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Friday, January 30, 2015

Author Interview: Saumya Misra, author of 'A Life Less Lived'


Saumya Misra
The author, Saumya Misra is an editing professional and soon, launching a magazine on the environment. The reason, I felt had a little something to do with her being inspired to write a ‘social thriller’. As one reads the novel, ‘A Life Less Lived’, one notices a lot of social environments blended together to form this story plot.

This book, ‘A Life Less Lived’ is just that. You, as a reader can decide for yourself, as you look into the city bred Aparna’s life and the rural life with Panna’s and as you travel through the plots and the sub-plots. You can read the Review, right here and Buy the Book right here.

 
How did ‘A Life Less Lived’ happen? 

It was a natural progression from writing short stories. I was a senior editorial person with the ‘The Times of India’, Lucknow and our duty hours were very different from the normal 9 to 5 job.

When I returned home well past mid-night, I found myself sleepless till dawn. You can say this insomniac state was to a large extent responsible for this novel. I had the balmy quietness of the night to aid my creative thoughts.

How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?

To be honest, the core idea came to me on its own. I have been writing short stories and poems since childhood and thinking up story ideas was not very difficult for me. As for developing it, I borrowed a little from the life of my great grandfather and merged it with the modern. 

Once I started writing, the story unfolded itself in my mind, the plots and subplots emerged accordingly, as well. You may find it difficult to believe it, but I did not make a rough draft on paper. I wrote directly. Everything was in my mind: the names, the situations, the turn of events…

How would you relate the book and its characters to the lives today? 

This book has a timeless quality about it. Even today, you may come across persons who have been dealt a nasty blow by fate. If you just stopped and asked, maybe they would also have a past like Panna's.

Besides, don’t we find over possessive parents and rebellious youth in this day and age? That part of the story is anyway, contemporary.
 
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

My favourite character is Aparna, a kind, gentle yet strangely mature girl who never thinks twice about helping others. She is a dependable friend and a confidant. 

She likes to speak her mind without a thought to the consequences and has a way with people. She is selfless and a cut above the rest. What is more, she is sensitive towards animals too. In the novel, as you can see, she has no issues of her own in life but she is busy fighting others’ battles for them.

Which character do you feel most close to and why?

It goes without saying, I feel closest to Aparna because I also feel trust and empathy are the virtues most needed in today’s world. I also know the difference between right and wrong and am not afraid to speak my mind.

What is the most fulfilling part of writing a book?

For me, my book is like a part of myself. It is the best way of self-expression. I know there were many odds against me and I managed to overcome them. This novel, according to me, has turned out better than I thought. 

But the greatest part is that I was able to fulfil my grandfather’s dream and my school principal Sister Consuelo’s prophesy that I would become a writer, one day.

How did you manage to blend events from the past and the present, to help build this story? 

Like I said, my brain built everything for me, very systematically like a computer. I did not consciously plan out the events. Once, I started writing, past and present blended naturally. This book is a very spontaneous attempt. You can even call it, a divine intervention of sorts.

What pushed you to write a social thriller?

I think everyone is writing either rom-com, political thrillers, women-centric novels or mythological novels. Social thrillers are the least attempted. Writers think that they might not be appreciated. 

But, unless you write one and give the readers a chance to decide for themselves, how can you write off this particular genre? One can actually connect with social thrillers. This is a lost art and I wish to revive it.

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

Who told Mr Amitabh Bachchan he could become a superstar? His self conviction! It was the same with me. I wanted to become a novelist, so I became one. But here, I must also tell you my grandfather always said I would become a writer. My school teachers and my principal also believed I should develop a flair for writing and composing, so their conviction also sowed the early seed. 

Then, my editors also encouraged me to write. With so many people’s aspirations resting on me, how could I but not become the author that I am today?

Any advice to writers that would like to be published today? How tough is it to be published?

Personally, I do not feel I am in a position to advice anyone right now, as this is just my debut novel. Yet, I would say one thing : if you believe you can write, then write. Getting published by established publishers is tough and takes time, but one must keep faith and patience. If one’s work is good, it will be published.
 
I am not referring to self-publishing here. That way, anyone can get published but it is not worth it. More than getting published, it is tougher to get well-marketed. Here, most authors face problems these days. Those with money purchase publicity, those with a good book might remain anonymous. 

Who are your favourite authors and why?

My favourite authors are Munshi Premchand, O. Henry, Ruskin
Rabindranath Tagore
Bond
, Ayn Rand, Rabindranath Tagore and RK Narayan. I love their simple yet poignant style of writing. Their ability to touch human emotions, and sketch characters that are too real and too likable. 

But I also like Robin Cook, Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Amish Tripathi etc. So, you see I like to read every genre and many authors. Like you, I also love books, period!

Which book are you currently reading?

I am presently reading ‘EastWind : West Wind’ by Pearl S. Buck. The book provides a glimpse into the Chinese way of life. It is the story of a traditional Chinese girl married to a Chinese doctor, educated abroad. How this girl opens up to freedom and point of views of the Western world is the story.
 
What do you do on a daily basis?

I am an editing professional and am soon launching a magazine on environment.


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