the country. We certainly need initiatives like that for a wholesome growth of learning in this country.

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One liners:

Favorite food… Chocolates. What? Chocolates aren’t food you say? Well, it is just a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
Favorite Book…
The Fountainhead
Favorite author… Virginia Woolf
What are you afraid of… Snakes! Yikes!!!
What makes you angry… People, with easy access to a platform like social media trying to sensationalize and politicize every damn thing, these days.
Childhood crush… None actually. I’m a little boring that way.
Things that you can’t live without… Coffee, Music and Books. The ranking order may change based on the kind of day I am having.

Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?

Read. As much, as you can. As wide and varied, as topics can get. As controversial, as words can get. Read what the world is reading. Definitely read what the world is not.

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With her son Meer, at the Delhi Launch of her Debut Novel ‘In The Light Of Darkness’

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You can find more of Radhika’s works on her blog: Radhika Maira Tabrez and on Facebook: Radhika Maira Tabrez

Twitter and Instagram – @RadhikaTabrez

You can buy her debut book In The Light Of Darkness here: Amazon

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI. 

 

 

Paromita Bardoloi

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Hello Paromita, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer. 

How would you define yourself?

Extremely flawed but very beautiful

What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?

I was born and brought up in a very small town of Assam. My town lies very close to Arunachal border. It is a silent town tucked in the bosom of nature. We are the hub of tea gardens. Infact our town grew, because of tea gardens around. I grew amidst the lush green tea gardens and nature in abundance. I strongly feel that Assam or North East India is one of nature’s favourite children. She really took time to create us. Infact in my childhood I have run barefooted in fields, fished and played with bows and arrows too. Freedom was my breath. No one ever told me that girls did not play with bows. Under the free sky, I had grown a deep love for nature. That’s about growing up with nature, you don’t let anyone else dictate or define you. Nature is free. It nurtures and destroys the way you tend to it. And the wind blows, without your permission. I still have not let anyone define me. Though it’s long I have been writing, I still write what feels right in my heart. That what I think worked for me in the long run.

At a freind's Book Promotion

At a friend’s book promotion

 When did your journey as a writer/poet began?

Though I come from a very small town, literature was always in the air. A lot of people read and wrote. Infact, so many people who were writers or poets visited my home. So much of literature was discussed. My parents are very well read people. Infact my earliest memory of my parents is that they read together. So, that way books made a way to my life. And the way nature presented itself, fascinated me even as a kid. I remember that smell of the fresh Sunlight that fell on our desks, I must had been in first or second standard. Not sure, what the teacher taught, but the Sunlight, the Sky that changed its own colors according to whims stayed with me. It turned blue, sometimes orange and in other times purple. I was so much in love with that, I thought writing about it was the best way, to hold it closer. So, I wrote my first poem at 8 and next at 11, while travelling in a night bus to Guwahati. It was a 12 hours bus ride. I still remember that journey. I almost saw whole of Assam, and lord knows it was pristine. I remember those lone houses with a bulb burning in their front yard. I still wonder, what they would be like, if I ever meet them.

So, that was why I started writing poetry in local and state level newspapers and later I shifted to writing long pieces. Now, poetry has taken a backseat. Hope I revive it someday!

Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?

Can anyone or anything be more interesting than life itself? Life is so unpredictable, it teaches you so much. So, it is my primary muse. But having said that, let’s not romanticize it. A lot of reading goes through everyday. Each piece that you see published is pitched by me. So, if you are going to have an idea each day, you should know a lot that is happening around. I read a lot each day. Atleast 4 to 5 hours is dedicated to just reading. I read a lot of International media. And when I think there is an idea I can write in the Indian context, I pitch. The writing part is easy, but knowing what to write and getting the paragraphs right is where the hard work is.

Moderating a session

Moderating a session

Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?

As I write for digital medium (mostly), my days runs from one deadline to another. I would love to have a month before crafting one piece but that is not possible in my sphere of everyday work.

Let me share a secret. There is nothing done in impromptu. Things are planned days ahead before you see it. Like whatever I have to do a week later, it is planned from now. No, I am not kidding. Look, you will see me like everywhere. With friends to events. If I am meeting someone, people let me know atleast fifteen days before.

We are planning to go for an outstation trip this September to perform for Aatish. July has just begun, but once I get the final dates in a week, I will get the tickets and the full bound script ready. So that by Aug when we rehearse we have nothing to worry about, but only the performance.

And when I am invited to events, which is mostly a month or 20 days before, I put the Saree I plan to wear on that day in a packet with the Jewelry aside, so the day I wear it, there is no fuss. Infact it’s such a drama free life when you plan. To be disciplined I learnt it the hard way. If you are not disciplined you will lose a lot and you will never be excellent. I am no more the college girl, who just runs out of the bed and does everything. Life has changed now, so I plan it all. Even those beautifully draped Sarees!

For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?

The easiest thing about writing is when I write personal experiences. The hardest is to write with the conviction that what I say matters and will be read by my audience.

As for rituals, I never put pen to paper without a silent prayer. No matter what I write, the moment I open Microsoft Doc.  a prayer is said. And before it goes to print, another prayer is said. So each piece that goes out there has a prayer stitched to it. Rest I surrender it to the Universe.

Yes! One more thing that I find very interesting, once my pieces are published, I read only once to see if there are changes made by the Editor. After that, I don’t remember going through any of my publications. I don’t know, but I don’t like what I write, much. I keep working hard. I hope one day I can open an old piece and feel really good reading it. At present I am not in that phase. I hardly like my language or craft. I cringe at it, at times.

Speaking at an event

Speaking at an event

Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?

Ofcourse there are days, you just don’t want to push yourself to write. But in days like that, I cheat. I work on things that hardly need my inputs. I do what seems easiest to me.

Also, that is when I watch all the Shahrukh Khan’s videos I can find online. I tell you, no one can break your blocks as a Shahrukh Khan can. He makes life feel so good one more time and I move on with life.

How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?

I think, I have become more matured and willing to take risks and write without thinking much about what people will think. So many of my pieces talk about my personal life in detail. Things that hurt or scared me. But as I am growing, I have lost the fear of showing my own deep vulnerabilities. I am okay telling, I was hurt or I made a mistake without making myself the hero or the victim. That I guess has been my greatest change. Sometimes before something goes on air, I wonder if it was okay to write so much of my inner life in details. I think that is when I tell myself, “Courage dear heart.” At the end of the day, I think I have become much more courageous than I was. It can be one scary experience to tell your own story. I hope I told a dignified one.

The only one advice that I am actually giving myself these days is, “Baby stop selling yourself short. Let go off what has served its purpose. You are worth the world. Go for what you desire, for you deserve that.”

At present I am working on two commissioned pieces. One on over giving women and another- a woman and her life. She is telling her story I am only writing it for her. Both should go on air early this week.

What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?

It cannot be denied that the publishing industry in India is growing like never before and many voices are coming up. We are midst of a chaos now. It will take a few years to settle, but it’s a huge influx of new voices. But what remain to be seen is, how many good pieces of literary work we produce that will sustain the tide of time. I see a lot of boy meet girl story these days and everyone is trying to pen a novel, which is a good thing, but how long will it have shelf life, that’s the real test.

Also, will our industry go to such a level, where one can be a full time writer and earn well from it? Even today most of the writers have a full time job. Until this is sorted out, we will still be working in patches. I hope there comes a day, where kids study to become a full time writer. It should be a career choice not just another option.

Favorite food: Assamese Cuisine
Favorite Book: Hundred years of Solitude
Favorite author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What are you afraid of: Losing my family
What makes you angry: Bad behaviour
Childhood crush: Rahul Dravid
Things that you can’t live without: Family and my laptop.

Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?

Thank you for all the love and appreciation. I am not sure if I truly deserve it all, but I will keep working harder.

Also, please know. You are here, because you have an important role to play, a gap to fill. If anyone tells you otherwise, walk the other way. You are precious and you deserve all that your heart desires. Trust me on that.

Love!

With freinds

With Friends

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To know more about her work follow her Facebook Page: PAROMITA BARDOLOI

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI. 

Aindrila Roy

 

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Hello Aindrila, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer. 

How would you define yourself?

I’m an introvert and a recluse. I’m at my happiest when left alone. That’s not to say that I don’t love my family or enjoy their company, I do. A lot. It’s just that I am at my creative best when I am alone. I’m passionate about my writing, reading, paleontology and food. I may not look it, but I’m a big foodie.

I’m a very private person who prefers to live her life off the social media. I only use social media to build my network and have fun.

What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?

My childhood was a mixed bag. Early childhood was fun, with lots of exciting things around me. However, things changed when I was 11 and my family moved town. I was unprepared for the move and it brought my dyslexia to the forefront. To make matters worse, I was studying in a highly competitive school where exams were the yardstick with which people were measured. The next few years I struggled with a learning disability, peer pressure to do better, bullying and ostracism. Wasn’t easy. But today, I can say that I am a better person having lived through that. I am who I am today largely because of those formative years.

When did your journey as a writer/poet begin?

My journey began around the same time as those difficult formative years that I spoke about in the previous question. I was 11-12 when I first started to pen thoughts that I was too young and too shy to articulate verbally. In a way, it’s my writing that pulled me out of my depression.

Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?

I can’t say I have a muse per se. My muse is internal. When I get the mood to write, I write. Can’t say that there’s a catalyst.

Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?

I used to be a go-with-the-flow writer when I started writing novels. But after two consecutive projects, where I wrote myself into a corner with no way out, I have become a diligent planner. Now I have extensive plans for my works in progress.

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For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?

Easiest thing for me are emotions. I have no problem stepping into my characters’ shoes and feel what they’re feeling.

Hardest would undoubtedly be action scenes. What I visualize in my mind as a scene to rival great epics turns out on paper looking like two stick figures fighting. I’m horrible at action scenes. Although, given my personality, marketing my book comes a very close second.

Since I work alone, and I live in USA, it can get really, really quiet. So what started as white noise has morphed into this hilarious ritual where I have an exceptionally bad movie playing in the background while I write. Logic being, if the movie is super horrid, I won’t be tempted to look up.

Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?

No. I do get an occasional day where I find no words are coming to me, but that usually lasts for a day or two. I usually have 2-3 works in progress at any given time. When I can’t work on one, I work on the other.

How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?

I have come a long, long way from when I started. I’m much more verbose now, where initially I wouldn’t describe at all. I have become much better in characterization, dialogue and plotting. But most importantly, I have learned to finish my novels.

I’d advice myself to not be so hard on myself. I’m usually my worst critic, sometimes to the point of being harmful. I need to believe in myself a little more.

Oh boy! I have loads of projects on right now. A supernatural, romance, high fantasy titled ‘Moonlight Sonata’. A modern horror-fantasy (that merges various mythologies and borrows heavily from paleontology) titled ‘Dreamscape’. An urban fantasy duology titled ‘Blood Brotherhood’. A dark high fantasy trilogy titled ‘Blackened Mirrors’. And finally, a high fantasy quartet that’s based on Ancient Indian society, tentatively named ‘Sussanoh Scrolls’. Basically, I am crazy.

What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?

I’m not very familiar with the Indian literary scenario at the moment, however, I do know some people who are incredibly talented. I have faith that they will become the shining stars of Indian publishing industry in not so distant future.

One liners:

Favorite food… Mutton Biriyani

Favorite Book… Kite Runner

Favorite author… Edgar Allan Poe

What are you afraid of… Spiders

What makes you angry… Passive aggressive behavior

Childhood crush… Shah Rukh Khan

Things that you can’t leave without… I never leave my house without my phone, credit card and car keys.

 

Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?

Read, read and read more. There’s a treasure trove out there, explore. And when you read a book, remember to thank the author by leaving a review.

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01603WXTQ

http://www.amazon.in/dp/B01603WXTQ

https://pothi.com/pothi/book/aindrila-roy-i-see-you

Excerpts from ‘I SEE YOU’:

 

The feeling that something was wrong just would not leave him. Assuming that the bulb of the table lamp had blown a fuse, Liam got off the bed and moved to the switch near the door. He was about to turn the overhead light on when he heard a rustle, like a paper. Whirling on his heels, his eyes scanned the room, but there was nothing. And that made Liam all the more uncomfortable. What could possibly be rustling in his room? The door was locked, the windows boarded, and the A/C was on. There was no reason why a paper should be rustling, but he was absolutely sure he had heard it. Liam turned around, flipped the switch, and yet again, nothing.

He briefly wondered whether the power was out, but he could feel the blast of cold air coming from the vents so that was not it. Why weren’t the lights coming on then? The only explanation that he could come up with was one he did not like. He was in another nightmare. Another vivid, life-like nightmare.

“Okay, then I’d like to wake up now.” He said, not missing the slight tremble in his voice.

A crunch behind him stilled his hand and stiffened his shoulders. Slowly, he turned, scanning the room. It was a while before he spotted it, but now that he did, Liam’s eyes would not move. There, in the shadowy nook between his bureau and the window, he could make out the silhouette of a person.

Startled, Liam took a step back, his heart hammering in his ears. “Wh-who are you? Who’s there?”

***

It was the heat that woke him up a few hours later. Stifling, sweltering heat. Eyes still closed, he wiped the sweat off his forehead, threw the blanket off and turned to his side to fall back to sleep, but the heat was oppressive. After spending a couple of minutes tossing and turning, Liam caught a whiff that jolted him fully awake. Something was burning. Eyes snapping open, he sat up on the bed and a scream tore through his lips. The foot of Liam’s bed was on fire and it was creeping further up at a frightening speed.

Shock paralyzed him for a precious few seconds in which the flames engulfed the entire bed frame and began licking the mattress. Egged by primal fear, Liam leaped out of the bed, his body passing through the flames. Panting heavily, he stood on the floor with his hands on his knees. Having caught his breath, he turned around, prepared to see a flaming inferno, but instead his eyes were met by an empty bed. There was no fire anywhere. No signs of it either.

***

It was then that he smelled the stench that turned his stomach into ice. The same fetid, meat-gone-bad stink that he associated with the apparition. Trembling and gasping, Liam turned and in the faint glow of the digital clock and the street light, he saw the shadowy figure glide towards him slowly. Liam stood heaving, his extremities going cold and knees trembling.

A couple of feet away from him, she stopped. Even though Liam could not see anything save her silhouette, he had the distinct impression that she was watching him. To his horror, Nyx walked up to the apparition and settled at her feet. The scream that rent from his throat was bloodcurdling, jarring even to his own ears. He fully expected the light to switch on and Griffin to appear swearing a blue streak. Hell, he would even welcome a punch on the face from his roommate if it meant waking up from this horror show.

But what happened instead was worse than anything he could have imagined. As the last echoes of his scream died, what followed was an absolute, crushing silence. No lights flicked on, no burly roommate came barreling in. Nothing. Just pure, oppressive silence. His lips trembled in a low whimper and for some reason, she found it amusing. A loud, raspy and somewhat papery cackle reverberated through the kitchen and the shadow moved forward, inching towards him.

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI. 

My Experience by Ipshita Mukherjee

ipshita pic

(Please note: This is a submission for the ‘The Voice of Incredible Women of India’, and the article is being posted in it’s original form without any edits.)

Change of belief and traditions have to unlock for good

A Patriarchy Society faces emotional turmoil to the women of India. She loses the confidence and strength within herself. So being born and brought up in a Defense environment, life has always been booked with rules and regulations when I recall my childhood. Ethics, Integrity, loyalty and courage were the words I heard from my grandfather. Also being the eldest granddaughter I was pampered and spoilt. My grandmother would always long for a “GRANDSON”, the usual prejudice which every Indian family faces. Pressurizing my parents to have another baby, which according to my grandmother would be a son .Disappointed, when my sweet sister was born. This time when my mother was elated and feeling top of the world as a “Mother “, my grandmother was planning her to get rid of the baby by giving it to someone who did not have the joy of becoming Parents . This was the time when I saw my “HERO”, my “DAD” took a stand and believed that a daughter is worth a god’s gift and can never be compared with a” SON”. I have always idolized my father as a Perfect Man who is humble, generous and kind. His growing up years have always seen the discrimination between a man and a woman, In Indian household have always been encouraging their boys to work and believe in follow their dreams wherein the girl is never given an equal opportunity. I have never seen my father sitting an ordering a cup of tea  from my mother wherein helping her in household chores and taking equal initiative in bring up my sister and me as ideal women.

Even given the fact my grandfather was equally considerate towards the household chores and always took active part in the initiatives. My father holds a respectable post in Government of India but when he is at home he defines himself to be a son, husband and a father. My mother never felt that her main job was to cook and raise her children. Equal love and duties were shared by both of them. This made me realize the strength and strong bond between a husband and a wife relationship.  Which further grew with my husband too. Eg if a guests arrived at home. My parents both will be helping each other to be the best host of the day. Eg: My father always encouraged us to follow our dreams , only keeping the best phrase he usually uses,” try to achieve what you want or else you will be  force to achieve what you never wanted”. So to say our nuclear family grew with the bundles of love, respect and helping each other in need. My father is my strength, my grandfather is my friend and so for my sister too….!! My sister knew and felt that she was always deprived from the love she could ever get from my grandmother. She knew that she wasn’t liked by “dadi” because she was born as a “GIRL”. My grandmother openly discriminated us and would buy me chocolates, dresses and pampered me leaving my sister all alone. It looked as if she was responsible for her birth as a “women”. On the other hand in the same house I could see my father , grandfather and my mother loving my sister as well as me the same way.

That Day , As destiny would play with our lives, we all went to our respective work , my mother went to her aunt and only my grandmother and my sister were at home. Suddenly my grandmother felt that she was feeling dizzy and unwell, and within few minutes she was having problem in her breathing. My sister drove her to the nearest hospital , got admitted in the ICU did all the formalities considerably. Not to forget my sister is a clinical psychologist from Delhi University, cracked the most difficult exam of IBHAS (Indian Institute of Human Behavior and allied science). So she had good and strong contacts with the doctors of our nearest hospital where she sits as a visiting doctor. My grandmother was detected with severe brain hemorrhage and it was god’s grace that my sister rushed her to the hospital at the right time. She was discharged from the hospital after 15 strenuous days . As soon as she came out of the hospital , tears were rolling down her cheeks as she hugged my sister and said “ I have a son, I have a husband”, but I realized that today I have my strength tooo…. And “that’s you my Loving granddaughter”.

Life seems to be changed after this incident as words fall short that Our patriarchy society still allowed my father to follow his dreams and his daughters too. Made them capable and efficient to be independent and still be “daddy girl”.  Change of belief and traditions have to unlock for good. As many of us will still continue to long for a son , I believe in making the daughter as “SON”.

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Saumya Baijal

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What are you like? What character attributes define you?

Well! I am tenacious, empathetic and sensitive. Not sure if that’s a good thing in the insenstive world we live in! To be honest, am an idealist who likes to live in a bubble of what she wants and how she wants it. The inconsequentialities of several truths, the apparent mindless run that we are all a part of, the inconsistencies and blatant lies all around us, the increasing sense of self absorption across humanity- all of these perturb me at a very personal level. I am also very indecisive yet stubborn! So I might take sometime to get to a decision- but once I do, I stick to it. I am also very inquisitive, so I want to keep learning more and more, sample new things! At the same time I return to things that give me the comfort of familiarity! Interesting contradictions, no?

I’ve always believed the personal is the political- and that reflects across what I do.

What is keeping you busy right now, both work and passion wise?

I’ve just returned from FTII after completing a course in film appreciation- and also joined the voices of dissent there. So I am trying to keep alive everything I learnt there- that is steadily slipping away from my grasp- the way sand does from a fist! But- apart from office- I am busy with my own writing- snippets, stories & articles (a few can be read on Paperless Postcards, Jankipul, my blog amongst others), dance rehearsals for a baithak coming up and our annual show next year, and a few performances for Aatish!

Tell us something about your childhood and growing up years, college days.

My childhood was delightful! I grew up in the PGI hospital campus in the outskirts of Lucknow. It was a space that was a beautiful mix of the old world charm of Lucknow, and the modernity that threatened to engulf it. It was egalitarian from a gender perspective, and I grew up with my closest friends being incredible boys.

Mom and me

With her mother

My parents, typically from the middle class , have been instrumental in shaping who I am. Little reflections, debates, fights- were all encouraged in our home. My parents exemplify transparency, trust, respect & equality across relationships they make. Their relationship with me was no exception. Our home had conversations across topics- anytime anywhere. My father being a feminist by behaviour- showed me no other way of living. The lush greens of the campus, the outdoorsy life, a culture based on mutual trust- made PGI the rare Ivory Tower we all hope for. I grew up surrounded by sports (I didn’t play though), with friends being family as well. My little dog Silky, who came to me when I was standard 6 student also helped transform my behaviour to someone who tries to feel what others do.

My father and me.

With her father

Miranda House was instrumental in several ways. The window to a world I’d stayed away from, the very real need for vocal and active feminists, the power of theatre, street theatre and its varied forms, meeting like-minded people from across the country- all of this came to me at Miranda. Celebrating womanhood, growing into a one who had a mind of her own with desires of her own- Miranda was conducive to these thoughts. I don’t think I’d have chosen to be elsewhere at all during college. The theatre bug consumed me while I was here. Incessant performances, the power of being recognised on campus as good actors, the unabashed nature of the artist in me found an expression.

Advertising, writing, films, dance, poetry, theater you seem to have mastered it all… first tell us how do you manage to do all these… 

Honestly, the love for the arts ensures I extract time. I can’t survive without all of these. These are devices of expression for me. They allow me to express who I am like nothng else ever can. And I give myself no credit for that. I am lucky that the arts emraced me, and I choose to return to them every day. I m just hoping to now give them even more time to understand better, try different things within the gamuts of these arts. There is so much to learn, unlearn and create!

I am also a very passionate feminist. And the need for gender equality sees a reflection in all of these. A little less in advertising because it isn’t entirely under my control.

Photo credit- Ashwini

Now tell us which one is the closest to your heart? 

Tough one! I think it will be a toe between writing, theatre and dance. The latter two entwine themselves with the common love for the stage. And how silences can be efectively everything. Actually, in its simplist forms, one for me is expression with only words, one very interestingly can be, not entirely dependent on them. What attracts me is this polarity. Nothing compares to the trill of the lights flooding the stage before you have to step on it. Or the applause afterwards. Similarly, nothing ompares to the gooseflesh of the dimming lights of a theatre and the titles unfurling.

So what I am really getting at, is that storytelling drives me. In writing, film, theatre, poetry or dance. It is about how differently each art allows for the story to be told.

Photo credit- P Ravi Kant

Any painful incidents/experiences which made you stronger as a person?

Several. The very fact that I have been caught in the web of stability and kept away from much more theatre that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve tried again and again, but things hadn’t worked out. I think more than a single incident, it is usually the everyday thwarts that transform you as a person. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Also, to have a mind of your own where it is clearly detrimental. In coprorate structures, it isn’t always easy to stand by personal beliefs. That struggle makes me stronger everyday.

And, heartbreaks teach us everything. J

What is your biggest fear?

Losing my parents. And losing the last bastions of free speech.

Any career ups and downs you would like to share?

No cause to complain at all. I’ve been very lucky with mentors and organisations- who’ve seen whatever little potential there is, encouraged and allowed my personality to stick out! Despite being in advertising, I don’t know how to market myself! And I often short sell myself too. But when notions drive opinions instead of work, it isn’t easy.

What does your next five years look like?

I want to be able to write much more, dance more, and create more compelling theatre. And I want to be known for these. I am still finding my way through- but I am hoping this comes true.

As a feminist, I want my voice to also be heard. A voice that compells itself to be heard. That matters enough for people to sit up and listen. And if 100 listen, but at least 1 acts, I’ll still think of my existence to be worthwhile.

Any message for the readers?

Labels mean nothing. If they have to, let them only mean something because you have to break them.

And also do what you love as early as you can. Making mistakes is fine. Unless you try you wouldn’t know. Unless you fail you wouldn’t learn. Fail. But fail better everytime.

Poetry reading- JNU

Poetry Reading at JNU

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Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI.