Chillibreeze Interview with Sujata Parashar
Sujata is a bestselling fiction writer and poet. Two of her novels titled, In pursuit of Infidelity and In pursuit of Ecstasy have been published by Rupa and Co. Her book of poetry titled, Poetry Out and Loud has been published by Jyotichandra Publications. She is now editing her third and the last of the Pursuits series before submitting it to her publishers.
1. Please tell us about your work in general?
Well, I am Jack of several trades and trying to master one: writing. Besides writing, there are other roles I play:
2. Can you tell us a bit about your novels?
My first book, In pursuit of Infidelity discusses man-woman relationships outside marriage. This topic has been discussed and thrashed several times by several writers in the past, many would say. I agree. But what was unique about my story was the fact that the main protagonist and victim of the misdemeanour in the book was also the perpetrator of the crime. In fact, she falls in love with her ex-college mate first and then discovers her husband’s infidelity.
I tried to study the emotional status of such a woman. Would she empathise, feel guilty or act the victim? Through the story, I also tried to explore the intricacies of human relationships. Many find it strange when I tell them that my first book was at first being written for self consumption. It was only after I finished writing it that I thought of getting it published. And I am glad I did. My second book studies the youth-parent relationship; what leads the youth to resort to lying and hiding things from their parents, what is the impact of their negative behaviour on the relationship and on society at large are some of the key ideas the book focuses on.
Here, I must confess that as a teenager I always loved to read books. Writing was never my forte. It was only when I joined the developmental sector and started writing on various social issues that I actually started enjoying writing. So my journey as a writer is very young. I still have miles to go.
Fortunately, I did not face much difficulty in getting my first book published. But that does not mean it was easy. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I gave it my best shot and kept my faith. Several top publishers whom I approached politely refused and exited the scene. Some did not even bother to respond. But Rupa and Co., after some deliberations, accepted my script. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.
4. Was it easier the second time round or did the publishers still have the same rigorous screening?
It was the same process all over again. And this despite the fact, that my first book was already a national best seller. But somewhere I had a feeling that the manuscript would be again accepted by Rupa and Co. I had a good story. In fact, personally I am proud of my second book, In pursuit of Ecstasy, which has been long listed for ‘The Economist Crossword Book Award 2011’
5. Can you tell us about your book of poetry?
The book of poems, Poetry Out and Loud released earlier this year is quite close to my heart. Although, I am recognised as a fiction writer, poetry was always my first love. I never studied the form or followed any poet before but always loved this form of expression that helps one convey their thoughts or views spontaneously. Also, I call myself a non-poet’s poet. Almost all my poems have been written in free verse and are simple and straightforward in style. Yet, one will find meaning and beauty in them.
In India poetry does not enjoy the popularity it does in the West. As poets, I feel that even we are responsible for this sad state of such a beautiful art form. We get so busy in understanding and paying attention to the structure, form, style, pattern et al, that often we forget poetry is more about spontaneity, unburdening a mind, expressing one’s thoughts and views, touching a heart and celebrating life. All I would like to suggest to young poets is that if they are really passionate about writing poetry then to go ahead and let it flow...the rest will follow!
7. What have been your experiences as editor of The Banyan Tree? Do tell us more about this forum?
As I mentioned earlier, ‘Under the Banyan tree’ or ‘UTBT’ as it is popularly known, is an online forum where contributors can submit their real life stories to inspire, encourage, heal, spread joy and foster humanity. The stories are not only read but also rated by the visitors. This wonderful initiative is the brainchild of my friend and co-editor Kulpreet Yadav, who is also a writer and an editor of another literary magazine called Open Road Review. In 2013, we plan to bring out a print anthology of the best stories.
8. You are on the executive board of an NGO. What does the NGO do and what is your role in its work structure?
Empowering Minds is a Delhi based national level NGO (www.empoweringminds.co.in), working for the empowerment of the marginalised children, youth and women in the areas of education and health. They run a couple of formal and non- formal educational centres in the urban and rural slums of Delhi NCR for primary level school drop outs, street and working children. Other than that, they provide psychosocial counselling, organise workshops and meets for the patients of haemophilia, a rare genetic bleeding disorder. They also work with the youth and impart need- based skills development programs for them. I am one of their board members and help them with their strategies, project implementation and resource generation.
9. Anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
I wish to thank the entire team of Chillibreeze for giving me this wonderful opportunity to connect with literature lovers and fellow writers and share my journey with them.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, my third ‘pursuit’ is almost ready to be submitted for publication. In both my earlier ‘pursuits,’ I tried to study and explore certain important aspects of human relationships. My third pursuit studies another important aspect of man - woman relationship. But if you assume it will explore/discuss infidelity, just like my first book, let me gently hint, that is not the idea! I look forward to you joining me in my pursuits. Thank you and keep smiling!
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