author of the month- preethi venugopala

Preethi Venugopala, a civil engineer turned blogger, painter and story teller, is our author of the month.

15672708_1892873664277839_4485272521663554025_nHailing from the God’s own country, Kerala, she is at present settled in the Garden City, Bangalore. Starting her writing journey as a blogger, she had her first book, a novel titled ‘Without You’ published in 2015. Both common readers and the critiques have spoken very highly of the book as can be sensed from the Goodreads and Amazon pages.  To know more about her and her work visit the about page in her official website – A Writer’s Oasis. 

‘One Life is not Enough’ caught up with her for a chat session.

Q:   How smooth was the transition from Civil Engineering to authoring novels?

A:   Thank you, Durga Prasad, for inviting me. It is a pleasure to be featured on your blog.

      I took a sabbatical from my job after the birth of my son. I used to journal regularly. It was my husband to whom I had shown a particular journal entry who asked me to consider writing as a career. I had won story writing competitions while in college but had not pursued it further. When my son started playschool, I began to get free hours during the day and I started blogging. Blogging made the transition to becoming an author smooth and easy. In fact, if hadn’t started blogging, I might not have become a writer.

Q:   When did you discover you could paint as well? Or, was it your first love?

A:   I used to draw and paint while in school but had stopped once I left school. Then in 2011, my father passed away and I went into a mild depression. It was during that phase that I took up painting. It healed me from within. I still turn to painting and portraiture whenever I need a bit of cheering up.

513gnBokyRL._SY346_Q:   How do you effectively juggle various roles – as a mom, blogger, story teller, artist and other roles?

A:   It just happens naturally. Women are, after all, experts at multi-tasking. Yet, on most days I am just a mom. I give myself a few dedicated hours every day to be a blogger, writer or artist according to the mood of the day.

Q:   It is nice to see you continue to blog regularly even after becoming a published author. What role does blogging play in your overall creative journey?

A:   Blogging has played a significant role in my creative journey, especially my writing journey.

     As I said, I might not have become a writer if I was not a blogger. It was through blogging that I got acquainted with many other writers and publishers. My first publishing opportunity came via a pan India writing contest which was declared on the blog of author Bhavya Kaushik. I participated in the contest and got selected to be published.

    The first readers and reviewers of my debut novel were my blogger friends.

I also display my art work on my blog.

25656023Q:   Tell us about your first book and how did it come about?

A:   The idea of my first book came when I heard about the Mangalore plane crash on May 22, 2010. I was disturbed by the tragedy as it was the same route that I used to travel while I was working with the Dubai Metro. There were so many miraculous escape stories that filled the newspapers right after the tragedy. The many what if questions that troubled me then led me to write the book.

Q:   What was the inspiration behind your compiling a Malayalam alphabet book for kids? Do you think regional languages in India are in danger of being side-lined?

A:   The book was born out of a request made by my son. We live away from Kerala and hence it was difficult for us to get hold of study materials to teach him Malayalam. He 51UfCkLZ9pL._SY346_learned the basics but wanted my help to read the words. He told me to write down the pronunciation of the letters in English so that he could read it easily on his own. I created a PowerPoint presentation for his sake and then thought why not make an eBook that would be available for anyone who might need it.

No, I don’t think regional languages are being side-lined. Regional languages have survived for centuries. Our mother tongues bind us to our roots. Of course, because of migration, the new generation might learn a different language than the one their parents speak. It is something that cannot be helped. Parents can help the kids to get in touch with their roots by teaching them their mother tongue. That is the only way.

Q:   Is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?

A:   Thank you for all the love that you have given me over the years. Do continue to shower your love on me.

Do check out her books if you haven’t read them yet:

Books by Preethi Venugopala on Amazon

Books by Preethi Venugopala on Juggernaut

Visit her blog: A Writer’s Oasis

Follow her on Social Media:

Twitter: @preethivenu

Instagram: @preethivenu

Facebook Page: Preethi Venugopala

 

 

my author of the august month

Purba Chakraborty needs no introduction to the avid readers and fellow bloggers in Indian blogosphere. So, when I decided to feature her as the author of the month, I wanted her to reveal certain aspects that she had not shared with her readers till now.

I am amazed by her versatility at such a young age. She blogs, she sings and till now, she has authored one book of poetry and three novels. In addition her poems and short stories have been part of a number of published anthologies. Her third novel –  Canvas of a Mind – has been out recently.

It is seen from her Amazon and Goodreads pages that her earlier books have made their marks on the readers’ minds. I am sure, ‘Canvass of a Mind‘ too will captivate the minds of the readers.

Here is my e-conversation with the author:

Q. You are involved in quite a number of creative activities – Blogging, Book Review, Singing, Books…. How do you juggle among them? I mean in a planned way or, you just surrender yourself to the mood of the moment. 

heart listens to no one.jpgA: I don’t have to juggle with them. I cannot survive without creativity. Therefore, I do all these activities out of love. I feel blessed to be able to express myself in various ways through creativity. But my priority will always be to write novels, short stories and poems.

Q. Coincidentally, August is the Birth month of Purba, the author. (This fact, I discovered after I had decided to feature you as the author of this month). Are you as enthusiastic a writer aftet your fourth book, as you were when your first book was released in 2012?

A: Yes, August is a very special month for me as my first book was released on 25th August, 2012. Yes, every time my book releases, I am excited, thrilled, nervous and emotional. The feeling never changes because a lot of hard work goes into the book. Unless you are a very famous author, the struggle of getting a publisher who will fund your book remains. So finally, when the book gets published and you see your words in print, it makes you feel surreal.

hidden lettersQ. Tell about a quirky incident in your childhood that you haven’t shared with your readers.

A: When I was ten, I wrote about 20 poems on a few loose sheets of paper and stapled them. On the first page, I did a doodle and wrote with sketch pen “Poetry book by Purba”. I still have that stapled copy. Every time I see it, I know that I am doing something right in my life. The ten year old Purba wanted to write books, though she was not completely aware of it.

Q. Apart from your family, who have been great sources of support in your writing journey?

A:  There have been so many people who have supported me in my writing journey at various phases of my life. I think everyone who has read my book and left a positive review or took the pain of writing an email to me, let me know his/her thoughts about my writing have helped me grow as a writer. My best friend, Priyam is the first reader of my books. She reads the first draft of the books and the way she encourages me makes me feel I am blessed. She is the one who helps me believe in myself and my writing, when I am having bad days.

Q. How do you cope with the obstacles you face? Life in general and writing activities in particular?

love and destinyA:  The year 2017 has been harsh on me. I lost my beloved grandmother in April. She was with me during the making of “Canvas of a Mind” (also when I was writing the acknowledgment). Losing her has left such an irreparable void in my heart that I find it difficult to go through my work and chores on some days.

There are times when I feel I can’t push myself to sit for work. I feel like breaking down. But I didn’t let my work get hampered and ensured that my book releases on time.

I think my personal motto “I rise after every fall” helps me get back on my feet in the morning even if I have cried the entire night. Meditation and yoga help me to calm my mind and take a bird’s eye view of things. The only way I cope with the obstacles I face is by not giving up, come what may. I keep marching forward even if I have wounded feet.

canvas of a mindQ. You have written one poetry book and three novels. Planning for any other genre?

A: I would want to write a memoir or non-fiction, someday. Right now, I am happy writing poetry and novels.

Q. Any other thing that you would like to share with our readers?

A:  My latest novel, “Canvas of a Mind” is a psychological mystery novel set against the back drop of Kalimpong, a remote hill station. It tells the story of two sisters whose lives change when a mysterious stranger starts stalking the younger sister. If you enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers with a touch of psychological drama, “Canvas of a Mind” will surely appeal to you. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Purba Chakraborty is a novelist, poet, web content developer, lifestyle blogger and social influencer from Kolkata. She has authored two novels “Walking in the streets of love and destiny”, “The Hidden Letters” and a poetry book “The Heart Listens to No One”. “Canvas of a Mind” is her third novel. Her short stories and poems have been published in more than ten anthologies and various magazines. She is a restless dreamer and wishes to write till her last breath.

She blogs regularly at Love, Laugh and Reflect (www.purba-chakraborty.com)

She can be reached at:

Facebook: writerpurbachakraborty

Twitter: @Manchali_Purba

Instagram: purba_chakraborty

email: purba.khushi@gmail.com

author of the month – anupam patra

Starting from this month is a new monthly feature on my blog – ‘author of the month’. What better way to debut my series than to feature debutante author Anupam Patra whose book ‘Promises of a Firefly’ has been released recently.

Even though Anupam is from my home state, I got introduced to him through the blogosphere. I was attracted to the distinguishing literary and artistic quality of his blog from day one.

I was excited to read his book and I was not disappointed. As I gather from his Goodreads page, so have been the experience of many readers who have spoken very highly of the book.

Brief note about Anupam

anupam

 

Anupam was born and raised in the millennium city of Cuttack in Odisha. He finished his schooling and graduation while growing up in the thousand year old city’s narrow lanes and ambient warmth. Inspite of the necessity of having to pursue science and then law for a career, his love for art has always shone the light of his soul. He used to teach and has worked as a banker prior to taking up public service as his profession. An avid lover of all forms of art, he confesses to find comfort in telling stories.

 

My Interview with Anupam

Q: Tell us about your writing journey.

A: It began here in blogosphere in the autumn of 2011. I walked into this space, looking to turn myself away from a few things that were happening in my life at the time. I didn’t expect anybody to read what I wrote, I mean, there were veterans whose essays and stories and poems were around. But I got lucky to earn a small but supportive readership. Their consistent magic with words inspired me to keep scribbling something every day. There were times when the struggle would resurface and take me away from writing for days but whenever I returned my friends here were there to take me back with un-deteriorated warmth. Their support has been my real asset. I had never thought of writing a book. Till I met Mahua Ray Das, a phenomenal artist herself, who on our very first meeting decided to push me towards that goal. She was cynical about my writing but gentle with her guidance, even when I was hostile to her suggestions. She set my sail on that course. She stuck around, never let the boat rock. To ensure it never drowned, she herself got on the boat and took that long, undetermined, lonely, neurotic, journey with me. It was not easy. I was constantly mired with problems but she never gave up, even when I was constantly forcing her to. Her contributions for this book are immense. The journey for this book began with her eliciting a promise from me in a small book café in Bhubaneswar in August 2015, the promise that I’ll give her a book of my own one day. The belief she had in me was what fuelled my will to write.

Q: Who have been your inspirations?

A:The works of Richard Flanagan inspire me. Out of all his works, The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Gould’s Book of Fish have left a lasting impression on me. His writings have an effect of breaking me in a beautiful way. There’s an element in his stories that wraps itself around you. Like a sunrise waiting to happen and you wait for it after a long, despair driven night and the sunrise manages to bring a sort of an illumination that is sweeping and vivid and fresh yet you find yourself unable to forget for a moment the night that has passed. For it is that night which Flanagan has by then wrapped around you forever.

Q:  How do you balance your creative pursuits with your public service?

A: It is undoubtedly tough. I am not earning anything from the book. The whole of my royalty shall go to a foundation that will use it for a year’s school fees and ancillary expenses of an orphan girl and if anything remains, it shall be donated for procuring academic essentials for orphan kids. If there is still any money left, the above cycle will be repeated. On the other hand, the earning from my profession takes care of my needs. Actually, it also takes care of my writing in many ways. Plus, the hopes with which the common man comes to the chair I occupy, is a huge responsibility to discharge. I have a moral obligation to justify the tax payer’s contribution that makes my salary. So the scale is always tilted towards the side of my service. My profession involves a lot of reading and research and writing after all of which the mind and the body get worn out. It is then that my heart’s will to weave stories balances out my desire to write fiction. But it is such a physically taxing indulgence. As a result, so many times, I have dozed off on my computer table, only to wake up hours later, about the time of dawn, drooling on the keyboard.

Q: As you evolve as an author, do you feel you are evolving as a person also?

promises of a firefly.jpgA:The life of a writer can be terrible in spite of being purposeful. When he is able to catch the tone of his characters in ink, and everything is flowing out smoothly from his pen, it is the most complete he will ever feel. But when it doesn’t happen that way, there is barely anything he can forgive in this world. By that measure, the worst hit was taken by my family. They had to quietly let me go for hours, sometimes they were wise not to ask why at all must we part, and sometimes emotional to prod, neither of the ways bringing any change of luck. Eventually they understood how it is going to be. Then there would be work and health conditions and lack of imagination and all sorts of things that would make me want to shut everything for once and for all. I don’t know about others but for me, writing is walking down an untaken road where there are equal chances of confronting delight and despair. But you brave that chance because you want to bring to life moments you think deserve to be experienced by your readers. When you’re penning those mistakes, regrets, hopes and love your characters find on pages, you are creating experience, and you cannot create any without letting it touch you. I have always only written in one method, one hand dipped in ink and the other in shades of life. It’s a fulfilling endeavour. And for all that it is worth, you evolve in the end. You evolve because at the completion of any struggle, there is some evolution that is bound to happen.

Q: What were your expectations as you started writing the book? Are you satisfied the way the book has turned out?

A:You’ll perhaps find an author who will claim that his work couldn’t have been better. So I won’t say that I am satisfied the way the stories have turned out. Surely, they could have depicted more, had greater depth and better proximity to what I wanted to tell through them. But, I wouldn’t change the larger picture in any of the stories. That has come out exactly how I’d wanted. As far as my expectations from my book are concerned, to be honest, I never wrote it with any expectations. Maybe because I have no illusions about my writings. The only hope I had in my mind was that my readers should get the point of the stories. That’s all. And I’d happily go to sleep.

Q: Any other thing that you would like to share about you or the book with our readers.

A: I am a novice and there’s a lot I’m to learn about the craft of writing which is why I’m keen on hearing honest opinions as to where I could have done it better. And yes, I hope I’m able to write more books. At the moment, it feels like I cannot write one more line of fiction ever again, like writing this book has dried up all creative juices within me. Believe me, it is frightening, this feeling of inadequacy.

About the book, I’ll say this. Since the book was published, I’ve been asked about its theme. Even at the launch, when I took questions from the audience, a curious girl came from far behind the crowd, asking for the microphone. She must have been a fast reader for she raised some interesting points about the theme and the genre of my stories and if all of them are tragedies and interconnected. Recalling her query, I’d like to say that the stories in Promises of a firefly are not light tales or have cheerful narratives for they intend to show us our boundaries regardless of the occasional heroics life affords us. Now, that is not necessarily tragedy. It could be something as simple as truth. Some of these truths we are likely to have seen or heard around us. And as one of my readers told me over e-mail, there is this element of hope that can be found if the stories are read carefully. I want readers to find out for themselves. And if they are able to remember the stories, recall their moments when they are not holding my book – that would be a great thing for the storyteller in me.

Promises of a firefly is available on Amazon. Here is the blurb:

A blind girl’s chance meeting with a stranger sets her on an unforgettable journey of love and light; a loveless marriage is rebuilt by the very thing that is meant to destroy it; an estranged mother’s fight to reunite with her daughter reveals to her the strengths and flaws of bonds of blood, two women separated by years of hostility discover the many forms of heaven and hell as fate decides to redeem their relationship; an eighty year old man’s chronicle of love and loss that tells us all about the permanent consequences of choosing against our heart’s will. These are stories of promises and letdowns, of faith and betrayal, of sins and atonement; stories that introduce us to lovers, bravehearts, convicts and prostitutes. ‘Promises of a firefly’ binds together eleven tales that remind us of our gifts, our glories and the crushing limits of our lives. 

The author can be reached at  anupampatra2017@gmail.com