Hello Santosh, welcome to Incredible Women Of India, Thank you for being a part of Incredible Women Writers of India, Monsoon Edition, 2015 and sharing your journey as a writer with us.
First of all tell us something about your growing up years, your school and college days, and your family.
Sophia school, Jaipur was fun and frolic. Our gang of four was notorious, but also loved, as we were a versatile group, excelling in creativity – writing and enacting plays and above all, scoring high in exams .The gang went separate ways by the time it was time to leave school, hence I felt lost and disoriented in college.
Our family of five siblings, and a pair of wonderful parents was very close knit – and still is, although , my parents have crossed over.
Right now, I stay in Jaipur with my husband and college going daughter.
What makes you, you?
My gregarious nature, a great desire to make friends and the values instilled in me by my parents. A strong sense of justice and fair play, compassion, a self-deprecatory sense of humour, probably inherited from dad, and the capacity to find the silver linings in the grey clouds is something I am proud of. I am a die-hard optimist with a high self-esteem, definitely not bordering on the narcissism. Some tend to call me an emotional fool, because I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and become attached to people easily.
How did your journey as a writer, poet begin?
There was a girl in sixth standard who used to write wonderfully well, till then I had no interest in writing. Slowly I found myself turning green with envy , But before the green eyed monster could gobble me up entirely ,thankfully, my eyes turned to some new colours – the colours of the rainbow, the azure blue of the skies, the flamboyant colours of the birds , and one fine morning , I found myself writing and the green eyed monster scurried away. It was in sixth standard that I wrote my first poem The fort, which I showed to no one, and then wrote limericks, which again I showed to no one.
Who are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any, at all?
There was a time, I used to think that I was Enid Blyton in disguise, at other times, I thought I was Edward Lear reborn, and still other times, I was deluded into the belief that Edgar Allen Poe smiled indulgently, wherever he was, when I wrote.
No matter what my delusions were, my muse has always been my dad, ever since the time, he hurled away my essay on Charles Dickens, in the tenth standard, remarking that I lacked style, to the time now , when he gives me the thumbs up from up there, it is he who has always inspired me .
What makes you sit down and actually decide to write something?
When I feel strongly about something, I just write. When I feel impotent anger at the rampant injustice around, when a sunbeam tickles me on an intensely cold morn, when the first moonbeam of the night silently shafts in to my room, when the birds serenade me at the crack of dawn, when a toddler chortles happily, I write.
The resilience of a frond in the face of a violent breeze, an elderly couple holding hands and trudging towards destinations unknown, are scenes that invariably send me into a poetic spin.
Why do you write?
I write because it satisfies some inner urge in me, or may be because I know nothing better than to write. I am absolutely fascinated by the power of words to create, procreate and recreate. A day when I have not written anything, is a day gone down the drain.
Do you write full time, part time?
I do not write full time, but , yes , my head is always whirring and churning full time , I have to finish one story, when the outline of yet another story pops in my mind.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
The initial hiccups in any project are the most difficult part , but once one has got over them , it is easy going.I follow absolutely no writing rituals.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I work both ways .In my novels, I write in accordance with a well-outlined plot, but my short stories just write themselves. It is as if the words are just waiting to come out of my mind and organize themselves in to a story or a poem.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured?
I do not have any special time to write – call me crazy, or passionate, I can write at all times. Sometimes, I get up in the middle of the night to jot down my thoughts with a frenetic haste, lest they vanish. But yes, I invariably write every morning .In fact, my eBook, FLIGHTS FROM MY TERRACE, published by Smashwords , is based on my morning ruminations.
What are you working on at the minute?
I have this insane knack of being able to work on four or five projects simultaneously. So at the moment, I am editing my novel, compiling and editing my poems, my scattered essays on Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, and giving finishing touches to my biography of Martin Luther King jr.
How do you think you have evolved creatively?
Yes, I have definitely evolved creatively ever since the time I wrote my first novel for young adults, The mystery of the Relic. I think, I can write more effortlessly now. In this growth, the vibrant facebook group , REJECTED STUFF, has undoubtedly played an immense part.
Do you ever get writers’ block, how do you get over it?
If it tries to browbeat me, I let it have its say, I know there will soon be a time when I will again be in a position to have my say. No blocks can keep me away from writing.
Do you read much? Who are your favourite writers? What are your favourite books?
Yes, I am very passionate about reading .My all-time favourite novel is TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD by Harper Lee. I really love P. G Wodehouse and his rambunctious sense of humour. Charles Dickens has always been my favourite writer. He never fails to mesmerize me with his characterizations and exuberance of spirit which has inspired me a lot. I can never tire of reading GREAT EXPECTATIONS, OLIVER TWIST and DAVID COPPERFIELD all over again .These days I am absolutely fascinated by the brilliant plotting and heart – grabbing action of David Baldacci’s thrillers .
What do you think the future of reading and writing in India is?
There was a time when reading and writing had touched a pathetic low, but of late, I have noticed people are buying books and even reading, and writing, seems to be the in thing. With the various literary groups in social networking sites, many young writers are making their presence felt with some powerful writing.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
I love travelling, and interacting with people. I have struck lifelong friendships with people; I have met on various intersections of life.
What is your message for our readers of the blogazine?
Never give up, because I firmly believe, that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and perseverance definitely pays. As Shakespeare says, “There is a tide in the affairs of men [and women, of course], which taken at the flood, leads one to fortune .And we must take the current when it comes, or lose our ventures.” Keep an eye on that current, and take the plunge. Wait for that moment. It will come.
The following is an excerpt from Santosh’s forthcoming novel, tentatively titled SANAKPUR SHENANIGANS,
“This omelette is simply out of this world.”
“ But you have to stay in this world, don’t you? So , stop behaving like a glutton, and do not overeat.”
“Whazz? Youcallingmeaglutton?” Gaurav muttered through an omelette stuffed mouth.
At this Anju threw back her head and laughed .
This time she laughed still more loudly, while he looked around with the air of a famished man who would collapse if he was not given something to eat., HIs eyes popped out of their sockets, as Anju put the plate full of tempting brown toasted bread slices on the table , just waiting to be buttered.
“Reminds me of that scene in David Copperfield, when Peggoty’s brother strikes the table with his hand , saying that he would be gormed if his magnanimity was ever mentioned. No one was sure of its etymology, but all of them regarded it as constituting” “the most solemn imprecation”….h a ha ha…I love Dickens .”
“And I love you.” He chimed looking covetously at the toasted bread slices.
To Know more about this Incredible Woman click on the following links
FACEBOOK : www.facebook.com/santoshbakayamagazine
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose