Question: Sujata, you are a mother, a writer, an artist, a social activist, have been a part of the hospitality industry…..the list might just continue. What role is the closest to you heart? Also, are these roles exclusive to each other or coalesce somewhere?
Answer: Well, the list does seem long but I guess the reason I can wear the different roles so easily is because I'm a woman. Women are born go – getters. We can do any job and do it well. The role closest to my heart is that of a mother. Motherhood has made me better in each of those other roles you've mentioned above. But more importantly, it has taught me to be tolerant, compassionate and have faith. Of course, the roles merge somewhere or the other. For example, it was the "activist" part of me that actually triggered my first and second novel.
Q: What was it that made you shift from a normal 9-5 job of the hospitality industry to being a full-time writer at heart?
A: After a stint in the hospitality industry at Singapore I relocated to India with my son who had just turned four. I was freelancing for a social development project and while doing that project I got the idea for my first novel. It was actually being written for personal consumption but somehow things took a turn for the best and soon I found myself being addressed as a writer. But to tell you frankly, it was only after the second book was published that the whole thing, about being a writer, really sank in.
Q: Sujata, you have managed to oscillate between the twin genres of prose and poetry. Considering the different habits and nuances between the two genres, how do you manage to keep up the pace? Do you also feel that sometimes they conflict each other? How do you ensure that your poetry does justice to prose and vice-versa?
A: Actually, I don't think so much about it! And certainly don't try to keep up the pace. It is something that comes naturally to me. Both are beautiful forms of expression and in their own ways helps us to share, entertain, reach out and touch another heart. Both are complimentary to each other. Not conflicting. They can never be conflicting. Let me put it in the words of Virginia Woolf, "Poet gives us his essence but Prose takes care of the mold of the body and the mind."
Q: What was your inspiration for the "Pursuit…" series? It has been widely acknowledged and appreciated by your readers. Do you think you keep the audience or readership in mind when you write and mold your storyline?
A: I became a writer by chance. My first novel, "In Pursuit Of Infidelity," which was published by Rupa and co. in 2009 was only meant to be read by my close friends and me. There was no other reader I had in mind then. While writing the second one, titled, "In Pursuit of Ecstasy," probably the mother and the activist in me joined hands and weaved a story around parent – youth relationship and other teenage issues. I primarily wrote it for the young people. But I felt it was not marketed as such and those who had read my first book could not relate to it. Although, it still went on to do well but several of my earlier readers felt disappointed.
And so my third novel, "In Pursuit of a Lesser Offence," released earlier this year (based on modern day relationships and marriage), was aimed at those readers who'd read and liked my first book and others like them. So yes, for my second and third novel, I did have the readers in mind. And I would like to keep it that way. I want to continue writing stories which the readers find entertaining.
Q: Your poems come across as simple, our-of-your-heart, terse and touching and free from literary jargon. How do you think the 'literary world' would become your home? Or do you think you do not need that endorsement or acknowledgement at all?
A: The definition of the "literary world" today is different than it used to be in the earlier times. There are so many versions of it. So I'm not sure whether I belong to any particular literary world or not. However, to be acknowledged for his or her work is the greatest joy for any creative person.
I would like it if my works are endorsed. But the endorsement could be from anyone who loves to read and has been touched by my poems. Just the knowledge that my poems have made someone smile or touched a heart is enough and will give me great joy.
Q: Also, do you think you are excluding a major section of your readership by being more urbane in your approach – your subject, your characters, your choice of setting, your language?
A: Yes, I've thought about it. In fact, I would like to attempt writing a full – length novel different than the "pursuit" series all of which have urban based themes. However, it can't be forced. I need the right inspiration. Besides, I'll really need to do a lot more research than what I've done for my previous novels.
Before I start describing the characters, I must have full knowledge about them. Their language, likes, food habits, clothes etc. Readers must be able to relate to the characters. I'm waiting for the right inspiration or trigger which would compel me to push the boundaries of creativity and come out with such a story.
"Pursuit…." Series has been charted amidst the bestsellers. How
do you feel and what's new that is cooking in the author's
feel fortunate. And I feel grateful. I also feel proud. But most of
all I feel really happy that I discovered my passion and talent for
telling stories. One of my goals in life is to write interesting
stories and share them with the world.
like the way you put it- Author's kitchen. Well, right now I'm
busy writing a book for a corporate house. The book aims to capture
their CSR initiatives followed in the social development field in the
past two decades. We've approached this book differently to make it
an appealing read. It will be co – authored. We're keeping our
fingers crossed for completing it on time.
third poetry collection, "Poetry Out and Loud - III," which will
be released soon is at the editing stage. I'm also working on a
short – story collection, which should hopefully come out next year
sometime. Other than that, I'm also working on a Mental Health
manual but that's a different kind of writing altogether. I am
hoping to begin work on my next full - length novel by the end of
this year and aiming to bring it out in 2016.