Made in India
I’ve come a long way since the time my first novel (In Pursuit of Infidelity, Rupa & Co. 2009) was published. I’m quite convinced that I’ve evolved as a writer and yet, even after all these years it still feels like my literary journey has just started. To tell you frankly, I’ve not only become more confident and aware of my strengths but also my shortcomings as a writer. There’s so much more to learn and improve on. In fact, I feel fortunate to be where I am today.
My first book happened by chance. I wasn’t really aware what I was getting into but I guess, it was my destiny. The book went on to do extremely well and soon I found myself in the ‘showcase of recognized writers’ of the country. In hindsight, I feel that it was that (external and internal) pressure to keep up to my image as a successful debut author which compelled me to publish my second book in little over than a year (In Pursuit of Ecstasy, Rupa & Co. 2011).
Although the book did not do as well as the first one, it was critically appreciated by many reviewers and was selected by a research scholar from Chennai for her research on Indian adolescent girls and their attitude and behavior towards their parents and society in general. The knowledge that it was useful to someone was gratifying. However, my journey till the first two books was undertaken without really being aware about it. It was while writing my third book that I began to not only appreciate the finer nuances of writing but also decided to seriously focus on improving mine.
2.What do you think about the newly emerged genre "Micro-fiction"?
In this digital era, I think Micro – fiction is a great way to engage with the readers; especially considering the short attention span of adults and children today. I’ve myself experimented with the format and have written a couple of flash – fictions. As a writer, I quite enjoy these variations as they help me sharpen my writing skills. In fact, one of my flash – fictions, titled, ‘Suvasini’ has been published in an Indo – Australian anthology of short - stories. However, a story can come in any shape or size but in the end, all that really matters is whether it could elicit desired response from the readers or not.
3.What are your views about Indian publishing industry?
Indian Publishing Industry is one of the largest book markets in the world and with a steady focus of the government to increase the literacy rate in the country the industry will (hopefully) get the necessary boost it desperately needs.
In recent times the demand for fiction (& non - fiction) has markedly increased according to the Neilsen India Book Market Report 2015, with the Indian youth taking to reading books like never before; thanks to CB, Amish, Ashwin and others.
However, it is a complex industry and also quite fragmented. There is a lot of ambiguity and disorder in how it functions. Marketing and distribution of books is a great struggle for most of the publishers except the few biggies (including the foreign publishers) who have the necessary resources, network and capital to push their books. Authors, especially first time writers, feel they get a raw deal as the royalty is extremely low and often there’s lack of transparency on part of the publishers. Since most writers don’t even know their rights, they are unable to negotiate the terms of their contract with their publishers.
The transition to the digital medium has benefitted publishers in a way, but has also added to the already prevalent chaotic situation. The debate about e – books vs print books continues. However, most publishers agree that even though e books are not popular in India at present, both forms will have to co – exist in the future. Also, due to the internet and more awareness, (including the option of publishing one’s own book on digi – platforms like amazon et al), bringing out a book for a writer has become easier than it used to be a decade ago. However, much needs to be done; including greater insights, establishing cohesive strategies among stakeholders, innovation and an overall good plan is required to streamline things.
4. Your views on Online readership...
As I said above, the digital readership is on the rise in the country but it will still take a while for the Indian reader to fully appreciate the digital medium as well as for publishers to accept the fact that there’s no escape from it and thus it is better to accept the change, innovate and evolve. As for writers, we too will have to gradually make the transition to writing for online readers. We will eventually have to make changes in our style of writing in order to suit the medium. It’s challenging and not many of us, (including me) are really happy to accept this change but the sooner we adapt ourselves to this new way people want to consume books; the better it will be for us.
5. Tell us about your books.
I’ve written seven books so far. My debut novel, In Pursuit of Infidelity (2009) was about man – woman relationship outside the institution of marriage. Written from a modern woman’s perspective, the focus was on the emotional impact of the misdemeanor on the perpetrator as well as the victim, who in this case happens to be the same person. It went on to become a bestseller. The second in the series, In Pursuit of Ecstasy (2011) was a story about Parent – Youth relationship and was long listed for the Economist Crossword Book Award 2012. My latest novel in the ‘pursuit’ series, In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence (2014) deals with changing face of marriage and relationships. I also write poetry and have three poetry books to my credit under the Poetry Out and Loud series. However, my latest book is a collection of short - stories, titled, That Woman You See (2015). The book with nine female - centric stories has a common thread running through it; the need of each of these women to express their unconventional views on issues related to them without being apologetic or guilty about it. My first poetry book and my first short story titled, ‘Wake me only when the Sun is high,’ were appreciated and awarded. I’m currently working on my fourth novel – a political thriller.
Apart from these, I contribute to literature as a planning board member of two prestigious literary festivals, The Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) and Delhi Poetry Festival (DPF). And also leading one of the unique initiatives of KLF to promote nature conservation through literature called Fellows of Nature (or FON).
6. A message for the writers’ community...
Keep writing. Keep inspiring. And keep smiling!
Sujata Parashar's message for Syahee.com : I would like to thank the Syahee.com team for giving me this opportunity to talk about some important and relevant aspects of writing and publishing a book. My best wishes to the team!